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Camden Rocks Festival – 31/05/14 | Live Review

From alt-rock, with hints of indie, to a heavier take on British metal, if there’s one festival that leaves you overwhelmed with choice it’s Camden Rocks. Check out what we thought of this year’s lineup here.

Credit: Kayla Elliott

From alt-rock, with hints of indie, to a heavier take on British metal, if there’s one festival that leaves you overwhelmed with choice it’s Camden Rocks. With over 200 bands playing, Hit The Floor were eager to see what was on offer on this year’s lineup.  Here’s who we saw…

Ugly Love

Opening up a festival is never easy. Particularly when it starts at midday and there are over 200 bands and 22 venues in the running. Nonetheless Tunbridge Wells rockers Ugly Love gave it there all and delivered a performance to be proud of.

With claims that their music is for ‘the weird and the horny’, the four-piece’s quirk and peculiar charm went hand in hand with the uncanny aesthetics of Camden Town.

Performing an array of tracks from their debut EP, the band drew in a small yet energetic crowd of festivalgoers, who were more than likely to have bands such as Fearless Vampire Killers and My Chemical Romance on their iPod.

Front man Tom Adolph was eager to get the audience moving and encouraged them to sing along to punchy anthems like ‘No Favourite’. Contrasting the melancholic lyrics with the upbeat charisma of the track, he opened up the floor into a circle and jumped down amongst fans, getting them to move alongside him. 3.5/5 EM

Chasing Cadence

One of the most amazing things about Camden Rocks is it’s ability to throw all these extra venues that you didn’t know existed even if you head to Camden often. The Beatrice pub is nestled part way down the road heading to Mornington Crescent and with it’s tiny size the majority of Chasing Cadence spend more time on the floor in front of the crowd than on stage. This is probably for the best though as there may have been zero movement otherwise. It’s hard for a largely unknown band to play a festival with so much choice, especially when you’re playing a set a 1 o’clock in the afternoon. But the lads don’t let this dampen their spirits.

Frontman Jack runs furiously from the edge of the stage through the crowd as far as his mic lead will allow him to as he sings his heart out to tracks from the bands EP ‘Pages’ including the title track, ‘Paper Sails’ and ‘A Sight For Sour Eyes’. Sadly a lot of the lyrics are wholly lost on the crowd as the sound isn’t great: sadly it’s what you get in venues which are traditionally music venues. But the band show off their brand of hard hitting rock with a sprinkling of pop punk and show why they have won a place at this years Download Festival. We can’t wait to catch you there guys! 4/5 RW

Verses

If there’s one band that are causing a stir for all the right reasons it’s Brighton-based Verses. Having just released their debut album ‘Feel It Faster’, the band are hot on the scene and reeled in a packed crowd, who were keen to listen to their soaring somewhat evocative-take on rock.

The four-piece kicked off with a mixture of tracks from their recent release, including sing-a-long ‘Live In The Sky’. Pierced with gradual riffs and a mellow backbone, the song was the ideal way to slow down the pace of set and treat fans to frontman Jason Danzelman’s powerful vocal talent.

Quickly after the relaxed breakdown, the band continued with the lively spirit and performed their infectious anthem ‘Making Statues’. Arguably the biggest and most well known tracks off the record, the song allowed the audience to group together and join in on the punchy chorus. An impressive performance all round we can’t help but think there’s a very promising future on the horizon for Verses. 4/5 EM

Credit: Kayla Elliott

Blitz Kids (Acoustic)

Trailblazers in their own right, alt rock four-piece Blitz Kids have played more than a fair share of festivals this summer. From Southampton Takedown to main stage at Slam Dunk, Camden Rocks was the latest chapter of their summer adventure and saw the band perform 2 equally energetic sets at The Electric Ballroom and Forge.

Hit The Floor caught up with the boys at Forge, where they toned down their performance and played a variety of acoustic tracks to an intimate yet heaving room of fans. Covering a wide range of classics, the band’s trademark hits ‘Never Die’ and ‘Run For Cover’ got the whole room singing along, with frontman Joe James engaging in on-stage banter making sure the crowd stayed on the very tips of their toes.

A good performance all around, it was nice to see Blitz Kids strip tracks down to the basics and still get the remarkable reception they truly deserve.4/5 EM

Eureka Machines

It’s heartwarming seeing a band like the Eureka Machines play to a huge crowd at the Electric Ballroom. Here is a band who has grown organically, no huge PR company or label behind them, they have got to where they are today by pure hard work, determination and writing power-pop anthems that just get stuck in your head. Today they deliver a masterclass in crowd control and professionalism as Chris Catalyst and his identically dressed crew blow everyone in the place away. 4/5 MB

Cytota

Offering festivalgoers something slightly heavier than the other acts, Birmingam based Cytota gathered a hearty crowd for their set at The Monarch. Performing tracks from their debut EP The Prosecutor, the band’s melodic take on metal filled the room with a mass of sweaty bodies.

Tracks like ‘Sinnocence’ grabbed the audience’s attention immediately, with front man Joby Fitzgerald’s sharp screams encouraging people to move and jump along to the brash riffs and bold backbone of the track.

Warming the audience for the likes of The Hype Theory and Baby Godzilla, who were taking the stage later in the day, you can’t fault the amount of energy the band put into their performance. It was a good effort all round. 4/5 EM

Crazy Arm

The Black Heart is packed for Crazy Arm. I mean PACKED SOLID. Their is a queue that winds up the stairs to the venue and it’s strictly one in/one out for the socio/political folk punks. As soon as you get in you see why. Ever since they bulldozed onto the UK punk scene, Crazy Arm have been a force to be reckoned with. The band are playing like it’s the last night on earth and the crowd are moving, sweating and shouting at the top of their lungs just as much. Absolutely epic. 4.5/5 MB

Credit: Kayla Elliott

Blitz Kids

We are lucky enough to catch Blitz Kids at both their acoustic and full band sets, and their music definitely lends itself better to the full live set up. The music sounds bigger and fuller, which in this case means better, and the band themselves look much more comfortable with the ability to move around and get the crowd moving in return.

They play in one of the biggest venues of the festival, the Electric Ballroom, and manage to fill it. It is clear those right at the front are already fans of the band and are singing along and responding to all of Joey’s commands from stage, clapping, jumping and singing along. The band even seem impressed with the turn out. “The sun’s out and you’re in here,” says guitarist Jono, “was that a good decision?” Most don’t hesitate to respond with a resounding yes, surprising and pleasing Jono.

The final song is the highlight of the set as Joey jumps in to the crowd to sing and jump with them, even holding the microphone out to let one lucky fan sing for him. Overall, it’s a great set and was bound to win over any in the crowd who were on the fence about Blitz Kids before seeing them play. JY 4.5/5

The Xcerts

A natural frontman Murray Macleod did more than hold the crowd for The Xcerts packed out set at Camden’s Jazz Café. Overcoming technical issues, when the power went out half way through the set, the vocalist engaged in lashings of onstage banter and kept the crowd on the very tips of their toes.Hailing from Aberdeen, the Scottish three-piece played a variety of classics as well as some new material. Similar to the likes of fellow Scottish band Twin Atlantic, dominate anthems such as ‘Do You Feel Safe?’ filled the room with the broody, emotive flair, the band are known for.Continuing the liveliness, the iconic ‘Slackerpop’ allowed the crowd to group together, as they belted out the infamous chorus: ‘I’ll be your man, I’ll be your mannequin’. With the track being instantly recognisable to fans, it bought the performance full circle and reminded us how much the band have achieved in the past eleven years. With new material on the horizon we only hope The Xcerts success continues in years to come. 4.5/5 EM

Sonic Boom Six

Have Sonic Boom six ever been as relevant as they are now under the current social and political climate? Exploding across the Electric Ballroom stage, Laila, Barney and crew deliver on all levels. Taking the crowd on a rollercoaster adventure of musical genres that perfectly smash into each other. Songs like ‘Kids Of the Multi-culture’ underline the fact that although they are great fun to watch and listen to, SB6 also have something very important to say. 3.5/5 MB

Credit: Kayla Elliott

The Blackout

Welsh rockers The Blackout are one of the biggest bands playing Camden Rocks this year, and while they are on relatively early in the evening they get an hours set at The Underworld to play with. It’s as great as any The Blackout headline set, with a mix of both up tempo songs to get the crowd moshing (like ‘Said And Done’), and slower tracks that simply require everyone to sing their hearts out (like ‘This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things’).

The band are up to their usual tricks, with Gavin standing on the crowd and Sean singing amongst them, Sean gets the crowd to yell ‘Fuck Gavin Butler’ and then there is the moment no The Blackout set would be complete without: Save Ourselves. Once it reaches the bridge of the song, no fan who has seen them before needs to be told what to do as they crouch down on the floor. Those new to this take slightly longer, much to the pain of everyone elses knees, but eventually the song starts up again as everyone jumps into the air to dance their way to the end of the song.

The set can be summed up simply by the smile on Sean’s face as the crowd sang back to him. At a festival with (in Gavin Butler’s words) ‘literally a million other band playing’ The Blackout were blown away that people had come to see them and were so happy with the response they got, as the crowd were happy with the show the band gave. JY 4.5/5

The Talks

The Good Mixer plays host to The Talks. The venue has that local pub feel and like many venues here today is ram packed for these Hull based ska boys. I have been told that these are the best pure ska band in the country right now and on these first impressions I can’t deny those claims. Neither can the crammed in crowd who are skanking from floor to ceiling. 3.5/5 MB

ATV

ATV aka Tony Wright, frontman of Yorkshire rock legends takes to the stage at Dingwalls in Camden Market. As seen many times today, in many venues, it is so full it is one in/one out on the door. I was lucky enough to get in early enough to catch a full set. Wright oozes showmanship as he smashes through acoustic versions of Terrorvision tunes, his own solo songs from his upcoming album, a few covers and everything else he can crowbar in, whilst constantly joking with the crowd throughout. 4/5 MB

Credit: Kayla Elliott

Fearless Vampire Killers

Fearless Vampire Killers are a band who’s songs seem to have been written to play live. With the shredding guitar executed brilliantly live and everyone but the drummer contributing to the vocals they have such a big live sound. There songs vary in style with heavier tracks like ‘All Hallows Evil’ all the way to a cover of ‘Club Tropicana’ by Wham!, meaning there is something there for everyone in the crowd. Everyone keeps moving all through the set and those at the front even seem to know most of the words.

The set finishes appropriately with ‘At War With The Thirst’ and the catchy ‘go home, go away’ refrain, as well as the band promising to hang around and say hi to everyone after (a promise they do keep). JY 4/5

Reviewers: Rhian Westbury, Emma Matthews, Kayla Elliott, Jenna Young, Michael Baird

Photography: Kayla Elliott

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