The success of a festival that operates on fans skipping from venue to venue hinges on the weather so the tropical storms across North London does not get the Camden Crawl off to a great start. With the venues smelling more like wet dog than old beer which making for an odd change the British spirit of battling the elements and then moaning about it soon takes hold however and the search for the Next Big Thing can begin.
First up on the Saturday was Best Coast. Like so many lo-fi slacker pop bands from the USA you half suspect that Beth Consentino might be too stoned too deliver a killer performance but any doubts are cast away halfway through a rousing, and appropriate, Sun Was High (So Was I). Playing to a packed out crowd, more likely to be interested in the dry warmth of The Jazz Café than shimmering grunge anthems Best Coast plough through a series of tracks lined up to appear on their debut album, due later this year. Where many bands tend to hide dark and morose lyrics in amongst happy melodies Best Coast switch it up and sing about love and romance in a downbeat way. The results are utterly charming with Consentino coming off like Dolly Parton going surfing on the wondrous ‘Our Deal’. ‘When I’m With You’ is Best Coasts finest moment however and earns the rapturous applause it so dearly deserves.
Queing at the Camden Crawl is as inevitable as eating McDonalds on the street and seeing Pete Doherty (who was spotted on the Sunday). Easily the biggest queue we see all weekend is for The Drums who continue to impress and confuse in equal measures. Playing to a packed out Blues Kitchen they whip up the crowd into a frenzy unseen across many of the other bands playing who are all too keen to be coy. Understated is not in The Drums vocabulary though and as Jonathan Pierce struts across the stage it’s hard to deny that this band of starry eyes could become huge. With songs as good as ‘Best Friend’ and Forever and Ever Amen’ the indie kids of Camden are rubbing their hands almost as much as Morrissey and The Cures royalty collectors.
Poor scheduling means an hours wait for a final band on Saturday however when the clock strikes twelve and Summer Camp take to the Jazz Café stage all worries are soon forgotten. With their track ‘Ghost Train’ a permanent fixture on 6Music there are plenty of well wishers here to see one of the bands very early performances and they don’t leave disappointed. Far chirpier than their demos suggest, Summer Camp own the stage painting the crowd in sepia tones with their wistful pop beauty. Like a motivational speaker for the young at heart, lead singer Elizabeth provides pretty vocals whilst her band mates Jeremy Warmsley leads the band admirably. If Camden Crawl is for anything then it is seeing the best new bands first. With Summer Camp we might just have spotted something very lovely indeed.