Shining as one of London’s biggest one-day music festivals, Camden Rocks returned this year, with a line up boasting the attention of indie, rock and punk fans in the capital. Showcasing a militant collection of bands and artists with highlights from Maximo Park, Twin Atlantic, Towers Of London (yes, really), BlackWaters and Sophie and the Giants, here’s what went down.
Organised and co-hosted by Dan Hetherton and Chris McCormack, each year the event dedicates a full day of rock, indie and punk into the mix across 20 venues scattered throughout Camden Town. With a selection of up and coming artists and some acclaimed acts, Camden Rocks never fails to increase its fan’s knowledge of new music, so much so the event has just announced Camden Rocks 2019 will be a two day affair.
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Kicking off our day at iconic watering hole The Hawley Arms, we catch the enchanting Sophie and the Giants. With a vocal prowess that could easily give Florence Welch a run for her money, singer Sophie Scott’s ethereal voice captivates the Camden audience in one fell swoop. This matched with the rest of the band’s innovative indie/pop/rock streaks makes it achingly obvious big things are destined for this quartet.
Next up, and squished on stage in a box full of sweaty bodies, photographers and journalists, Towers Of London thrash a set of frantic rock tracks. Known for their unique sound merging rock, indie and rap, on Saturday the London rockers throw a hot, sweaty, and energetic show. Performing at The Monarch, the band engage a roaring rapport with their audience, splicing heavy guitar chords with their lyrics. “Good to be here guys, nice one,” offers lead singer and frontman Donny Tourette, before introducing the audience to their latest single ‘Green Eyes’ taken from their forthcoming album, Super Sounds of K-Town. Playing for just 30 minutes, Towers Of London manage to pull off a snarling set, with excessive energy from start to finish. Swinging his microphone around to the point it flings and ends up on the opposite side of the stage, frantic frontman Tourette continues the set as though nothing happened, with the help of another microphone and skips on top of the bar.
Blood, sweat and tears, but perhaps, without the tears? Guildford formed quartet BlackWaters are known for their intensively chaotic live shows. With militant guitar chords thrashed by lead guitarist David Carpenter, wobbles of bass plucked by Ollie Franklin, thuds from drummer James Watkins, and lyrics bellowed by frontman Max Tanner - BlackWaters play a deliciously frenzied show. Their set is heavy from start to finish, and in each corner of the room small, relatively contained mosh pit begin to form. As some fans left the venue due to sound levels, the majority jumped in and threw punches into the air with excitement. ‘Help Me’ is accompanied by Max dragging himself from stage and into the circle of the audience. ‘Down’ also stomps up a storm with one member of the audience dripping in his own sweat and blood, the cause of a few chaotic fist punches into the air smashing into one of the glass lights above. As blood trails on the floor, the beauty of pure rock ‘n’ roll elevates the atmosphere and people soon shrug it off and continue to mosh.
Playing a set at the famous KOKO, are Glasgow quintet Twin Atlantic. Suited and booted in red, lead singer Sam McTrusty walks onto red and white lasers that shine upon the stage, “Good evening London, we are Twin Atlantic from Glasgow,” his voice echoes around the room to rapturous applause. Wildly known for his prominent Scottish accent winding its way into his vocals, the sweet twang of his Glaswegian accent shines brightly in the high-hoped driven track, ‘Hold On’. Sweet, melodic and defiant, it’s an indie-rock treat accompanied by an abundance of backup vocals passionately shouted by the audience. A wild, 6ft crowd surfer, waves across the audience throughout the chorus of ‘Brothers and Sisters’ shortly handed back down by the request of security and friends, the crowd continue to sway and sing their hearts out alongside the band. Hovering with the support of fans holding him afloat is McTrusty, found in the centre of the audience, not quite crowd surfing, but surfing of some sort. Taking place during the mist of their hard-hitting track, ‘No Sleep’ taken from their forth studio album GLA. Ending on, ‘Heart and Soul’ it goes down a delight.
Last and certainly not least are Maximo Park. Sparkling from the ceiling of KOKO, is a dazzling disco ball and bouncing on stage in a blue suit is frontman Paul Smith. Playing a staggering 90-minute show filled with sizzling hits, Maximo Park end Camden Rocks on a fizzing load of energy. Bouncing in and out of jumping jacks whilst pressing melodic synth chords, keys player Lukas Wooller is evidently enjoying himself during ‘Girls Who Play Guitar.’ For those who haven’t seen the band live before, it’s essential we point out just how flamboyantly charismatic Smith is. With his breezy, slick and carefree dance moves, he puts the funk, in funky. Diving into a more political approach, the singer introduces their track, ‘The National Health’ with, “this song is for the Conservative government,” and a roar of boo’s fill the venue. Ending their show with an encore including anthem ‘Apply Some Pressure’, it’s a beautifully brazen and fitting end to the North London all-dayer.