FESTIVAL REVIEW – Camden Rocks Festival 2016

It’s that time of the year where festival season is now kicking off, this time, with the return of Camden Rocks.  A one day festival hosting around 20 venues with 200 bands all playing around the Camden area , so it was amusing trying to rush from one side of the place to the other side and seeing tourists and rock fans trying to get to their destinations.

After figuring out  the timetable of which bands to check out , it turned out in the end, clashing and timing makes indecisive decisions of who to see, where to go and this resulted in actually seeing only four bands in the whole line up. This wasn’t really a  huge problem but more of a frustration when rushing from one side of Camden to another, only to get turned away when the venue is full, but I’ll get to that later.

The first band of the day was Hands Off Gretal, who played at the Barfly. With Creeper playing upstairs at the same time, it was surprising to see a packed out room for the band. The band led by vocalist, Lauren Tate attracted more and more people inside of the venue as the set went on. Their stage persona oozed from the stage, especially Tate with her dreads. Their consistency through their music made the band enjoyable to watch. Loud and punk with attitude, was what made them stand out.
Leaving half way through their set, I headed quickly down to the Bloc Bar to catch the last ten minutes of Stoneghost. From what I saw, the band had gathered a small group of fans, and tried their hardest to get them to join in but only a few seemed to be impressed. The vibes that were felt from Stoneghost wasn’t able to translate well live but every now and then, frontman, Jason Smith would try to re-energise the set and pump up the crowd.
Band of the night was Heck. Having already seen the band many times before, it was the first time to have experienced them play at The Monarch, in which case you didn’t know, is actually a pub.  (Good job organisers for that decision!) Heck had already played a set earlier at the Underworld, but was given a slot at The Monarch, and I guess word spreads fast because not only the pub was full, people had to stand outside to watch which was great to see. Heck are the sort of band that, no matter where they play or how short the set is, the band always delivers and always makes the best out of it.  Crowdsurfing to Heck in a pub, as it turns out is definitely an experience. Fans moshing, and falling on to the stage was a sight to behold along with the band members, finding every bit of the room to sing and play, especially climbing on the banisters to sing to fans standing on the stairs.  The band were chaotic, with a set list of songs from their latest album, Instructions that gave it a bit more substance.

The festival ended on a high despite being turned away for Sikth who played at the Underworld because the venue was full. So instead of Sikth, I decided to check out Press to Meco who headlined the Bloc Bar. A joke from the band about how people were only there to see them because they couldn’t get in to see Sikth , lightened up the mood of both fans and those curious to see them.  Crowd interaction is a big thing for this band, and it was impressive to see how they ended up gaining more fans from the beginning to the end of the set.  Musically, it was fun and straight forward,  and delivered in a way that there was a genuine sense of passion for what they do.

Not often, one day festivals work well, but in this case, Camden Rocks had good organisation and the respect is given for always giving new/smaller bands a chance to prove themselves. Here’s to another year!

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