After five hours of sleep (thank you Mr. Postman for waking us up) and an Eggs Benedict at the Camden Kitchen, we had mostly recovered from the first day of Camden Crawl 2008 and were once again hungry for more gigs. With several artists playing both days of the festival, there were a few acts we missed on Friday that we wanted to catch on Saturday, as well as many Saturday-only artists that we hoped to see. We weren't sure of much when we started the day, but we were determined to see it end in dubstep. Cameras in tow, intrepid Day Two explorers Amanda and Dave clasped on their wristbands and hit the streets.
Shamefully never having been to one of Hungamunga's recycled art parties, we decided to begin at the Buck's Head around 4:30 p.m. Unfortunately we were met with a queue, which seemed like a bad omen that early in the day. Thankfully it was just a testament to Hungamunga's popularity, as making crafty creations with your mates is a great way to ease into any day. When we eventually were allowed inside, the party was mostly over, but we did get to check out everyone's work and plan the long night ahead.
Amanda accepted the first rock challenge of the night, trudging all the way up to the Bullet Bar on Kentish Town Road to see Glasgow's We Are The Physics (pictured above) roar through a 25 minute set of post-punk skittered noise. Wailing about vanity, Napoleon and Josephine, and general sci-fi nerdiness, Physics scuttled around the stage, contorting their bodies, and pausing songs long enough for a guitarist to fix the bassist/vocalist's glasses. The set finished off with the frontman handing his bass to some guy in the front row before walking into the crowd and getting a leg up, only to fall over the people trying to hold him up. Amazingly energetic and without pretension, Physics have a single, "You Can Do Athletics, BTW," which was released on Monday that would definitely be worth checking out.
As Amanda finished her final exams in Glaswegian physics, Dave ventured forth to see JME's brother, Skepta, play at Cuban Bar. On the way, however, he bumped into a few friends and, in the spirit of Camden Crawl, was promptly diverted from his original course—sorry Skepta! The mission was to race to the Dublin Castle and magically gain entry to see the "To Be Confirmed" act, which we had all decided must certainly be Madness. At the time of writing we still don't know who played Dublin Castle at 8:00 p.m., for the queue was so long that it was immediately clear to us we stood no chance of getting in. An alternate plan was needed, so back up Parkway we went.
Frantically pouring over the schedule so as not to miss out on eight o'clock rock, we found a band playing across the road at Underworld whose sound the festival guidebook compared to The Slits: Effi Briest (pictured left). Up our street, indeed!
A six-piece all-female group from Brooklyn, New York, Effi Briest struck us as part latter-day Liliput as well as part Slits. With the dancier side of post-punk having been fully re-explored by numerous artists in recent years, these women instead incorporate not only the dub aspects of the early 1980s art rock scene, but the experimental side, too. This is not to say that their act is mere pastiche, as their live performance was too vibrant and raw to be simply a retread of Rough Trade's early days. Having only formed in the past year or so, Effi Briest are still a young band who we look forward to seeing hop across the pond to visit again soon.
As the last chords of Effi Briest's final song echoed through Underworld and most Camden Crawlers began to plan their next NW1 destination, Dave defected temporarily to have Merzbow destroy his ears at ULU. Coverage of the crawl would rest solely with Amanda for now as she made her way to Barfly to see Operator Please.
Queensland's Operator Please (pictured right) plays rhythm-heavy sparkly pop. The songs are richly layered with keyboards and violin on top of the sunny guitar. Their leading lady also has a great stage presence and fashion sense and can shred like it's nobody's business. They played an impressively tight set considering they replaced their keyboardist a week ago, and it's worth mentioning that their drummer is awesome, plain and simple. Operator Please is going to be touring around the UK for the next couple months, including a bunch of shows in London, so be sure to catch them if you can.
Back from ULU and mostly undamaged by Merzbow's synthesizer aggression, Dave met up with Amanda and declared the next objective of the evening: dubstep! A return to Underworld was in order as Kode 9 was scheduled to be already dominating the dancefloor. Judging from how deeply everyone was groovin' to his wickedly thick and slow basslines, it was hard to believe that the 2008 Camden Crawl was coming to a close soon. We held onto it as long as we could and danced every track like it was our last, but eventually the steppin' stopped and another DJ took the reins from Kode 9, tragically clearing the dancefloor in the process.
If we had one suggestion for Camden Crawl 2009, it would be to keep exceptional electronic artists like Kode 9 on the turntables from midnight until 4 a.m. The indie discos were fun, don't get us wrong, but London's as rich with dance music now as ever, and once we were done rockin', we were ready to rave it up.
Stumbling out of Underworld not wanting to go home, it was off to Koko to close the night. No more dancing for us, as we found a place to sit, drink and start to reassemble what exactly happened over the past 48 hours. Actually we're still not quite sure, but we know we had loads of fun and we know we'll be back next year.
Oh, and in case you're still in suspense from the Day One review about our gastrointestinal fate... yes, of course we had a kebab. Camden Crawl without a kebab from First Choice would be sacrilegious. We were very responsible, however, and crammed it all down before entering the flat, so that we didn't pass out on the couch with it still in our hands. We very respectably passed out on the couch with dignity, merely smelling like kebab, beer and rock. We smelled heavily of rock.
With contributions from Amanda Farah.