With the Camden Crawl spanning two days and as loaded as ever with amazing acts, it's impossible to do it any justice in only one post. Whilst we easily could write at length about everything we saw, you just want the highlights: who rocked us, who we're dying to see again and how we came to love doing the Rolex Sweep. Without further ado, let's try to remember how we spent Friday 18 April at Camden Crawl 2008.
For Friday's excursion, we had Talia and Dave following separate paths in the hopes of dividing and conquering the crawl. This proved to be an effective strategy that Amanda and Dave would also employ on Saturday, but let's not get ahead of ourselves: Friday was a great way to start the weekend.
Officially the weekend started for Dave with bingo. No, we weren't at the Arlington Road Mecca, we were playing Musical Bingo at Edinboro Castle, one of the many daytime events at this year's crawl. Bring & Share hosted a quality competition, though as you can see in the photo above, we didn't do very well. The girls at our table, however, won a bottle of champagne. They also drew a big cock on the sign on our table that read "Reserved". When we added pubes to said cock, they weren't impressed. It was time to move on.
Electronic rocksters Innersystemparty were the first band of the day for music editor Talia. Cramming into a tiny room in The Good Mixer, four Pennsylvanian boys certainly made sure anyone not yet woken up was brought up to speed with their urgent beats, mad vocoders and frantic stage performance. Having wowed a massive crowd with an epic light show at SXSW, they had to contend with emo teenagers texting right in their face upon hitting London. Pushed to the front of the crowd we found it very hard not to laugh right in the lead singer's face at the frankly absurd vocoder effects that were going down, the sound guy's intent to completely rock out and the keys player's manic dancing. However once we'd got over this, we enjoyed one of the most entertaining performances we've ever seen from a band we didn't even know existed before. Think Linkin Park without the rapping but with some epic dance beats—and also some very good hair.
He's at number 2 in the charts and the lengthy queue outside the Electric Ballroom meant that Sam Sparro was one of the hottest tickets in town on Friday night and Talia was there to see it. Thankfully the venue was big enough to fit most of those people in and left us wondering why the EB isn't used for more gigs. It's a great space! Sam himself was clad in a silky blue top and glasses straight out of Hoxton but loved being on stage for his first UK gig. Despite the crowd mainly waiting for the stupendous "Black & Gold", Sam and his band confidently made it through a collection of funky, laid back songs from his debut album. We're sad to report that we didn't really hear another immediate hit, but if you're a fan of Jamiroquai you'll probably like his stuff. Maybe we just needed to know the songs first, but the slightly disinterested crowd only perked up when the dark beats of "Black & Gold" hit.
As Talia left the Electric Ballroom to head for the Earl of Camden, Dave was already inside Cuban Bar eager to see JME for the first time. Lightspeed Champion had been scheduled to perform after JME, but had to cancel due to illness. Whilst we do wish Lightspeed a quick recovery, we must say we were massively pleased with the artist chosen to replace him: Wiley! Without hesitation we staked out a prime photographer's spot next to the stage and waited for the beats to commence.
And we waited. Remind us to always bring a mate with us to gigs, for with JME and Wiley both delayed in traffic, we were left beerlessly guarding our photographic territory. JME and Wiley were in fact delayed so long, that by the time Wiley arrived first, we were dead sober. Isn't that illegal in Camden?
Thankfully Wiley made up for lost time, springing into action with astounding lyrical speed. When technical difficulties meant he had to start the same song several times, he finally caved into audience pressure to just spit it a cappella. And damn, can that man spit! The lack of a backing track allowed Wiley's fast-flying skills on the mic to really shine and by the time the mixer was sorted, the dance floor erupted with movement.
Perhaps it was because we were celebrating NW1 that night that Eskiboy declined the numerous requests for his postcode-representing "Bow E3". On second though, nah, it's because he wanted to shout about his Rolex. And can you blame him? That's a damn fine timepiece. It even has a dance to accompany it: the Rolex Sweep!
Admittedly the Rolex Sweep is a bit like the Macarena, but it's a good way to show off what you're wearing on your wrist, even if it's just the Casio Databank watch that you've had since 1985. The girls next to us happily jumped on stage to show us how it's done.
After the last Rolex was swept, JME immediately assumed microphone duties. A rising grime star who's not afraid to be lyrically positive, JME exuded a friendly confidence on stage that was quick to spread through the audience. Within moments, everyone was dancing and when he dropped his signature song, "Serious", everyone was singing along. We had to give in and just pack up the camera and dance. JME was so much fun that we really regret not attending his recent Last.fm-organised gig at Old Blue Last, but we'll definitely try to see him play again soon.
As Dave bopped his head to the beat at Cuban Bar, Talia was rockin' at the Earl of Camden. A new signing to Island Records, the queue outside was surprisingly big for new London band The Rushes. Their first EP hit stores this week and they were fuelled by a desire to make their mark. The epic "Corners" was enough to convince us that next year they'll be on a much bigger stage. Unfortunately being quite short and at the back of the room we couldn't see much, but they sounded good. Next up was Australian Modular star Ladyhawke. On record she has quite an 80s synthy feel but it came together much rockier when performed live. "Back of The Van" sent the whole pub raving and left everyone with a smile on their face.
The headlining act at Earl of Camden was Leytonstone's Boy Kill Boy whose irresistably catchy indie captured our hearts when they released their debut album two years ago. They've never quite lived upto the success of "Suzie" but they deserve so much more than they're received. This crowd were here to show the love though and within the first few bars of 'Back Again' were moshing their way through the hits. Joined by Apartment's David Caggiari, the boys looked and sounded great rounding off a brilliant lineup in this pub and sending happy revellers off to dance their way through Robyn at Koko.
Friday evening flew by in a blur, but that's how the best nights out go, don't they? Eventually it was time for a slice of pizza on Camden High Street and a stumble home, as a bit of rest was needed if we were to continue until the wee hours on Day Two. The pizza was yummy and it meant we avoided a kebab. Would we be so lucky the next night? You'll discover the fate of our Saturday stomachs (as well as which bands we loved most) in the second instalment of our Camden Crawl coverage.
With contributions from Talia Kraines.
All photos taken from the author's Flickr photostream.