Camden Crawl Review: Friday Highlights

By Talia Last edited 116 months ago
Camden Crawl Review: Friday Highlights

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Photo by Mr Benn

Our feet our achy, our ears our ringing and we never want to see sight of Camden again. Yes another Camden Crawl is over. Between us we saw so much it would fill Londonist for about 7 weeks and quite frankly no one wants that so here's our highlights of the festival starting with Friday.

The Virgins Listen : See them 2/7 @ Electric Ballroom)

The Virgins are NYC's latest sons to throw on a pair of skinny jeans and make like it's '79 at CBGBs. They're given the opening slot of the Roundhouse's program, where they might conceivably have been a later highlight. It could be seen as a challenge to these hipster upstarts: do or die. Singer Donald Cumming appears in jacket and bow-tie, no shirt, so beyond the trashy glamour and blog hype, is there any substance? There are references aplenty: Bowie meets Chic uptown; The Ramones do the hits of Duran Duran; The Strokes is an obvious one. But forget joining dots, this is supposed to be dumb and fun, music to make girls dance and boys look a little bit cooler in front of girls. There’s a slow song that’s cheerily unworried by possessing a tune, but then Rich Girls drops and the liquid funk of that bassline can't fail to make a hip shake. A throwaway cover of Up The Junction doesn’t do much for their set, and Karen O’s up next to show them who’s currently wearing the US alt-rock crown, but for now they’ll show you a good time. (AC)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs Listen : See them tonight @ SBE)

'This is it. This is the bloody hot ticket', says someone in front of us as we queue to get into the Roundhouse. They might well have a point. Gone are the days when the Camden Crawl played host to bands that haven't made it through the mainstream - now Idlewild, Echo and the Bunnymen and the mighty Yeah Yeah Yeahs headline. Only the committed make it in to the Roundhouse, as you're required to queue for an additional wristband to see these supersized starlets, but as Karen O comes on stage to 'It's Blitz!'s 'Heads Will Roll' under a huge eyeball that hangs over the stage, it all seems worth it. As ever she is sartorially stunning, pushing glamour and excess by way of a latex number, revealed underneath a colourful batwinged coat. From the aforementioned new album they also play Dull Life, Skeleton and the dancefloor-pulverising Zero, as well as old favourites like Maps and Art Star. However, it's the old punky classic 'Date with the night' that turns the dancefloor into a seething mass at the end, a jumping wall of worshippers of a band of consistent, eclectic quality and adventurism. (CG)

Three Trapped Tigers (Listen: See them 14/5 @ Old Blue Last)

Despite The Monarch being vacant aside from industry people, Alice bravely stayed - never one to shy away from a band labeled 'math rock.' Without as much as a word of introduction, instrumental-ambient Three Trapped Tigers bashed, mashed, and mooged their ways into her heart and down into the abyss of her soul, where they proceeded to provide her psyche with the electo-hard soundtrack it never knew it needed. It went a little something like this: Method-acted melodic screeches! Moody character studies of computer-generated heroes and villains! Crouching Tigers, Hidden Roundhouse Kick to the Face! All in a good way! The Tigers' passionate, feral angst with a manic degree of control puts them at the top of the list of Alice's circuit. (AS)

Alessi's Ark (Listen: See them 29/4 @ ICA)

After a faltering solo acoustic start at a noisy Jazz Café, when 18-year-old prodigy Alessi Laurent-Marke is eventually joined by her band she becomes a lot more relaxed. Her whimsical folky pop is often enchanting (as on 'Strange Weather') although you can quickly get your fill of lyrics that rhyme "clean bedding" with "Otis Redding" (on 'The Robot'). Alessi herself is interesting, her many unusual facial expressions acting out the bittersweet emotions of her magical/strange stories while her lilting, girlish voice shows a maturity beyond her years. Despite the audience's incessant chatting throughout, Alessi's Ark looks set to weather the storm. (JD)

Danny & The Champions of the World (Listen: See them 29/4 @ The Half Moon, Herne Hill)

Danny George Wilson is a man with a musical mission: “a celebration of collective Yessness” with a "cosmic yeehaa!". It might sound hippyish, but Danny is single-minded in making songs that aim straight for the heart, bringing people together for one big love-in. The former Grand Drive guitarist and nine of his Champions - a ramshackle travelling band from the Truck collective - fill the tiny stage at The Black Cap, tearing through songs like These Days with joyous abandon. They’re a good-time country band with mile-wide smiles on their faces and an invitation for one and all to join. They wear their influences openly on their plaid sleeves, as songs invariably segue into covers, including Smokey Robinson, The Temptations and The Boss. With trumpets, melodicas, violins and what seems like a hundred honeyed voices, they're like Polyphonic Spree’s hillbilly cousins. Only from South London. This is music that makes the heart swell and the soul rise. Just say yes. (AC)

Kitty Daisy & Lewis (Listen

Kitty, Daisy and Lewis sure do play some mean rockabilly. With their dad on guitar, glamorous mother on double bass and help from a friend all the way from Jamaica on a trumpet, the Kentish Town trio belt out their riproaring rockabilly with a punching, catchy fist. Soaked in the kind of vintage cool that most of us can only dream about, Daisy pouts in a sailor suit and Lewis, hair slicked and skin olive, works a retro suit. Instrument swapping abounds, and Kitty and Daisy coo together into the same mic. Kitty plays the drums like no one else -her body jumps in time, looking more like she's on a running machine than playing a musical instrument. They've been on hotly tipped lists for so long that this year, surely, must be the year they break through. Young, beautiful and unbelievably accomplished, K, D & L remind you of Pleasantville - a visual technicolour assault, cancelling out the shadows. (CG)

Mini Viva (Listen)

When you hear the team behind nearly all of Girls Aloud's hits are setting up their own record label you've got to be a bit excited. Mini Viva are the first fruits to come from the Xenomania tour of the UK hunting for amazing pop stars and they filled the Cuban Bar on Friday night with a bunch of fans escaping from the skinny jeans of the rest of the festival. Singing that kind of perfect pop you'd expect from the Xenomania team, Frankee and Brit are two tiny girls who are very much in tune with each other. Limited dance routines were perfectly synchronised and you felt like they almost had a connection, knowing exactly what the other was about to do. With plenty of club mixes of limited release 'I Left My Heart In Toyko' already whizzing round the club scene, Mini Viva might be just starting out but have got their act perfectly honed.(TK)

Hockey (Listen: See them 30/4 @ Forum)

Hockey's support slot was nearly ruined by headliners The Enemy pulling a sickie, leaving a massively depleted but still curious crowd at the Roundhouse to see the Portland, Oregon four-piece. But, consummate professionals, they showered us with gratitude and still served up an energetic slice of disco-fied indie soul. In Ben Grubin they have a puppy-cute lead singer who at times resembles a 1980s fitness instructor with his headband and elbow jabs. It might be a little studied, a label boss's dream of harnessing the LCD rhythm section to a Strokes-y rock attitude, but based on hearing catchy new single 'Too Fake' live tonight it might just work. (JD)

The Big Pink (Listen)

The Electric Ballroom must have found a black hole back to 1992, as Dinosaur Pile-Up have just shown they’re resurrecting the spectre of grunge and now The Big Pink are playing something that sounds suspiciously like shoegazing. Under a cloud of smoke and with minimal lights, Londoners Milo Cordell and Robbie Furze disappear and let the waves of noise wash over the audience. As epic walls of guitar cascade into dance beats and baggy drums, ghostly vocals and detached wails feed into something primitive. But at the dark heart of it all beats a melodic pulse; somewhere in there, pop songs are fighting to get out. Anyone who caught My Bloody Valentine at the Roundhouse will know what to expect, and that’s not a cavalier comparison, this is seriously loud and breathlessly good. Not one for the faint-hearted. (AC)

Wire (Listen)

Now looking like the sort of cool middle-aged art teachers you wish you'd had, punk veterans Wire are pleasingly grumpy as they take to the Electric Ballroom stage and people start shouting out the names of their hits. "When we were last here, in 1980, it was full of Sham 69 fans requesting '12XU'," they groan, "and things really don't change much, do they?" Unsurprisingly they err towards the more drawn-out, even psychedelic, parts of their back catalogue instead of the sub-minute blitzkriegs that made their name. Thankfully they're still amazingly tight musically, and as in refusing to give in to nostalgia remain as uncompromising as ever. (JD)

Marina & The Diamonds (Listen: See 21/5 @ Bar Music Hall

One of the hottest tickets of Friday night, Marina & The Diamonds is a new signing to 679 records. Hailing from Wales, Marina arrived on the stage dressed a little bit like Bette Midler but sounding like a mash up of Kate Bush, Tori Amos and Catherine Zeta Jones. 'I Am Not A Robot', 'Obsessions' and 'Seventeen' were all set highlights and even a frantic cover of Gwen Stefani's 'What You Waiting For' was mixed up Marina style. Exciting to watch blending a theatrical performance with oddly mesmerising vocal quirks, Marina oozed warmth and provided a glimpse into an album (due October) which we can't wait to hear. (TK)

Goldheart Assembly Listen)

The Dublin Castle closes with a set for the 6 Music stage from Goldheart Assembly. Kindred spirits to Danny and the Champions of the World earlier, this 6-piece country-rock band come together simply for the love of getting onstage, beer in hand, and playing. If the music wasn’t up to the mark, that wouldn’t mean a thing, but this is blissful pop music with the shimmer of pitch-perfect Beach Boys harmonies, brought together in The Band-style brotherhood. They tread a path that leads from the West Coast sounds of ballad So Long St Christopher to the garagey Jesus Wheel and first single Oh Really, which tears strips off the NME and - of all things! -the Camden Crawl. Bantering with the audience and each other between songs serves only to highlight what a damn fine bunch of lads they are, and comparisons to Fleet Foxes don’t do them any harm at all. The still, poignant Last Decade leaves us dewy-eyed and we wander out into the night a little light-headed. (AC)

Written by Alex Cottrill, Alice Shyy, Chloe George, James Donohue & Talia Kraines

Last Updated 26 April 2009