Review: Camden Crawl 2012

Camden might have been dethroned to Shoreditch on the hipster richter scale, but there’ll always be a raw indie essence to the colourful punk district. With intimate bars that feel like a cluster of close friends when packed out, Camden Crawl still reigns supreme as the weekend to bring bands and fans even closer together.

The stroke of 7 pm transformed the high street from Nirvana-jumper-market-stalls to boozed up ‘lads on tour’ in a heartbeat though. A compliment was politely posted to me in the way of a first class shout, ‘Oh look, it’s Willy fucking Wonka.’ This ‘Charming Man in Morrissey’s eyes highlights the unfortunate chav infusion to Camden, but only served to swerve me into the venues and get lost in the music rather than the clientele.

Echo Lake was the ambient introduction to my weekend. The shy singer, with a heavy blonde fringe that hid her expression, let her dreamy and psychedelic voice enchant the crowd. With a taste of The Raveonettes and a stoned electro take on the 70s, this band offer an intimate electric sound that could easily become a summer cloud-gazing staple.

Chew Lips are the British equivalent of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. With the singer looking like a porcelain cut out from a L’Oreal hair campaign, her beauty is cast to the background with an eccentric dance manner on stage that was impossible to resist and fall in love with. Scissoring her legs like a drunk flamingo, prowling around the stage, and generally dancing like ‘the last remaining dedicated girl at the disco’, it was erratic but equally inspired. From crowd pleasers such as Gold Key to a wealth of new material, the set tickled pop friendly electrics.

KOKO hosted the powerhouse names in indie, although personally I thought that the likes of The Futureheads felt more dated than retro. Their acapella rendition was a commendable quirk to their commercial indie routes, even bringing a choir on stage. Ironically this didn’t translate well to the hit-hungry crowd, but with a large percentage of KOKO looking more like a student union brat pack who’d ‘raise the roof’ to Chesney Hawkes, The Futureheads shouldn’t take offence from this.

Saturday culminated with a free slice of pizza from a generous Italian, and finding a sticky dance floor quite surreal. Three girls indoors with Claire’s Accessories sunglasses on, an ASDA-till nan jazz jiving to her stalemate husband/lover and a couple with backpacks on dancing a million miles from each other like two shy predators made up the late night ravers. If this collective were a band, I’d be saying, ‘big things to come.’

Sunday had a similar flavour, with The Cribs bringing the night to a close in impressive fashion. Proving that they’re a powerhouse name in indie royalty now, the set travelled across their four albums. New songs from current release In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull went down a treat, something that can be a rarity to bands that are best known for the ‘older classics.’

My personal ‘one to watch’ comes in the shape of Charli xcx though. Fitting into the elcectic bracket with Marina & The Diamonds and Bat For Lashes, the singer is seductive, with a hint of gothic, adding something new to the pop genre.

Words: Charles Matthews