Last year’s Camden Crawl was a vision of the hell we all deserve. It distilled all of the very worst elements of V Festival and transplanted them to London’s most infuriating square mile, with wellie-wearing Surrey fucks wafting around a town that is being slowly devoured by its own irrelevance.
This year the All-Saints-does-Woodstock crew were mercifully absent. In their place, though, we were treated to a cavalcade of stag do pricks, invariably decked out in hilaaaaaaaarious novelty outfits. This delightful little crew made up around 20 per cent of the crowd at what felt like a dramatically under-attended festival. Indeed, after about 10 o’clock Camden seemed less busy than it would be on any other Saturday night. Last year’s buzz may have been created primarily by morons, but at least it existed. This year, on Saturday at least, Camden seemed on its last legs, the atmosphere more mortuary than hothouse.
And yet despite the aberrations of NW1, this year’s Camden Crawl was actually very enjoyable – simply because of the quality of the programming. Rare were the moments during which there was nothing to see; in fact, the Sunday was one of the most clashtastic festival experiences I can remember. In bookings at least, Camden Crawl seems like a festival finally reaching maturity. Judging by the thinness of the crowds, though, its core audience is yet to catch up.
Here are four of Saturday’s best acts.
Watching Three Trapped Tigers is a profoundly depressing experience. Whatever we do, in whatever field and with whichever medium, the results will never be as impressive as the trio’s live show. They are continually referred to as a ‘musician’s band’, but this rather misses the point. Their astonishing technical proficiency might be their most obvious trait, but it is their musicality, their sense of fun, their sheer groove that really make them one of the best live bands at work today.
Regular readers may remember Seb Rochford’s recent track ‘Seven Nine Zulu’, a dubby creeper featuring vocals from hip-hop near-veteran Jehst. In his own environment it turns out the London MC is rather more upbeat, delivering paeans to weed and hip-hop in a manner more reminiscent of the West Coast than of the East End. But it is when he is rapping about Great Britain that Jehst is at his best, as on the excellent ‘England’, an extended list of grievances with contemporary urban life delivered in a hushed near-a capella.
Two girls beset by technical problems, singing along (flat) to a backing track, and stealing beer off people in the front row. It should be irritation squared, and yet through charm alone Icona Pop manage to turn this unappealing proposition into something great. The melodies are molar-fracturingly sweet, the bass is 70 per cent wub, and the lyrics are about kicking ex-boyfriends’ possessions down stairs. There is no sublety here. There is, however, a handful of excellent tunes to be enjoyed in over-full clubs when happily drunk.
Eugene McGuinness is made entirely of sex. The Domino-signed singer-songwriter, quiffed and leather-clad, careers around the stage in a half-full Dingwalls, holding forth on his apparently endless litany of ill-fated romantic expeditions. Equal parts alluring and terrifying, McGuinness seems the sort of chap who would charm your girlfriend off your arm, then break your nose for fun. Fantastically exciting.
Check back tomorrow for our roundup of the best of Sunday’s acts.