There surely can’t be another event on the planet that puts on as many bands in one day as Camden Rocks, the London gigpalooza that boasts 20 stages. A celebration of Camden’s history at the heart of the UK’s rock and roll scene, just over 200 sets will play over the course of an afternoon and an evening this Saturday.
Of course, that’s a mind-boggling number of artists from which to choose, so we’ve decided to make it easy for you to make some informed choices. For my money at least, these are five of the best bands to watch at CR2016!
Photo: Jo Moolenschot
Playing: 13:30pm @ The Barfly (Downstairs)
If there’s a British band at current that manages to pull off a deft mix of big-riff aggression and emotional transparency better than Bad Sign, I’d really like to hear them. The South Londoners are exactly what this festival is about: absolutely barn-storming power and genuine home-grown talent.
Deservedly signed by Basick Records earlier this year, the trio of imposing bassist/vocalist Joe Appleford, guitarist Jonathan Harris and drummer Kevin Miller ooze experience on stage and off – which they have a propensity for, moving without warning to occupy the floor. Downstairs at the Barfly, there’s a chance the street outside might even get half a song.
An album on the horizon perhaps promises some new fare for those who’ve seen Bad Sign before, but if you haven’t you’re in for a real treat – it’s all good.
Playing: 20:00pm @ Bloc Bar
“We are Palm Reader. We play loud. We play heavy. We play hard. We play fast.”
So say the group themselves – and boy do they – but even that probably sells them short. Multi-faceted and aggressive, the Woking natives are a band I’ve a real talent for missing whenever they roll through town.
Nevertheless , the handful of opportunities I’ve had to see Palm Reader have been absolutely fantastic. With the kind of punk passion bred across scores of gigs in small rooms up and down the country, they’ve a kind of wild energy and acerbic immediacy sharpened by throwing your sweaty body at stuff, people, and open spaces.
Go stand in a room with them and get your sock blown off, why don’t you?
Press to MECO
Photo: Jo Moolenschot
Playing: 21:15pm, Bloc Bar
It’s actually impossible not to have fun whilst watching Press To MECO. Another forward-thinking trio from the burgeoning Croydon scene, Luke, Adam and Lewis are infinitely likeable – on top of writing some of the hookiest alternative British rock since Biffy Clyro. Their soaring three-part melodies – yes, all three sing, and really, really well – sit atop some remarkably agile and brilliantly crafted songs; often technical, always punchy in one way or another.
Their live show is well-practiced; they’re clearly at ease on stage, engaging in light banter and exuding cheeky south London charm, and you can’t help but smile throughout. Not to be missed.
Photo: Rachael Griffiths, Black Lotus Photography
Playing: 17:15pm & The Underworld & 20:15pm @ The Monarch
Few British bands right now are fit to even hold a candle to HECK. In fact, it’s probably not a good idea to have naked flames around the Nottingham noise-merchants – something’s liable to get set on fire. Your face, most likely.
Formerly known as Baby Godzilla, the recently re-branded four-piece are an absolute force of nature, often eschewing the stage entirely in favour of venue-wide monkey business. Tables, railings, the bar – the kick drum – are all fair game to be climbed. HECK’s recent tour-ending show at The Borderline saw guitarists Jonny and Matt wholeheartedly succeeding in their mission to plant their shoes on pretty much every surface they could – even the ceiling.
If nothing else it’s a spectacle, but their new album Instructions shows they also have a wealth of songwriting creativity in their pockets; directionless noise this ain’t.
Playing: 21:30, The Barfly (Upstairs)
Norma Jean. In a 220-cap room. Are you fucking kidding me you’re not going to see that?!
Across nearly 20 years, the Georgians have cemented themselves at the epicentre of the metalcore genre, with help from some huge scene luminaries like past members Josh Scogin (The Chariot, ’68) and Daniel Davison (Underoath, Every Time I Die). Far from a fading star, their last album Wrongdoers was perhaps their finest to date, and to see what will most likely be a set of career-spanning classics is hugely exciting.
If nothing else, bands like these are legendary for their energy, and you can bet The Barfly is going to be absolutely heaving.
Camden Rocks hits…er, Camden…this Saturday 4th June. The full line-up, venue information and time slots is below. Tickets are available via the Camden Rocks website, and you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter for more information as it’s available.