Monday 21 April 2008

Camden Crawl: Day Two - Saturday

Bookhouse Boys pic by Emily Tedrake

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So on Saturday afternoon of the Camden Crawl, it’s straight back down to Tommy Flynn’s for more decent bands.

We walk in to find Lion Club halfway through their energetic rawk act. They have plenty of swagger and know that pub tables are to be walked on. Except, they aren't Lion Club, but another band who are filling in. A pity I didn't catch their name.

Next up come Six Nation State, who have lots of fans in the place and are a raggle taggle bunch of goodtime rockers who have the whole joint jumping. Yesterday they were on the Crawl proper. They may have played somewhere bigger on that occasion, but a rammed bar such as this is their natural milieu. Very enjoyable.

A bit of a disappointment next, as The Indelicates have belied their name and cried off sick. They are replaced by a faintly amusing guy with a guitar calling himself Beans On Toast. We drink up and leave.

After yesterday’s abortive attempt to get in to see Ladyhawke, we determine not to be thwarted today. The crush inside the Cuban Bar is horrendous, and I am balanced half on a table and half on someone’s foot. Is she worth it? – in other circumstances maybe, but it is just too uncomfortable to put up with more than about twenty minutes of her 80’s inflected electro. Another time maybe.

Due to the marvel that is MySpace, one of our number has listened to The Bookhouse Boys that morning and is raving about them. So we duly trot along to Dingwalls. And have our socks blown off. The Bookhouse Boys are a mighty amalgam of the best American gothic of the Bad Seeds coupled with the ghost surfers in the sky twang of Gallon Drunk. With some Tindersticks thrown in for good measure.

They look the part too, nine musicians going hell for leather in a glorious riot of beards and western clobber, contrasted by the splendid figure of Catherine Turner – all raven hair and ghostly pallor.

The blazing mariachi of songs like ‘Dead’ and ‘G-Surf’ set us up for the night. The first previously undiscovered gems of the Crawl so far.

It’s a tough act to follow, but we don’t do too badly. Back down the road we catch Lykke Li roaring out soulfully while her band lay down a minimalist, ticking electro beat. It works really well, and Lykke herself is good company. And we get double Swedish value for money when top disco diva Robyn joins in for an unrehearsed but joyful finale.

In high spirits we head into the Black Cap, which is a jam-packed deafening throb of gay men, star struck teens and minor celebrity. It is unbelievable, uncomfortable and absolutely exhilarating. When the next band appear, they struggle to catch the attention of the seething mass of humanity.

In truth, Metronomy do a pretty decent job, with their tricky beats and flashing lights, but they cannot compete with a growing need to get the hell out of there before I, like, die.

Queues and exhaustion prohibit further Crawling, so I call it a night.

And that’s the Camden Crawl. Some good, some bad, some indifferent. It is still not really worth the money, and some of the timing issues need to be addressed. But it is a uniquely London event and I suspect that I’ll be back for more next year.

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