Tuesday 8 May 2012

Camden Crawl Day Two - 6 May 2012

Rolo Tomassi

It’s Sunday afternoon in the Lock Tavern. People are sat at tables tucking into huge plates of food. And, on, a small dais perched amongst them all, the second day of the Camden Crawl gets under way.

Echoes are two brothers and a percussionist who taps unobtrusively on a pair of bongos.

It’s damp and chilly outside, but Echoes transport us to warm tropical nights in Eighties Miami. Their epic, synthy groove is so redolent of another time and place that you can almost see the shimmering neon.

The singer has a wonderful white-boy soul voice that soars majestically. He stands transported, his eyes closed. This is the sort of electric pulse that weaved and throbbed through recent hit film ‘Drive’.

In the Roundhouse Studios Mammoth Sound are hugely entertaining with their funky/rap/ska/jazz/soul fusion. These kids are young and still learning, but their confidence and charm are very cheering.  Kenny Mukendi and Santarna Scott are fine foils for each other, she smiling, dancing and belting out a storm, while he raps, bounces and teases the guitarist. Very good indeed. I’d have said that they are certs for the Jazz Café, but they’ve already played there.

A long walk down the road culminates with a stonking set from Rolo Tomassi at Koko. The previous band are just finishing as we come in, and are so loud that the only way to order Tiger beer at the bar is to do a mime like a tiger. Like this.

There is something about Rolo Tomassi that always cheers me up, possibly for reasons that the band would not be happy about.

Don’t get me wrong – I love their music dearly, but I also get a smile each time one of their gentle and intricate ‘musical’ interludes is interrupted by the harsh and guttural hardcore screams of Eva Spence. There’s a certain Spinal Tap ‘Lick My Love Pump’ incongruity.

Rolo Tomassi have had line up changes since I last saw them and I wonder if they have lost some of their old subtlety in the process. They are not helped this afternoon by sound problems that mean that they only seem to have one working microphone between them.

Eva writhes and twists and almost inverts herself as she cavorts around this big stage. It’s a great show, and the last really good thing that I’ll see on this year’s Crawl.

I head off to the outdoor arena to catch Japanese screamo outfit Crossfaith. They are very loud, jump up and down in unison and shriek “Camden Crawl” every thirty seconds or so. A girl from Action On Hearing Loss hands out ear plugs.

And then, for me at least, the Crawl just falls apart.

A stop off for food takes longer than intended and puts us behind. We can’t find anything good in the remainder of this time slot and end up in Dingwalls for the last fifteen minutes of Baxter Dury. Let’s just say that he does what he does and the people here seem to be enjoying it.

I then make the fatal mistake of heading to the Monarch for Willy Moon. I spend the best part of an hour watching a guy uncoiling bits of cable while an old man stares at a microphone as if trying to work out what kind of devilish device that it might be. It’s like a Beckett play. It’s an utter shambles and another time slot wasted.

Micachu and The Shapes are at least on time for their set at the Jazz Café. However, the sound mix is horrible, with Micachu all but inaudible and the only thing that you can hear being the discordant and deeply irritating plonk of a basic keyboard.

At this point, I throw my hands up and cut my losses. Despite things rather petering out, I’ve had a lot of fun on this year’s Crawl.

There’s always next year…

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