It’s back! After a year away, the Camden Crawl has returned. It’s smaller than it has been in more recent times, and judging by the numbers of people that I see through the evening, not hugely well supported. But I love the Crawl and enjoy the way that it tosses you from venue to venue like a drunken sailor trying to find his way home.
I start off with Arrows of Love at the Electric Ballroom. They have clearly spent a long time in front of the mirror, perfecting just the right Mad Max post-apocalypse, dragged through a hedge backwards trash aesthetic. The problem is their music.
They can play instruments with their teeth, they can leap from the stage and wrestle around on the Ballroom floor, they can go through every rock cliché in the book – they are really dire in a true and deep sense. They are not having a bad day, their rottenness goes right to their core. They wouldn’t know a decent song if it bit them. To suck so heroically badly as Arrows of Love takes dedication.
I reel across the road to the Underworld to catch GirlsNames. This band hail from Belfast and within seconds I am in love. This is black as night guitar rock, propelled along by a bass line that moves your internal organs about.
Singer Cathal Cully mutters gloomily, wringing the neck of his guitar like he’s fondly killing it. Claire Miskimmin pounds on her bass, producing a sound so deep and heavy that you can practically SEE it.
The crowd is extremely small, but absolutely loving this. The band play again later in the evening, and I’m tempted to follow them.
Instead I go across the road for Desperate Journalist at the Black Cap. The band are already well into their set and suffer slightly because my ears are still ringing from Girls Names and the Black Cap sound system isn’t up to much.
That said, there’s a lot to love here. Singer Jo Bevan packs a lot of anger and emotion into her twisted pop songs and gangly bassist Rob Hardy looms over her, his mascara smudged across his face. They virtually define the term ‘indie rock’ so I clasp them to my grubby heart.
Off down the road then to see Yuck at Koko. This is the first time that I’ve encountered the band since Dan Blumberg left.
In many ways, nothing has changed. Yuck are still fine purveyors of tunefully shoegazey dream pop. When they hit a decent groove they can lift you right off your feet. The tracks of the most recent album sound well up to scratch. You feel that all is well in Yuck-world.
Back then to catch Pins at the Underworld. They are in terrific form. They are powerful, feisty and fun. They know the value of rock bands in black leather jackets and that a sneer and a snarl can be just as sweet as a kiss. Much head nodding and leaping about ensues.
I bow out at this point, leaving my pals to head off to the Purple Turtle. Glad to be back on the Crawl. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.