Sunday 20 April 2008

Camden Crawl: Day One - Friday

(Esser: Messy but marvellous)

The Camden Crawl breeds mixed emotions – on the one hand, it is not technically worth the money (some £50 for a two day pass), but on the other, it does generate a lot of fun ad excitement.

Despite the organisers pleading with folk to come along early because of loads of wonderful afternoon activities, in truth, there isn’t much on the official Crawl route to occupy the daytime. Hurrah then, for Tommy Flynn’s, an Irish bar between Camden and Mornington Crescent, that has billed itself as the “Camden Crawl Fringe” and packed itself with bands playing short sets all afternoon.

And on Friday, favourites Death Cigarettes have the four o‘clock spot and are absolutely blindingly good. The crowd don’t now what to make of a squalling, shrieking girl, walking like a zombie, climbing on the tables and generally freaking out. One of the guitarists has hand scrawled ‘Unmarketable’ on his T shirt – a reference to the rather non media friendly nature of their noise.

They go down a storm, and draw baffled and astonished looks from people stuck on a bus outside the venue.

This year the Crawl organisers seem to have decreed that punters should shuttle in and out of two main venues, and try to squeeze into small places where all the bands play at the same time.

We start off in the Electric Ballroom to see the heavily touted Sam Sparro. It’s an inauspicious start – the guy shows us his bottom before the second number and delivers a routine of Jamoroquai –lite souly jazz. We depart after about three songs.

We trot over the road to the Underworld for Ipso Facto. They certainly look the part – part Ladytron, part the backing band in Robert Palmer’s ‘Addicted To Love’ video. They are so mannered and reserved that it is difficult to warm to them, despite the rather pleasing way that they sort of undulate in unison. Good, I think, but an acquired taste.

Esser seems bound for world domination – if such can be achieved by writing songs that are so catchy that they stick in your brain for days. God help us if he ever gets used by an advertising agency. A fine percussive performance, marred only slightly by a sound mix that has decided that the bass player has the most important instrument and microphone.

An abortive attempt to get in to see Ladyhawke leads to us going off-Crawl again to head to the Proud Galleries. After some confusion on the door, we wander in and are literally ambushed by Kennedy singing in a vast open space, to a very small group of people who are doing their best to ignore him or to keep out of his clutches. The guy is a trooper and deserves better than this.

The Galleries themselves are worth comment – converted stables that have retained the individual stalls, which can be hired for the evening for parties. There are also performers – actors in fancy dress of a vaguely Versailles cut, wandering about being ‘decadent’, in a rather polite manner.
We use the opportunity to sit and rest, hoping that The Clik Clik will perform. Sadly, they don’t and we get the gung ho professional Irishery of Kid Harpoon instead. Very accomplished, and go down a bomb with the crowd, but they are not for me.

Having quickly listened to some of the bands online this morning, I head off to see what Make Model are like. There are plenty of them, and they make a big and rousing noise, but I find them to be the Scottish equivalent of Kid Harpoon. They are too Celtic for my tastes.

Fatigue sets in and with a full day tomorrow, I call it a night.

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