Tuesday 4 May 2010

Camden Crawl Day One - 1 May 2010

It starts off well in brilliant sunshine.

Walking down the road I get caught up in a guerrilla gig at the corner of Hawley Road. A band piles onto the pavement, plugs in to a portable generator and perform an exemplary set of anthemic power pop. These are Call Me Animal and I instantly like them lots, particularly the lead singer bouncing about in the road to such a degree that he is in danger of disappearing beneath the wheels of passing buses.

While awaiting other members of our party, we make our way to the large temporary arena erected near to the Elephant’s Head pub. We see underwhelming performances from DissolvedIN, Kasms (now apparently reinvented for the hardcore audience) and Let’s Go To War.

It starts to rain.

After a hapless attempt to get into various venues we find ourselves crammed cheek by jowl in the Camden Eye. It is hell on earth in here and a lacklustre set from The Standards does not help matters.

It is now seriously pissing down and we duck into Camden Rock, for what turns out to be a protracted sound check by Veronica Falls. This waiting around for something to happen becomes a theme for the rest of the day – most of the bands start times are synchronised, with the result that wherever we go there seems an inordinate amount of time standing in empty venues hoping that something might happen.

Once the clock reaches their allotted hour, Veronica Falls start their show proper. They are actually ok, in a regulation lo-fi manner. Unfortunately, by now I am in a depressive haze and am not able to function properly.

Off across the road to the Jazz Café for Welsh psychedelic frolics from Race Horses. They are extremely good at what they do, but what they are is essentially a minutely detailed simulacra of 1960’s ‘pots of tea and LSD’ whimsy of the type favoured by Syd Barratt. Fine in small doses.

The rain beats down as we trudge up the road to Dingwalls for the always dependable Bo Ningen. As ever, there is a long wait, but what really surprises me is that even when the band are onstage, how poorly attended this performance is – a real pity as the Ningen are a guaranteed good time and will render you deaf for the rest of the evening. Tonight’s set is fitful, but once they really get going they are like a jet taking off.

A small personal landmark is achieved by actually getting into the Barfly during a Camden Crawl. In previous years it’s always been so crowded that such a feat has always been beyond me.

Tonight however, the place is only about half full for the gentle jazz stylings of Eliza Doolittle. She’s very pretty, very sweet and very high pitched. Easy on the eye and ear, but not one to linger over.

My depression has still not really lifted, and the teeming rain and a horrendous journey home doesn’t help matters. By the next morning neither my mood nor the weather has lightened and I abandon the second day of the event completely.

Due to my demons, I was unable to do justice to this year’s Crawl. Even so, with the honourable exception of Call Me Animal, it seems to me to have been a poorly organised, disappointing event, which has become bloated beyond control. I will think long and hard before I attend again.

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