Review: Camden Rocks Festival 2019

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Across the first weekend of June, rock, metal and punk bands descended upon Camden Town for Camden Rocks. From the big names in the scene to the up-and-coming bands, you certainly got your money's worth.

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Kicking off festival season with Camden Rocks was an epic way to spend the weekend (1st-2nd June) in the capital. Costing £70 for the whole weekend, you got your money’s worth with the amount of acts you got to see whilst enjoying the fabulous English sunshine. This festival offered a range of different venues to catch up-and-coming bands as well as the big stars, and allowed you to take in the sites of this very influential musical quarter of the capital! It was a very busy weekend, but enjoyable nonetheless; I discovered some new artists I now love and would highly recommend.

Day One – Saturday 1st June 2019

First off was Bang Bang Romeo at Dingwalls, a live music venue adjacent to Camden Lock that’s been around since the 1970s. This band is definitely a force to be reckoned with – they are putting Yorkshire on the map! Anastasia’s voice is powerful, sharp and clear and Ross and Richard know how to put the funk in funky as the guitar and drum rhythms are reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac, but edgier. With their jokes in between songs, it’s no wonder Pink snapped them up as her support on her tour this year! Their song ‘Shame on You’ is a refreshing take on rock as there is a hint of the 70s vibe blended with the edginess of the 00s mixed in with Anastasia’s powerful vocals. Their cover of Justin Timberlake’s ‘Cry Me a River’ was so haunting that at first, I didn’t recognize it – they really made it their own. Likewise, their cover of ‘Adore Me’ literally brought myself and others in the room to tears… this is just how amazing this band is. This song was released for mental health week to help raise awareness and to encourage listeners to check in on their friends. The emotion conveyed in their music is something hard to describe, which is why you must get down and catch one of their shows!

Now over to The Electric Ballroom for Milk Teeth. Formed in 2013 in Gloucestershire, they are going from strength-to-strength. As a former emo kid, I would constantly keep up to date with Hopeless Records, who just so happened to sign Milk Teeth in 2015, so I knew who they were a long time ago. However, this was my first time seeing them. From the get go, they got the crowd going wild – they had the room packed for their set. Another force to be reckoned with, this band is keeping punk alive and entertaining new generations of punk-rockers. Lead singer Becky’s vocals reminded me of the spunkiness and bass that Joan Jet had in The Runaways and that she continues to have today, while Em’s guitar riffs were reminiscent of Johnny Ramones’ playing skills and Oli’s drumming patterns and electricity were reminiscent of The Sex Pistol’s Paul Cook. With hits such as ‘Nearby Catfight’ and ‘Stain’, all I can say is, PUNK’S NOT DEAD!

But it was local Hampshire boy Frank Turner who blew the roof off The Electric Ballroom on Saturday night. There was a packed room of eager fans waiting to see the man himself. Many people were still on a high from singing along to Wheatus performing ‘Teenage Dirtbag’, so the energy was buzzing before he came on. As soon as he entered the stage, the room erupted with so much joy; it was amazing to feel and see from the photographer’s pit. I must admit, I had never really listened to Frank Turner prior to Camden Rocks but after his performance, he is one of my most streamed artists on Spotify. He started with an acoustic set, which was beautiful. Playing ‘Don’t Worry’ live has nothing on the recordings because you underestimate just how powerful his stage presence is when it is just him and his guitar on stage. He was able to command the crowd without even trying – I can see why he is my housemate’s favourite artist now. He then progressed onto a full set. It was electrifying and fun as he came to close the set with ‘The Road’ and brought his fiancée out on stage to kiss her in front of hundreds of adoring fans in a super-sweet gesture.

Day Two – Sunday 2nd June 2019

First up today was Our Hollow, Our Home. This band is definitely following Frank Turner’s footsteps by putting Hampshire on the map with these guys hailing from Southampton. They were very energetic and got the crowd buzzing by encouraging the audience to bounce and get involved. They are definitely for fans of Behind Blue Eyes (who also played Camden Rocks 2019), We Came as Romans and for fans of earlier Bring Me The Horizon music. In particular, their song ‘Father & Ghost’ is very melodic and the balance between singing and screaming allowed for the crowd to sing along – screaming is not my strong point. This band is up and coming locally and nationally, with 176,288 monthly listeners on Spotify and a large following on YouTube and Instagram, so make sure you follow, listen and watch this band because they are definitely going places.

Next came the Londoners St Agnes. This quartet have a distinct sound – their song ‘Move Like a Ghost’ sounds like goth meets rock, but this track in particular has a dash of ‘Killing in the Name of’ by Rage Against The Machine. Although blending music genres together is nothing new (in particular goth and rock as demonstrated by The Cure), St Agnes do so with a more modern twist. Lead vocalist Kitty Arabella Austen’s vocals are reminiscent of Halestorm’s lead vocalist, Izzy Hale, because of the power behind it, yet it is still very British indie and distinct. The band formed in 2014 and have toured the local music scenes of London, so they have gained a following. They were playing in the latter half of the day and clearly had dedicated fans; many of whom had seen them before and were singing along with the songs. Admittedly, I had only heard the name but never heard their songs, but I am glad I got to witness this band in the city I grew up in. Check out their debut album Welcome to Silvertown now, or better yet, catch them at Dingwalls, Camden, in October. I promise you won’t regret it.

The ultimate end of the festival for me was seeing Deaf Havana live! Unfortunately, I was unable to attend their acoustic set in the Dr. Martens Boot Room, but I was able to catch their performance at The Electric Ballroom. To say the very least, the room was packed, but that didn’t matter! All fans alike were singing, dancing and having a great time to songs such as ‘Sinner’, ‘Fear’ and ‘Hunstanton Pier’. In between songs, lead singer James would talk to us and interact because it felt like he and the band genuinely cared about our experience of the whole festival day. Since their formation in 2005, the band have obviously acquired a large following both in the UK and internationally, but many, for some reason, thought they were American. Despite this misconception, they are maintaining a high quality of rock music as they progress with each album, making bangers that only prove their status as one of the best British rock bands still alive and performing today. If you like Don Broco, you will definitely love this band too, so check out their newest album Rituals and try and catch them either at The Venue, Derby, Friday 12th July 2019 or at Gunnersbury Park, London, Sunday 8th September 2019!

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English student who loves a range of music.

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