LIVE: Camden Rocks 2015

By Tamsyn Wilce

As the lunch time sun poked it’s head out of the clouds over Camden, those first through the proverbial gates had the opportunity to catch High Hopes play a blistering set of new age hardcore, complete with swagger, style and of course, those customary Nike trainers. And what a way to shift the hangover from the night before, this tight five piece smashing their short set, with singer Nick Brooks asking “are you happy?” The sound wasn’t perfect, with the drums drowning the guitar and what would have been some badass pinched harmonics, but there was enough during songs like ‘The Balance’ and ‘Days Fade to Grey’ to give real optimism for the future and indeed, hopes must be high that this band can make some headway in 2015. [DB]

Attention Thieves took to the Barfly stage at 1pm and performed a high octane, heart on the sleeve set. With his arm in a sling, vocalist Alex Green was left unable to play guitar so took on the role of frontman with ease. Thrashing around stage, he was able to pull every person in, and with songs like ‘Can’t See The Light’ ‘You’ll Be The First One’ and set opener ‘Crooked Teeth’, they get the day off to a fantastic start and prove to be a band on the up. [AR]

Lock & Key are up at the front of the pack of a new wave of underground hardcore in the UK pushing and shoving its way to recognition. This performance had all the potential of a blistering show of British heart and soul, but was somehow let down by the sheer size of the Ballroom, despite the few there making up for those that weren’t. Nevertheless, frontman Rob Lardner goaded the crowd, pacing up and down like a restless predator, a similar swagger ad style, not dissimilar to Deez Nuts. ‘No acceptance’ had an immense intro and a fitting blood curdling scream to match, as was ‘Hostile’, drummer Josh Murphy screaming along in mime from the back of the stage. Camden Rocks organisers should be partly to blame for putting on a relatively unknown hardcore act so early in the day, but Lock & Key did manage to open up and showed some of their full potential to those that had turned out. [DB]

The Black Heart was absolutely rammed for one of the buzz bands of the weekend, As Lions. Formed from the ashes of Rise To Remain, As Lions have quietly been working on new music, with a debut EP due in June. Having only released one song so far, ‘The Fall’ is screamed back by everyone in the room, and the band looked genuinely surprised. Dickinson announces that it’s only their 5th show as a band, but you couldn’t tell. As Lions prove to be one of the stand out bands for the whole day. [AR]

Puzzlingly sandwiched in between Lock & Key and Polar, perhaps as a way to enhance the myriad of genres on show at Camden Rocks this year, God Damn, a two piece rock and roll band gave more than their fair share of loud, technically gifted music to a slowly growing crowd. Despite singer Thom Edward stating they were only playing a short set, and that their later set in the evening would be better, they rattled through some noisy and seamless offerings. Drummer Ash Weaver, looking like the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz, seemingly trying to bring dungarees back to the fore with his awesome mop of curly hair, but his ability on the drums unquestionable; the crowd appreciative of the obvious ability of this two piece. Despite the novelty already seen with bands like The White Stripes and Death from Above, God Damn offered something new and were a joy to behold. ‘Silver Spoons’ was the standout track, with Edward declaring it’s a song about the rich kids getting richer, a fitting nod to recent political events. A haunting cacophony of noise, bone tingling rock and rock, all very well received and thoroughly enjoyable. God Damn indeed. [DB]

Festival organisers, take note, bands like Polar and Lock & Key would have been much more effective in a smaller venue. Everyone else, take note, Polar were ferocious, displayed a refreshing smack of maturity and a stellar, hardcore offering that did nothing but set the stage for what surely is a bright future. Frontman Adam Woodford is an intimidating sight, with vehement intent, instructing the initially lacklustre crowd that “If the person next to you isn’t moving, throw them against the wall”. Fists begin to be pumped by all and sundry as everyone starts to wake up and notice Polar are beginning to turn things up, a customary, but lame wall of death and a Slipknot-esque ‘sit-down’ had all the makings of a classic hardcore ho-down. However, solely due to the sheer lack of people through the door, this performance was let down. It left a feeling that had this been in a smaller venue, this could have been one of the best performances of the weekend. [DB]

Glamour of the Kill have certainly got a hardcore following and in parts their post-hardcore delivery is masterfully displayed with ferocious drums, intricate and spine tingling guitar solos; Davey Richmond’s more gritty vocals suitably rounding off some fantastic segments. However, there are far too many of the more overly ‘poppy’ moments, with Richmond’s vocals sounding highly Americanised and pretty darn cheesy. Nevertheless, songs such as ‘Earthquake’ and ‘Freak Like Me’ offered some more enjoyable camaraderie. It will be hard for GOTK to escape the shadow cast by Avenged Sevenfold, simply because they sound and look so similar but if the crowd present was anything to go by, there is certainly room for one more. [DB]

Bringing the old school rock n roll to Camden Rocks, Black Spiders prove to be an entertaining live act. With songs like ‘Balls’ and ‘Stick It To The Man’ how could they not be? Clearly influenced by bands like Aerosmith and KISS, they play a brand of hard rock which has 80s vibes buzzing throughout and brings to mind sleazy American rock clubs. They at times come across as a parody, in the same vein as Steel Panther, though Black Spiders are a riot of fun. [AR]

Under the Influence, the hardcore, rap-infused five piece from Norwich were incredibly tight, front man Jack Murphy’s cheeky grin beaming from ear to ear, like a Cheshire cat, having as much fun as possible in their early evening set. Their songs are nicely constructed with a superb fusion of both rap and heavy hardcore, the heavier bits fast and manic, interlaced with the highly talented vocals of Murphy. He spent most of his time hunched over, spitting out lyrics not unlike a rejuvenated, younger Jacoby Shaddix, complete with a lyrically astute stage presence. The band possess a youthful, boundless energy which impressed, their ballsy confidence evident through every song, including a wonderful Nickleback cover, a razor blade edge slicing through the usual inevitable tameness of this Kroger’s tunes, giving it power and grit. It may not be long before  we’re all ‘under the influence’ of this exciting and promising young band. [DB]

The Stillery is absolutely rammed with people awaiting Grime Rock anarchists Astroid Boys. With no live drummer due to technical difficulties, the rappers have to make do with only a live DJ to back them up. But when they have bangers like ‘Wake Up’, ‘Minging’ and ‘Posted’ they prove their mettle as MCs. Traxx, Benji and Dellux all prove to be capable frontman, with between song banter bringing the laughs, and the songs themselves bringing the rage, with Stillery becoming a massive pit of sweat and flailing limbs. [AR]

In the confines of the Jazz Café, Brawlers bring their own brand of punk to Camden, and prove to be one of the most energetic bands on the bill. Lead singer Harry Johns (formerly of Dinosaur Pile-Up) is a ball of energy, spending almost as much time off the stage in the crowd as in it. ‘Instagram Famous’ and ‘Mothers & Fathers’ seem to go down the best with the crowd, but it’s the technical ability of Peter Hiley, who drums, which really captures the crowd. Brawlers bring the party and the fun, and look set for big things on this performance. [AR] 

The fantastically named And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead feel like they’ve been around for donkey’s years and have recruited a fair old fan base if the Electric Ballroom was anything to initially go by, the venue teeming with people, a buzz of excitement in the air. Unfortunately, tonight’s display is somewhat lacklustre, vast swathes of the audience leaving half way through to venture out into the hedonistic heights of Camden’s early evening offerings. The band play a solid mix of old and new, but it is the pretty dreadful, off key, pitchy vocals that stood out most, perhaps an inability to hear themselves, but to be fair, for such seasoned pros, one would expect far more. The crowd that remained were relatively statue like throughout, and although there is no doubt that And You Will Know Us… are usually good value for what they do, tonight just wasn’t their night. [DB]

Dingwalls is buzzing when Fearless Vampire Killers take to the stage. The theatrical alternative rockers have become a polished live act, having hit the live circuit hard and fast. Co-frontmen Laurence Beveridge and Kier Kemp hold the crowd in the palm of their hands, each time they take over frontman duties. ‘All Hallow’s Evil’ gets an amazing reaction from the crowd, as does ‘Bow Ties On Dead Guys’. When they crash through ‘In Wondrous Rage’ the crowd goes crazy. FVK may have finally turned the corner and look set to become a staple of the British Alternative Scene in the very near future. [AR]

Sheffield’s While She Sleeps were one of the last additions to the festival, though caused one of the biggest stirs. A band at the peak of their powers in a live setting, Sleeps set about destroying everything in the Electric Ballroom. ‘New World Torture’ and ‘This Is The Six’ start the set off and whips the crowd into a frenzy. Currently touring their latest album Brainwashed, they played a set leaning heavily on that material, with ‘Trophies of Violence’ and ‘Our Legacy’ being the highlights, before a killer ‘Four Walls’ brings what could be the set of the day to a close. While She Sleeps, once again proving why they’re going to be the next big British Metal band.[AR]

Back in The Stillery, The One Hundred prove why they’re one of the most exciting bands to hit the UK in the past 5 years. Combining Metal, Rap, and Electronics, they set about destroying Stillery. Frontman Jacob Field clambers onto the bar during the second song and orchestrates utter carnage. ‘Breathe’ and ‘Kingsmen’ show off the heavy side of the band whilst ‘Downfall’ shows the bands ability to write a chorus. With a circle pit round the centre support pillar in the middle of the room, The One Hundred leave the crowd in no worry as to who will be spoken about at the end of the day. [AR]

There are a lot of bands from the early noughties resurfacing to blast out old classics, interwoven between new songs that they hope will entice people enough to allow them a second bite of the apple. Finch are no exception, playing The Cuban restaurant, in a self confessed ‘off day’ while on tour in the UK. With one punter declaring “we don’t care about your new album” it was evident some were just here to see the classics. Despite this, Finch sounded tighter than ever, frontman Nate Barcalow’s incredible vocals sounding as aggressive and impressive as they did fifteen years ago. Among the surreal bar paraphernalia of flamingos and palm trees, Finch laid down the gauntlet to all, that they are still relevant and valid in today’s scene with classics ‘Letters’, ‘Ink’ and ‘Burn’ receiving the best reception. It is refreshing to see a band return and to nail it so professionally. It will be interesting to see if they become more than just a band remembered for times gone by. [DB]

The last time BFMV played in London was Feb 2014 in the Borderline. In the slightly bigger surroundings of the Electric Ballroom, they headline Camden Rocks 2015, and do not disappoint. Opening with latest single, ‘No Way Out’, Bullet show they mean business from the off. Following up with ‘Your Betrayal’ and ‘4 Words (To Choke Upon)’, they show off a swagger, which has been missing from the days festivities. It’s the older cuts like ‘Waking The Demon’, ‘All These Things I Hate (Revolve Around Me)’ and set closer ‘Tears Don’t Fall’ which get the best reaction, whilst another new song was debuted, called ‘Broken’. The set also featured Bullet’s new bassist Jamie Mathias’ first ever show for the band, and he didn’t disappoint, adding in the backing screams and adding a new vigor to the rest of the band. Bullet For My Valentine prove to be worthy headliners and with their new album due in August ‘Venom’ may finally see them fulfill their promise and become a Monster sized band. [AR]