LIVE: Camden Rocks 2016

By Ben Tipple

Once again taking over a significant proportion of the area’s live music venues, Camden Rocks 2016 hosts a vast array of bands ranging from the relatively obscure through up-and-comers to a selection from the elite. Delving into all scenes associated with the alternative, it’s easy to find yourself stumbling from melody to ferocious screams through only one pair of hinges. Eclectic to say the least, finding those gems can prove a little tricky. We think we did pretty well though.


There’s always a danger with these midday slots that nobody will show up. For Drones the possibly worry proves unsubstantiated as the comparably small Good Mixer plays host to an impressive number of early risers. Newly appointed Drones frontperson Lois McDougall spits through the set, battling health issues that recently caused her to miss some of the band’s mainland European shows. She remains clearly adamant to make her mark on the band’s brash punk, and leaves the stage visible tired but undoubtedly successful. Even with a bad throat, Drones are a reinvigorated force. [BT]



Despite their rather early slot, this small pub is nicely filled out and this seems to give Shields a boost of confidence. Tracks such as ‘Guilt’ sound huge within this tiny venue; the vocal interplay between Joe Edwards and Sam Kubrick works fantastically, lending a charged emotion to their heavy material. [JT]

Bad Sign

The downstairs floor of the Barfly is absolutely packed for Bad Sign. The Croydon trio have really exploded onto the scene within the last six months or so and, after their monster performance, it’s not difficult to see why. Even with the full floor the guys wander into the crowd to dish out their meaty riffs, belting out the heavy yet emotive track ‘Father’, among others. If their solid performance and the full room is anything to go by, then Bad Sign are sure to do very, very well indeed. [JT]


At The Underworld, Zoax have started the party. This band have been rising through the ranks rather quickly recently, and so they should. The confidence that they emanate is staggering and really shines through during tracks such as ‘Roses All the Way’ and ‘The Bad Blood’. Quick, frenetic riffs rip through the room and sees Adam Carroll whip up a frenzied storm on the floor. However, he also shows a more sensitive side during ‘The Wave’ – a bruising track, it showcases just how much talent and how much more potential this band have to offer. [JT]



Taking a number of swipes at the UK pop-punk scene, Brawlers launch into their Dingwalls set to establish themselves as something different. Yet it is their music that does much of the talking. Vocalist Harry George Johns tells his melodic stories with a unique poetic twist, complimented by just the right amount of on-stage bravado. Perhaps most noticeably, any confining walls have been knocked down allowing the band to fully let loose. The result is neigh-on exhilarating, and both one of the most enjoyable and excitable sets of the day. [BT]

Grumble Bee

By the time Grumble Bee take to the stage at Bloc Bar, the room is heaving. Again, this band have been one to follow since their inception a few months ago as the brain child of Jack Bennett. He strives to create incredibly heavy, yet very melodic, pop songs. And the reception they receive is testament to their recent hard work. ‘Francium’ simply swells and soars, layered with catchy hooks and captivating melodies. Then there’s Jack himself – he may seem shy, but he’s incredibly charismatic and instantly likeable, making it even easier to enjoy his fresh, catchy tracks. By the time they come off stage, this lot are definitely buzzing. [JT]


Black Foxxes

Black Foxxes are now able to call any stage home, increasingly demonstrating the mastery of their own art. And it is their own. Even in this mid-afternoon set, the trio develop an identifying ominous atmosphere; one highlighted by their thunderous tones and their heart-wrenching melodies. It’s nothing more than stunning, particularly their ability to reduce a full room to complete silence during ‘River’. Few, even more established acts, can match this type of effortless power. [BT]


After HECK’s set, it’s a wonder that The Underworld is still standing in one piece. Not even ten seconds into their first track and it’s absolute carnage. Both Jonny Hall and Matt Reynolds are clambering over people and hanging from the ceiling and pillars, all in order to deliver their chaotic, loud tracks. From start to finish, HECK are raw, rough, and visceral. Their set simply twists and turns with wild abandon, but they make sure that they’re constantly sounding tight. [JT]

Palm Reader

Back in Bloc Park, Woking’s Palm Reader are doing what they do best: being loud, fast, and aggressive. This quintet pour their entire spectrum of emotion into their set as well as crushing speed and aggression together to create tracks such as ‘Survivor’. Their uncompromising blend of hardcore simple shakes the room. Their tracks are huge slabs of relentless viciousness. It’s an astounding set to watch. [JT]


There’s a queue snaking around the building for Zebrahead, who from the outset of their set are hellbent on hosting the biggest party of the day. Their roadies, dressed in various full-bodied costumes (one as Pikachu, of course), dispense alcoholic beverages from a makeshift bar to the side of the stage, ensuring at all times that the band are having as much fun as the audience. And that’s a hell of a lot of fun. Warm, sweaty, crazy and chaotic; Zebrahead wouldn’t have it any other way. [BT]

Making Monsters

Down at Belushi’s, Making Monsters are making a loud, raucous noise. During ‘Better’, vocalist Emma Gallagher winds her way through the tight knit crowd, bellowing into her mic. Behind her, the rest of the band rip through with demonic drum work and visceral riffs. Despite only having a half hour set, the Londonderry quartet show what they’re made of with killer vocals, monolithic riffs and a pinch of sass. ‘Noodle Sync’ is a particular highlight – disgustingly heavy breakdowns and Emma’s vocal versatility makes this set a bold one. If Camden Rocks is about showcasing the best music that the UK scene has to offer, then Making Monsters are near the top of that list. [JT]