LIVE: Camden Rocks Festival 2018

By Yasmin Brown

For the 7th year of Camden Rocks, the organisers pulled out all the stops to curate a diverse and impressive line-up that was sure to please rock fans of all ages. Whether you were there for punk, classic rock, or alternative there was something for everyone. The Punktastic team spent the day exploring various venues and checking out bands of all sizes. These are just some of the highlights of an incredibly well put together day:

Words: Yasmin Brown / Photos: Tash Greene

There are few things greater than discovering a band that you know are going to change your life, and for many in attendance at Camden’s Underworld during Ducking Punches’ performance that’s exactly what happened. Previously a solo acoustic act, Dan Allen has recently changed up his sound by adding a full band to his project, and together they have created something amazing. The four self-proclaimed best friends put on a captivating punk rock performance, not only playing amazing tunes, but also broaching the sensitive yet necessary topic of male suicide rates in the UK before launching into their song ‘6 days’. Despite the short set and small crowd, Ducking Punches put on one of the most memorable performances of the day, and are sure to continue to grow from here on out.

Ahead of supporting the amazing Alexisonfire this month at Brixton Academy Gold Key are gracing a handful of UK festivals, and had the privilege of playing the intimate yet iconic Dingwalls right in the heart of Camden. It’s no surprise that, with the early set time and the stunning weather, the venue floor remained mostly vacant, but this didn’t deter the band from putting everything they had into their performance, playing each song with strong determination. Despite only having been formed in 2016, the members of Gold Key are impressively in sync with one another and have created music that is both raw and honest. With album number two well underway, you’d be smart to keep an eye on what this progressive rock band have to offer next.

Playing to a venue such as KOKO so early on in the day can only be seen as a challenge, yet Eliza and the Bear comfortably filled the 1,400 capacity venue with their huge energy and effervescent stage presence. Even without knowing the band intricately there was no escaping the urge to dance along with the band, as they made their way through their set, playing a number of their biggest singles such as ‘Lion’s Heart’, and the latest single from their upcoming album, ‘Real Friends’. This is a band that knows how to have a good time, highlighted when bassist Chris Brand ran away with the show, encouraging the rest of the band to start playing Queen’s ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ before launching into another of their own songs. While they might currently remain fairly under the radar, it would be unsurprising to learn that Eliza and the Bear are selling out venues like KOKO themselves in the not-too-distant future.

If Asylums taught the crowd at Belushi’s anything on this Saturday afternoon, it’s that no matter how small the venue, you can always make crowd-surfing work. This four piece filled Belushi’s pub with an unexpected number of fans singing and dancing along frantically to their own take on rock ‘n’ roll. The band wasted no time moving from one song to another, with just short introductions before launching into each one. Their lack of vocal interaction was more than made up for with groovy dance moves, the guitarist swaying his hips as he effortless played the cool riffs in each song. If their records aren’t enough to entice you into loving Asylums, then a short live set in a sweaty, sticky Camden pub will be.

For a band that has just recently lost their lead singer, it would be easy to be nervous when returning to the stage, but for Mallory Knox, their fan base remains loyal to the four existing members, and a packed-out KOKO proved this without a shadow of a doubt. At no point during the set did it feel as though there was a fifth person missing from the line-up as they effortlessly commanded the stage with their unwavering energy. With circle pits emerging every five minutes, and crowd members continuing to dance along even to previously unheard songs, it became clear that Mallory Knox will only continue to grow from here on out. At every possible moment, Sam [Douglas, bass/vocals] took a second to thank everyone for their support, noting that just a year ago, they weren’t sure whether they would ever get the chance to play shows again, making nights like these even more poignant. Mallory Knox are as resilient as they are humble, and their determination and talent never shines through more than during their live shows. As they move in a more rock-inspired direction, they appear more mature and as sure of themselves as ever, and we’re lucky they chose to stick around.

Twin Atlantic were made for festivals. They were made for live shows, period. Their performances are – without exception – packed with energy and charisma from the opening moments of every show, with the sensations created throughout lingering long after they leave the stage. The Scottish four piece had no problem filling KOKO during their early evening slot, inciting carefree dancing, uninhibited screaming, and crowdsurfing from every corner of the venue. For a full review of their recent headline show at Norwich’s Waterfront, head here.

Maximo Park are, above all else, showmen. From the back of the room, it was clear to see just how the band has grown since their inception in 2000, as arms flew into the air, moving in time with the beat – a sure sign of recognition. The band’s charismatic performance didn’t falter once as they made their way through the 20 song setlist, a huge number of songs for any headline gig, let alone one at a festival. With almost two decades as a band under their belt, the five piece are seasoned performers, working tightly together to create a well-formed sound that even the most casual of fans weren’t able to ignore. From front to back, the energy was incommensurable, and as the evening went on, it became increasingly more apparent as to why the festival organisers had chosen this band to headline Camden Town’s largest venue. While each song was received with gusto, it was unsurprisingly the penultimate performance of their 2007 track ‘Our Velocity’ that received the greatest response, leading seamlessly into ‘Apply Some Pressure’, a trip back in time to the band’s first album and an excellent choice for the evening’s finale.

All of a sudden, Australian natives, The Faim, are everywhere. Whether it’s supporting Lower Than Atlantis on their most recent tour, or their afternoon slot at bank holiday weekend’s Slam Dunk Festival you cannot escape them. And why would you want to? As they took to the stage at the tiny, damp Dublin Castle pub, it immediately became evident that they weren’t going to let the small stage deter them from putting on a huge show. Lead singer, Josh Raven moved around almost constantly, even running through the sweaty crowd and physically interacting with as many fans as possible. Their Fueled By Ramen influences are evident (having written music with Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz and twenty one pilots’ Josh Dunn), and, despite the frequent comparisons, The Faim have created a sound that belongs exclusively to them. The four band members work immaculately together, each bringing their own strengths and personalities to the performance. It’s easy for vocals to be lost in small venues such as The Dublin Castle, yet Josh pushed through the technical challenges throughout the band’s set, giving an excellent vocal performance. Playing all of their currently released songs and then some, The Faim put everything they had into the late night set, and during songs such as ‘Make Believe’, it was easy to feel the music along with them. This band has garnered quite the following, and based on this performance, it’s only a matter of time before they become an international household name.