8 acts to check out at Camden Rocks that you might not have considered

By Ben Tipple

Camden Rocks celebrates its fifth anniversary this year, having grown from a four venue celebration of the alternative to an all-encompassing metropolitan extravaganza, dotted across twenty plus bars, cafes and clubs in London’s borough of Camden. Already vibrant, Camden Rocks adds an extra layer of activity to the buzzing location, bringing with it increasingly renowned artists both local and international. This year’s line-up, headed up by The Cribs, is – as would be expected – their biggest year yet.

Punktastic regulars Young Guns, SikTh, We Are The Ocean, Norma Jean, Creeper, Tellison, Sonic Boom Six, Black Foxxes, Zoax, Palm Reader and Press to MECO also feature on the bill, but we’d hope you have at least some of those already scheduled in. Taking the diversity of the line-up into account, here are eight acts that might not already be on your “must watch” list, but are definitely worth considering.


These Southend-on-Sea rockers have a huge crossover appeal, in recent times more likely to appear on the pages of NME over some of the more alternative magazines. Still, their upbeat blend of bouncy indie-pop and fuzzier Weezer-esque rock deserves all the attention it can get. There’s an underlying quirk to the sound too that gives it an extra edge.

Where and when: The Black Heart, 17:00


Remember Scholars? They’ve been away from the scene for a while, but they just returned with new track ‘I Must Insist’, which is… well, odd. Driven by spoken word verses that wouldn’t be out of place in Trainspotting, it moves the Hemel Hempstead in an interesting new direction. If anything, it’ll be worth catching this lot to see if they still have the insatiably catch alt-pop in them. We must insist.

Where and when: The Black Heart, 14:00

Colt 45

This Cumbrian trio really upped their game with their latest ‘Snakes & Ladders’ EP, a huge step forward from their somewhat straightforward take on traditional punk-rock. There’s plenty of opportunity for some heartfelt singalongs to vocalist Neil Harper’s increasingly gruff vocals, and ‘All Hell Broke Loose’ has more than enough potential to be one of the best songs of the day.

Where and when: The Forge, 19:00


Homegrown punk trio Kenneths have been welcoming a heap of attention in recent months, having found their name on the same bills as the likes of Less Than Jake and Anti-Flag. Their relentlessly upbeat punk borrows as much from pop as it does from their heavier contemporaries, but this is far from stereotypical pop-punk. If you’re looking for somewhere to let loose, Kenneths will have your back.

Where and when: Dublin Castle, 19:00

Bad Sign

Croydon’s Bad Sign are accomplished purveyors of their art, and their dedication and experience is vastly reflected in their live performance. Their sound is almost cataclysmic in small venues, and has the potential to bring darkness in the middle of the day as they take to the downstairs of Camden’s Barfly. For something melodic with an overbearing hint of the ominous, this is the one to check out.

Where and when: Downstairs @ The Barfly, 13:30

Oxygen Thief

Everybody loves a little bit of singer-songwriter action every once in a while, and few are as well-versed as Oxygen Thief’s Barry Dolan. Sometimes full-band, sometimes not, he’ll be bringing his individual take on folk-punk storytelling to the 55 Bar. Scheduled into the evening it’s a slight rest bite from other offerings, yet the amount of noise Dolan can make with just a guitar is worth checking out.

Where and when: 55 Bar, 20:30


Drones have just returned as a new-look band with a slight shift in sound. Welcoming Lois McDougall into the fold on vocals and joined by new guitarist Tim Kramer, Camden Rocks marks one of the first opportunities to see the newly invigorated hardcore punks in action. They are on at midday too, which is probably one of the best ways to shake off any cobwebs.

Where and when: Good Mixer, 12:00

Pretend Happy

Pretend Happy’s ‘Tired Eyes’ is still up there as one of the best debuts of the year. The Barnstaple trio will be bringing their emotional melodies to Belushi’s as lunch time draws to a close. It’ll be one of the finest chances across the day to feel all the feels, as well as sing along to some truly catchy melodies.

Where and when: Camden Cavern @ Belushi’s, 14:00

Camden Rocks takes place on Saturday 4th June. Full details, including tickets, are available via the official festival website. Punktastic will of course be on hand to check out what’s going down.