Camden High Street was taken over last Saturday (2 June) by this years instalment of Camden Rocks festival. With over 200 acts playing across 20 venues there was so much to be seen across the full spectrum of indie, rock and metal. 2018 marked the 6th year of the festival, and saw 8,000 people in attendance, with strong audiences throughout the day for new and established acts alike. The venues ranged from the charming The Hawley Arms pub, resplendent in the sun, to the grand KOKO, with the historic Electric Ballroom and cult Underworld in between.
The acts were similarly diverse, catering to a wide range of tastes. Mainstream bands dominated the KOKO stage, with Mallory Knox and Twin Atlantic bringing their own, chorus heavy interpretations of alt rock to the festival. Elsewhere, Public Image Ltd and The Professionals reminded everyone of the power of their catalogues, whilst some acts such as Crazy Town managed to prove that not all music ages as well as others, although ‘Butterfly’ was still an enjoyably familiar listen for many in the crowd at the close of their set.
Emerging acts The LaFontaines and False Heads continued to make their names heard, with Scotland’s LaFontaines showing that the rock-rap that had aged so poorly for Crazy Town may still have a place in todays musical landscape, with their best track ‘Common Problem’ a standout.
The acoustic sets in Brewdog provided a welcome moment of respite, with the classic songwriting of River Child enchanting in the small basement area. Given the scale of the festival, transitioning from site to site was not as easy as some city-centre events, particularly when navigating the main stretch from the locks to the tube station is factored in. However the wealth of acts on show meant there was rarely a moment that couldn’t be filled with live music of some description.
Very few acts were completely misplaced in their settings, although The Monarch proved an inadequate venue for the Towers of London, with the aura around lead singer Donny Tourette bringing a number of interested observers alongside core fans to create a fittingly sweaty experience and a one-in one-out queue throughout the set. The band themselves delivered a fantastic performance of snarling, indie-punk; noticeably mellowed with age since they first emerged, but still retaining a glint of that notorious attitude in their new music.
Maximo Park closed the festival with a set packed with old favourites such as ‘What Equals Love’ and ‘Books From Boxes’ alongside new material, including lead single ‘Risk To Exist’. They played with the verve of wily veterans, lead singer Paul Smith strutting around the stage with real presence. Closing with ‘Apply Some Pressure’ and ‘Our Velocity’, their biggest moments retain the urgency and impact they had when released over 10 years ago and provided the festival with a fitting finale.
Such was the success of this year’s festival, the team behind the family-run event have just announced that the festival will be expanded in 2019 to become a weekender for the first time, set for 1st – 2nd June 2019. For a limited time only, day tickets are available for £30 and weekend tickets for just £50 – available HERE.
Words: William Sutton
Photo: Sandra Sorensen