Camden Crawl, Various venues, London
Beer and roaming in north London
Wednesday 04 May 2011
With stages set up on every flat surface imaginable, Camden hummed with a music variety ranging from indie, rock and rap to folk, alternative and pop. As colourful as Camden itself, an impressive platter of talent was spread over two days and 44 venues, ranging from the upstairs rooms of pubs to the HMV Forum and nightclubs. For the first time this year, comedy acts were showcased during the day, allowing revellers to sample talent no matter which beer-stop they took as they strolled the streets in the sunshine.
Lethal Bizzle kicked off Sunday evening at Koko to a frenzied crowd; he bounced around the stage with an energy that leaked into the audience with every track performed. Encouraging the crowd to "raise their middle fingers in the air", the rapper plunged head-first into a hungry crowd, surfacing safely – minus a sock. He closed the show with "Pow", a track that made the very foundations of the old theatre shake.
Tinchy Stryder, sliding down the Jazz Café stairs, was remarkably even smaller in person than expected, but size certainly didn't matter when it came to confidence. The intimate venue was a great setting for the young rap star as he belted out his hits with the help of impressive backing vocals and band, closing with new single "Spaceship".
Razorlight led Sunday's closing party at the Electric Ballroom, great sound production giving frontman Johnny Borrell a platform for crowd pleasers such as "Before I Fall to Pieces" and "Golden Touch". The venue's school-hall feel was overcome by a well-designed lighting set and a chart-topping set list, bringing the stage to life despite the band's interesting choice of clothing – including Mexican sombreros and pale tie-dye T-shirts.
However, a weak encore gave the closing moments a flat feel, and much confusion followed; different coloured wristbands meant different instructions and security staff seemed as unsure as merry music lovers. Supposed free drinks tickets seemed to be turned down no matter which bar you fought your way to the front of, leaving many with a sour taste. The festival itself at times felt slightly disorganised in this way, but perhaps this is just Camden's charm – you never quite know what you're going to get; bumping into Pete Doherty at a Camden high street cash point asking passersby "Can I borrow twenty quid?" (his card having been declined) was certainly an interesting highlight...
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