Review: The Damned and 250 Bands Conquer Camden Rocks 2017


Imagine a festival that doesn’t require rain boots to navigate your way through muddy fields, no tent to stay overnight, good food, flowing beers and toilets that are actually clean. Imagine again a festival that is on your doorstep or at worst right in the heart of your city. Finding it hard? Well there is one such festival that exists and it’s in London, England- The Camden Rocks Festival.

Camden Rocks 2017 officially kicked off at 12 in the afternoon and ended around midnight. Spread over 25 different music venues featuring a mouthwatering, ear splitting 250 bands over one day, every rock fan was beyond spoiled. Now it’s virtually impossible to see every band of course but here at Alternative Nation we did our best to cover as much as we could on a beautiful sunny day in London.

I’d seen Eva Plays Dead a few months back ironically in Camden and this four piece are just purely electrifying from the first minute they open their set at The Devonshire Arms, a tiny bar. Front woman Tiggy Dee has the presence of a screaming angel, Zach is so tight on bass he could fell a sequoia. On guitar is Matt Gascoyne who can fool you with the comfort of his playing, until he suddenly bursts into a rage, Seb on drums rounds it all off. You leave the gig feeling that you won’t hear a louder band today. Eva might be playing dead but today they woke them up.

Over at the rather larger venue Koko a band right here from London called MOSES are like a ball of pure energy for over thirty minutes. If singer Victor had never made it as a musician he would be winning Olympic gold for the high jump. The energy spreads throughout the venue as guitarist Juno like his singer flies around the stage threatening to go airborne at any minute. The best compliment that you can give MOSES is that they are edgy, never boring, and you simply cannot take your eyes off them. You leave their gig feeling positive and surely that’s what music is all about, right?

Borders are simply an assault on the senses. They hail from Lincoln in the north of England and don’t mess about. Their singer opts to leave the tiny stage and with rage joins the floor with the fans and sees out the show there. It’s refreshing and most of all organic. Over at the infamous Electric Ballroom the light show is much better with the emergence of Imperial Leisure. The band mix up different genres of music ranging from ska to hip hop and it’s a fantastic mesh of fun to open up proceedings at the 2,000 capacity venue.

Pulled Apart by Horses are warmly received in the same venue as they open up with “The Haze”, the fantastically tight set includes “Lizard Lady”, “Flash Lads” and ends on a high with “High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive”. The band who hail from Leeds have all the qualities to become huge. Orange Goblin with their traditional rock tunes are highly energetic and fun loving singer Ben Ward are a joy to behold.

One of the most anticipated bands of the day are The Professionals. Originally formed from the scattered remains of The Sex Pistols, the band spilt in 1982. But in the past 18 months they have made a reunion of sorts and whilst Steve Jones doesn’t tour with the punk band Paul Cook, ex Pistols drummer is with the band. They slickly run through a set which is apt for their chosen name and the punk rockers lead us into the one and only The Damned.

The Damned have been on a 40th anniversary tour of the States and when the band arrive to headline the festival to a packed sold out crowd there is a huge roar. Front man Dave Vanian now sporting a rather stylish beard is like a beacon to his thousands of followers. The band run through all of their hits including “Neat Neat Neat”, “New Rose”- which was recently voted the best punk song of all time and end their set with the classic “Smash it Up”. It is a triumphant return for the Englishmen on home turf.

Camden Rocks is an incredible festival and if you are around London, England sometime in June 2018 you should check out this unique event which is quite unlike anything you have ever seen. Till then, rock on!