Festival Review: Camden Rocks 2019

Camden Rocks 2019

Various Venues, London, 1st – 2nd June 2019

Words: Nicholas Jacques
Photography: Lisa Knight

I arrived in Camden Town on Saturday midday, ready and raring to go for another mammoth Camden Rocks festival. As ever the streets were boiling over with city-goers and tourists galore, all wanting a piece of Camden’s prime underbelly. Amongst the crowds were lots of music-lovers soaking up the rays and marching from venue to venue.

With Popped Music’s first stop being the cavernous surroundings of the legendary Dingwalls venue on the loch. Our first dose of live music came in the form of King Nun. A no-nonsense set of fizzy and tense grunge nuggets certainly perked me up from hustle and bustle of the midday rush. The quiet/loud dynamic was spot on and they played with energy and enjoyment – a very good opening to my CR’19! Next up came one of the sets of the weekend in the form of Bang Bang Romeo. Their rise over the past year has seen them land a high-profile support slot with Pink and from the manner in which they went about their business on stage it was easy to see that confidence was running high through the band. They seem to have all the right ingredients to succeed in the big-time; a tight rhythm section loaded with playfulness in their cannon combined with the bombastic and soulful vocal delivery of front woman Anastasia, who is both charming and humble. Despite it being hot and packed in the venue, the crowd was sizzling with excitement!

But if that wasn’t enough to get me in the mood, Black Futures over at the Black Heart took it to another level with their chaotic, rock/dance mega mash up. They had boiler-suited mascots which made more than their mark with crowd participation; unrelenting sweat and adrenaline was served up in exceeding amounts – I had no idea what I had been hit by. This band were sending everyone on an intergalactic mission and there was no going back – once you were under their spell that was it – and a certain participant from the crowd was only too happy to salute the band’s mission by joining them on stage and “singing” with them in whole-hearted agreement. It was invigorating and compelling stuff!  

Afterwards I came back down to earth with a thud and made a weary stagger up the high street once again to the Dingwalls and watched Strange Bones rip it up with their infectious and intense blend of prodigy-infused punk. There was moshing, gas masks (don’t worry, no gas was dispersed in the venue) but its likely there would have been some sore heads after their set – well worth it with the frenzy they whipped up!

After the frantic rush of these 2 bands, an indulgent dose of shoe-gazey, Slow Dive vibes in the form of headliners Desperate Journalist was welcomed with open arms at the Camden Assembly Hall. I was hypnotised by their atmospheric and propulsive psych sounds and I couldn’t get enough of them. They played with their “hearts on a sleeve” and that’s what you want to see from these bands, all pulling together to get a result and I felt there was a strong chemistry with the band.

We managed to catch the ending of Berries set at the Lyttleton Arms and by the reaction of the crowd you could tell these guys had smashed it yet again. I interviewed them last year at CR’18 and this band’s confidence has gone up to another level and they’re clearly enjoying themselves too. They make such a big and impressive sound with their ice-cool, slacker rock anthems and really hope they go on to bigger and better things!

Bang Bang Romeo

After the anarchy of Saturday, I could sense that Sunday was definitely was going to be more of a gentle stroll compared to the stampede of the opening day. But that didn’t stop Orchards who did their best to cook up a storm in the Fest venue with their untamed, rhythmic indie funk. Their singer had a strong stage presence and wasn’t afraid to get involved with the crowd. This made for a strong start to the last day of the festival. Next up was one of the highlights of the festival for me and it came from a set of dirty blues-rock from the impressive Pearl Harts. They rocked my Sunday socks off and I couldn’t have been happier. They played with such a confident and sassy attitude, concentration and aplomb and it drew in a big crowd too at the Monarch. I think the crowd has just witnessed the beginnings of something which has the potential to be big, I hope this is the start of something special.

However, if Pearl Harts rocked then Popped favourites Saint Agnes rocked even harder with their imposing brand of spaghetti western, dead weather heavy rock work outs. Their front 2, Jon and Kitty have such magnetism between them and I thought this was passed onto the crowd really well. These guys worked up such a bubbling and intoxicating frenzy on the stage with songs like Witching Hour and Move Like A Ghost from their debut album but at times the crowd were a bit static, possibly that Sunday feeling and darkened rooms were having more of an influence or maybe the size of the festival had taken its toll on the crowd’s feet, who knows, but they rocked me to the bone!   


Next came the alluring sounds of Annabel Alum; her vocal delivery was deftly cool, jagged and addictive guitar work outs worthy of an early PJ Harvey session and kick-arse drum licks, all played with panache. This is a band who are in control of their sound and their direction. I can see them winning over many more music fans in the months ahead.

Last on Popped’s wanted list were Red Rum Club. This Liverpudlian band had the Hawley Arms in the palm of their hand with their unrelenting upbeat brassy brit-pop anthems and the crowd were loving it. The lazy Sunday blues had been cured! They certainly seemed to bring a smile to a lot of people’s faces and with the exposure they have been getting over the past few months, don’t expect it to drop any time soon as this a band seem to be having the times of their lives.

And so once more, Popped Music’s time at Camden Rocks 2019 came to an end and with yet again many happy and fun memories to reflect on and another glorious music festival had been accomplished. Covering up and coming bands from all over the UK and witnessing some career-building sets from the likes of the Pearl Harts, Black Futures, Saint Agnes to name but a few.

CR 2019, amongst all the concrete jungle madness that you create and provide for us, yet again you were good, really good. You are helping to bring these bands to the masses and it is paying off! Bring on next year! Popped Music will be there again, most definitely!


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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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