Live Review: Camden Crawl Dublin, Friday 11th May

Posted: 14/05/2012 in Uncategorized

As published on Entertainment.ie on May 12th 2012

Since its inception in 1995, The Camden Crawl has been a hugely significant event in the UK’s live music calendar. Continually putting together line-ups featuring established acts teamed with the very best of emerging talent, it’s upon reflection of the history of the London event that its significance is realised – Amy Winehouse, Hot Chip, Paolo Nutini, Adele, Foals, Friendly Fires, Laura Marling, Florence & The Machine, Mumford & Sons and The XX are just some of acts who played the festival in their musical infancy. The event prides itself on making live music affordable and accessible, using a widely diverse event team to put together the even with a view to strengthening the community between the artists, promoters and fans. Two nights of extreme binge-gigging – no better way to kick off the summer festival season.

This year sees the launch of the Camden Crawl’s inaugural sibling event in Dublin. Festival director Lisa Paulon had been seeking to take the event outside of the UK, but struggled to find an appropriate city – until a visit to Dublin last summer proved an eye-opener. In witnessing the vibrancy of the Irish music scene first-hand – the constant flow of quality new artists breaking through to join the increasingly expanding roster of established hometown heroes, the plethora of live music venues and promoters that make this city buzz, and the eagerness of music fans to embrace it all – Dublin proved the natural choice for the festival’s organisers. And so Camden Crawl Dublin was born – and the fact that we’ve got our very own Camden Street to keep in line with the namesake proved the icing on the cake.

Friday night in Dublin and the buzz is palpable as eager music fans pick up their wristbands and programmes whilst final preparations and sound-checks are going on in the various venues across town. Interestingly, the Camden Crawl schedule is kept a complete secret from punters in advance, and the notion of ‘headliners’ is non-existent – any act could be playing in any venue at any time. It’s The Mercantile that this evening plays host to entertainment.ie’s stage– led by music editor John Balfe, who battled it out with fellow curators in the democratic process of act selection, has lined up a delectable menu of music. Kicking it all off are Belfast’s Girls Names, who instantly blow away the after-work cobwebs with their brand of dark indie-pop. A year on from the release of debut album, the shoegaze stylings of ‘Dead To Me’ still sound fresh – the set proves the perfect way to kick off a great evening of live music.

To The Button Factory next, home of the Richter Collective for the evening, where Last Days Of 1984 are playing to a near empty room. This is the reality of events such as this for many acts – it’s the luck of the draw, and an early time slot in a large venue doesn’t always work out. It doesn’t stop this duo from putting on one hell of a show, though – fresh from the release last week of much acclaimed debut album ‘Wake Up To The Waves’, the energy they put into their performance is infectious and their arsenal of electro-rock continues to impress. Las Days Of 1984 are definitely ones to watch out for on the summer festival circuit – ‘River’s Edge’ is an absolute fist-pumper of an anthem in the making.

As Dutch Uncles are calling upon their eclectic range of influences to rock the entertainment.ie stage in The Mercantile with their genre-bending tunes, it’s time to hit the pavement to 2FM’s home for the weekend in The Village, where Richie Egan and Jape are delighting the crowd. And what a crowd. Upon walking into the venue during the set opener, one could be forgiven in thinking they’d stepped forward a few hours in time, and herein lies the beauty of the Camden Crawl – one of the main draws, playing up an absolute storm to a capacity audience pre-8PM. The two-time Choice Prize champions squeeze as much as possible into their designated 30 minutes – a new song even finds its way in between the standouts of ‘Ritual’ and ‘Ocean of Frequency’ – and the party is well and truly started as they make way for our glowstick-bearing electro overlords Le Galaxie, who by all accounts did what they do best and dam near lifted the roof off the place.

Next door in Whelan’s proves a more civilised affair – as the turf fire roars, Elaine Mai makes her way to the upstairs stage after joining Daithí during his set in the main room to duet on an interesting cover of Kelis’ club banger ‘Bounce’. A long-time ‘one to watch’, Mai released her debut EP ‘Dots’ last month – and truth be told, it’s a stunner. To see her loop it all together live is even more impressive – her incorporation of acoustic guitar amongst electronics is refreshing, as her voice traverses a multitude of melodies.

The long walk back to the Button Factory is hardly a chore considering what’s waiting upon arrival… And So I Watch You From Afar continue to hold court as one of Ireland’s most thrilling live acts, and tonight they prove yet again just why. Four men, one stage, a frenzied full house, and a whole lotta noise – the premise of it all is so primal, yet when executed it’s a dazzlingly brilliant force which never fails to completely overwhelm. Half an hour just isn’t long enough for this band – each intro riff brings on a deafening cheer, as they thrash out a selection of the best of their back catalogue to date, even making their way amongst the crowd for an emphatic close to the set. ASIWYFA depart with a promise of “new music soon” – and we cannot wait. Without a doubt the highlight of the night – it was TOTALLY worth the associated whiplash.

A brief sprint back to Entertainment.ie HQ in The Mercantile, where Logikparty are taking to the stage – a band who more than live up to their stellar live reputation. The brilliantly dark post-punk bass-driven melodies of their fantastic debut album ‘Oh Cult!’ are brought to life with an unwavering vibrancy – Logikparty make music which is best heard at a ferocious volume. ‘Blonde On Blonde On Blonde’, with its exquisite mid-song instrumental breakdown, remains the jewel in the crown – vaguely reminiscent of early-days Gossip but with a whole lot more attitude. Leading lady Benni Johnston certainly has a commanding presence, the microphone not so much a mere accessory as it is a natural extension of her person.

Next, it’s off to Twisted Pepper where D/R/U/G/S are playing to a near-empty back room as part of the Bodytonic-curated lineup – but it didn’t seem to bother those in attendance, all the more room to dance! The venue is at an immediate geographical disadvantage for Camden Crawl Dublin – given that the only collection point for tickets is on Wexford Street, it’s only natural that Whelan’s and The Village attract the biggest crowds. A real shame, considering the calibre of acts playing in the venue across the weekend – We Are Losers and Cashier No 9 are just some of the Alternative Ulster-curated roster of acts taking to the Twister Pepper tonight, so don’t be afraid to cross the river!

And so concluded the first night’s crawling – Round Two awaits this evening, with another stellar lineup on offer forcing more agonising schedule choices to be made as we venue-hop around the city. And that’s before we even factor in the programme of Camden Crawl Dublin fringe events taking place this evening in The Globe, The Stag’s Head, JJ Smyths, The Swan and Cassidy’s between 6PM and 9PM – no wristbands required, these are free gigs from brilliant breaking Irish acts such as I’m Your Vinyl, Rhob Cunningham, Kool Thing, Dott, Swords and The Notas. So even if you’re not partaking in the main event, you can still hit the town and indulge in some binge-gigging!

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