Live Review: Camden Crawl Dublin, Saturday 12th May

Posted: 14/05/2012 in Uncategorized

As published on Entertainment.ie on May 13th 2012

Day 2 of the inaugural Camden Crawl Dublin– the sun is shining, perfect weather to accommodate mad-dashes between the music venues of Dublin. As if the eight main venues weren’t enough to choose from on Friday night, Saturday evening’s programme of events features additional Camden Crawl Dublin fringe events taking place in five different watering holes along the route. No wristbands required, these were free gigs from a fine selection of breaking Irish acts.

Kicking off the evening of live music upstairs in The Stag’s Head are I’m Your Vinyl, a duo who recently caught our attention as part of 98FM’s ‘Totally Irish: Brand New Act 2012’ competition. Comprising of producer and multi-instrumentalist Ken McHugh (formerly of Automata) teamed with guitarist and vocalist Dana Donnelly, tonight they comfortably fill their set with catchy electronic-rooted pop – McHugh presiding over pre-recorded percussion and synth tracks whilst adding lead riffs live, Donnelly on rhythm guitar duty and showing off her impressive vocal talents with quirky anecdotal lyrics. I’m Your Vinyl have released just one free download single to date (the brilliant ‘This Is Your Life’), but there is an EP in the pipeline – definitely one to look forward to. It’s a shame to depart as the most excellent electronic duo Kool Thing are setting up for their set – now seemingly with added live drums – but there’s a walk to be had to Cassidy’s next where troubadour Rhob Cunningham is treating revellers to an acoustic set. Fresh from supporting Lisa Hannigan on her German tour last month, tonight he’s flying solo. Cunningham possesses a truly engaging voice, and his command over the frets of his guitar is mesmerising as he delivers the crowd gathered in the back section of the bar some beautifully crafted tunes to accompany their early-evening pints. The Notas, Yeh Deadlies, and Swords are similarly wowing crowds at the fringe events in various other local taverns – but for us, it’s time to rejoin the main Camden Crawl Dublin action.

To Whelan’s next, where London’s Ghostpoet is gearing up to take to the stage. The secret’s has long been out about this guy – revellers are streaming into the venue from every direction, and despite an unfortunate clash with Clock Opera simultaneously playing next door in The Village he’s managed to fill the place. Treating the full house to a selection of tracks from his Mercury Prize nominated debut album Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam, Ghostpoet puts on what has to be one of the sets of the weekend – a timely reminder of just how good tracks such as ‘Cash and Carry Me Home’ and in particular ‘Liiines’ really are. The presence of live drums and effects-heavy guitar really set the booming elecronic production alight, and his flow is flawless – the crowd on the floor are at his mercy, all out madness and it’s not even 9 o’clock yet! The mischievous inclusion of two additional songs means the Whelan’s crowd get more than they bargained for with Ghostpoet – no complaints from either side though, the latter can’t express his adoration for Dublin enough, and the former clamber over eachother as he makes his way into the crowd to close his set.

The Whelan’s schedule for tonight is now delayed, and it’s not being helped by the lengthy setup for next act Fionn Regan. Nevertheless a massive crowd remains – three-deep on the balcony, and the main floor is rammed. As Regan takes the stage with his acoustic guitar, there’s little sign of hush – and a mere hour after Ghostpoet took to that same stage Whelan’s has gone from the brilliantly buzzing venue of the Camden Crawl to the incredibly infuriating venue of the Camden Crawl. It’s near impossible to actually hear Fionn Regan properly over the ridiculous level of chatter, and give up after four songs. It’s a real shame but it’s just the luck of the draw with festivals of this nature – we shall look forward to hearing the elegance of recent album 100 Acres of Sycamore in a more appropriate live setting soon.

Schedule delays in Whelan’s mean that we’ve missed out on Bantum’s set in The Mercantile – again, par for the course with an event such as this, butit’s our loss. To The Button Factory next, to procure a spot for south London’s Mystery Jets who are appearing at the Dublin Camden Crawl off the back of the release of their fourth studio album Radlands a fortnight ago, and minus the bassist from their previous offerings. Again there’s a lengthy delay for backline setup and sound tweaks – it’s not so much a ‘crawl’ as it is a waiting game at this stage. The band eventually take to the stage and offer a mix of the playful indie-rock flavourings of their early catalogue of material and the Texas-rooted Americana leanings of their more recent work, with tight musicianship and dual vocal delivery from Blaine Harrison and William Reeves. But overall – and perhaps it was due to having witnessed the magic that And So I Watch You From Afar created in this same venue the night before – the set just lacked that special something.

Approaching The Workman’s Club just before midnight, there’s a queue that stretches far down Wellington Quay and snippets of the reason why can be heard floating out the main door – it’s Toby Kaar time. The Corkonian producer turned performer never disappoints in a live setting, and tonight he has taken over the venue – those who couldn’t squeeze into the back room to watch his seamless set of funk-laden electronica unfold live could listen as it was piped into the attached bars. The visible enthusiasm he has for making beats makes him so captivating watch on stage, and very easy to dance along to – one overzealous female fan even gate-crashed at one point to try and join in before a bouncer dutifully ushered her away stage-left. Kaar kept the kids dancing right on into the wee hours – we look forward to seeing a lot more of him again this summer festival season, kicking off with his set at Forbidden Fruit over the June bank holiday weekend.

And so concluded the Camden Crawl adventure – as a buzzing Dublin city partied on into the night, it was time to turn in and give the ol’ feet a rest and reflect on the weekend that was after covering much ground over the course of the two nights. The highs – national treasures such as Jape and ASIWYFA stealing the show from international heavyweights; the lack of ‘headliners’ and random nature of scheduling allowing for roof-raising performances early in the evening; being wowed by first-time live encounters with emerging Irish talents; the excellent festival schedule & magazines; chance meetings with anyone and everyone across all of the different venues. The lows – lack of updates from official festival social networking platforms about act cancellations and schedule delays; the sole ticket collection point in Whelan’s meaning that the Wexford Street venues were overly swarmed for the duration of the weekend; the inexplicable 90 minute gap in schedule leading up to midnight both evenings. So, Camden Crawl Dublin was not without its hitches – but these were of course to be expected being the first outing. Overall, it proved a music connoisseur’s natural habitat, making mass-gigging affordable whilst actively encouraging discovery of new music. A very welcome addition to the Irish festival calendar.

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