Camden Crawl: bigger and better in 2010

The line-up this year was as cosmopolitan as the area's appeal. The names were bigger, too – from slinky pop divas Sugababes to hip-hop and rap/soul crossovers Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip and Plan B. But they were mere distractions for many, as the festi

The line-up this year was as cosmopolitan as the area's appeal. The names were bigger, too - from slinky pop divas Sugababes to hip-hop and rap/soul crossovers Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip and Plan B.

But they were mere distractions for many, as the festival's cup runneth over with leftfield choices, cult names and tipped talent, not to mention the substantial fringe offerings, from comedy to craft, gig posters to, well, even more gigs.

My tour started at The Hawley Arms Sessions, which boasted the unsigned talents of Medicine Club and The Shoestrung.

The super-tight Medicine Club proffered their upbeat, driven folk to a receptive bunch in the upstairs bar, rattling along like Mumford & Sons' little brothers, whetting the appetite for early 'Stones-indebted headliners, The Shoestrung.


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Frontman Bryn Hoffman's snake hips and nifty harmonica work helped mark this smartly turned-out bunch as ones to watch as they emerge from the shadows of R'n'B cover versions, as their adrenalised take on John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom proved.

A spotty, jaundiced but jolly Peter Doherty proved to be my obligatory celeb spot, posing for photos outside The Lock Tavern before running off like a schoolboy with a secret crush.

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Elsewhere, the singular, freight-train-heavy doom rock of The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster provided the sea change I was looking for at Koko.

The full-throttle assault of material from forthcoming album Blood & Fire was invigorating, but even singer Guy McKnight's crowd-surfing and stage-crawling antics couldn't distract from his resemblance to the nephew of Lemmy turning up for some office work experience.

I slipped away to catch some quality dancefloor cuts from Chew Lips, surely this summer's disco darlings, at the intimate and packed Black Cap.

Judging by the queue outside, hundreds missed singer Tigs seize people's hearts, her emotive and touching vocal lifting the perfectly-realised, dark electro-pop of Golden Key to truly spine-tingling heights.

Which is perhaps what made the sunny guitar japes of Josh Weller, who followed her, feel so underwhelming.

Not to worry though, as Drum Eyes upped the ante at The Blues Kitchen with enough bass amid their upbeat electro-sprinkled post-rock to shake any blues right out of your head and into the street. The vocal-free action was 'conducted' from the front for an intense, invigorating slab of improv.

Ears stinging, I rounded off proceedings with Babybird at the sweaty Dublin Castle, where Stephen Jones' acerbic lyrical wit and engaging indie tuneage failed to really fire the crowd. And no You're Gorgeous, either.

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