Photography by Tim Boddy

I was somewhere in the midst of Camden, on the edge of a lock, when the rum began to take hold. I remember saying something like "I feel a bit lightheaded, maybe we should go and see some folk music…" and suddenly there was a terrible roar all around and a wall of noise, swooping and screeching and diving, was blaring forth a nightmare post-punk ruckus. And a voice was screaming, "Holy Jesus! Who are these goddamn animals?"

These animals were Toronto-based trio Odonis Odonis, a guttural temple punch that may have not been the most placid of introductions to the reckless weekend that is Camden Crawl (where the eventual method of travel is in the name). Nonetheless, the pulverising kick-start was delivered and a somewhat celebratory caterwauling from the band hollered a room into submission. From a post punk nightmare to a punky wailing angular youthful siren, Kutosis are a Cardiff band whose ethos revolves around stabbing, shanking spikes of noise that recall Buzzcocks and The Clash. An exuberant show to a packed venue as part of SWNs showcase, they dove through a sharp, seething set with a sneer and a snarl that only their gasping, galloping youth can allow.

There is a humble ferocity to the almighty ruckus that †Hymns† conjure from some logical netherworld, billing themselves as an atheist rock outfit Quieter moments are stilted affairs but the swift volume jumps quickly dispel any wavering doubts in the dark, dim Underworld. There is something magical about an atheist act performing in an aptly titled venue, as their spirited angst against religious ideals stomped forth with a doom-laden bass and a strong argument for the replacement of God with guitars…

†Hymns† were followed by a markedly different kind of heavy, with Brontide tinkering with math rock ideals, with a Battles-like intensity. A Brontide live show is a showcase of hallucination inducing tremors that collapse and multiply thanks to a percussive persistence and a distinct lack of instrumental 'noodling' that lesser bands often fall prey to.

Electric Ballroom is seemingly the venue for bands on the fast route upwards, with Scandinavian indie synth darlings Simian Ghost appearing halfway through this very evening. Their debut EP and album are charming dashes of uplifting, merry indie pop but, alas, this doesn't quite translate well live. Maybe the size and dim lights of the venue or the grey, sodden weather outside tarnished the summery vibes the band should be releasing but the lovely twinkly keys didn't quite create the necessary magical sunrays promised.

Considering the current Frank Ocean-fandom, it was surprising to see a surprisingly small crowd at Dingwalls for Daley, the tall-haired, silky-smooth soul-child who made an appearance on the BBC Sound of 2011 and worked with Gorillaz last year. With a guitarist and drummer behind, he crooned out slow jams that should be sound tracking a thousand conceptions (though not, I haste to add, in the public view of the venue). Covering the likes of Usher and Maxwell, he also showcased some of his upcoming album, which should blow a few hats off later this year, within the re-burgeoning modern R&B scene.

A bit of female fronted melody making was very welcome with the shoegazey 90s vibes of Echo Lake and the glittery alt pop of Stealing Sheep. Echo Lake summon fantastical, hazy atmospheres that move away from shoegaze and into dreamgaze. Meanwhile, Stealing Sheep are a comely coven whose enchanting, baroque sensibilities create scintillating clashes between tumult and tranquillity.

Seeing out the day back at the dingy Underworld, Cymbals are a rhythmic indie outfit whose Talking Heads inspired noise jerks, jangles and generally freaks out in the most magnificent of fashions. Inspiring a whole crowd of jutting limbs and nodding heads, the stutter-stop-start ethos should inspire a new new-romanticism that dispels the awful 80s revivals and creates an exhilarating new dance-floor scene in months to come.


"Time for a real British festival experience," I shouted to no-one in particular, before storming to Camden Gardens, a small patch of greenery amidst a railway bridge and a few battered buildings, where a daytime Crawl event was developing. Finally! A real festival atmosphere! Portaloos, greasy outdoor food stalls, a cigarette stand, little tents with angry looking stewards and a DJ blaring a mixture of modern alt classics and terrifying electro mixes that leave the topless, wasted, hairy stragglers waving their imaginary glowsticks, in a wonderful flurry of festivity that has been going since the dawn of time (aka the early 90s). After realising I had bands to see, I quickly put my shirt back on and headed over to The Enterprise.

A lovely little pub on the edge of the Crawl, The Enterprise hosted Sexbeat, a musical organisation whose taste is only surpassed by the quality of the live shows and events they hold. Kicking off the show was Novella, a trio of female guitarists (plus one male drummer). The Sonic Youth resounding around the room was the most appropriate soundtrack before the angsty distortion and spiralling guitar lines that tore through a busy room in a magnificent murky realm of 'grrrll' rock.

As a fellow West Midlander, I had to rush to see Peace, a Brummie quartet whose lo-fi Britpop audio operations have been garnering a fair bit of acclaim. Live, they fuse spritely indie with grand bass lines and a dash of hazey, fuzzy clamour, making a compelling case for the 90s revival. I wasn't too sure about the fur-lined coat adorning the lead singer, Harrison Koissier, but the mop-like haircuts all around were a wonderful reminder of my childhood. After inhaling another pint, it was a dash to something a little more terrifying…

Blacklisters have a tendency for the loud and scary side of things, as with their latest video for new single, 'Trickfuck' (check it out and try not sleeping for a few nights!). Onstage, they're equally as awesomely abrasive, crashing around like atom bombs, with a theatricality that stole my attention away from the frantic fan in a cowboy hat in front of me. The power of the pause was utilised wholeheartedly to highlight the mesmerising wail of noise that follows, with the frontman stumbling, leering and careening before the stage front. This didn't stop Mr Cowboy from stealing the show at the very last by giving up his hat to the singer, Billy, before claiming the microphone to squeal to his hearts content as the band played out.

A quick adjourn to the Cuban saw Dutch Uncles cranking out a riveting bit of rhythmic indie that's as frantic and frenetic as it is wearing within a few tracks. So, back to the splendour of Sexbeat it was! Zun Zun Egui are a four piece who fuse world, indie, electric and some as yet undiscovered genre to create compulsive impulses of dance and joy. Technical guitar riffs and chants of indecipherable lyrics, alongside Afrobeat mania, create an astounding concoction that must be heard to be believed. Finally, some dancing was witnessed, as the front half of the audience shook themselves around with wanton abandon.

Following soon after was Shaun Hencher and co, aka Virals (aka ex-Lovers, not Exlovers). Starting as they meant to go on, loudly, they utilise the wall of sound technique to craft sunny scuzz. It must take a lot of effort to sound this haphazard as they merrily breezed through a smattering of tracks, with a strange Black Sabbath interlude. It might as well have been a showcase of skinny black jeans (myself included) and the torn, faded look matched the rough-edge of the songs, with some possibly needing a little longer to mature within the context of a live setting.

It was almost time to leave but alas, it was time for a hypnotic finale to send me to sleep with some strange nightmares. Or some Weird Dreams moreso. A duo (extended to whoever is needed onstage), they have been all over the indie-sphere in recent months with the release of their debut record, Choreography. They create upbeat lullabies with shuddering, slippery vibes, similar to some sort of 60s pop rock (with more warbly clatter and soppy heartbreak tendencies). Misty eyed indie rock is somewhat back with this colourful twosome though it did send me away from Camden with some blurry vision and a dazed visage that made it difficult to calculate a late-night bus expedition through central London. And they say music isn't dangerous…