Ten Years Of Camden Crawl: Then and Now
This weekend welcomes The Camden Crawl, and with it the start of the UK's annual summer festival season. What's more, this year's event sees the Crawl celebrate its tenth birthday, having first emerged at the height of Britpop in 1995. Undoubtedly the first festival of its kind in the UK, initially encompassing numerous artists across five different venues and stages, the Crawl has since spawned the likes of Dot To Dot, The Great Escape and In The City, as well as growing in size considerably ever since. Despite taking an eight-year break between 1997 and 2005, the relaunched version of the festival will this year see over two-hundred and fifty artists play across fifty venues of varying shapes and size across the London borough of Camden. While probably quicker to list those artists we're not bothered about seeing than the ones we are, DiS would like to take this opportunity to wish the Camden Crawl a happy tenth birthday by taking a look back through the archives at some of those artists who've graced the festival since it first opened its doors back in the spring of 1995.
Trawling down memory lane, examining line-ups that featured the good, the bad and the great, we ask ourselves whatever did happen to Joeyfat and why weren't AC Acoustics so much bigger? Sit back, reminisce and enjoy our selection of nine acts whose presence on previous Camden Crawl bills has enhanced the festival's reputation as one of the most revered of its kind.
1995 - Kenickie
Hailing from Sunderland in the mid-nineties just as Britpop was about to explode, this four-piece centered around the two Gofton siblings Lauren (Laverne) and Peter (aka Johnny X) burst onto an independent music scene re-energised by labels like Slampt and Chemikal Underground. Combining intelligent lyrics with a sassy delivery and riffs stolen straight out of Kat Bjelland and Courtney Love's lockers, any mention of future careers as television presenters and one of Frankie's Heartstrings would have been scoffed at back then. Their appearance at the inaugural Camden Crawl saw them take the stage at the tiny Laurel Tree, long since closed and currently an Italian restaurant alongside the likes of Bob Tilton and Quickspace Supersport. That the band themselves imploded just three years later makes little difference, as their performance lives long in the annals of Camden Crawl's artifacts.
1996 - Prolapse
Leicester, so much to answer for. Musically responsible for bestowing the likes of Engelbert Humperdinck, Showaddywaddy and wannabe Mancs Kasabian upon the world, it doesn't take much to realise why this part of the East Midlands has had little to sing and dance about over the years. However, one band they can claim ownership of are experimental noise pop septet Prolapse, a band whose output travels far beyond any realms of singular genre classification. Between 1993 and 1999 they released a string of excellent EPs and albums, while simply terrifying the living daylights out of anyone who crossed their path in the flesh. In 1996, the Crawl's second year, they had the distinctive honour of sharing the Dingwalls stage with Mogwai and Dweeb, and if time travel wasn't limited to just sixty minutes on a Saturday evening courtesy of the Doctor and Miss Pond, that is one place I'd gladly exchange the present for right now.
1997 - Snow Patrol
Sitting halfway down a Dingwalls bill below the likes of Hardknox and Warm Jets, if anyone had predicted Snow Patrol's rise to mainstream popularity less than a decade later they'd have probably found themselves escorted out of the venue by men wearing white coats. A band for whom the term "second division indie" was invented, their (then) recent signing to Jeepster Records coupled with an endorsement by that label's current high fliers Belle And Sebastian ensured Snow Patrol's prominent position on a few industry approved line-ups back in the day. However, by the turn of the millennium and second album When It's All Over We Still Have To Clear Up's nondescript flop, their time seemed to have come to an unremarkable conclusion. Cue six minutes of commercially accessible melancholia ('Run') being latched onto by everyone from Radio One to Simon Cowell and beyond, and the rest, as they say, is history.
2005 - Le Tigre
Returning after an eight-year hiatus, the Crawl re-emerged bigger and stronger encompassing even more venues than many outsiders even realised existed and a stellar line-up that read like a who's who of the new wave of post punk sweeping the nation at the time. Sticking out like sore thumbs were Le Tigre, the brainchild of original riot girl Kathleen Hanna and assorted others whose brand of politicised, energetic leftfield pop managed to fill many a dancefloor regardless of the theme and created the Queens Of Noize's shortlived career in the process. While 'Deceptacon' dates back a good six years from their Crawl show at the Barfly, one can be sure its devastating impact left both audience members and fellow bands (The Others shared the same stage that evening) shellshocked.
2006 - ¡Forward Russia!
Having played second fiddle to Manchester for so long, it was the turn of Leeds to finally dominate the north westerly music scene, and thanks to labels like Dance To The Radio and the emergence of bands like The Kaiser Chiefs and Duels, the city became a force to be reckoned with. Leading the way in the leftfield stakes were this four-piece, whose songs at the time were represented by little more than numbers signifying the order they were written in (Their first song was called 'One', then 'Two', then...you get the drift). Five years ago their appearance at Dingwalls was the stuff of legend, this here site proclaiming it "their At The Drive-In goes terminal on Jools Holland moment". As with all good things, ¡Forward Russia! seem to have come to an end, with the band announcing an indefinite hiatus shortly after the release of their second album Life Processes in 2008. Nevertheless, those chaotic live shows take pride of place in the memory and one can only live in hope that they grace the stage as a collective unit once more in the future.
2007 - Adele
Say what you want about Adele Adkins (and I'm sure you will) but there's no denying that she has been THE British musical success story this past year. Remarkably back in 2007, she was sharing a bill at The Flowerpot venue with Hot Club De Paris and Late Of The Pier, still a relatively unknown graduate of the Brit School for Performing Arts. However, those stripped down performances of little more than an acoustic guitar and a big voice paved the way for what followed, and even if like me you're sick to death of hearing 'Someone Like You' by now, one can't help feeling that shows like this (and indeed her first performance in my home city at Bunkers Hill) suggest she's earned her success the hard way.
2008 - M83
A year later, The Flowerpot also played host to the likes of Wild Beasts and Johnny Foreigner among its mouthwatering line-up courtesy of DiS itself, and if you don't believe us, here are the pictures to prove it! Standing out from the crowd though were the delectable M83, fresh from releasing their fifth and arguably definitive long player Saturdays = Youth literally weeks earlier. Equally lauded by both the underground techno and shoegaze communities, their devastating set catching the eye of many previously unaware punters in the process. Oh, and did we mention that Saturdays = Youth was awarded the distinctive honour of Drowned In Sound album of 2008 later that year? Legends in the making...
2009 - The xx
Still something of an unknown quantity outside of London, The xx undoubtedly went some way towards securing their destiny with their performance in front of barely one hundred people at the Enterprise in 2009. Despite having only released a couple of singles at the time, it was clear to all and sundry in the room that the atmospheric poise and grace exhumed by Romi Madley Croft, Oliver Sim, Jamie Smith and Baria Qureshi was more than just a beat-laden addition to the minimalist shoegaze revival taking place. Eighteen months later, their self-titled debut having received a unanimous wave of plaudits across publications far and wide, the Mercury Music Prize was theirs. Who'd have thought it back then in that sweaty upstairs room, eh?
Alright, so maybe those of you who said this little lot would be forgotten about twelve months from now will be guffawing inanely at the fact Gaggle haven't quite progressed in the way many observers (i.e. us) predicted this time last year. However, as far as yours truly is concerned, 2010's Camden Crawl stands out mainly for the fact this twenty-three piece combo left me and several others gobsmacked with their unique show stopping performance at the Electric Ballroom, not to mention quick witted banter beforehand.
Apologies for leaving out many people's favourites, whittling this list down to just nine was an arduous task to say the least! Before we head off to this year's long weekend of festivities, who's to say we won't be talking about the likes of Star Slinger, Various Cruelties or Bright Light Bright Light as highlights of 2011's showcase in years to come?