Day One of the inaugural Camden Crawl Dublin didn’t pass without a few logistical hiccups, but a couple of late starts and some general bewilderment didn’t stop patrons from going home with some wonderful tunes swimming around in their heads.
Dubliners don’t appear all that familiar with the original Camden Crawl; most seem to have heard more about individual performances (like this Florence + The Machine show from 2008, or this security-defying Odd Future gig from last year) than the festival itself.
Punters who found themselves confused by the unusual scheduling (Ghostpoet performs at 7.50pm tonight, while relative unknowns occupy much later slots), myself included, clearly missed the ethos of the event.
“All bands on the Crawl receive equal billing,” reads a statement on camdencrawldublin.com, “with no acts being billed as a headliner…please be aware that any artist can and may appear at any venue, at any time.”
Which brings us to an even more disorienting point; stage times and venue line-ups were kept a closely guarded secret until just two hours before the event, leaving punters pretty much in the dark.
On a rainy Friday night, you have to forgive the Irish crowd their grumbles. Spoiled rotten by similar events like Hard Working Class Heroes and the outrageously frugal Ones To Watch festival, we’re used to rocking up at 9pm, and squeezing in half a dozen bands before finishing the night with the biggest, loudest act on the bill.
At the Crawl, everything kicks off at 6.45pm and most venues have wrapped up by 11. The schedule is based around five time slots, which, factoring in 15 and 20-minute walks between some venues, makes darting around from gig to gig, catching a couple of songs here and there, damn near impossible.
Thankfully, with one night down, we’ve now had ample time to get our heads around the Lucky Dip that is Camden Crawl Dublin.
Day One was a triumphant one for homegrown acts; Le Galaxie, Jape and ASIWYFA all pulled in massive crowds, while, across the Liffey, the phenomenal DELS played to seven people. Understandably but surprisingly, given the festival’s penchant for placing all acts on an equal footing, most ticket-holders were happy to catch just a few bands that they know and love. I, on the other hand, was after fresh blood.
Here’s what I saw…
Young Wonder live in The Grand Social at the Camden Crawl Dublin. Photo by Ruth Medjber.
There’s something terribly jammy about tonight’s set from Cork duo Young Wonder, although I should stress that it’s the crowd, rather than the musicians on stage, who have struck it lucky. The starry-eyed electronic outfit, comprising beats man Ian Ring and pipes girl Rachel Koeman, appeared on our radar not four months ago, fully-formed and sounding very much like a band breezing their way through their third album.
The Camden Crawl set is only their second ever live show (the first took place just last week in Cork’s Pavilion, which the fledgling band miraculously packed to the rafters) so, naturally, I’m happy to forgive a few hitches and bumps, but as it turns out, I can relax – Ring and Koeman have it all under control.
Ring busies himself with a bounty of electronic gadgetry while Koeman happily grinds along to his every musical twist and turn, dropping an icy, somersalting vocal as she goes. Clueless happen-uponners and seasoned musos alike are instantly charmed by their blissed-out, hook-heavy tunes, particularly the handsomely glossy ‘Orange’ and the jittering, Avalanches-sampling ‘Flesh’. If this is takeoff, I can’t wait to see Young Wonder in full flight.
SertOne live in The Mercantile at the Camden Crawl Dublin. Photo by Ruth Medjber.
Portadown lad SertOne cuts a particularly memorable figure in his cocked cap and specs, which is probably why the man responsible for what happens on the screen behind him, namely, Brendan Canty of Feel Good Lost Films, has chosen to feature his silhouette so heavily in his visual show. From the very first glitch-fed blast, it’s clear that this hip hop-influenced producer and remixer is just as distinctive on the ears as on the eyes.
Ranging from the delicate to the banging, his electronic creations are strikingly different, but each one carries the same masterful flow. After a year of near-constant gigging, being the centre of attention is nothing new to the 23-year-old, so whether thundering through his razor-sharp set solo or vibing with Young Wonder’s Rachel, who, sans headdress, joins him on stage to add a couple of verses to his remix of ‘Flesh’, Sert seems thoroughly at home. A quick scan around the Mercantile floor proves what I already suspected; every single head is bobbing along to the groove.
Also great: Jogging, whose thrash-happy set left me thirsting for a new album, and the shapeshifting sounds of Scotland’s Dam Mantle, who plays The Twisted Pepper tonight at 10pm.
Wounds live in The Twisted Pepper at the Camden Crawl Dublin. Photo by Ruth Medjber.
“Drat! What’s that I’ve trodden in?” I regularly find myself asking at gigs, but never before has the answer been fresh pig’s blood. To be quite clear, Dublin rockers Wounds have gone all out for their Camden Crawl debut – an unsettling, ear-splitting and grotesque affair, during which front man Aidan Coogan hurls the severed heads of two deceased pigs around the Twisted Pepper floor. Only 50% of Wounds perform from the stage; Coogan and his brother, guitarist James, both spend the entire set writhing around with the punters, occasionally threatening to knock one over into a pool of hog innards. Our red-faced master of ceremonies clearly delights in his role as the band’s premiere shock tactician, throwing tortured shapes with every inch of his body and carefully constructing a makeshift shoji screen from a couple of the festival’s stand-alone banners just to dramatically knock it down again.
Of course, some form of physical ambush was to be expected from a group who describe themselves as “four disgusting people in one disgusting band”, whose online home can be found at fuckwounds.com, and who have opened for the all-spitting, all-snarling Gallows, but unlike the boys from Watford, they don’t have the hard-hitting prose or the musical heft to back it up. That said, it’s not an entirely bad thing that the theatrics outweigh the tunes tonight – at a festival like Camden Crawl, it’s all about making an impression and Wounds’ gag-riddled set certainly captured my interest.
We Are Losers
Hands Up Who Wants To Die
My Best Fiend
The Crayon Set
I’m Your Vinyl
No Monster Club
Tara Masterson Halley
Hush War Cry
Fred & Bob
Barry Not Garry
And more from Evi Vine, Trophy Wife, Polarbear, Let’s Buy Happiness, Dam Mantle, Blacklisters, Dels, D/R/U/G/S, Dutch Uncles and Becoming Real.
Day tickets are priced €25.00. To buy, go here.