Saturday, 15 November 2014

Nightmare of a day - Live review Nightmare Rocks in Camden

Nightmare Rocks *****
120 bands. 20 venues. 1 day. 1 bastard of a hangover. 120 words.
Various venues, Camden, November 1st 2014

It doesn't seem that long ago that we were scuttling up and down Camden's rat run for the brilliant Camden Rocks in the summer. Well, we're all back. And so's the sun. In November. Weird.

In the spirit of today's relentlessly punishing festivities with 120 bands peppered all over NW1, I'm going to pointlessly and breathlessly keep 120 words for each of the acts. Right, I'm going in.

Agent *****
The Underworld

First on. Devil's own slot. Sadly pretty empty room. But huge proggy, trippy, spacey, djenty, tecchy sounds. Not at all bad actually. Moments of Tool and Karnivool. Odours of grunge as well. At times reminiscent of Queens Of The Stone Age if they actually grew some proper gonads. A bit light on hooks or refrains. But, as I say, proggy stuff, so labyrinthine meandering melodies more the order of the day. There's  a screen showing the direct feed from the inside of a meth head's bonce to add to the bong-infused headiness. Strange choice as a first up act. Not really a party starter. Too classy. Too complex. In short, too good.  But a really brave and laudable start. Man.

Leviathan ***1/2**
The Jazz Café

Never heard of them. And with the moniker they've got, was expecting a Mastodon/Krokodil/Bovine kind of vibe. How wrong. What we've got is a dirty bastard scuzzy trio banging out a grit in the foreskin, dirty, bluesy, funky concoction that really is captivating. A grungy throwback lead guitarist and gruff but explosive vocalist rips into all manner of filth including a mesmerising and funked and fucked up version of Sabbath's The Wizard accompanied by some solid tub thumping and an über dude on a Rickenbacker providing great counterpoint, grinding bass and surprisingly tight as an amoeba's arse harmonies. It's an unholy mix of Nirvana, Rory Gallagher, Budgie and even hints of The Jam. A bit bonkers. But a bit good.

Du Bellows ***1/2**
The Proud

Regrettably, a pretty empty room. Mysteriously no drummer. More booze. Dog-on-a-string guitarist. Dreads. Bare feet. Sassy Welsh front woman. Huge, gorgeous, powerful voice. Reminiscent of Chicken Shack or Early Fleetwood Mac with spacey Fairport Convention wisps and strands woven into a bluesy, folky, stoner loveliness. Packed like a Camberwell carrot full of soul, sass and mind-altering trippyness. Although (maybe due to today's lack of a tub thumper) a little ramshackle and loose at times. A real comfortable cardy or care-worn, rock-burnt afghan coat of a band showing their forefathers' and mothers' influences by dipping into ma and pa's old vinyl collection, mixing it all up, packing into a bong and firing the beauty up for a brain calming feel-good session. 

Death And The Penguin ****1/2*
The Proud

Art school. Math school. New school. Smart school. Blimey, what a grin-inducing, pleasant surprise. A brilliant set full of angular, polyrhythmic, über-tight, clever, beautifully played and energetically performed mathy splendour. Fresh, challenging, original and spellbinding trickery and fuckery. There's a real endearing intelligence to this quartet's work. Complete with ironic bow ties and 6th form common room geek chic. There's more than a trace of Everything Everything or even Franz Ferdinand (if they were actually any good!) mixed with Delta Sleep or Tellison and even a bit of OK Go. There's more chop than a Karate competition in an abattoir  all deliciously served up with mesmerising harmony and counterpoint with poppy hundreds and thousands sprinkled on top. Absolutely bloody 

Calling All Cars *****

Thankfully, more than quite a few have slipped down the gullet into the subterranean gloom of Camden's bowels for this brotherly love-led Bristolian-based Oz trio. Quite simply why this band aren't huge is just mystifying. Hayden Ing is a born front man and backed by his brother James on 4 strings and the Bonhomesque skin smasher (he even sees off a snare this afternoon) Adam Montgomery they reek of stadium or huge halls. The music itself is massive. Joyous. Fresh. Unfettered rock and roll, crammed with hooks, riffs, melody, harmony and napalm-enriched face-melting power. Ing's vocals are flawless even though he throws himself around like a cattle-prodded mudskipper, performing from the crowd or even up a ladder (you 'eard). Fanbloodytastic.

Max Raptor *****
The Underworld

120 words. Go:

Hot. Packed. Frenzied. Energetic. Clever. Dry. Witty. Powerful. Fun. Chinese. Gervais. Sorry. Cider. Mosh. King. Dead. Tight. Fresh. Heavy. Showmen. Sardonic. Wry. Dance. Shout. Cajoled. Seduced. Thoughtful. Evangeline. Heart. Passion. Bombast. Punk. Rock. Original. Savvy. Riffs. Bombs. Guts. Evacuation. Skidmarks. Oops. Fervour. Belief. Boner. Wide-on. Phwoooar. Honesty. Integrity. Performance. Grit. Political. Anger. Ire. Intelligence. Beguiling. Frenzy. Gyrating. Response. Sing-a-long. Whooooa. Oooh. Anthemic. Powder. Wine. Sweat. Foist. Crowd. Surf. Yell. Drop. Bombs. Respect. Heart. Power. Meat. Raw. Fisting. Ouch. Vim. Vigour. Tune. Hook. Chorus. Melody. Anger. Principled. Smart. Savvy. Party. Dance. Clap. Scream. Dive. Pit. Delicious. Strong. Dark. Punch. Gonads. Kiss. Neck. Contrast. Handshake. Bird. Hug. Strangle. Seduce. Defile. Smile. Grimace. Love. Hate. Barrel. Wave. Two. Fingers. Proud. Brilliant. Fuck. Yeah. 

Brawlers *****
Electric Ballroom

Yup, red beanie-toting frontman Harry George Johns is one of those ludicrously passionate, born-to-be-a-star types who bleeds music, but the sad fact is, his band is, well, a bit meh. Derivative and regressed-to-the-mean pop punk adding so little of anything new. Ok, there's melody and the occasional hook in here. But it's all so bloody me-too. Johns has the energy. He's got the neck. The star quality. but that's about it. The crowd (even the ones who are questionably manhandled to the floor by Johns) seem to share my opinion. A glazed, cider-induced smile or two and the brave attempts by a couple of fancy-dressed moshing chickens aside, no fires are lit in the cavernous hall this afternoon. Real shame.  

InMe ***1/2**
Electric Ballroom

Feels like the whole InMe army are packed in. And they're treated to a brief but blinding set of alt metally, dazzlingly played artillery lobbed into their adoring midst. However, although I've long been a fan, I can't help but feel that tonight is all a little 'knowing'. Introducing rarely played backnumbers is a treat for die-hards; this is a festival. Maybe (no matter how much Dave and the lads must hate trotting them out) a couple more 'big ones' like Single of The Weak and  the one that kicked it all off, Underdose could get an airing, given that despite the fan-dominated room, there are a shitload of newbies here tonight. Minor gripe, but it feels like a convention rather than a celebration. Bloody good though. As always.

The Hell *****
The Underworld.

120 words you say? Ok:


Allusondrugs ****1/2*
The Underworld.

The last 120 words. In twos.

Last minute. Rhino replacement. Top blokes. Leeds lads. Bong water. Grunge infused. Empty room. Huge hearts. Tight as. Big tunes. Hilariously dry. Energetic bounce. Rock Roll. Likeable engagement. Great musicianship. Cousin It. Fun frenzy. Loud proud. True heart. Good songs. Party hearts. Catchy chlamydia. Roller coaster. White knuckles. Punk soul. Fucking fun. Dance inducing. Smiles grins. Big bollocks. Genuine talent. Original new. Fast furious. Hummable memorable. Light shade. Dark bright. Genuine passion. Feeling pissed. Shot arm. Pick up. Guitars loud. Loving it. Show men. Hundred percent. Respect due. Sweat brow. Giving all. Last act. Huge day. Broken liver. Fantastic fun. Brilliant acts. Live music. The Best. Totally fucked. More cider. Another Jager. After show. Hang over. Love it. Need sleep.

Bit of a gallery:

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