Team Goldenplec was out on the mean streets of Dublin, pounding the beat and chasing down the best music on offer at the Camden Crawl Dublin 2012. There was acts all over the city centre, from Whelan’s down to Twisted Pepper. It was musical mayhem at its finest as the sibley of the original Camden Crawl in London made its début.
We had three of our best men on the streets and they were tasked with seeking out the best in show. They couldn’t see everything, they are only human and teleportation is still on Google’s to-do list. However we asked them to let us know what was their highlights from this years event. Amazingly they managed to submit entirely different acts.
Here is the thought of our men on the street about the acts that really impressed over the weekend.
James Hendicott picks
Underscore Orkestra (Whelan’s front bar – Saturday)
Technically, playful Portlanders Underscore Orkestra aren’t actually part of the Camden Crawl, but having scored themselves a corner spot in Whelan’s front bar, they steal a sizeable chunk of the crawl’s audience. The setup is intriguing: they fuse acoustic guitar, bongo, accordion and a cello made from a tin bath and part of a banister, producing a sound that fuses Eastern European, gypsy and jazz influences. That wacky amalgamation seems to sway from Gogol Bordello territory to barn-dance standards, with extended instrumentals allowing front man Jorge to teach audience members to swing dance. Accordion player Willow has a hefty vocal input, too, and a voice that flits across a bewildering range in a charmingly unpredictable manner. When CD payment involves sticking a note to the cello player’s forehead, we don’t take much encouraging.
Come On Live Long (Whelan’s main room – Friday)
Dubliners Come On Live Long have an unfortunate billing – first on Friday night, both early and with Duke Special performing right upstairs – yet their modernized folk style is immediately charming. Co-ed vocals are wrapped around insightful lyrics, and layered with a well-constructed, minimalist layer of synth rhythms over the top. It’s not a natural approach to folk – they’re clearly not traditionalists – but the subtlety of the fusion is what makes this band great. Playing to a small crowd doesn’t seem to offset the collective energy in the least, and Louise Gaffney’s mellow, gorgeously offbeat approach to her vocal contribution is particularly impressive. With two EPs under their belt to date, Come On Live Long might still lack that single special track, but the overall affect is highly promising.
Clock Opera (The Village – Saturday)
Clock Opera’s colourful take on indie-pop is propped up live by the sheer, bouncing energy of front man Guy Connelly. The bearded singer doesn’t stop his stage-hopping for the duration of their 45 minute set, which packs plenty of bite in singles like the thumping Lesson No. 7. The album tracks are every bit as strong, exploring hushed, deep-running vocals and at times coming across a little like Elbow, only interesting. There’s a bit of a format to a Clock Opera song: wistful, mellow opening followed by punchy, infectious chorus and unpredictable, fiddly bridge, but it’s a formula with enough wiggle room to keep things extremely interesting. Their star is rising, and judging by tonight, Clock Opera could be significant player on the mainstream indie scene this time next year.
Daithi (feat. Elaine Mai) (Whelan’s main room – Friday)
Anyone still glancing back at Daithi’s televised appearances of a few years back, when he stormed the talent show scene with a series of virtuoso fiddle solos, is in for a shock when they stumble upon the modern day version. Today, Daithi’s a purveyor of looped, synthetic dance floor fillers, and the fiddle’s musical role has been seriously minimized. The strings still offers a looped stroke or two to most mixes – a nice stand out in a genre that often feels flooded with similar artists – but Daithi as an electronic maestro is toe-tapping, driving and cleverly constructed in its own right. The highlight of this set is without doubt when the main man is joined by fellow west-coast stalwart Elaine Mai. The natural connection between the two on stage transfers into a gorgeously refined mashing of musical styles, one that live resembles rising star Grimes. The fusion was brought on by Daithi’s self-confessed inability to sing. If the collaborations (we’ve been promised a lot more on the album) remain this good, we can expect some real hits.
Let’s Buy Happiness (Upstairs at Whelan’s – Saturday)
While Let’s Buy Happiness have a less than impressive sound set up for their Whelan’s show (the vocals are somewhat drowned by their intertwined, playful guitar set up), the talent of this sizable group of Geordies – propped up by the distinctive, heart wrenching vocal stylings of front woman Sarah Hall – still shine. The five-piece claim a Modest Mouse influence, and they do often evoke the emotional yet deadpan delivery of a ‘Mouse album track, with some soaring highs poking through in the likes of ‘Fast Fast’ (the video for which, incidentally, is superbly weird). Their ‘ones to watch’ tag certainly seems justified on tonight’s showing, even if we would rather they balanced things better. Wistfully wonderful.
We Are Scientists (The Village – Friday)
One third indie rock band, one third comedians and one third all round nice guys, New York’s We Are Scientists made a very welcome return to Dublin to close off day one of the first Dublin Camden Crawl. After the muted, lacklustre production on their latest release ‘Barbara’, it’s great to hear the songs have a lot more bite than on the record. Jack and Ginger in particular sounds as raw as an open wound. Their combination of scratchy guitars, danceable drum beats and sing along choruses went down a treat as the Village seemed packed to capacity. Frontman Keith Murray even got in on the lighthearted fun with a bit of crowd surfing during finale of After Hours. The comedic interplay between the two frontmen is a huge part of any We Are Scientists show and tonight was no different. Murray encouraged bass player Chris Cain to “get his vibe on” to which Cain took off his shirt to reveal a t-shirt with Murray’s own face on it.
The Notas (The Globe – Saturday)
With gigs taking place across the city in dedicated music venues like Whelans, The Button Factory and The Village, there must have been some feeling in The Notas camp that they’d somehow drawn the short straw when they were announced to be play The Globe. There was no stage or in-house sound system, but did that phase them? Thankfully not one bit. For such a young, multicultural band (members ranging from France, Nigeria and India amongst others), they have an incredibly mature sound. The most obvious reference for the sextet would be ‘Smother’-era Wild Beasts with their sprawling synths, twinkling guitars and off kilter almost tribal drumming. Having only started to come into their own recently, we can expect The Notas to continue to grow and once they reach their true potential we’ll have something very special in our hands.
Funeral Suits (Whelans – Friday)
Taking to the Whelans stage looking like a blend of Mad Max and River Island, there’s the initial fear that Funeral Suits will be more style than substance. Thankfully this is not the case. They lead us through the darker crevasses of electronic rock with sweeping synths, grimey basslines and a mixture of acoustic and electronic beats all the while making the entire thing look effortless. Frequent radio staple All Those Friendly People makes a surprisingly early appearance in the set, but only helps for them to draw in a crowd until the place is packed. Funeral Suits are a band of multi-talented musicians, as the three frontmen alternate between guitar, bass and synth; executed with such skill that the performances are completely watertight.
We Are Losers (Twisted Pepper – Saturday)
After the lush styling of The Notas, we were served a complete change of pace in a different venue with pop-rock quartet, We Are Losers. Playing to a packed Twisted Pepper, the band belt through their lighthearted set with such happy go lucky enthusiasm that it’s impossible not to get drawn in, Even when singer Gavin Elsted jumps from the bass drum only to have his guitar strap fail, he simply brushes-off the would-be embarrassing situation by saying how he “wished it was the end of the set so that they’d finish with a bang”. When a band play with such open passion it’s impossible not to leave with a smile on your face.
Jape (The Village – Friday)
Between battling his own equipment and a somewhat preoccupied audience, Jape did their best to impress the crowd in The Village for an early enough 8pm set. When I say early I mean, it’s perhaps a little too early for a predominantly electronic set. The first thing that strikes you upon entering the venue is the impressive visual show that Jape have going on behind them, a mixture of looped car visuals and glitchy abstract forms – it looks as though they’ve put their oversized Choice Music Prize cheque to excellent use. Despite the audience’s early unresponsiveness, Egan doesn’t seem bothered in the slightest as he plays the entire show with a beaming smile on his face, obviously happy to have such a good turn out for a hometown gig. Luckily things pick up for Jape near the end for an enthusiastic sing along for Floating. Jape were brilliant, the crowd, not so much.
Gaz Coombes (The Button Factory – Saturday)
The Lambchopfather and former Supergrass front man Gaz Coombes played a set of material drawn from his electro leaning début solo album ‘Here Come The Bombs’. There is an unexpected emphasis on synthetic beats and bass in the new material which sees Coombes playing keys and a floor-tom, as well as guitar. Gone are Coombes signature cheeky chappy vocals which have morphed into a mix of Bret Anderson and Thom Yorke. This is an unexpected change of direction by the indie superstar which baffled many of the assembled crowd who came expecting the hits. However, this is Coombes best material for a decade and he wins the crowd over with single Hot Fruit, Universal Cinema and the most Supergrassesque track of the evening White Noise. Standout track of the set was easily Break The Silence, a heady mix of electro keys and rock n roll riffs closes the show on a high proving there’s life beyond Supergrass.
Duke Special (Whelans – Friday)
Duke Special is a suave and urbain character brimming with wit and lyricism and an Oscar Wilde glint in his eye. This is why Duke Special was the perfect choice to open the Meteor Camden Crawl upstairs in Whelans. To truly experience his presence you need to witness him perform in an intimate venue and see the veins in his neck and the emotion on his face. Duke Special took this opportunity to treat his fans to a host of material from his forthcoming album ‘Oh Pioneer’ and judging by the standard of songs such as Confusion, an epic monologue on the human condition and Lost Chord, it could be his finest work to date with diverse influences from Brian Eno to Two Tone on display. Duke Special was joined on stage by Foreign Slippers on backing vocals, but it was her performance of her own song accompanied by Duke Special and band that was her outstanding moment. A French jazz tinged song which builds on the evocative and lyric “Take me home, take me to bed” which indicates she could be a special artist in her own right also.
Le Galaxie (The Village – Friday)
The Irish electro juggernaut that is Le Galaxie keeps gaining pace and it’s easy to see why as they consistently deliver polished, energetic shows. Michael Galaxie is a distinctive and captivating front-man: come shaman ringmaster, constantly demanding your attention by pounding his body around the stage living every single beat. Le Galaxie’s energy levels are truly astounding and never show any signs of waining. It would seam they would happily play for hours and the crowd would happily dance along for hours. At one point Michael Galaxie leaped into the crowd with a floor-tom which he pulverised, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Songs such as Midnight Midnight and Orion never fail to be an amazing communal live experience and tonight was no different..If you like dance music and you haven’t seen this band, you only think you like dance music.
Rubberbandits (The Village – Saturday)
Political satire, stunning social commentary, alternative history, sex, drugs, Gaeilge and bin bags. The Rubber Bandits had it all and much more. The comic duo were in fine form in The Village running through a fine set of hi/lo brow comedy. The crowd lap up every word which comes out of Blindboy and Mr. Chrome’s mouths and the between song banter was just as explosive as their songs. As you would expect hit singles Black Man and Horse Outside were well received, but the crowd were more interested in buying hash off of Willie O’Dea and getting wrecked on “bags of glue” than Spoiling Ivan and a Spastic Hawk. The best two songs of the evening both focused on Irish history, both real and imagined. Up De Ra gives the rebel song a modern twist. Singing “take off your bra Paul McGrath” taps into the national psyche in an unashamedly joyous way. While even a Corkonian would struggle to deny the unifying wonder of Double Dropping Yokes With Eamonn De Valera. Wonderful stuff.
That was Team Goldenplec’s experience. Who were your highlights from the Camden Crawl 2012. Let us know in the comment box below. Here’s some awesome snaps from all over the venues during the two days. We swear he didn’t have a helicopter. You can also scan below the snaps for some video interviews we did with some of the bands over the weekend.
Camden Crawl Dublin Photo Gallery
Photos: Kieran Frost
Duke Special in a taxi
Little Xs For Eyes
I’m Your Vinyl
Fred And Bob