Archive for May, 2012

Camden Crawl – Day 1

It’s Saturday. I’ve woken up from drinking one too many the night before and discovered that in my wisdom I decided not to pack the night before. I look at the time and realise that it is still early and I don’t need to worry, and with that I promptly went back to sleep. A short while later I wake up realising what I had done and looked at the clock again. Time has moved much more quickly the the moments that were apparent to me. So I quickly get up, have a shower, throw a few thing in a backpack and leave the house (only just remembering to pick up my ticket on the way out).

As I leave I look at the weather, there is a break in the clouds and for a brief moment everything brightens up. I turn back into the house and pick up my sunglasses. These would only be necessary for a further five minutes and would not be needed again all weekend. A quick walk round to the train station and a sure enough the train is just pulling out of the station just as I arrive, ‘never mind’ I say to myself ‘there will be another one in a bit, and in any case you have loads of time’. All of this is true but my oversleeping and wanting to get into London as quickly as possible still left me cursing myself for falling asleep. There was hardly a queue in the ticket office, neither was there at  the coffee shop on the station platform, so I decided to get a cup of tea for the journey. The oik behind the counter seamed confused when I asked for a Lapsang Souchong and tried to give me a cappuccino. “No, no” I said. “I want tea” pointing at the boxes of tea on the shelf behind him. He turns round, looks at the tea and mumbles what I assumed was something along the lines of “we haven’t got any Lapsang”, however I could be mistaken. I changed my order to Darjeeling, which he serves me with relitivly little kerfuffle. I think I’m just looking for something to moan about in my head because it is so early in the morning and its cold.

Getting into London on the train was fairly uneventful. All the usual features of  train journey into London happened; I burned my tongue on my cup of tea, there was a large police presence at Luton train station, a French couple sat opposite me and then both fell asleep and I got the usual odd looks from the elderly as they decided it was probably best not to sit next to the weird looking chap with a hat and long hair (after all you must be up to no good with hair like that!).

Around about 11 o’clock I arrive in Camden. I walk down the busy street from the tube station and make my way to the wristband exchange point, which has never once been in the same place in the years which I have been going. This year it is under the railway arches in the Camden Gardens, which is a small council owned plot of land which is open to the public most of the time to presumably walk from one side to the other, looking at the place there is no reason why you would stay there, too much gravel and not enough grass. It doesn’t sound like a good combination for a park does it?

In a separate archway, Red Bull had set up shop with their Bedroom Jam stage, it was here that I waited for the bars to open and the first acts of the day to come on.

Midday comes and goes,  and the first act of the day comes on. A band called “Never means maybe“. They are a rock band from Essex who, to be honest, were not bad. I wasn’t expecting much from the first band on, they usually put the crap acts on first. So apart from the over stretched  screaming in the mic, that a lot of heavy rockers have taken to, I was pleasantly surprised. A the time I even thought to myself that I might buy their album. I’m going to reserve judgement on that decision until after I have heard some of their recorded material.

After never means maybe I walked all the way down to the other end of Camden to book into my hostel. Apparently though I wasn’t aloud to check in just yet, but they were nice enough to take £1.50 from me for the privilege of leaving my bag in their lockers. Leaving the hostel without my bag but not checked in I went across the road to the Wheelbarrow. After I arrived it wasn’t long before the first act came on stage. A much more fun band with a brass section. For anyone who knows New Groove Formation think of them minus the ska and pus a bit more rock and roll. They were called Imperial Leisure. They worked well at whipping up the crowd and making sure that everyone was singing and joining in. There song “I’m in love with the land lords daughter” can’t help but stick in your mind.

Once Imperial Leisure had finished there set. I realised I still had half an hour to kill so I walked round the corner to the Brewdog bar. This was for two reasons, one, I always want to try new beer and, two, and old school friend works there. My friend wasn’t in so I had a swift half which timed it just about right to walk back to the hostel to check in.

Once I was checked in I went to my room to check where it was. I find that it is best to at least see your route back to your bed once while sober instead of just following the signs late at night. The room itself was OK. There were curtains which were heavy enough to block out any early sunlight and all of the bedding had been washed, but it was clear that it was getting a bit old. The dark pink sheets were clearly getting a bit over-used.

Leaving the hostel again and I started to walk to the roundhouse. Looking at the timetable I had been given with my wristband, which was much better designed this year I might add, I realised there was no one I knew playing that I wanted to see, so I looked in the guidebook and read a few band bio’s. Planning the rest of my day I decided that I’d stay in the roundhouse for most of the afternoon because it was all folk music (can’t go wrong there) and it is in the same building as the first act for the evening that I did want to see, Fiction.

I thought that I had missed “This is the kit”, because they were billed to start just as I was leaving the hostel, so I went into the stables market to get a Margherita from we ♥ pizza, a market stall I always visit at least once on every visit to Camden. If got made pizzas, this would be it.

After the pizza I walked round to the roundhouse and still managed to see most of this is the kit’s set. I should have had the pizza some other time because they were the first of a string of pretty decent bands. All quite simple folk songs but delightful to hear none the less. “Magic lantern”, Sam Lee and “Melodica melody and Me” followed. Previous description fits all of these with the exception of Sam Lee, who’s music was pretty good but he seemed quite pretentious to me, spending more time telling the audience where he learned each song from and how it should make them feel, rather than just playing the songs. This being said his accompanying musician on the Japanese harp was something else.

I didn’t want to miss Fiction. I saw them last year in the pokey little room that is above the Lock Tavern, where the sound man needed to be shot but the band still shone through, probably helped by the tiny space. I wanted to see how they would fare when they had a proper space and good sound, and that is exactly what I got. I don’t know there work well enough to sing along but it was all great to listen to. Parakeets and Big things are still favourites of mine. The only problem with Fiction is that their albums are all MP3 only. I want them to bring out an album which I can physically buy.

After Fiction I finished my drink and then left the roundhouse for the Abbey tavern, the furthest north of all of the venues which takes part in the Camden crawl. I got there and the bar was strangely quiet for a crawl weekend. Was there something I didn’t know? Turns out I was fine. Zun Zun egui were first on in the evening, quite entertaining if forgettable. Following them was the reason I had come to the Abbey Tavern. Françoise and the atlas mountains, a French group (really couldn’t you tell from the name?) who have been on the radio a lot recently with their single “Les Plus beaux” which I really liked. A shame really because apart from the one everybody know the rest of the songs were a bit limp. I think I put this down to half of the band being missing, using recordings and machine instead of live musicians, which they have had on other occasions. Really though, I can’t complain about a band that only had two people and managed to get close to what should have been five or six.

The long and short of the rest of the night was that I saw no more bands. I left the Abbey Tavern with the hope of seeing Veronica Falls at Barfly. I have here current album which I adore, especially the track, “Found love in a graveyard”. When I arrived, however, the queue was out of the door and the bouncers were already operating a “one-in-one-out” policy. Clearly it was full upstairs and nobody would be leaving in a hurry. I quickly switched to my backup plan to see clock opera. This meant a quick march all the way back down Camden High St. to The Purple Turtle, about as far south as any of the venues on the Camden Crawl are. Once inside I got a drink, caught the last five minutes of the previous act and stood around waiting for clock opera. When after half an hour some screamo-hip-hop mask wearing psycho weirdness came on I realised that something had gone horribly awry. I have a quick look at my timetable, I’ve missed the start of my third back up band, Chew lips.

I had no plans for the rest of the night and no bands which I wanted to see so instead I went back to Brewdog and had a catch up with my old school friend, who is doing very well for himself in one of the best up and coming bars in Camden.

Midnight soon arrives. Brewdog shuts and Subway beckons, a foot-long sub is soon demolished and I called it a night. I am quite glad of this because I wasn’t going to get much sleep in the morning.

Day two to follow…

I realise this is a new blog, it hasn’t really found its way yet and I’m blogging about all sorts of crap. Some one reading this blog would probably be thinking to themselves “Not really a beer based blog”, well I thought I’d kick off with the following in my new attempt to blog more regularly.

The session. Once a month beer bloggers from around the world take five minutes to all discuss a particular topic. This month the topic is “The Beer Moment”. It was suggested by this months host, Pete Brown.

The beer moment for me isn’t as easy to quantify as it will be for others. Some, I’m sure, will say its the relief from a hard days work that a nice cold pint brings or just the sheer pleasure in the taste of the drink itself. To me I feel that doesn’t do it justice. There is something else going on which isn’t just in the taste, or the slating of thirst, or the relief that the first pint of the day brings, signalling the end of work and the beginning of your own free time. Sure all of these things happen, but what is it about beer? What is that little spark that goes off inside which doesn’t happen with a glass of wine or a G ‘n’ T?

I’m not sure I know to be honest.

All I know is that whatever it is that is going on, I like it. I like the taste, the relief, the thirst quenching, sure. But I especially like that first beer because it is the first beer. The indescribable feeling of all of the above things and something more. Later on other beers will be poured and drank but none are quite like the first. The one that makes your body change. The one that relaxes you. The one moment that is purely of pleasure and for the briefest of times, truly, nothing else matters.