There are many things needed when putting on a one day festival. This huge list is made simpler by having it in a pub or a club – you whittle it down to:
Unfortunately, The Crowndale in Camden only successfully managed to deliver on two of these things: bands and staff. The sound man was late, meaning everything was running late and the beers ran out. THE BEERS RAN OUT. Unless you liked sausage flavoured German beer or Budweiser.
Anyway, you didn’t come here to listen to me rant about a music venue running out of beer did you? No, you came for the music. So, onward.
The first band to actually get onto the stage and play some music was Halo Tora, a five piece from Glasgow (that’s in Scotland 🙂 ). Styling themselves as progressive, experimental post-rock (at least on their bandcamp page…) they lit up the stage and blew away the cobwebs from whatever thing was going on in the Crowndale the night before (probably throat warbling). Chris Alexander and Ian McCall both on guitar and vox absolutely killed it. The fella on the ivories (that’s a piano if you’re from elsewhere), Ryan Connery, smashed it. He was tinkling away with random doodahs before the band started and played the theme from The Exorcist, so he was already alright in my book. I can’t tell you what the played as I don’t know them that well (or, any of the bands, save one) but you can checkout their latest release, Omni\One here.
Sedulus were up next. These guys played some meaty stoner rock that went nicely with how drunk I was getting at this point (this was BEFORE the beer ran out). Stomping grooveladen riffs from Rich Willams on the guitar (this guy looks like he should be in a stoner rock band actually) underpinned by some monstrous bass guitar from Will Wichanski, who also did double duty by being the vocalist. I spoke to him later on at the bar, can’t remember what he said as I was very drunk by that point, but I do remember thinking what a nice fella he was and gave him a flyer – if you’re reading this Will, get in touch so we can do an interview with you all. The rest of the band – Amit Patel on guitar (who looks a lot like a young Tom Araya) and Mithun Shah on drums rounded off what proved to be a solid second act. Check out Sedulus for yourself here.
PMM favourites, The Parallax Method were on next. They just blew me away as usual. Danny Beardsley, one of the nicest men on the scene, is joined by Ben Edis (who once graced the stage with Breed77, so I’ve been listening to him for a while, just didn’t know it!) on bass, and the don’t stop cutting and grooving the guitars together in crashing wonderment the whole time. In an interview PMM did with TPM, Danny talks about how they don’t do the whole “lead guitar leads the instrumental band” thing, it’s all about working the music together and they do just that. Dave Wright (on drums) wore some fetching yellow ear defenders. I guess he’s heard it all before (bah-dum-tish). Anyway, without Dave as the third leg THEY’D BE NOTHING! TPM also let on that the EP might be ready by March, which is nice as I really want to listen to teh stuff they play live at home. Of course, it means they’ll probably stop playing that stuff live though! Anyway, buy all the Parallax Method things here.
I wasn’t sure about Taikonaut before the day – I’d checked them out on Bandcamp etc and, while they describe themselves as “thinking man’s music” I couldn’t quite see it. On record, it doesn’t come across as “proggy” (clever, yes, but not proggy) and so they felt like the weakest band on the bill (for me at least). Still, there was still beer at this point, so I stuck around to see if they were different live. They were. Big meaty riffs which reminded me a lot of the groove and timings of Clutch. Unfortunately (or fortunately, not sure) Scott Perry is not Neil Fallon so the vocals didn’t quite do it justice, although, I might then have been trying to compare them to Clutch, which isn’t fair. Listening again the following morning, things have changed for me. They’re definitely a grower – that is, you can’t get into them on one listen, so I’m going to keep going. Look for a review here (haha, yeah right, like I’m going to write a review Lee – AMIRITE?) soon. You, however, should feel free to check out Taikonaut here for yourself.
Hung On Horns have a guitar sound that reminds me of Amplifier. But that’s where that comparison ends. They’re a tight three-piece that has dabs of space rock, with prog flavoured melodic power riffage. The vocals are spacey and, well, english. One of the only bands that I could actually make out some of the lyrics. There’s a real groove to this band and the took the edge of the incoming news of beermageddon. I especially like their name. Check out Hung On Horns here.
I don’t remember much about Scarlett Magma unfortunately. I was rather merry by this point. The beer had run out so I was drinking the crazy German dishwater that tasted like sausages. I do remember enjoying them though. They’ve got a more chilled out prog-metal sound, which was refreshing after all the smashing and thundering up to that point. You can catch Scarlett Magna here (I know I will be, so I can remember them).
The last band we saw before sliding into the Abyss was Toska. They were a a three piece instrumental band. Like a heavier version of The Parallax Method with exciting hair. I loved the soaring melodies and soundscapes that reminded me of Valhalla (maybe that was the beer). It was a never-ending (well, obviously not because it did end, but you know what I mean) tsunami of well executed musical genius and I thoroughly enjoyed it all. Rabea Massaad has incredible command of his guitar and Dave Hollingworth (on bass) and he were so tight there wasn’t a micron between them. Savagely executing the skins was Ben Minal – sounded like he had more than the standard two arms to be honest. In all, it was a mesmerising set. You can checkout Toska’s ODE TO THE AUTHOR here.
By this point, I could barely see, so we missed L’Anima in favour of a chicken katsu curry. Sorry L’Anima. I did want to see them too. They’ve got an interesting sound – hard prog with a spanish guitar influence and also with a member in Breed77, so there. Still, you can check out L’Anima here.
Even though the sound man turned up late and through everything into a tiz, even though the beer ran out (THE BEER RAN OUT), the bands made the Camden Rocks Prog Alldayer a success. Although, that is why you go to these things. It was a thoroughly progtastic prog-festival and I look forward to the next one.