Camden Crawl | Pop review

Camden, London

Boasting "knitting graffiti" classes in a pirate castle and the chance to see indie's brightest new hopes in a bar soon to host Drag Idol, it can only be Camden Crawl, and a soggy start to the festival season.

Revellers, forced into long queues, are soaked through to their skinny jeans but ready to party. So are the Ruskins, who play in the street, and synth rockers Art Vs Science, who stay indoors and work themselves up into a sweat with a cover of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince's Boom! Shake the Room.

Wearing heavy eyeliner and tiny miniskirts, Californian quartet the Like are 1960s perfection: Wishing He Was Dead is wrapped in Motown- and Shadow Morton-inspired teen angst. New York's the Drums are the hottest ticket here, throwing arch shapes to their powerful if predictable post-punk, but guitarist Adam Kessler's Kate Bush-ish way with a tambourine and Jonathan Pierce's Anglophile singing style are contrived.

They almost justify the hype, unlike Plan B. Ben Drew looks as uncomfortable in his grey suit as singing falsetto. Welcome to Hell is a dip into the godforsaken sound of blanched soul. Despite warm reminisces about starting his career in Camden, only when he covers Paolo Nutini's Coming Up Easy does he have any heart.

Teenage Fanclub have sustained masses of it through a more than 20-year career. Among classics such as Sparky's Dream, highlights from their ninth album, Shadows, reveal their gift for warm, melody-driven, harmony-laden songs. Humble yet able to spark a crowd-surfing moshpit, they provide a classy end to a tumultuous crawl.


Betty Clarke

The GuardianTramp

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