Do the Crawl: Camden wakes up this summer

Spring sees the start of many things: lighter evenings, blossom in the trees, and of course those dastardly April showers. Whatever the weather, it is finally time for the UK to dig out the wellies and line the stomachs.  The highly anticipated festival season 2012 has finally begun. 

It’s fair to say that most of the UK’s urban music fests usually get overshadowed by rural granddaddy festivals like Glastonbury.  But, hey, Glasto’s not happening this year and ticket sales are down at most of the others, so there’s isn’t a greater time for urban fests to shine.   And what better place can kick off the festival season like Camden – the home and breeding ground of Indie and Britpop itself, with more than two miles of iconic venues, over 300 up-and-coming artists and three days of indie-rock rifts spilling out onto the streets?  Yes, this May bank holiday, Camden’s already rowdy streets will be crawling, quite literally, with celebrities, music lovers and fashionistas; plus the odd few who simply want to get drunk and roam around aimlessly.  Rumour has it that even Camden’s mayor has been seen bouncing down the high street with an air guitar and a pint of cider. 

The Camden Crawl started in 1995 at the height of Britpop, and ran successfully for three years when the guys behind it took a breather until bursting back onto the scene in 2005.  The London rockathon has always celebrated affordable and accessible live music, mainly through supporting on-the-verge bands that are often billed to be the next big thing. So although there’s no Jay Z or Prodigy headlining, you can guarantee you’ll be witnessing a mammoth slice of rock future, at a fraction of the price they’re worth. 

Headlining this year is Yorkshire’s best live act, The Cribs, who originally played at the 2005 Crawl relaunch. Joining them (to name but a mere handful) include Death in Vegas, Spector, Clock Opera and indie stalwarts The Raincoats, plus comedians Tony Law, Abandonman and Rufus Hound.  If that doesn’t spoil you enough, a host of Camden-cool festivities will also be running throughout the event.  The pick of the bunch include the High Hoops Hula Fest, Hip Hop Karaoke (you know you want to!) and the 99 Club comedy act – ­Edinburgh eat your heart out.

As well as staggering about, trying to get your groove on and failing to balance your warm plastic cup of cider, you can also take in a few of Camden’s bars. You’ll probably forget them in the morning, but many have got a tale or two to tell. Back in the day, Kate Moss & Pete Doherty spent many nights propping up the bar at the Hawley Arms; Amy Winehouse followed suit and was even rumoured to have played bartender once or twice.   Other classic Camden watering-holes signed up to the crawl include the Roundhouse, Barfly, Dingwalls and the dingy but loveable Good Mixer – a favourite of Blur’s Graham Coxon. 

It all kicks off Friday night at Camden’s own bite-sized answer to a superclub, KOKO, and continues throughout the weekend.  Tickets can be bought online for £39.50 or £67.50, depending on how hard you want to party, and you can view the entire line-up here.  Be there. And if you do make it, I’ll be the one cartwheeling, not crawling.