Last Updated on March 5, 2023
Originally published in Beat Motel issue 9
When I turned up at this gig and made my way up to the ‘loft’ at the rear of the Rose and Crown I wondered for a moment if I’d found the right place. I had gone along tonight to see Dead Batteries play the Ipswich leg of their current tour, but what I found was a bunch of people milling about a half-empty room.
There was half a PA set up but nobody seemed to be taking responsibility for it, and if the bands hadn’t of laid out their tour merch on the bar in the loft I probably would have wandered off. What I should have remembered was that this is was a ‘Random Camel Collective’ gig, and they are so laid back they’re almost comatose.
Eventually a group of lads that had been standing furtively in the corner of the room shuffled to the far end of the room and defined the rough area that was to be used as the stage. 7 Day Conspiracy had driven up from Sittingbourne in Kent for this gig and made every second on stage count. There are no bands in Ipswich playing their brand of slightly American ska-pop-hardcore-dance-punk (with harmonies) and it was a total breath of fresh air.
Shame about the equipment failures but hey, even U2 suffer them, they just get to fire someone after the show to sate their egos! In the spirit of DIY punk other band members and even punters didn’t hesitate to dive in and help get the problems sorted.
There’s something about the lack of stage, the shared equipment and the total lack of any lighting that breaks down the barriers at Random Camel shows. Members of the audience thought nothing of walking around the bands while they were playing, and the bands thought nothing of wandering around the crowd during their sets.
This mingling was a phenomenon that would resurface almost constantly all night, at times it was hard to tell who was actually in a band and who was ‘helping out’. 7 Day Conspiracy were great, and I hope they come back to Ipswich soon.
Dead Batteries wasted no time in setting up and launching at break-neck speed into their tight set of early 80s influenced punk. Considering how quietly spoken their drummer Simon is off-stage, I’m still amazed each time he starts bellowing down the mica on stage!
Tagnuts (from Cambridge) were total fun; they played tight fast thrashy punk with an element of ska, and a big dose of catchiness. I’ve been trying to think of other ways to describe their set, but ‘fun’ sums it up perfectly.
Finally, to a small (but rabidly appreciative) crowd ICH sonically pounded into life. With a stage presence the size of a sumo wrestler these dreadlocked punkers drew the ground into their world within seconds. I watched with a huge grin as everyone in the crowd seemed to know all the words, and tussled with each other for a chance to grab a mic to prove it! ICH are great, much as I’m lost for words to describe Tagnuts so I fail with ICH.
Sometimes a band is great for no particular reason you can put a pin in, they’re quite simply just marvellous. Random Camel gigs really are something special, a slice of true DIY and proof that if you want something to happen it’s best not to sit around waiting for someone else to get it done, get out there and do it yourself!
In fact to put my money where my mouth is I helped return the PA to the hire company the next morning!
- Andrew Culture