Will Preston

Gigs

Wedgewood Rooms Showcase 2011 Heat 10

by on Sep.01, 2011, under Gigs, Music, Review

Well it’s the final heat. Around 50 bands have tried their luck. Only a few have entered into the next stage. What happens to the rest? If they aren’t picked up as potential talent, they’re discarded like Paul Di Anno from Iron Maiden. Tonight’s heat was a weird mash from bog standard indie to avante garde mayhem.

Feuds

Not my favourite. As soon as the generic indie started, I knew I wasn’t going to dig this band. It wasn’t just the fact that the songs offered anything original; it just felt rough, unplanned and unfinished. The guitars were out of tune on the bits that counted and the singer was very hard to hear. As a set, it just went on and on with no hope of improvement. Even the band looked as if they felt the same as I did. If there was ever a soundtrack to purgatory, it would be Feuds playing on a loop for eternity.

CCAP

Fools and Scissors

The only time I’ve ever run full pelt to the front to see an unknown band was for CCAP. It wasn’t just the musical style that turned my head, it was the stage set up. How many bands have you seen lately where the lead guitarist uses a bow on a guitar that is attached to a workbench? How many bands have you seen play one long improvised wall of madness as their entire set? Needless to say, these guys were a bit of a niche act, but they were extremely talented. The drummer must have been jazz trained. At one point, the keyboardist started pouring water into a bucket whilst playing. Don’t ask me why he did this, I have no clue. CCAP are the most original and entertaining act I’ve seen in the last five years. There is no mystery why these guys won.

Fools and Scissors

These were another extremely young band, but with talent and a good direction. Fools and Scissors started with some floor shaking synth before bouncing into a bout of indie dance nonsense. The first song really held my attention, but the rest of the set was mostly hit and miss. The vocalist felt a bit inexperienced in places, but at some points, you could tell he is going to improve a lot. One thing that I found a little odd was the guitarist. At various points throughout their set, he was launch into some Van Halen-esque guitar tapping. Imagine The Automatic suddenly covering Hot For Teacher mid-song as that’s pretty much what happened. Fools and Scissors are an enjoyable new band who show a lot of promise.

The Rapids

Music To Drive Tanks To

Bursting on stage with a barrage of ear crippling riff hungry rock, I thought these guys would win by the crowd vote alone. Well tuned, well timed and tight enough to pierce a bullet proof vest. To compare sounds, it was like hearing early Offspring for the first time in ages. Not only was it fast and frantic, these guys decided to pull out some perfect vocal harmonies to ensure they had our undivided attention. I would bet my right buttock that these guys have been going for a couple of years at least. The Rapids play like they’re named and are an exciting band to watch live.

Music To Drive Tanks To

Clearly the oldest lot here, but they showed a lot of experience. Imagine if Kraftwerk and Massive Attack had a baby and made it conform slightly to mainstream music (try as hard as you can to imagine that!). That is pretty much what the result was with Music To Drive Tanks To. They were a very efficient three-piece with the drummer using an electronic drum kit about the size of a toddler. I have to say I really got into them. The only thing that let them down was the mid song banter which made them seem less cool than they set themselves up to be. I think the cold shoulder treatment could work a lot for these guys.

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Wedgewood Rooms Showcase 2011 Heat 7

by on Aug.22, 2011, under Gigs, Music, Review

Possibly one of the sunniest Sundays of the year. I came to the gig tonight with a glowing red face because I forgot to put on sun tan lotion, as usual. Lack of preparation was a theme for one of tonight’s bands, so I didn’t feel like I was completely alone. The results were very close and the crowd was very large throughout the rest of the night. It felt like it was the final, to be frank.

Join the Rising

Well, for the first band on, they didn’t sound too bad. Not that it was their sound they were playing. Think U2 covering The Cult in a shamelessly upbeat cookie cutter package that thinks it’s far more exciting than it actually is. Granted, the lead singer had a bit of confidence, talent and energy, but his demeanour was less of a rock star and more of a children’s entertainer trying too hard to appeal to the preteen demographic. This was made worse by too much talking in between songs. I’m all for the mid song chin wag, but half a minute later, I’m almost running up to the stage to shout into his ear to start playing; the irony of this being that I didn’t really like their music in the first place. It was pleasant and upbeat, but unoriginal yet dull at the same time. We’ll have to wait until Bono asks for their sound back before Join the Rising could look at going any further.

Citizen Unknown

Dead Man's Dance

These were most regular looking band of the evening. I would say they were regular sounding too, but that would be cruel. Living up to their name, the band entered the stage as quietly as possible in a doomed effort to not be seen. After more than enough second of awkward staring, they kicked in with some formulaic punky rock that was too pop to be punk, but too punk to be pop. From the back, the lead singer looked like a bizarre cross between Charlie Brooker and a darts player. The banter was a bit on the bizarre side; when introducing themselves, the lead singer claimed that the band was from Portsmouth, despite saying this in the most northern accent you can afford. Then he started giving an itinerary of what he plans to do later. I was bewildered, you can be sure of that. Citizen Unknown spent the rest of the set playing some rather samey numbers that started off well, but sounded like the last song they just played. Not the most enjoyable band of the evening, but not the least enjoyable band….

Dead Man’s Dance

These were the least enjoyable band of the evening. The compere didn’t even get a chance to introduce them before they snuck onto the stage and started playing. After roughly half a minute of sloppy by-the-numbers indie rubbish, they pulled the brakes and stalled the entire set due to the drummer snapping his only pair of sticks. No, seriously; that was the reason. I would have used that window to exit the stage in shame, but oh no, it carried on after the most cringing minute all week. There was nothing to rescue here at all. It was like I had just repaired a car made out of cardboard in order to drive to my own execution. Dead Man’s Dance could act as a stark warning to other would be bands about preparation, composition and how to avoid burying your chances at ever playing a gig again. Dead Man’s Dance?! Dead Man Walking, more like.

Guerilla Gorillia

The Founders Of

After seeing that shambles before them, these guys seemed like they would have won the evening. In terms of instrumentation, there was nothing really wrong apart from the lead guitarist suddenly sounding like he was in a different band, but this didn’t happen enough to collapse the set. There was also a cheeky bit of dual guitar harmonisation. The band must have seen my Thin Lizzy t shirt and wanted to impress me on the fly. There were other moments like this where they wanted to show off their talent, but it often felt out of place in their songs. Still, they sounded alright. The problem is that these guys are all very talented technically, but they need to make more catchy songs before they could get a lot more gigs in. The minute that Guerilla Gorilla pen a few hooky numbers, we’ll have a band worthy of regular support, and maybe even a headline gig in a few years.

The Founders Of

This is the third time I’ve seen these guys and they have improved a lot. Still not my bag, but very tight and energetic. They had that poppy ska sound that doesn’t use trumpets, with moments of Radio 1 rock slid in to please the average punter. And it worked; the crowd got going and were shouting for an encore by the end of the set. It was pretty obvious that most of the people there were TFO fans, and it wasn’t just the phalanx of TFO t shirts that gave this away. The only thing that lets them down is that no song really stands out from the set. This didn’t stop them from winning the evening, however.

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Wedgewood Rooms Showcase 2011 Heat 6

by on Aug.18, 2011, under Gigs, Music, Review

Mid week is a brave time to host a local gig. As well as it being close to the end of the month where money supplies are low, most people have work in the morning or kids to look after. At the beginning of this showcase night, it felt like the entire crowd could fit into a crumbling outhouse. But thankfully, a barrage of hooting punters poured in after the first band. Bit unfair on the first guys on, but then again, efficient self promotion is the bread and butter of breaking through.

Jaqunion

Possibly one of the hardest band names I’ve ever had to write down or pronounce. What does it mean anyway? Thankfully, the band were ultra quiet at the start of their set to allow me to ponder this name even more. That was their first problem; lack of banter and stage presence. I don’t want to lay into them for this, but it was cringingly awkward at times, like the lead singer had been unexpectedly teleported from his bathroom and was still getting used to the fact he was in a band. But that aside, he had a very good singing voice. It was possibly the best feature of the band. As a group they played very well, but the songs were a little mild. Kind of a like a pop indie song you play to lift you up from a bad mood. Some of their material kept me interested, despite being a bit poppy for my liking. Jaqunion are one to keep an eye on.

Cavern Club

Kizmit

Now this had to be the youngest looking band of the entire night. It would have had to have been their first gig judging by how they played and how much they got the crowd going – which was not very well, I’m afraid. Not only did they feel rather sloppy in places, the songs just failed to get me going. They felt half finished and you could see the parts that they forgot to paint over. It was almost like they were so eager to get a gig that they didn’t give themselves more time to sort themselves out. They wanted to sound like an indie band that uses a lot of weird syncopated beats, but came across as a trio of kids who were trying to run before they could walk. Maybe they should give themselves a few months before they hit the stage again.

The Harrassments

It was pretty evident from just before their set that this group of swaggering Arctic Monkey wannabe’s sold the most tickets for the evening. They were the most boisterous following I’ve ever seen at a showcase gig, and I saw a group of kids moshpitting to a Rage Against The Machine tribute act last year. The Harrassments played like they were on their 6th gig of the month. They had the confidence and the skill to make the crowd louder than they already were. Swagger would be the right term to use when describing the stage presence. They had the banter, they had the fans and they could write a good tune. The reason why this well played group didn’t win the competition? They were essentially an Arctic Monkey’s tribute band. Right down from the fast drum playing to the same chords used by the Radio 1 baiting indie plank spankers. These guys will go far as long as Arctic Monkeys stay in the charts.

Nomura

Nomura

I love it when a band has my attention from the start without acting like a gaggle of gits. Nomura calmly came on stage and exploded in a ball of crunchy rock. At first, I thought we had another tribute act on the go, but they started moving to an early 90’s sound. There were flecks of Led Zeppelin and Smash-era Offspring that almost turned them into an imitation, but they had a fresh take on it that set them apart from everyone else that evening. They were, by far, my favourite act of the evening and I cheered a little too loudly when they won. Nothing let them down during their set. They were very close to perfection. Stop what you’re doing right now and check them out.

Kizmit

Finished checking out Nomura? Good! Anyway, the last act of the evening fitted in with everyone else. Kizmit have been going for a while and they’re still playing as strong as ever. There sound is a bit too poppy for my liking, but it still had a good sound to it. After a while, the songs began to get a bit samey and I pretty much lost interest. There wasn’t much to look at on stage as it was just a crowd of well dressed guys standing still. Whether this was due to lack of space or lack of confidence, I couldn’t tell you. Kizmit are a well meaning band, but I think their sound is starting to show some serious crow feet.

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Wedgewood Rooms Showcase 2011 Heat 5

by on Aug.15, 2011, under Gigs, Music, Review

And so ends a four day booze and culture odyssey with the next heat in the age old tradition of the Wedgewood Rooms Showcase. I was promised a fair selection of dirty rock, but alas, I didn’t get the call in time to refit myself with some leather and long hair. The night went pretty smoothly and Martin Hoare’s burnt pizza served as mascot for the entire evening. At no point did I attempt to eat it. Neither did the following acts.

Platform Location

It’s always the young band that starts off the night. I have to say there was a bit of promise at the start with these guys, but after a minute in, my ears started to twitch. Another minute passed and I realised that the reaction I was having was due to a subtle mistake with Platform Location: the singer was slightly flat in places. It does sound like I’m picking away at a couple of nits, but it almost ruined a few pleasant sounding emo slash alternative numbers from being as best as they could have been. There were other moments where they were slightly out of time and the mid song banter seemed to have been abandoned. But I have oodles of respect for them for training up a last minute bassist, as they so proudly announced. A seemingly inexperienced and mildly pleasant band with some potential.

Grumpy Apples

Velvetine

Seriously, there should be a street named after this guy now. The most persistent man you’ll ever see wearing shorts and a tank top. Armed with a guitar and a foot drum, Grumpy Apples has always managed to produce more noise than a standard four piece. Belting out red raw blues to a gaggle of bewildered punters, there was no shame in this act whatsoever. All through the set, I kept wondering how thick the irony could be, and whether or not this was intended to be tongue in cheek. If this guy carries on any longer, a tank top wearing blues based cult will develop and I’ll be forced to talk sense everyone before they fulfil an apple based suicide ceremony…in Guildhall Square.

Velvetine

I got a red hot tip that there would be an Aussie style hard rock band on the cards for this evening, and I correctly guessed which one by name alone. Looking young enough to be ID’d at the bar, Velvetine toddled on to stage looking like a meek GCSE project, but ended up sounding like a top AC/DC tribute act. Ironically, that was their only downfall. Despite some ace sounding riffs performed almost perfectly, the whole thing was clichéd to the point that it was like hearing early Def Leppard playing in some kind of time warp. But in an endearing way, of course. The worst part of it was that, despite this blaring disadvantage, I couldn’t help but nod my head and get into their songs. After all this time trying to progress my music taste into the realms of absurdity and avant garde, I still have a raging soft spot for a bit of old school rock. Could someone please put these guys on again?

Forest Floors

Forest Floors

Within ten seconds, I had these guys summed up with a noise: an aroused gasp. I’m not into the whole powerful sounding emotional sound that modern alternative rock is saturated, but Forest Floors could have talked me into it without saying a word. They all looked like they had school in the morning, but played like they intended to come in late next morning. Not only did they play like a band that has been going for years, but they managed to swing over the hard to avoid pitfall of playing too many samey songs. I’m not kidding; each one still kept my attention going. They were obviously going to win by the time they finished their second song. I can really see these guys going far.

The Vortex Buzz

At first, I thought I wasn’t going to like these guys, but they started to warm up a fair bit after the first song rang out. A casual looking garage rock band that riffed their way through the set. They looked like the oldest band there, but played like they only just got together. They weren’t terrible, they just felt like they still needed to find their sound and build their stage presence. I still found myself jigging to a few songs before I realised that the riffs started to sound alike. They were still pretty good riffs, mind. Maybe with a bit more work and confidence, we’ll see an improved Vortex Buzz next year.

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EVOLUTION: A New Rock Culture Pt II

by on Aug.14, 2011, under Gigs, Music, Review

One day, the country will climb out of the recession. As the battered hand slaps down onto the ledge of the financial abyss it had just ascended, we’ll be allowed to have fun again without feeling guilty. Out of all the hedonistic luxuries that I’ll be entitled to, new gig nights in Pompey is one I’ll be looking forward to the most. We could get there sooner if we all pitch in and see more local bands, but that statement is a worn out platitude. So in brave times a new night is emerging at the Wedgewood Rooms and it deserved a few more punters, seeing as it was mostly top shelf acts and all for the price of a pint. Are times really that hard? Anyway, onto the bands.

Bare Your Scars

When a hard and heavy band are performing to a bare audience and still giving it 105%, it fills me with a sense of awkward respect. Despite poor numbers at the start of the night, Bare Your Scars were still playing like there were ten times as many people in the room. Late comers missed out on a slap up metal grill with enough angry vocals to fill up a death metal hospital. I’ve never seen a band so energetic whilst staring at a floor so empty. Some of the material started to blur into one long song, but with some fantastic rhythm and an aggressive stage presence, the guys managed to hold my attention for a good length of time. And considering that this really isn’t my sort of thing, the deserve a hard pat on the back. Think a young Pantera with a focus on bouncier beats. They deserve more than the first band slot, especially after the way they ploughed through the set. It was like watching a porn star in action, even though the cameras were off.

Freakpit

Picture courtesy of www.m4tography.co.uk

Costumes on stage are usually fun, even if the lead singer decide to go for the old clown phobia theme. Freakpit are a band who have enough dirt and raw to use, but need to focus on pimping out the riffage more and more. At times there was a soft Korn vibe going on, then all of a sudden a Motorhead-esque driving force would explode at my ears. Just when I was getting into this dish, the band snatch it away again like a fussy chef. Everyone on stage looked the part, but there seemed to be a slight lack of confidence that prevented them from enjoying their own songs. Also, there were moments where the band felt slightly out of time or the drums decided to stop for a bar or two. However, the lead singer did get into his clown guise very well and pretty much did the job. I really think that these guys should go a bit more psychobilly in the future. Don’t ask me why; just trust me on this one.

Kodiak Jack

Ah Kodiak Jack. Yet again, they haven’t let me down. Scroll back to my other reviews of them if you want. I’m fine to wait….still here? Fine! I’ll fill you in. Basically, if you like your 90’s alternative rock launched at you from a catapult; then done the rock helmet and spread your ears. Tight, well structured and not bad to look at either, these guys are a sure favourite for anyone with a pulse. I swear these guys have been going for a long while now as it bloody well shows. Nailing each song down perfectly whilst swaggering the living daylights out the stage. It’s top rock seepage! Think of Pearl Jam jamming with a stoned Stone Temple Pilots and you might be somewhere close. Please see these guys whilst you can still see them at criminally low prices. It’s only a matter of time, people!

Toxic Shock

Picture courtesy of www.m4tography.co.uk

Hooray! It’s dirty hair-ish metal. My favourite if I’m in the mood for some leather and denim strutting. Toxic Shock make the 80’s look slightly dignified, which can be an achievement in itself, I suppose. The songs have the right attitude, even if they sound a bit light in places. But if you’re up for a bit of no nonsense rock and roll with a whiff of cocaine, these guys do the line just fine. One niggle I had was with the lead singer being a bit too static. I mean the guy just looked the part and had the dress sense that I would commit war crimes to achieve, but most of the time, he was standing angrily and I felt there could have been a bit more movement. But that’s just me; if I smell out an old school rock band and the lead singer has not got a guitar strapped to him, I expect running, the splits and anything else that could cause a mild heart attack. Keep an eye on these guys, though. And I really do mean that.

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Wedgewood Rooms Showcase 2011 Heat 2

by on Aug.01, 2011, under Gigs, Music, Review

I got the call on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Some bands needed judging with a glaring eye and I had two of those. Glaring eyes that is. I put on my sexiest shirt and made my way down to the Wedgewood Rooms to sort out which band deserved to get into the next round of this grand fight to the death. To spoil the ending for everyone, this is the hardest heat I’ve ever judged. Out of the five bands, three of them deserved to get through to the next stage. The other two? Well, I’ll save that part of the story when I reach it. Or remember it. It’s already a hazy night. Onto the first band.

Observing The Ghost

Advertised as some kind of Radiohead-esque Placebo thingy, this was a very young band. Some of their sound came off very well, but they’re a young band. Looking at them on stage, the sense of mild awkwardness waved at your face like a large dangling trout. It didn’t affect the music too much, but it would appear that the vocalists didn’t do their warm up session for their voices before hand, so a lot of their warbling came out a tad flat. Shame. There seemed to be something alright going on here, even if it was rather dull. What started off as promising songs just didn’t go anywhere. It was like they found the first groove they could find and just stick with it for the next four minutes. Nice first attempt, but no biscuit!

Waking Charred

This was quoted as the band I should be listening to. And it was. It was post rock instrumental nonsense; the kind of nonsense I love. Have we found a winner? Well, not in this case, but will look into seeing them a lot more. One massive turd nearly block up their set in the form of a technical issue on the first song. The most infuriating part was that I knew they had a good sound, but it was being spoiled. But chuck a band in the deep end and sometimes they’ll come up swimming. Or drown horribly. Waking Charred torpedoed back with some fantastic post rock. Even if their sound was a bit mainstream for the genre, I would use this to break someone’s post rock hymen, if you will.

The Fall Of Arcadia

I’m sorry, but I burst out loud with girlish laughter when this hulking metal behemoth screamed onto stage. Was it the fact that it was a vast contrast in tone to the last two bands? Was it the fact that they were so heavy it was border lining on sharp parody? Or maybe it was the lead singer’s metal “Oinking” vocals that caused me to suddenly crack up under pressure. All this aside, they were a superb thrash act. By the time they were halfway through their set, it was clear that the previous two bands wouldn’t be winning. How can music from the Isle of Wight be that good?! Am I missing out on something by having the good luck to live on the mainland? In case you haven’t noticed, this band has been making me ask a lot of questions, which can only be a good sign. Tight as Christian’s anus and just as unforgiving.

We Are Traitors

And yet another band who pretty much wiped the floor over the previous few. Not that the last guys were bad, but as I said: There were too many good bands in this heat tonight. Just like the last band, my head turned instantly. I could have been facing the other way and I would have turned my head so much that I would have ended up with permanent damage. Their sound was like an extremely heavy metal brick, but with some of the catchiest riffs I’ve heard all week (and it’s been a pretty riff-tacular week). Visually, every member of the band was showing the energy needed for this level of metal. And they didn’t look half bad either, speaking as a heterosexual male. It’s no surprise that they came out as the winners. Heavy, riffy and sexy.

Filthy Ramirez

Put your shirt on. Put your shirt on. Put your shirt on now! PUT YOUR SHIRT ON! PUT YOUR SHIRT ON!!! FOR FUCK’S SAKE!!! PUT YOUR FUCKING SHIRT ON YOU FUCKING GINGER FUCK!!! I could stop the review there and I would have pretty much summed up the entire set of this awful band. The first song was just a dull instrumental played by some long haired pre-teen hairdo’s before some shirtless, pigeon-chested, faux-angry ginger twat bag ponced on stage and started ruining music. Forever. The rest of the set was the same god-fucking-awful song played over and over again until, to relieve monotony, the lead singer tried to start a fight with “those cunts at the back”, who just happened to be me and two other people judging the competition. I really hope they came to some physical harm after the night was over.

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Is it too prog rock to play two consecutive sets?

by on May.27, 2011, under Gigs, Music, Review

My advice to anyone travelling into London to see a gig at the 02 Arena: Seriously think things through. Are the tubes working? Are you familiar with the overly elaborate London bus system? Do you have a mortgage on standby to pay for cab fair? And is the band really worth seeing so much that you’ll be fine to put up with the bastardised international airport that is the 02 Arena? Let’s just say that getting to the gig the other night felt like an uphill struggle where the hill is made of smelly marshmallows. And then when you finally get to the venue you feel like you’re checking into an airport. It looks like one and all. Never before had I felt like I needed to look for some duty free before a gig. Something’s not right here.

Bow down to Geddy's massive face

But this was Rush, so I was willing to crawl through all obstacles. After scaling the side of a small mountain of chairs, I sat into my seat and as soon as the gig started, a video played featuring the band dressed as characters in a random diner in the seventies. Geddy was the overly Jewish diner owner, Alex Lifeson was the fat inventor of a time machine and Neil ‘best drummer in the world’ Peart was an Irish copper. I won’t bore you with the bizarre details, but let’s just say that Rush have a very odd sense of humour that really didn’t feel out of place at the gig at all. Starting with the twiddlycore hit Spirit of Radio, the band seemed to show just as much energy as most young bands, despite clearly looking a fair bit older. There were no support acts. There was no need for support acts. Rush were playing two long sets. Now that’s what you call true progressive rock.

The first set was hit and miss. Whilst songs such as Freewill, Subdivisions and Stick it Out made the set go by, their decision to play some of the more middle of the road songs like Presto and Time Stands Still made me wonder when the better songs were going to make an appearance. It wasn’t until I realised they weren’t going to play some of my favourites such as The Trees and Xanadu, that I got a bit miffed. But it wasn’t a bad set, it just could have been a bit better. Around this time I also noticed that the sound in the 02 Arena itself was among the worst I have heard. It’s like the design was based on a tin can made of the most echoey material known to man. It was in danger of ruining the sound. I was glad I went with Orange for my mobile provider. If 02 can’t get the sound right at a rock concert, who knows what they’re call quality would be like. But at least it didn’t ruin the bands stage presence.

Canadians can't smile

The second set started with their 1981 album Moving Pictures played in its entirety. It was the 30th anniversary of the album and one of the main things I was looking forward to. Missed half of Tom Sawyer due to hot dog malfunction, but we all know how it goes. Hearing YYZ done live almost made me cry my hot dog out of my face. This was a perfect example of a prog rock instrumental that is totally accessible to an outsider. After the long run of Moving Picture, we had the obligatory drum solo from Neil Peart, who never lets me down. I’m a person who isn’t really compelled by drum solo’s but Neil Peart always turns my head (not in that way!). Ironically, I approved of them playing less of one of their songs in this set. Instead of playing 2112 in its entirety, they were a bit more economic and played the first two parts. Just to confirm, they shortened a twenty minute song to seven minutes. And that didn’t ruin it whatsoever.

For the encore, they okayed an unexpected instrumental (La Villa Strangiato) which has one of the best breakdowns in a prog rock song I’ve heard ever. Even thinking about it now causes my head to bob up and down like it’s try to gain independence. But for the last song, it took me a while to catch on to what it actually was. Turns out it was Working man done in a weird reggae sound at the beginning. After leaving the stage for the third and final time, we were treated with a video of Paul Rudd and Jason Segel (Yes, they were playing the characters from the film I Love You, Man) breaking into Rush’s backstage room. That’s open big band crossed off the list for me to see and hopefully the last time I have to venture to the giant shit tent known as the 02 Arena.

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12 hours on Albert Road – An acount of Southsea Fest

by on Sep.21, 2010, under Gigs, Music, Review

Never drink before something important? Or drink before something important? It all depends on what kind of important thing we’re on about, to be honest. If it’s a hangover contest, snuff ethanol if need be. Reach that finishing line, man! I need to stop drinking before things and should stick to keeping my intake to after. Possibly even during if it’s a slow day at work. This subject is the main focal point when dealing with music festivals and events; how drunk will I get and will I remember enough to take a personal account of it? My notepad became used for once. The untouched fishwife of a stationery accessory was now satisfied…

[Article continues on The Dirty South]

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Wedgewood Rooms showcase 2010 – Heat 9

by on Aug.13, 2010, under Gigs, Music, Review

See what I mean about the vest?

Without over exaggerating, this has to be one of the finest sounding heats I’ve been too. Almost all of the bands were brilliant; which made it really hard as a judge to find criticism. In the end you would have to start nitpicking on pointless aspects of the band. This one uses the C chord too much. The lead singer hasn’t washed his top. The bass guitar is the wrong shade of blue. I could go on.

Right from the start, we already had a contender. How do I start my scathing streak from this? There wasn’t much to complain about at all with Porcelain Coins. Ok, maybe their sound was a bit too poppy, but then again, most songs sound poppy to me (You’re out of your element, Preston). It was typical Indie pop to begin with, but a few songs in, they decided to fire out some bouncy and vaguely original sounding material. A set that improved with time. Providing the acoustic mix against the typical electric set up, the lead singer seemed a competent front man, even when technical issues farted over a couple of well timed points. Nothing wrong, but nothing too amazing.

The Phantom were a surprise. You don’t see many bands doing rockabilly. Rockabilly that isn’t covers. Of course their songs sounded a lot like their influences, but it was very well played. Yet another band who was hard to criticise. The only bad thing to say about them, is that there isn’t a lot of mainstream appeal. Well, mainstream in the Radio 1 sort of way. As for weddings etc. they would have no problem finding gigs. Complete opposite of most bands you see at the showcase; lacking the “wedding factor”. Drumming was a bit rough round the edge. I was very thankful for something to complain about. One thing amused me though; the band wore identical suits with red shirts and black ties. It was Kraftwerk via Eddie Cochrane. And believe it or not, they came out on top and won.

For the first time in this contest I saw banter fall flat on its face. When the lead singer from Rubicon smart mouthed, the crowd didn’t react. Not even in a polite way. It was if, for a second, they mistook him for a bad stand up. The is was the only bad point. That and he was wearing a girls vest. Good cleavage for an A cup. Not much improvement was needed, but this was one of the most generic sounding bands of the night. Something vaguely mod-ish with a sound a lot like 2005. Think Kaiser Cheifs, but less bouncy.

Was there a prized for longest travelled band? I think some people deserve it as compensation for navigating Southsea with equipment in tow. But it’s not a fair and just world, is it? If anyone deserved this award, it was Isle Of Wight based band Goodbye Stereo. Slightly similar to the last band, except for unusually high vocals. Almost Blunt-ish, but I don’t want to be mean. Back vocals were good, but not as unusually high. Not much else to say really. Quite middle of the road in terms of sound and appearance.

Whilst it was hard to find a winner for the evening, we found one band that would not win it: Chromotones. Ok, that does sound a bit harsh, but I mean that with an air of brutal objectivity. It’s not like he pissed on my rug and I’m assuming a vendetta. It was weird rock. Not experimental weird, but not the norm. For some reason the lead singer was attached to a tambourine and was imitating Justin Hawkins. It wasn’t bad, it just needed a hell of a lot of tightening up. Still though, they’re a young band! And the banter was awkward with these guys as well. I came away not really knowing what to say.

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Wedgewood Rooms showcase 2010 – Heat 8

by on Aug.05, 2010, under Gigs, Music, Review

I suddenly feel the urge to rebel and 'take the power back'. So to speak...

Another metal round! Woo! Bring it together with denim and leather. Once again I was to decide which metal band in this metal head was going to get the pointing from the glorified hand…of metal. This heat moved a tad away from pure metal and decided to mix with that rap metal sort of thing that became irrelevant around seven years ago. Get yer red cap on and make some shameful songs!

The first band on is one of the only bands to activate my tickle mechanism. I couldn’t fathom how they saw themselves as a good band. They went by the name of Sidelined and were inconsistent in every way possible. For a start, only half of the members could be bothered to put on the death metal style black and white face paint. The other guys looked like they had been scared into doing it at the last minute. Either that or they simply ran out of face paint backstage. Amateurs. And the band were just sloppy. It was out of time and there was no way I could make out the sound of the guitarist and bassist. The drummer was the only notable member as he was more than capable and stood out a fair bit. As for the rapping, I couldn’t make hip nor hop of it due to the rappers desire to lick the microphone. A band seriously in need of an intense practice session and perhaps a new direction.

Out came a table with a globe on it. With some effect pedals. What the hell was going to happen next. From my research, I saw that the next band on (Drunk On The Blood Of A Unicorn) featured members from the infamous Jez North. A little bit of wee came out. What happened next was a blur. The lead singer, because that’s the closest position I could possibly attach him to, started producing a elongated and terrifying noise from his effect pedal armed microphone-table-globe monstrosity. The drummer came in and then the rest of the band. They only had one song and it lasted for the entire 25 minute set. It can only be described as music to have an enema to. And I loved it. You rarely see anything like this at local gigs. The last 10 minutes did drag a tad though, but that’s the price to pay for originality.

Tonight’s winners were unexpected, but the crown of metal went to Urban Disturbance. Gosport’s answer to Rage Against The Machine. As if Gosport needed one in the first place. I had heard of these guys before and I was gearing myself up for a terrible set, but they were actually not that bad. The songs had my head nodding, it was tight and the two way rap vocal duo was impressive. They had the crowd going ,mainly because they bought most of the crowd with them; a gaggle of teens struggling to get served at the bar and under the impression that this was the most heavy band they would ever see. Bless their cottons. As with most bands, there was room for improvement, but one huge overlying problem hung over them like the turd covered sword of dung-ocles. Twenty years ago, Rage Against The Machine pretty much had this area covered. Urban Disturbance are a formidable Rage cover band at best. Best of luck to them in the semi’s. They might need to bring all sixty residents from Gosport to win.

The last band on were the closest to typical metal. In fact they went past typical and were teetering towards the generic pitfall. Angry man music with a lot of technical guitar paying. A worthy support act to a more establish metal band, but I couldn’t really see these guys breaking out for themselves. The stage presence wasn’t bad at all. Lots of hair swinging, guitar posing and the lead singer moved around a lot. However, the vocals tired after the first song and the set started to grate. A bit of improvement is needed here. That and maybe some more visual distraction from the audio disruption.

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