Photographed above: Chiara And The Vu
I usually go to great lengths to avoid the Lemmy, but I thought I’d make an exception for the Battle of the Bands ‘mega-heat’. Judging by what I’d seen in round one, it looked to be an interesting night to say the least.
The evening started with Reckless By Name. I must say, I’m slightly ashamed by the amount of time that elapsed between my thinking “Hey, these guys sound like Muse” and my realisation that they were starting with a Muse cover. Saying that, I was pleased to find that the majority of their set consisted of original material. They played a fairly eclectic mix, both instrumentally and stylistically, and displayed some pretty clear neo-prog influence. Irregular time signatures, tempo changes and non-conventional structures permeated their music, which was rounded out by their frontman’s grand vocal stylings. Yet whilst their unconventional melodies and somewhat atonal (although impressive) soloing assured their position as a great deal more creative than your average band, it would certainly have been less easy on the ears of the standard listener as well. It’s a real shame they didn’t make it through, but I’m not surprised.
Next up were Chiara and the Vu. They commenced their performance with a cover of Hello, but made it their own through their downbeat, chilled-out rock delivery. Although I was a little disappointed that most of their set was comprised of covers, this is the only conceivable flaw I can identify. Most of what they played was mid-tempo and consistently melodic. The band were great throughout, delivering smooth, well-played material and very strong singing. A cover of Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy was a highlight which got the crowd moving quite a lot, considering it was still quite early on in the night.
Bringing the third heat to a close were Palm Beach. I have to admit, I wasn’t much impressed by them. They struck me, for the most part, as a run-of-the-mill indie band, delivering satisfactory but pretty unremarkable material. However, that’s not to say their performance was by any means bad. Accessible melodies and a light, airy delivery made up most of what they had to offer, but the occasional juxtapositions between these quaint phrasings and some more bracing noise provided welcome and interesting permutations to their sound.
Heat four was introduced to the crowd in the form of Lucius And Milo, who seemed to be performing their own brand of modern alt-rock, with a hint of post-rock flair. Their material was consistently well-written and well-played. Lucius and Milo struck me as one of those bands that work extremely well together – no single performer took the fore, and nobody was attempting to outdo anyone else. Their entire performance almost seemed like an exercise in discipline – and a wonderful one at that. To top it all off, the band interacted with the crowd very well indeed, providing an immersive act and covering all the bases for a standout performance.
Joker’s Gamble quickly followed, starting with a cover of Jet’s Are you Gonna Be My Girl. Whilst not being the most technically demanding song to attempt to cover, the track necessitates a certain level of bravado to pull off – which the band did with flying colours. The rest of their display was marked by powerful dual-lead vocals, soaring guitar lines and proficient drumming. In fact, it’s worth noting that every drummer in heat four was at the top of their game. The group also had a very dynamic stage presence, which made their act all the more powerful.
The final group of the night to take to the stage were CHEBS. Again, their set was characterised by a disappointing reliance on covers. But in every other aspect, they put on a brilliant show. The six-piece funk band were clearly taking influence from latin, ska, rock and jazz, whilst all members were on top form. Noteworthy moments included captivating covers of Chic’s Good Times and Wild Cherry’s Play That Funk Music. But the most impressive part of their performance was their near-palpable groove and infectious energy, which really got the whole room moving. In terms of crowd enthusiasm alone, CHEBS really stole the show.
The acts going through from these heats will be Chiara and the Vu and Palm Beach from heat three, and Lucius and Milo and CHEBS from heat four. At this rate, there should be a great deal to look forward to in the coming rounds, and much more good music to be heard soon.