Talentcall 2011 logoI received a quick phone call from a friend in the music scene – can I get to the O2 tonight to judge another music competition.  My answer was “Yes”, even though I didn’t know anything about the competition in question.  Talentcall is happening during the summer, spread out over the weeks, with junior nights, senior nights, band nights, soloist nights and so on.  Tonight is a band night, means 7 bands get to play for 20-25 minutes (i.e. 3/4 songs) and we just have to give a mark out of 100.  All the marks get added up between the three judges and the best band goes through to a semi final at the Pavilion in October, I think.

My quandary is, how to award 100 marks?  Using my previous experience I jotted down some criteria to award 10 points to each of: Originality, Variety of set, Crowd Response (before (4) & after (6)), Technical Ability, Song Writing ability, Stage Presence (entertainment), Band Look (uniform etc) and Crowd Interaction.  I also had a No, Maybe, Yes in my “who do I like best / have they done enough to warrant the next stage / would I want to see them again” in case of ties. Then just multiply by 1.25 to turn out of 80 to out of 100.

 The following notes are more or less what I wrote about each act, I’ve edited them here for clarity only. 

Realm Essence

Realm Essence Talentcall O2These guys are a DJ & MCs. They have a slow start, lots (far too much) of “hold tight” shouts when nothing is really happening. I like the colour match hoodie & hat uniform. Its a bit of a shambolic start – but is this shambles part of their act? I can’t make out the rap words (1st) (2nd). I like the shout to the front row to get them involved. Then a shambles again as 3rd man Dan joins, there are good beats as he comes on, then they lose it and start something else. The DJ is doing good clever stuff, and the MC’s are tight together within the beats. Not a lot of Variety or Originality, apart from being a rap outfit rather than a band. In short they are OK once they get going. See again /good enough? No

Voice Of Reason

Voice Of Reason Talentcall O2Dramatic OTT spoof / parody introductory backing track, then they jump onto the stage. The PA is a bit slow on drums & vox during the first song. Well high energy, and they segue the first two songs nicely. They give a decent introduction to the drummer, with him standing on the kit while he’s name dropped, then on into the rest of the song. The drumming itself is very busy, and the drummer is sort of ok on those busy bits (many drummers lose timing when busy). There is very good use of the stage, side risers, foldbacks etc. In short energetic rock well presented. See again /good enough? Maybe Yes.

Sepia Daze

Sepia Daze Talentcall O2No walk-on, they’re already on stage. Energetic, with a good audience at the start, and then they work them near throughout. Unclear vocals means they lose out on their Songwriting score. They have an OK look, ‘uniform’ hair & black, but not standout. Some demonstration of variety, they’re the first act to do so. They lose a bit on the Technical too, I’m really not a fan of untrimmed guitar strings as they just look messy and tell me they don’t care overmuch about appearances. They gain on Originality with constant synth/keys. See again /good enough? Maybe Yes

The Worry Dolls

The Worry Dolls Talentcall O2PA problems with lead female vocals (& the viola). Despite that the band handle it well and make a good recovery. Their look isn’t particularly coordinated. Highly Original – viola, ukelele, keys, guit (x2), mandolin, bass, drums. Technically the viola sounds flat, although this is OK once the PA is fixed. Also high Variety between songs. Unfortunately not much Crowd Interaction during the rest of the set after good example while the PA was missing at the beginning. Very tight for a “loose” band. Good songs & clear strong vox (after PA fixed). Ending of song four unclear. See again /good enough? Maybe Yes – would probably upgrade that to a Yes.

Shades Are Grey

Shades Are Gray Talentcall O2Only band noted to give a facebook shout.  I’m not a fan of the wailed lyric, especially when the vocals are unclear. Bass & guitar not really engaging crowd, indeed the bassist had his back to rest of band during first two songs. Good trying to get crowd involved throughout. Not really together, comes across as too self indulgent hard emo. Crowd like them though. See again /good enough? No

Brothers Grimmer

Brothers Grimmer Talentcall O2Delayed start through apparent dicking around. Interesting having a dedicated dancer – really works the crowd. Tight, good drumming. Not much to lyrics. Well played, amazingly danced. Tight band. High technical ability score – particularly becuase of the dancer and the clever instrument work / tightness. See again /good enough? Maybe Yes – would probably be my other yes.

Sketches Of The Adverse

Sketches Of The Adverse Talentcall O2Overall technically OK, and with OK songs. Nothing stand out or that grabs me about it, not a lot of interaction or stage presence for me. Do they know timing seems to be adrift (first song?). One thing I’d say to them direct: Don’t big up another band as your crowd interaction example. To my estimation it breaks up a little in the breakdowns See again /good enough? No

So there we have it, seven bands, the eventual winners are announced as Brothers Grimmer – well done fellas (and everyone for reaching this stage of this competition).  My personal faves (by a couple of points) were The Worry Dolls, would like to see them again, although will perenially have PA problems with the size and type of their band, no doubt.

I dash off since I want to see Disco’s Out Murder’s In at the Inferno (they’re doing a double header with Big Face Reggae).  More about that in another post…