Weds 3 Big Face Album Launch

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Tonight is something I’ve been waiting for, for a couple of years. Big Face Reggae have finally recorded some stuff and stuck in on an album. Tonight is the launch party.

Adam Dupree @ Big Face Reggae Album Launch 3 AugSi’s asked Adam Dupree to open tonight. Adam is playing a mixture of covers and originals, some are commenting how much of a mini-me he is for Si, since he has a similar laid back manner and vocal tone, singing sweet tunes with a highish range.

Si Genaro @ Big Face Reggae Album LaunchAs an extra stand-in, Si Genaro jumps up and plays a few numbers, in his own way as only he can, with beat boxing and entertainment all thrown in. I hardly need to compere for him, he’s got it all there with the swagger and the blether ;-).

Big Face Reggae @ Album Launch 3 AugFinally the main attraction for the night reach the stage. Big Face Reggae don’t really need any introduction to the stage (nor to this blog), thanks to their more or less constant presence in the music scene.

Big Face Reggae with Selby MCBig Face Reggae - Spacehopper action Suffice to say they are playing better tonight than they even did for the live gig where the album was recorded (here’s the post for that one). Mr Professor (a spacehopper) is on stage and makes a few appearances throughout the night. Si Genaro swaps MC duties with Selby for a couple of numbers, there is skanking and lunging action from the crowd in the table-cleared dance area, and a good time is had by all.

Big Face Reggae Spacehopper Action I have to leave the party early compared with some, even though its the early hours of the following day, its going to be (and was) an all night thing. Good night, and a privilege to be asked to compere such a party atmosphere by Totally Lostit.

Inferno Pop Punk & Chaplins Oxjam

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For The Best @InfernoYoung five piece For The Best are on as the first band of the night. Loud and lively music, the wailed female vox fits this style, though I’m not a personal fan of it. There are bits of activity from the guitars, tight enough and clearly excited about gigging here. I’ve only caught the end of their set, not a lot of stage movement for my tastes – the music is fast and frenetic, and deserves a load more throwing bodies around the stage ūüôā

Abel Archer @InfernoNext up three piece Abel Archer, again a young band. I’ve found out its a pop punk night, these guys are more heavy rock than punk, with a bit of wandering around and kicking stuff about. Music is punchy, vocals drowned out by the massive guitiar and bass, drums are doing their best to compete boosting the energy and making the set quite enjoyable. They formed in Exeter, now their base, some are originally from Bournemouth

Reclaim The Skies @InfernoHeadliners tonight are Reclaim The Skies. More liveliness and energetic music. Having an animated dedicated lead singer does that for a band, while not in Empire Affair‘s league, Matthew does a more than adequate job of fronting the four music makers, and encouraging their crowd to get involved. Doing the resesrch, I’m surpised to see they’ve only been together for 6 months or so, they are as tight as the other bands that have been on tonight…

Know One @ Cellar BarBournemouth Oxjam have been holding an all dayer at Chaplins and the Cellar Bar. By the time I arrive for the music Know One are onstage downstairs. I was impressed by these guys the first time I saw them at an O’Neills gig and they don’t disappoint now – ska / reggae, with trumpet and Dean as dedicated vocalist / MC to pump things up. Loads of gyrating bodies all through the pub enjoying the sound.

Big Face Reggae @ Cellar BarClosing the day are the fantastic Big Face Reggae, this time without Si Genaro, leaving Si Crockett to do all the vocal work, which he does with gusto, encouraged and heckled by some in the crowd. To alleviate his voice, and replace some of Genaro’s pieces, Know One’s Dean is invited to the stage again a couple of times.¬† Loads of skanking around, jumping and all sorts, with loads of friendly faces about all enjoying themselves.¬† Love it.

End of a busy Saturday night

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Big Face Reggae InfernoAfter the Talentcall competition, dashed off to catch Big Face Reggae vs Disco’s Out (Murder’s In) at The Inferno.¬† Due to things overrunning, I’ve missed DO(MI) and catch the most part of Big Face’s set, which is as brilliant as usual.¬† DO(MI) also played a strong set, causing the audience to shout loud for both bands when compere/referee Mr Lively asks for a poll; he calls the result a double knockout.¬† It’s been a good evening for live music all over town, clearly.

Pachango @ Cellar BarAfter Big Face Reggae finish, I head off back to Boscombe to see the last couple of Pachango songs in The Cellar Bar.  As ever awesome rhythms, and a packed dance floor (aided by half the band being there instead of on the stage, there are so many of them).  The volume of sound just from the unmiked percussion is incredible, and the whole Latin vibe is really going down well with the capacity crowd.   A great ending to a good night of music.

Just Another Friday Night on the Town(s)

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Soul Baby @ Christchurch FestivalChristchurch Festival this weekend, started off in style by the Bournemouth Ukelele Social – a kerfuffle at the gate means I hear them from afar rather than in the tent. Sounds good though. Soul Baby are a big attraction here, coupled with the start time (8 30) there is a half capacity crowd in this place, not bad for what is normally a quiet Friday night start.

No wonder they draw a crowd, half of them work at one of the big firms I’m town so they all come out, plus the music is good – soul covers in the main, with other matching tracks thrown in. Plus the visual attraction of four leading ladies on vocal harmonies, backed up by solid backline, no wonder they are popular.

Mils Malone and the Magic Tones at SpyreReally enjoyable, all the better for having Ness with me, however we need to depart (meaning we miss headline Pronghorn) as its been a busy evening so far what with running the kids craft club and all. A quick toast top up and I head out to Spyre where Looking Through Glass are launching their second album She’s My Co-Pilot.

Mils Malone and the Magic Tones are on stage as I walk in, good solid pop/rock, and I’m liking what I’m hearing for the two songs I catch at the end of their set. An overlong interlude and Looking Through Glass take their places. As expected they are dressed smart with their trademark retro-throwback monotone look. Their sound has really developed and settled into a good groove.

Looking Through Glass at SpyreDave has crystal clear vocals that float easily over the smooth sounds from the band, with trumpet accentuating the music. Kelly is also harmonising and backing on occasion, a welcome addition. They’re gigging the whole album tonight, in order. If you liked the EP (The Cycle Never Ends) you’ll love this fellow. Standout tracks: 1993, For My Baby. If you’ve not come across them before, check them out.

Big Face Reggae at Smokin AcesThey take a break and I take the opportunity to see Big Face Reggae at Smokin’ Aces. It’s also Martin Roberts’ and others birthdays so a big party atmosphere. Big Face Reggae are great as ever, and there’s something about having the band in your face (or you in their face) as you’re skanking around. Afterwards end up in the Cellar Bar with more mates just hanging around. Great night, despite the late finish.

Bhone Birthday Fundraiser – 4th gig

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By the time I arrive in Champions (slightly late through doing some dive club activities for BSAC), Zaardvark are already playing. I’m disappointed I’ve missed Yaaard‘s set, since I’ve not heard Chris Catlin doing things before, and I hear he’s one of the most appreciated remixers in town. I also gave gig 3 a miss through other commitments.


Zaardvark bhone BdayI love their¬†instrumental tunes, even though there are are no names delivered, these are knocked out¬†pretty smartly. It’s quite funny as none of the lads want to speak, they just want to get on with the music. Dave (behind the drumkit) is perhaps the most likely to be a front man, yet he takes a step back in Zaardvark to put the music first.

Having said that about the tightness of the sound, one intro is muffed – Dave’s¬†excuse is that’s what happens when he tries not to count out loud – small wonder really, it’s in a five beats to the bar time signature, with awkward cross-rhythms within that.

There are loads of effects also being generated on top of the music from this eclectic three piece outfit, the fourth man is a composite of an ipad with a click track and pre-recorded synth, a sampler driven by this footswitch, and Mark’s array of foot pedals, pre-programmed to match the track sequence.

The last song is indicative of their electro jazz style. Rather than just have a click track, they’ve opted for a click with synth overtones, therefore lots of electronic twiddly sound generator bits mixed into it. These are then mixed with heavily effect loaded guitar and bass.

The crowd, that seem to have heard these guys many times before, go appropriately nutty. Talking afterwards, not all the pieces have titles, and Zaardvark are building up to having them all presented together in an Opus, so they are all essentially different  movements of the same grand work. Good stuff, and look forward to that gig.

Matt Marr

Matt Marr bhone bdayAs these guys step out from the green room, I’m surprised to see friends Ed Pope and Martin Ruddock walk on stage. I’d previously looked for a band listing and not found one, so falsely¬†assumed it would be Matt Marr doing a solo set (not that I’ve seen him before, either).

The opener is pretty heavy, then there’s a bit of kerfuffle because things don’t work initially as Matt switches to an acoustic, they’re then straight into a rock and roll inspired track. A switch back to electric rhythm guitar and we’re back to the heavy stuff, this time the keys are just about audible over the hugely loud guitar work.

Another electric to acoustic switch, using the same lead for both guitars must cause a problem for Paul on the mixing desk which probably why the levels are all over the place each time there’s a switch. Its only a mild distraction, I can just about make enough of the vocals to hear the stories in the songs, and these are songs with a story, showing there’s a talented song writer within Matt.

The latter half of the set is different, more pop focussed rather than heavy, with very catchy choral licks, this vein continues for the rest of the set, very punchy drums, and lively poppy music with it.

At the end Matt announces the band, Ed Pope on bass, Martin Ruddock on guitar and backing vocals, Grim Reaper on keys, Dixie on drums (when Matt says he needs no introduction Dixie gets his own little cheer). Matt himself as you’ve hopefully gathered is on guitar and vocals.

Dutch Husband

Dutch Husband bhone bdayTony from bhone¬†gives Dutch Husband a huge build up, and understandably so for this reunion gig. I don’t think I’ve seen them live before, they were in the studio a long time back when I wasn’t able to make it; I loved the show they did when I listened back; their tracks have been regularly featured on the show ever since, even though they’ve not been together for some time.

There is a long pause after their opening track, turns out lead guitar Paul’s amp has blown and a replacement is hastily arranged. Apparently tech difficulties were a regular feature of Dutch Husband gigs when they were gigging.

As I’m not familiar with their live material, I’m unprepared for what follows. One song I discover afterwards [thanks Zaardvark] is called¬†Map Of The Map courtesy of True Swamp Neglect (youtube link) has the refrain Aaah, the DH regulars know what’s coming and go mad in the appropriate moments, also joining in at the end with Aaahs on cue.

The songs are punchy and rocky, with generally New Order-esque bass lines from Imogen. They all rock out with huge sniles on their faces in the musical interludes between lyrics.

Then again we have true grunge numbers like White Teeth, where the guitars aren’t doing much as all the melody comes from a tiny keyboard, meanwhile there’s a large mosh thing going on in the front.¬† Good heavy and serious rock gig, and totally enjoyable. However I leave early to reach a totally different party vibe at¬†O’Neills – sort of Big Face Reggae doing a sort of acoustic set.

Big Face Reggae

Big Face Posse O'NeillsI say sort of Big Face Reggae (perhaps should be called Big Face Posse) as there are a load of extras joining them on stage. Sort of acoustic as there’s lots of other things going on.

Its Fiona’s (O’Neill’s manager) birthday, and there’s a total party vibe as a result, walking in just before midnight I’d expect a few drunks, seems everybody is totally merry and has been for most of the evening, hence the mood is electric and glorious.¬†

Catching up with Si Crockett afterwards (leader of Big Face Reggae) he’s played so many gigs over this weekend, his fingers are worn, blistered and cracked, both as a result of guitar work but mainly from percussion.¬† He says he doesn’t care though, such has been the time he’s had over the break.

Taking my leave again, I head over to Chaplins on the way home, where Fiona Fox¬†has played a set.¬† She’s only just finished by the time I get there, we spend a bit of time just hanging out and having a laugh with others.¬† By all accounts she’s just played her best gig ever, she was great, the crowd were great with her, so she is totally on a high, which is great (yes I know there’s a lot of great there!)

Great [sic] stuff all round.

Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2 @ Mr Kyps

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DMA logoAfter the amazing crowd efforts last week, this second semi final finds Mr Kyps in a more muted mode at the start. Mischa are first on, and get some great reaction despite the smaller numbers than last week. This reaction seems to spur the band on to putting on a great show.

Mischa the man is wired and firing on all cylinders, Si is very animated despite sitting on a cajon, he doesn’t just play the box with his hands, his whole body is involved with the rhythms.

Ed (bass) and Rowland (cello / ukelele) look enigmatic, flowing with the lilting melody that is One Of Those Days. Mischa recounts the story behind On My Own, which itself is sad yet appealing, and seems to be appreciated by many in the venue both as the story and the song.

Hessian DMA SF2Hessian¬†start with an absolute blinder “smacking me in the face” as one commentator puts it. They are so clearly and openly happy to be here – big smiles on their faces, big shouts to the crowd. They are tight too, they’ve clearly been working on their cuts and breaks in the music.

Hessian¬†have also brought their fans with them this time, there’s a big party going on in the front. There is some really intricate duelling guitar work happening, courtesy of Sam and Richard, while Tillie (bass) and Alex (drums) lay down a really heavy yet sufficiently muted to allow the guitars and synth to shine.

The vocal harmonies from Tillie and Richard are allowed to play a dominant part in one of their songs, and most of the time they absolutely nail it. There are a couple of misses, but only a couple, really just demonstrating that there is still room for improvement even in the polished performances.

Big Face Reggae DMA SF2Big Face Reggae¬†start with a flourish, throwing out fluorescent glowsticks into the crowd. They kick off with Big Face Reggae, as expected very strong reggae beat – It’s really good to see Rio on the drums again, him having been absent all through the other rounds

What I’m enjoying most is four¬†high quality individual¬†acts in their own right, all getting together to make Big Face Reggae¬†what it is. Ant from Fairplay is stupidly talented in many other ways as well as on the bass he’s using tonight. Si Genaro is doing what he does best, drawing in and engaging the crowd, when not on the mic with the harmonica. Lead Si Crockett warns they’re about to play the last of their laid back songs with Pub Girl, which same really allows his voice to shine. He was right about the laid back stuff, Spill Your Drinks is pure ska, lots of skanking going on, Si Genaro features as¬†MC. This really gets the crowd noisy as well.

It helps that Mr Kyps has filled up by now; there aren’t as many crowded at the front as last week, so the overall venue feels fuller as people are more distributed. What we’re seeing this time is a lot more dancing, Big Face Reggae‘s last song (title can’t be repeated under Radio Rules) gets a lot of people moving, and not just at the front – having witnessed this performance, I can see why a lot of other¬†punters are tipping them to be at the top in DMA 2011

Evolver DMA SF2Evolver¬†are our fourth band of the evening, I’ve been looking forward to seeing them as I’ve missed their other two Bournemouth performances since their appearance in the DMA heats, where what they did made it very easy to put them through to the next round.

They don’t disappoint – Ed (lead guitar) using an ebow and vibrato to create an unusual sound. Their first song is raunchy and lively, before they slip into an announced new song and a tidier pace.

They are all dressed smart – some in jackets, others in shirts; one thing I pick up is their faces, Jordan (keys) is looking very much rabbit in the headlights at the start, maybe awed by being at this stage of the competition. As the set progresses and they get into it more, they start looking more comfortable in themselves and can tell they get a little more relaxed and start smiling a lot more, which is good to see.

Evolver¬†move on into a blinder of a set – everyone I talk to is loving what they’re doing, its all very slick and polished, including the gaps between song for instrument switch overs. Megaphones are also in attendance as for County Hospital last week, really helping make a contrast to what has gone before.

New Volunteer DMA SF2New Volunteer¬†start to a half empty venue, which doesn’t really fill up again despite their clear attraction; they start very gently with Surrounded, showing a true artistic edge. Third song (and title of their CD) Remote Control Parade has a progression of chords that sound like they should be really awkward, yet the whole sequence works in an amazing way.

By their fourth song the guys have demonstrated¬†their multi-instrumental skills, e.g. Chris Pedley started on drums, moved to bass, and is now on guitar. Dean on Bass moved to sax, then percussion, and keys, Rich moves from glockenspiel to drums and vocals; they all look like they’ve been¬†enjoying themselves from the off.

The dance music is catchy and yet still out and out rock. Right at the end Chris Mears collaborates with Rich in a drum solo, using a floor tom at the front of the stage, making an impressive end to an impressive performance.

So, my tips for the five finalists out of the ten acts – Constellation¬†and Fearne¬†from SF1, though I would really like to see Cella Creeps¬†and County Hospital go through as the “artistic” element.¬† Evolver¬†and Big Big Face Reggae¬†from SF2, again I’d like to see New Volunteer¬†make it as the artistic entry.¬†¬†That means (obviously) I’ve not plumped for Bel Casino, Mischa¬†or Hessian; no diss on them, every single act has I think each played blinders of sets. The results are announced on Monday, so watch this space…

Dorset Music Awards – Semi Finalists revealed.

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DMA logoThe results are in from the Quarter Finals of the Dorset Music Awards 2011 , the Semi Finalists being:

Bel Casino
Big Face Reggae
Cella Creeps
County Hospital
New Volunteer

There are definitely some surprises for me there, thought The Neon Tigers would have had it nailed, but then at the expense of whom? Рall are deserved looking back at my blog notes.

I am slightly disappointed that Powdered Cows¬†didn’t make it, then surprised and pleased that both County Hospital¬†and Cella Creeps¬†have gone through;¬† thought two of them would be a victim to the other one of those three rather than vice versa – all three¬†by far offered the best artistic efforts of this round.

Not at all surprised that we have four acts¬†from the last Quarter Final, at the expense of only two from each of the earlier Quarter Finals – although the lack of crowds that turned out for that QF doesn’t bode too well for the near future. As I said at the time, the concluding QF lineup could have been many people’s ideal Final lineup…

It almost disquiets comments about the voting system, in that those bands that had the least people seeing them at this stage have managed to do enough on the campaign trail to reach the next stage. Then again, bands that pulled out all the stops for their QF appearance (Cella Creeps, Pachango , Constellation, Sirpico) have had mixed fortunes.

I do feel for other artistic talents that haven’t made it – particularly Saturday Sun, who fit perfectly into the South-Coast-beach-induced vibe alongside Bel Casino, Fearne¬†and Big Face Reggae.¬†

I’m disappointed that after last year’s phenonemal effort, Sarah Griffin¬†didn’t make it;¬†not having a band seems to place one at a large disadvantage at this stage – Lauren Bannon¬†being the only¬†other similiar act to make it through the heats to then¬†fall at this hurdle.

My thoughts for the public voting round to any acts lucky enough to be here next year? Make sure you have a pile of gigs lined up in different places, and get out there and win a new crowd over (easy for me to say – I always bear in the back of my mind that anyone can be a critic, it takes hard work to be an artist).¬† I think that’s what some bands in particular did in 2010, not that I was keeping that a close an eye on last year’s proceedings ūüėČ

Again, lots of hard and quick work by Rich and Trev to announce the results so swiftly, thanks fellas!¬† Here’s to the Semi Finals in a couple of weeks at Mr Kyps.

Dorset Music Awards – Heat results announced


Well, it’s all over, and 20 of arguably the best acts in Dorset have made it through to the public voting Quarter Finals of the Dorset Music Awards 2011¬†– and I feel able to talk about it properly ūüėȬ†

First off, big kudos to everybody daring enough to enter the awards in the first place, and to then play in the heats – it must be absolutely daunting to know that you’re giving a performance that you will be assessed on, that could possibly change where you’ve been heading so far.¬† I don’t play publicly anymore, so you’re already way many steps ahead of me, a mere critic. Admittedly I’m one who prefers to offer critical appraisal rather than pure criticism, so I found it hard to make some harsh decisions in the judging chambers.

Those acts chosen are (in the order seen in the Heats):

Sarah Griffin
Powdered Cows
Saturday Sun
  Lauren Bannon
Cella Creeps
Big Face Reggae
Not Made In China
  County Hospital
Bel Casino
New Volunteer
The Neon Tigers
Kinnie The Explorer

I had some disappointments –¬†Blackwater Caravan¬†were one band who I had heard of but never seen before, and I had passionate discourse with the other judges that I just didn’t “get” why their loud and up to 11 show was so stunning – they didn’t really stand out to me.¬†¬†Moontown¬†and Amity Road were the same – I enjoyed being entertained by them, and was enthused by their attempts to win the crowd over, yet wasn’t able to sway the other judges to my opinion. Other acts that got a positive yes from me and didn’t go through¬†were Moll Storey¬†and¬†Transend – which surprised the others!

In the vein of offering critical appraisal, all my comments have been made available to the bands via the event organisers, good and bad.¬† I’ve also offered an opinion on what they could do to improve my view of them, which will possibly get me into a lot of trouble. Controversy here we come :D.
My performance highlights looking back were :

  • Mischa, who reached the Semi Finals last year and re-entered, turning up this time with a full band¬†to up his game – big¬†UP
  • Hessian¬†– filled the place with a really buzzing crowd and woke up the venue just before lunch
  • Sitting Pretty¬†– while the grunge look and sound isn’t a preference of mine, they just got up and did it, just not quite well enough to make the cut for me.
  • Transend¬†– I really don’t like their music style, but I didn’t care.¬† They came in with great ‘attitood’ and woke the place up.
  • Amity Road¬†– Many of the bands on the stage nearest the door had a hard time drawing the crowd away from the bar – these guys already¬†had an audience, called for (and received) more, then gave a strong visual performance to enhance their sound.

My tips for the finalists?  Sarah Griffin again, The Neon Tigers, Mischa, Big Face Reggae, Fearne. Now watch my kiss of death see them all go out in the Quarter Finals :-o. 
Who would I really like to see do full sets on one stage? Cella Creeps, County Hospital & Powdered Cows purely because they were the most artistically stylish, and The Neon Tigers because of their sense of musical theatre.

What¬†surprised me were the number of acts that weren’t a definite yes from all three of us judges – it did make me wonder if those who entered had really taken on board the Tips for Entrants notes provided by Dorset Music. Having said, that, I’m also guilty of not reading them until afterwards, yet I am in accord with the “Band Persona” and “Stage Presence” comments.¬†¬†I felt that acts had some members that were trying, yet were let down by others in the band.

I’m reminded of a time I saw The Strokes I think it was (my sister-in-law had them on the telly) – they were just standing there, live on stage, playing the music, looking at the floor.¬† Why bother doing a live gig if that’s all you’re going to do?¬†Is being part of the crowd (and that wonderful experience) enough to compensate when the same¬†tunes can possibly be heard better on your Hi-Fi?¬† I’ve probably¬†just alienated many in the Bournemouth gigging crowd, and perhaps you my¬†audience, by being so candid, however I feel that if I want to see a band live I want to be captivated¬†to some extent by the live show.¬† If I just wanted to hear good music, I can pick up the CD and listen without going out.

I’m minded that the vast majority of acts in Bournemouth are absolutely fantastic, strong musically and in stage presence, which is perhaps why this is such a tough town to make a break in – we just haven’t got enough venues and outlets to showcase the massive talent visible to us all.¬† I’m very glad and grateful Dorset Music (amongst soooo many others) push themselves and the boat out so far to make this scene what it is.

Here’s to more great music on the scene, and to the Quarter Finals near the end of the month.

Quick Update on Dorset Music Awards

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OK, so we’re halfway through the Dorset Music Awards¬†2011 Heats¬†– this year I’ve been given the privilege of judging this stage of ¬†these¬†prestigious awards.

No spoilers here, all the acts were awesome (except the two that didn’t turn up – that is very disappointing and means they excluded two other acts who may have wanted this more than them).¬† I’m not going to comment at all at present – we debate the results at the end of today, and the results will be published some time later in the week by Dorset Music Awards.¬† Then I’ll feel able to publish my highlights.

What I am pleased to say is that I have been genuinely surprised by some performances – some acts I’ve not seen before have been amazing (how come I’ve missed them?) and others I have seen before have really pulled out all the stops to impress the judges and the audience.

We’ve already had some healthy and robust discussions as judges over what we’ve thought of some bands, so I’m half looking forward with anticipation to tonight, with another day of great music ahead of me, and half with trepidation and apprehension at the monumental task I have as one of the three judges having to decide which twenty acts of the now 38 (hoping none pull out today) we’ve seen are “better” than the other 18, and so deserve to play in front of their audiences at the public vote round.

Here’s who I saw, in order:

Sarah Griffin

Down By The Waterside


Stop Go Sixty


Sketches Of The Adverse

Powdered Cows

Saturday Sun


Lauren Bannon

Manikin Time Shark


Blackwater Caravan

Amity Rd

Cella Creeps


Big Face Reggae