Pop Punk & Blues

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The first act on in the Inferno  tonight were 9 Left Behind, I missed them due to being at a family party out of town and apparently they were really good for their first gig ever. Thanks to 9 Left Behind the Inferno is pretty full in this, the live music back portion of the room.

Skyway Avenue @ Inferno, 16 Feb 2013 Skyway Avenue are our second act and put on a decent performance, steady pop punk rock, fairly energetic within the band, four young lads giving it loud on the instruments. Considering the beats of the songs themselves are of fairly modest tempo they ‘re putting on a commendable and decent set of tunes. These hampered slightly by the overpowering bass compared with the guitars, themselves which overshadow the vocals, though rhythm guitar admits to not singing as much as normal due to colds etc. Still manages to provide some lively jumping around for the band all the same.

Escape From 98 @ Inferno 16 Feb 2013Last band tonight are Escape From 98; I’m here doing penance for being abroad when they were guests on Hope FM’s LiveWire Live (mixcloud repeat here), a fact they remind me of when I arrive. Furious tempo from all of them led by Mandy, with all three of Lennon, James and Lee taking opportunities to run around like mad things (visual – picks and stands flying all over the place), particularly with new song Rat Race, given a debut airing second into the set here at the Inferno. The pace is relentless, minimal shouts between the songs spare of encouraging shouting along and dancing, each song barely seconds away from its precedent. Chorus again is excellent, even if my “No!” refrain isn’t catching on yet. I’m not allowed to mention that an otherwise tidy and tight set is let down by the unplanned encore of Ben’s Mum, brought out of retirement. Excellent fun again.

Paint It Blue @ Cellar Bar, 16 feb 2013The Cellar Bar beckons for Paint It Blue are again filling the floor with their fans thanks to their amazing renditions of rootsy blues, whether ballads, staples or rockier numbers. This is the first time I’ve seen paint It Blue in a long time, and Fish is with them again providing that additional dimension with his blues harp. It later transpires this is Ian’s last gig as Paint It Blue‘s bass player so there are a few resultant farewells. Another great end to a good night.

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Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 1

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DMA logoLooking back at this blog, I’ve not written up any gigs in the past two weeks, probably as I’ve been a bit of a hermit gig-wise due to other things going on;  I have been to some open mics though I rarely write these up…
Anyway, we’re here, Mr Kyps is open, we’re congregating here again for the annual two-week pilgrimage to enjoy the current ten best bands in Dorset, courtesy of the Dorset Music Awards 2012.

The General Public @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 1, Mr Kyps 17 MarchThe hard job of starting off is given to The General Public, who take on the task admirably. Lead guitar and vocalist Mike makes a strong effort by calling in the crowd, who respond, and they kick off with a slow starter You’re Boring that warms up into their funk vibe. I love the chords in the middle of this one. A couple of songs and we’re into a vibed up version of Get It On. Here they take solo slots, and miss the opportunity to introduce each other to the crowd. Something that is good in this and a couple of others is their fade outs at the ends of songs, just done by them backing off, very clever. Badges are also being passed about in abundance – I’m talking with Mark from Peace Love and Gloves as they reach us, and he takes one too! Back to the music, and there’s some movement in the crowd to the irresistible beats. A strong starting act of our five tonight.

Paint It Blue @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 1, Mr Kyps 17 MarchPaint It Blue are our second musical delight for the evening – and Fish has made a surprise appearance for the weekend (they played together for the first time in a while at last night’s Wheatsheaf gig). It’s as if he’d never been away, he’s perfectly blending in with the rest of the band as he does, they themselves are cranking things up and giving some amazing virtuoso demonstrations, while still keeping it together within the blues rhythms. During one slow number they leave Pete to do another solo, the rest of them just coming in with a single chord every beat so often – impressively tight.

Another thing good to see is some of next weeks bands’ members making an appearance in the crowd tonight, just enjoying the music, though I’m sure they must also be checking out the competition :).

Peace Love And Gloves @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 1, Mr Kyps 17 March Middle act tonight are Peace Love and Gloves, and as expected the most noticeable thing has been their crowd work, T-shirts are in abundance not only in the audience, but behind the bar and on stage crew members too. Bang Bang Bang is started to the “Goujon” chanted accompaniment, as are the rest of the songs in the set. Second song Ashamed is delivered with particular pizazz, the gaps and breaks are tight and together. Guest vocal poet Jordan makes a “surprise” appearance (throwing shirts – and I miss one) during Dance All Night, while a bit of a disco beat starts up from the guys. Later we’re also treated to our first moshable song in the unfortunately named I F* City.

Yellowgroove @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 1, Mr Kyps 17 MarchWe have an extended introduction to Yellowgroove‘s set, tech problems with lead Simon’s acoustic guitar sorted by a changeover, while the rest of the band carry on with the beats and groove. Any frustration created by this is then let rip for the rest of the set, Simon from Yellowgrove Crowd Invasion @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 1, Mr Kyps 17 MarchSimon starting by straddling the stage / barrier gap as Son Of A Working Man is entered, followed by an over-pumped Hero Wanted. I think they’ve found a groove with new song That Man Is An Animal they debut tonight – pacey and spiky, strong rock feel to the drums. They also give a makeover to Fading Out, it is punchier and a lot heavier on the drums and bass, except for a jazz-like riff to end, where they break down the instrumentals. They end with Blood On The Flag; even more martial than previous outings yet still has the guitar work sounding synth-like, that amazing pedal programming that I like so much oozing out into the Mr Kyps Auditorium. A big build to the energetic ending, Simon finishing off playing in the crowd after a stage dive. Awesome.

Know One @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 1, Mr Kyps 17 MarchLast act tonight are Know One, starting with a nicely reverb and delay effected sax solo, they soon break into the thumping ska/reggae they’re noted for. Shame the crowd has thinned out, those remaining are far louder than the dedicated fans of the others we’ve had tonight, though there is still an occasional “Goujon” from the PLG crowd! Child Soldier is worked out well, slower than others, everyone gets down to the vibe. A nice touch – the crowd is shouting for Shot Down; its not on the set list. However they slip it in anyway, and not surprisingly people go even more nuts :). That’s what I really can’t capture in mere words here, the energy on stage, the entire front wooden floor moving with bodies gyrating and jumping, I can feel the floor shaking if I stand still!

Dorset Music Awards 2012 Quarter Final 1

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DMA logoJack Grace has already played by the time I arrive (8pm start, hard to make if you’re as disorganised as I am and don’t get home ’til late to go out again). Asking around I missed a good one – Jack and the gang did a pretty faultless show, good guitar work, and roped in a female vocalist too to enhance their sound.

Krista Green @ DMA QF1 10 FebKrista Green is performing when I do arrive; having seen her on stage quite a bit recently with various other artists I’m slightly surprised to see her solo on the stage tonight. Not a problem for her, for the most part the near-capacity crowd are enthralled with her act.

Paint It Blue @ DMA QF1 10 FebPaint It Blue are faultless as ever, the songs are amazing, Hannah takes a bit of time out in between solid numbers to introduce the band members, a good important touch in my eyes.

Tom Clements @ DMA QF1 10 FebThe first noticeable element to Tom Clements is the large crowd he’s brought with him, who he enthuses and encourages throughout his performance. He’s playing brilliantly too, though lots of crowd noise is now prevalent, which fortunately doesn’t appear to put him off

Constellation @ DMA QF1 10 FebConstellation again have a large following here, T-shirts and dancing noted. The music has a new edge, honed and appealling, and the performance is visually entertaining too – I slighted them for this in the heat, but they had been partying hard the night before. No signs of fatigue tonight, just another awesome show like the other four acts tonight.

Disco's Out (Murder's In) @ Cellar Bar 10 FebOn to the Cellar Bar where Disco’s Out (Murder’s In) are making a welcome return, and ripping up the place which is as usual full for a Friday night. They inflict a couple of new songs on us which go down well, and Martin is taking more part now with witticisms in some of the gaps between, and within songs. Good end to a good night.

Dorset Music Awards Live Heats

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I started writing this halfway through the “DMA40”, 41 live bands over one weekend of amazing live music heats, for reasons that will become obvious as other blog posts materialise, I was unable to publish halfway through the weekend.  For those that don’t know, I had been invited to be on the judging panel for this, the most active event ever on the local music circuit.

I’ve spent 12 hours over two days watching, listening to and critiquing 39 bands (1 extra slipped in at the pre-heat stage, 2 didn’t make it), and while the upfront thought of this was daunting (12+ hours?, 40!? acts), during the day itself it’s an absolute delight.  As ever with the Dorset Music Awards, it’s a highly polished event, and somewhat charged (not as highly charged as some of the later stages can get) as many bands here are aware of how important these awards can be to careers.  I take my role in these proceedings seriously, yet hopefully good humouredly – we’ve all got to live with each other after this, after all…

Overall, the absence of ladies was particularly noticeable – particularly for the rock acts, hence I saw very little to differentiate vocally or visually, and just playing your stuff loud and proud isn’t going to help sway opinion.

It’s a little different this year – the bands can ask us for instant feedback after they’ve played; many unfortunately didn’t take this opportunity, however for those who are interested I have one hopefully two “good thing”s, and one perhaps two “room for improvement”s for each act (looking at it, much of these are repeated comments).  I’ll share these “verbal one liners” that have been shared with those bands that asked, Trevor and Richard have asked me not to publicly share anything about any of our thoughts on details (I’ll be writing individually to bands using the contact email the chaps provide).  I’ll also not be talking about who’s got through and so forth.

Judging Notes

There seem to have been an awful lot of rock bands this year, all playing good stuff, and only some providing anything more than just the music – and we are being asked to judge on live performance above all else.  To me, this means being good at performing, drawing in and working with an audience, a bit of stage movement where possible to suit the music and the mood, it’s not just about having good music, as that’s been proved to reach the live heats. As there were so many rock bands, those that captured our attention for whatever means were seen in a different light than those that just turned up and played (probably really good) tunes.

I’ve also seen many of these acts (25/41), some of those many times before, and some I would count as good friends (12/41).  To keep my impartiality, and prove for Richard and Trevor’s sake that I’m keeping impartial, these acts are “marked” harsher than they would normally.  We supply a “Yes, Maybe Yes, Maybe, No” score for each to enable uu to quickly seek agreement on the majority of the 20 that do or doin’t go through, then “haggle / agonise” over the rest.  I deliberately down-change friends to the next value along, and then rely on the other judges to provide their thoughts to put a band through either directly, or into the melting pot.

I also cannot count past performances (good or bad) into the mix.  I purely have to go on what is presented to me on the day.  This is very harsh, because the number of times I’m out mean I’ve seen bands generally play good gigs and bad gigs (that’s why I still keep the blog going after the first impetus, so I can look back at bands to see what I think).  This will often play against a band in these type of do-two-song competitions, as in the back of my mind I think I know they can do better, or worse, than what they’ve done.  E.g. I saw Mobius Strip on the Saturday night, not twigging they’d be back on the Sunday in the line up.  They performed well both times; on Saturday night they had a massively active crowd going for them, which wasn’t there in entirety on the Sunday.

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As ever, these are my opinions, offered (as ever in my blog) in the interests of encouragement and yet to provide opportunity for improvement.  My opinions aren’t offered to try and pull down or discourage, but in the hope that those that go through will know something to try in the next rounds perhaps, and those that don’t go through perha

Day One

So to some brief notes, in order of appearance, we have:

Sepia Daze – Tough opening as the first band, and did good with this.  Energetic music, would like to see more audience engagement during songs.

Bad Magic – Good solid rock, well played and balanced.

Darren Hodson & The Southern Companion – great South Coast (USA) sound, longest name here, does the “Darren Hodson” bit need to be present? (later discussed it sets them apart from Darren Hodson solo).

States Of Matter – Tidy endings and well conducted to do this. Bit cliche rock. Consider more audience engagement.

Krista Green – Enjoyable.  Visibly get the crowd on your side if you can.

Veetacore – Good 80’s style (retro). Good crowd engagement – looking around etc.  Could smile a bit more.

Escapefrom’98 – Better than last time seen (see last week’s write up).  Good ska/punk and a lot of fun.

Robin Joynson – Good catch of vocal levels (enabling tuning) between songs. Good demonstration of confidence.

Voice of Reason – Lot of fun. Good voice.  Bass player hat entertaining (kept slipping over face).

Estee’s World – What you did would be good for street work, consider finding a DJ for live performance?

Ollie Mutter – Good working the crowd. Would appreciate more interest going on with the guitar work.

Pachango – Awesome.  Never apologise or comment from the stage on how feel about own performance.

The General Public – smashed it (was an amazing performance).  Could Hope (keyboard) stand up?

Sean Hatton (Solo) – Well played, well sung.  Brave and confident doing a new song (and telling us about it).

Know One – Again, another smashed it performance.  Uniforms good (only band noted to have a “look”).

Lets Go Safari – Liked the harmonies.  Good guitar work, but didn’t really “grab” me

Aaron Gregory – Can tell he’s absolutely passionate about the music, yet guitar sounded unclear and “mushy”.

Icarus Falling – Good contrast, and good vocal, though was unsure by the mumbled introduction to songs.

Shaun Gary Palmer – Good vocals and good guitar style, though it sounded “mushy”.

Yellowgroove – Love it. Like the jumping around and the audience incursion.  Normally have a crowd – didn’t see them this time.

Peace Love and Gloves – Good commercial sound, brought a huge crowd (though unsure what they were shouting).  Personally not a fan of the shouted lyric.

Day Two

Simon Lane – Good songs, good vocal range.  Unsure about the use of the music stand.

Dirty Jerkers – Good and loud (not overblown) despite the early start

Blue Stone Walls – didn’t show (think the same band didn’t show last year)

Tom Clements – Want to see again.  would be good for Bournemouth Unplugged (if it runs)

Constellation – Good engagement with the crowd. Second song a winner, unsure about the first (uniqueness)
Monkey’s Uncle – Good crowd winner.  Good harmonies. Cheesey dance, but I like it.

The Devils Rejects – Good songs well played.  Would like to see more stage animation to suit the music (second song better than first). [hard to find on facebook…]

Switchmen – didn’t show

Manikin Time Shark – Like the space they’ve given to each other to solo in.  As this is progressive rock (and niche) consider also dropping keys out for a time too, to make the music more accessible for non-prog fans.

JCJesus – Good bass and violin combination.  Not my preference of musical style but well performed.

Yoofs – Worked on the look re:hair.  Get out there and gain gig experience (easy to say, hard to do I know).

Paint It Blue – Tight band.  Clean guitar work. Hannah is an asset. They noticeably stuck around for much of the day.

Empire Affair – Good tunes and well performed.  Felt they lost the thread through being overblown loud.

Sketchy – Liked the keys work (although they didn’t seem to – used the F word).

Tim Somerfield – Here all day (+++). Good technique, ace timing (counting silence).

Space Ace Robot – What ?!?.  They’re enjoying what they’re doing, though it’s pretty inaccessible – futuristic Jazz.

Mobius Strip – Lots of moving about in keeping with the music.  Need to get the crowd moshing around.

Jack Grace – Like the groove, and like the vocal lines without the band being full on – different.

Pump Action Radio – Good solid rock, well played. Would need to be a bit more animate on stage for me.

The Deltorers – Good vocal work, and OK sounds. The live performance wasn’t stand-out (seen a lot of rock this weekend). [say they’re from Bristol]

Overall Impressions

What am I walking away with from seeing all these acts? Which ones were memorable? Which ones would I like to see go further?

Veetacore impressed me – they were the only band doing what they’d done – and I still have “Dogger Bank” running round my head, despite hearing loads of music since. (I have played this on the show, but even so it’s just memorable). They also one of the groups to feature a female lead, doubly memorable.

Pachango put on a great show – everything seemed to come together for them, though negative comments from the stage at the end spoilt it for me. Remembering back to last year (which I can’t count for the judging part of the job), the performance this time was so much better.

Know One seemed to be the only group that had thought through their appearance with regards a “uniform look” of black shirts and ties, they also played excellently.

Tim Somerfield seemed to have arrived before I did on the Sunday and stuck around for near enough the whole day.  He also played well, though his legendary customary crowd vitally didn’t seem to make an appearance for his performance. I also found out (at the end of the judging process) that he was supposed to have had a fuller band with him

Oposium on tour, on air

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Oposium Tour 2011Richard from Oposium joins me for 2 hours in the studio tonight. We talk about all things they’re into: 

  • the music, including debug radio plays of the latest two songs (videos available on their youtube channel)
  • the elemental piano cycle (they’ve done playing a piano in water and a piano on fire, now doing earth in this tour),
  • the Herd of Red Bison (the tour is called Have You Herd?)

plus the other wrappings that come by doing things an Oposium way – they are building an online virtual village of businesses wishing to do e-commerce, including the band and one of the church choirs they’re into, all built by their web business Conical Sphere.

Paint It Blue at O'Neill'sAfterwards I head off with some of the other station people to hear Paint It Blue at O’Neill’s. Great music going on here as ever to be expected with one of the most awesome blues bands on the circuit. They kick off with the slower blues in the main for the first half, reserving the punchier rolling blues numbers for the second.

Good stuff from a band with four gigs in 3 days ahead of them, and also a chance to catch up with those I’ve missed during my time away.  Next is over to Chaplins for Andy Stock’s open mic – Bex Grant with her powerful voice, Graham Jones with his blues and Joe Potter from Jouis (amazing gravelly vocals, totally unlike when he speaks) feature here, as well as a catch up for me with many others.  All enjoyable stuff.

Blue & Acoustic Rock

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Saturday night and a late start in Chaplins with Paint It Blue. Please vote for them in The New Brunswick Battle Of The Blues competition – they’re in the top 9 already. To vote, need to start watching then vote on 9 videos, hopefully giving Paint It Blue a 5 out of 5. Voting closes on 28 February.

Paint It Blue Cellar Bar

Ok that’s the shameless plug out of the way, the music as ever is a good groove, I totally run out of superlatives to describe their sound, so I won’t bother here this time. Suffice to say, even if you’re not a fan of the blues, just being at any live performance of these guys is a great experience

Another step up in the game for them – T-shirts and more have joined the merch available from the band – and they’re telling us about it, giving name and gig checks etc. All good, and something that I’ve really noticed has been lacking in the 10’s of acts I’ve recently seen… 😉

After a transitory journey I find myself in a brand new venue for me, and a surprising one – The Ship in Christchurch. Time for a brief venue report.

I’d previously come here perhaps once for a drink. The place is unrecognisable, and a lot larger than I remember from perhaps that one time.

It’s been tastefully decorated in a muted colour scheme, with a modest number of dining tables at the back with booth setups and upholstered benches in the front drinking bar. The nature of the refit is unfortunately reflected in the drinks prices – my staple squash is initially charged at £1, when delivered it’s in a half pint. Favourably this is quickly fixed to a pint following a brief complaint, however beware of that one!

This little episode marks The Ship as the most expensive place I’ve been to in the conurbation; to be fair there are signs up that belie my experience – “champagne is for drinking, not for restaurants to make a killing, enjoy our house champagne, £4.60 a glass”.

The Frequency on HopeFM

Enough of this good venue, The Frequency were featured on the show a few weeks back. They played some of their new acoustic numbers, while I played their previous incarnation’s CD tracks. I commented on air then (didn’t blog for some reason) about the unusual nature of their acoustic setup – 3 acoustic guitars, 3 superior harmonising voices, and acoustic percussion.

By the time I arrive the band are about to go into their third set, which they begin by announcing the latest coup by manager Tony – a support slot for Ocean Colour Scene in Southampton’s Guildhall in a couple of weeks. Talking to Tony this has borne fruit from a bit of luck a year or so ago, and lots of persistent hard work following up on that luck.

The band set is lively, by nature of this type of venue they’re including large numbers of covers in the tunes played; their own songs seamlessly fit into the mould set, and gain the same amount of audience appeal.  The audience are lively, talkative and above all (for the last Oasis cover) dancing, swaying and hugging all over – it’s a totally different scene to that I’m used to in the music bars in Bournemouth, but then this is the massed Saturday night out.

Afterwards, the lads are heading back for an afterparty – despite receiving a generous invite, I decline and slope home after a busy day with another one to follow.

HopeFM show night, Weds 20 October

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Not Made In China were my guests on air this evening – caused absolute disruption by squeezing a drum kit into the live studio.

Great bunch of people, and lively chat – so much so that I forgot to phone any promoters this night – although I did manage to get the Oxjam plug in.

Followed up by a pre-paid ticket I’d forgotten about (until I did my show research) for Paint It Blue, who were supporting the New Jersey group The Billy Walton Band.

Pete Christie

Pete Christie

I left after the complete set of Paint it Blue, and my usual 3rd sog of Billy Walton, to dash over to Christchurch to see the end (last 2 songs, or about 15 minutes) of the wonderful Mr Pete Christie, always the entertaininer, and a fantastic bloke and good friend to boot.