Dorset Music Awards Quarter Final 3

1 Comment

DMA logoAs with the other heats, tonight I’ve seen and heard 5 high quality acts, and would not be in a position to pick any clear winners were I to be asked.

Seems the voters can’t either – no specific spoilers, but I’ve heard the voting is very close across many of the 20 acts, and this year looks to be record voting. When Trev was on HopeFM’s LiveWire Live show with me this week, he let it be known that at this halfway stage of the public voting round, around 5000 votes have been cast, compared with about 6000 in total for the whole competition last year.

Therefore the message to acts is clear – please please please if you want to have a clear win to go through to the next round, rather than have to go through another tiebreak judging process, shout your “vote-for-us” plugs about everywhere.

Hessian DMA QF3On to describing this Quarter Final: Hessian start – I’ve been looking forward to hear them again since they gave me such a wake up call at the Heats. This time they’ve not brought the huge crowd with them, this also means the room is half empty as they start.

Guitar led synth based rock, hooks and melodies, tight silences, lots of motion and communication between each other; also plenty of plugs for themselves. One of the last songs features some cutting harmonies from the two singers, lots of pauses in the music also feature demonstrating just how tight this band are together. All good stuff.

NMIC DMA QF3Not Made In China are as ever a lot of fun, while still being unable to box or label genre-wise. Really happy upbeat chords from JJ, Gav’s smile and ska-like bass riffs, Tiff’s clear lyrics above everything, with Matt’s personality able to shine through the drums. The Winchester has now filled up, though still not at capacity, and there’s a modicum of movement on the dance floor.

Sirpico DMA QF3Its the middle of the evening, and Sirpico‘s turn to wow me, which they easily achieve. Even before being announced by Trev, Al is on the mic welcoming people and encouraging them to step forwards. This sets up the scene for a rocked up set of 4 lads dressed in cool black, playing their guts out to a crowd that the majority of don’t start out as theirs, but are slowly being won over. Their fans have some quality heckles too, e.g.:
     Al: here’s the only slow one we do
     Heckle: and I bet that’s at f*^*in’ 1200 BPM too

Powdered Cows DMA QF3Powdered Cows take my artistic award for the night (no real surprise there) something that I haven’t appreciated before is how, while the songs sound like they’re in similar keys, there are subtle differences between them, making it well nigh on impossible to just jump in and accompany them, as Ed Pope does on sax for a couple of numbers. Tonight the first few tracks are very heavily guitar oriented, with strong drum beats. Soon Martin switches from guitar so the synth plays a big part, drums turn into tambourine & whistling before there’s a total instrument switch around between Amy (drums now guitar) & Deena (vice-versa). Meanwhile Angus stays solid playing bass throughout.

Constellation DMA QF3Constellation have had a crowd here since the beginning of the night, so understandably there’s a lot of noise when they finally take to the stage. This also means that The Winchester is still absolutely packed as they play – if there was an extra award for crowd commitment and dedication, these guys would be strong contenders! Once announced they kick straight into a big drum solo to start the set. These guys are a great party band, positive major keys, upbeat/ reggae style guitar beats, and everyone here seems to be here for good time, judging by the noise and heckles.

A specific shout out to Josh from Conversion Studios, he’s offering part of the prize package, and we had a brief chat once introduced by Trev to each other.  Also to two particular members (who will remain nameless – they know who they are) of one of the acts in the Quarter Finals – placing bets on whether they get a mention by name or not in this blog – nice try chaps, I’d say OP wins for that!

Advertisements

Dorset Music Awards – Heat results announced

2 Comments

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 😉 

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
Mischa
Powdered Cows
Saturday Sun
Sirpico
  Lauren Bannon
Pachango
Cella Creeps
Big Face Reggae
Not Made In China
  County Hospital
Rapids
Hessian
Evolver
Bel Casino
  Fearne
New Volunteer
The Neon Tigers
Constellation
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

Leave a comment

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

Mischa

Stop Go Sixty

Beckett

Sketches Of The Adverse

Powdered Cows

Saturday Sun

Sirpico

Lauren Bannon

Manikin Time Shark

Pachango

Blackwater Caravan

Amity Rd

Cella Creeps

Moontown

Big Face Reggae