Dorset Music Awards Quarter Final 3

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Dirty Jerkers @ DMA QF3 24 FebWe start early tonight with Dirty Jerkers, who have been carried over from last week due to illness. They have sond good guitar sounds for their opening song that I like, and are throwing plenty of life into their set, for the most part (the bass player rarely turns to face the crowd). Even though there’s a less than normal crowd due to the early start – up to near capacity by the time they finish, the songs are squeezed in short, to get as many in in their set time. Its a shame they need to retune halfway through the set, as they lose the momentum gained from the third song, a strutty number which shows the variety these guys have, and let’s them visually entertain too. It’s a good set, I just feel I’ve wanted more verbal encouragement from the stage to the crowd to mosh, as the music and their antics require it ūüôā

Voice Of Reason @ DMA QF3 24 FebVoice of Reason¬†always pull out a lot of stops musically and visually, within the limitations of the showcase format. Singer Addie Jay encourages us to get involved, he’s also worked hard on the promotional material, good quality flyers etc. As an example of a break from their otherwise regularr hard rock, Dead And Gone has an amazing a capella start, voices in unison, while the drummer juggles his sticks in time to the beats during the song.

Veetacore @ DMA QF3 24 FebI’ve previously described Veetacore¬†as a good retro 80’s sound, doing them a bit of an injustice. They are modern while having that cool throwback with the music, aided by clever (one handed! – the other holding the mic) synth work against thumping bass riffs. Becky keeps name checking, and forward throws teasers about gigs and a new EP, which is a good thing. Tom’s guitar pedal board deserves its own photo – its huge.Veetacore - pedal board (well oversize) They also sing harmonies on occasion, and are pretty animated to the punchy music, they go down well with the crowd too.

The General Public @ DMA QF3 24 Feb I’m expecting great things from The General Public, and they don’t disappoint. Starting with a bit of a slant to Talking Heads, they next move into the funkier numbers I like the best from them, starting with Disillusioned Generation, a brilliant capture of the current mood of the nation, whether old or young. Mike’s faces are something to behold, and the dischords between bass and keys (standing up makes a big difference to the visual dynamic) work really well for me. Richie’s drumming is absolutely spot on, I just hope others have seen it this way too for them to have enough votes to push into Mr Kyps, which is what all the acts at this stage are working towards.

Pachango @ DMA QF3 24 FebOur next act is more an experiment to squeeze the ten musicians and percussionists of Pachango¬†on stage together, which works well enough on the wide Winchester stage to also give them room to jump around to the rhythms. They are on good form tonight, punching through the Latin influenced numbers, introducing a new one, including some of Selby’s beat poetry, all in all performing a good set.

Pump Action Radio @ DMA QF3 24 FebPump Action Radio¬†are all that I expected of the theatrical rockers that they are. Big chords. Big riffs. Big jumps. Big hits. Big sound. And all tight with it. There’s a good mix of the heavy rock, the lighter guitar work, the solo vocals (appropriately screamed out) and the varied use of the drum work, along with encouragement for use to participate too. A good live act, which is what this is all about.

Personally I’m pleased that all the acts in the Quarter Finals have had such good performances, it confirms to me that we have such an amazing scene here in the area and that all those chosen to reach this far have been worthy of their places. ¬†Texas Red @ Smokin Aces 24 FebA quick sortie into Smokin’ Aces finds¬†Texas Red entertaining the packed bar, though they are widely ignored by too many people in here¬†they play some good tunes and put on a good act, a good end to a great night.

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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.

Feedback Comments

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 РTough 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 РEnjoyable.  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 РLot 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 РAwesome.  Never apologise or comment from the stage on how feel about own performance.

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

Sean Hatton (Solo) РWell 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 РGood commercial sound, brought a huge crowd (though unsure what they were shouting).  Personally not a fan of the shouted lyric.

Day Two

Simon Lane РGood 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 РWant 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 РGood bass and violin combination.  Not my preference of musical style but well performed.

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

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

Empire Affair РGood 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 РLots 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

Talentcall Band Semi Final

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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 Рreally works the crowd. Tight, good drumming. Not much to lyrics. Well played, amazingly danced. Tight band. High technical ability score Рparticularly becuase of the dancer and the clever instrument work / tightness. See again /good enough? Maybe Yes Рwould 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 Рwell 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…

A Noisy Monday!

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After a brilliant IET lecture about the Lightning Electric Car (125mph, 150 mile range with no engine in sight, purely electric motors) went to my usual source of new bands, Solid Air at the Winchester.

Shadowkey were up first, good and tight, just too loud to be enjoyable Рeven through my professional earplugs!  Their front man was very lively (despite hiding in the shadows at the side of the stage), making a big thing of getting the audience to participate, which the small number of loyal followers clearly enjoyed. They won me over, anyway.

Voice Of Reason were also incredibly tight (for a local band). Lead man Adam re-introduced himself to me at the end of the gig; we’d met when he was promoting the Bournemouth Comic Relief single in 2008.¬† Turns out Voice Of Reason are so tight, depsite being new on the scene, as they were formerly …And The Magical 8 Ball Band.¬† I’d never managed to get along to see this previous incarnation, so was pleased to have been present at this inaugural Solid Air outing for them in their new guise.

Adam play interesting stuff on keys, as well as being a very energetic front man (leaping from keys at the back to solo singing at the front, jumping into the crowd and on the drums, wonderfully entertaining stuff).¬† Also interesting to see a band that have their stage act nicely tuned – one of the first local bands I’ve seen in a while to have introductory music to which they enter the stage.

Both bands seemed to have a loyal, if small, following, screaming along and responding to all the cues provided by the lead men (or bassists, or whoever chose to drive the audience participation at the time).¬† Really pleased to have managed to catch both bands, even with the noise issues.¬† Get rid of the overwhelming volume into something manageable, and here find two bands that clearly mutually respect each other, and could both go far…

Also interesting to note that Steve from The Gnostics (and other bands e.g. Djambo) dropped in to book a slot in a few weeks time – watch out for that one coming up…

So even though only two bands instead of the usual four, pleased I managed to get out to see them, and an early finish to boot!