Alpha Road, Little Chuck Little, Sensible Fun, The
Cambridge Band Competition, Soul Tree, 14th April 2009
As far as anticipated local events go, the excitement
generated annually by the Cambridge band competition has remained unrivalled
since its inception. With an accumulated history of around 20 years,
the Cambridge band competition has stood the test of time, largely due
to the incredible demand for local music; a mantra which has recently
been revived with the success of local indie favourites Hamfatter.
With such a colourful past, it is refreshing to see that the assorted
crowds remain eager to accumulate within the Soul Tree in support of
their chosen band throughout this gruelling battle of musical endurance,
and this years competition looks set to exceed the standards that
the competition is renowned for.
Previous Band Competitions have showcased a diverse selection of bands
from Cambridgeshire and the surrounding area, and reassuringly, this
year promises no drastic change of affair.
Upon entering the venue, it was impossible to ignore the colossal gathering
of N-Dubz fans bursting from the restraints of the neighbouring Corn
Exchange, an event which inevitably lowered crowd size quite substantially;
although anybody in attendance of that concert can remove themselves
from my presence immediately, because as far as I am now concerned,
each one of them remain void of any opportunity to express an opinion.
After a brief introduction from Jeremy Sallis (of Audio Files fame)
the evening was finally due to commence...
The first band that took to the stage went under the moniker
Alpha Road who foresaw the opportunity to make a blistering
impact, introducing themselves with thundering drums and an array of
catchy riffs to match. Persistent rhythm changes and vocal technique
proved a successful combination, making for an unpredictable and exciting
listen. Alpha Road owned arguably the strongest set list in terms of
crowd response and originality, and at times were reminiscent of early
Kinks. With the crowd delighting in this surprisingly modern sounding
slice of retro-indie nostalgia, the band looks set to blaze a trail
of success across Cambridgeshire; definitely ones to watch, even if
the vocals wear thin after half a song in.
With a distinguished band name and no obvious insight to the genre of
music the band resounded within in terms of aesthetics, Little
Chuck Little may have gathered more appraisals had they played
higher up on the bill. With no obvious following, Little Chuck
Little were always going to be the underdogs; but pulled off the
difficult task of winning over an unfamiliar crowd without so much as
a grimace. The band was tight, with a dominant rhythm section and laced
with vocals that ranged from snarls, shouts and bleats, to classic rock
vocals reminiscent of light hardcore bands that dominated the underground
punk scene during the 80s. Crowd interaction was not high up on
the list of priorities for the band, but the quality of the songs more
than appealed to the audience, with the band choosing passion over quirks
(see next band) to get the appreciation they truly deserve.
Not so much arriving on stage as erupting, London/Cambridge derived
band Sensible Fun brings a quirky feel to the nights
proceedings, maybe a direct reference to their name. With the boundaries
thoroughly blurred between hardcore and unashamed heavy metal, the band
eviscerate through a set-list that comprises of technical guitars, loud
drums and even louder vocals, the band entice an entire dance floor
assembly with their blend of passion fuelled music and onstage antics.
Even before the band took to the stage, over two-thirds of the crowd
seemed to be in support of them, which would undoubtedly fuel their
consistent compulsion to entertain and a persistently cocky attitude
that is notable throughout the performance. Its hard to describe
how much I dislike this band; they play within a genre that has long
been stale, the vocalist is mediocre at best, yet annoying throughout,
and the drums were sloppy (and cack handed). The guitars consistently
shifted volume throughout the set, and overall I got a distinct impression
that they were desperate to appear original in their quirky attitude,
yet felt a bitter disappointment that I will have to search hard to
find again. A rip-off Glassjaw, without the talent.
The final band of the evening was The Perfect Crime. With
a shaky start to the set-list, the band quickly redeem themselves with
a set-list comprising of heartfelt crescendos, shifting tempos,
melodic introductions and an originality that filled the void created
by the other bands. From the first note, the crowd captivation and passion
in which the band played could not be mistaken. From the flawless double
kick of the drums, to the soaring range in which the vocalist excelled,
the trio were evocative of current British sensations We Are The
Ocean and INME, and look very likely to follow in
the footsteps of these established artists, provided that determination
is as high on the agenda for the band as passion. With screams accentuating
the more intense sections of the songs and faint whispered lyrics accompanying
the clean guitars perfectly, the band is not only tight, but incredibly
diverse, proving fit to be placed alongside an endless array of artists,
should they continue to evoke applaud such as they did after the final
notes of the set rung out. Best band of the night, and was because of
my contribution, Im sure, that they deservedly won the beer cheer.
Naturally, with the event firmly scheduled in for a spot in numerous
musical calendars, there is a lot of pressure for the bands to embody
the hype generated by members involved in the thriving local scene,
but after witnessing the showcase of talents on display tonight, people
overwrought with doubt should rid themselves of the thought immediately;
the bands secure on the bill are elucidated examples of how good (and
bad) the local Cambridge scene can be, as long as there are people to
support it...and after all, were only the first round in...