If you like to see performers at their most exposed and vulnerable, Monday’s Battle of the Bands at Medina Theatre was quite a show.
Vying for a place on the Isle of Wight Festival stage in June, this youthful line-up made a refreshing change from more experienced bands that have seen it all before and stopped trying. I have rarely encountered drumming more frantic or singers squirming in quite such a constipated manner. Gosh, didn’t we feel things intensely in high school?
Much of the music was derivative, with each band performing at least one cover, but there was some great musicianship on display for which the Isle of Wight Music Service might take some credit.
It’s evident that teenagers on the Island can handle their instruments with professionalism.
All had potential and I wouldn’t want to guess the results, but these were my personal favourites:
Rip-roaring, uplifting emo-rock came from Nearly New, whose primal enjoyment of the stage was complemented by Sarah Jones’ belting vocals, which were enviably forceful, if a little raw at times.
All Seasons Ale Club
With a quirky mix of jazz, rock and jingle-style interludes, All Seasons Ale Club showed potential for beauty but had an audible case of nerves.
September Skies look like they spend a lot of time playing online games. I may be wrong. Either way, there was a refreshing lack of rock-god posturing from the trio, who use a vocal effect that makes the singer sound like he’s gargling in a lake of electro. Blessed with sweet vocals and a modest demeanor, they need to work on their confidence, but could be a band to watch.
Quenching a specific thirst of Indie kids, Sundown City produce reliable, catchy anthems for earnest men and the ladies who love them. Regularly lapsing into “do do do do do do” choruses, this band doesn’t have much to say, but they have some nice tunes and it was strangely endearing to watch them sweat.
The Bluebyrds are my red-hot tip of the evening.
A bluesy foursome with guitars sobbing for attention, their performance produced the rooted sense of awe that I go to gigs for. Their arresting, mature vocals belie their tender years and evoke the original line-up of the founding Isle of Wight Festival.
I think this band should take more risks. Their tribute to the Beatles elicited enthusiastic applause, but as their home-grown material showed, these boys could certainly build a story of their own.
The final takes place on 20th April at Medina Theatre. We’ll let you know who walks off with the festival slot.
Image: The Bluebyrds Â© Used with the kind permission of Roger Regular