Battle of the Bands: Young Musical Talent Shines

Young musicians impress Alex at Battle of the Bands

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.

Battle of the Bands: ReviewVying 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:

Nearly New
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
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.

Sundown City
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
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 © Used with the kind permission of Roger Regular

Wednesday, 24th March, 2010 11:43am



Filed under: Music, Reviews, Youth

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30 Comments on "Battle of the Bands: Young Musical Talent Shines"

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roger regular

Nice but just to say not all experienced bands have stopped trying. Or do you mean trying for a place in the BOTB’s?
I agree, I think it might be between three with two right up there for the big slot.

Alex Varley-Winter

Oh yes, no offence to established musicians! It’s simply that there’s a danger of bands going into ‘autopilot’ when they’ve been performing the same songs for a long time and that really wasn’t the case here. I love music and know that the best bands always keep the fire alive. The kids at Medina were, without exception, *extremely* passionate, which made the experience quite special.


My daughter came home raving about the quality of the music, she had a great time. And yes many of these youngsters have lessons with Music Service teachers, some are involved with Music Centre also. It would be an enormous shame is lessons become unaffordable.

Wendy Welsford
I heard The Bluebyrds playing last night at the Medina High School Spring Concert at the Church on Staplers road, they were brilliant! Also the MH school choir and the newly formed eukele orchestra who were performing for the first time with their rendidition of ‘Somwhere over the rainbow’, it was wonderful and when you realise the orchestra has only been formed since Christmas (I believe) all… Read more »
Wendy Welsford

Sorry for the incorrect spellings in that comment. My son has informed me that it is spelled ‘ukulele’, not eukele. Haha! And it should also be ‘somewhere’, rather than ‘somwhere’. Apologies, and I hope that you will all forgive me.

roger regular


I dont think this is written very fairly, i think the review should be fair to each individual band. For instance I dont see an accurate explaination of the genre of September Skies and the comments that were made sound little more than derogatory. I’d also like to mention that the comment about All seasons ale clubs ‘audible nerves’ is not exactly a fair one to make,… Read more »
Simon Perry

Thanks for the comment. Reviews are written from a personal perspective aren’t they? – otherwise they’re reports.

If you’ve got another take on it we’d be happy to take a look at it – just pop it over to us. The more the merrier.

Mr T
You might have a point C, but none of the bands are going to ‘make it’ or indeed last very long if they can’t stomach individually-flavoured reviews (they’ll get a lot of them from music journos, regardless of whether they like the flavour or not) or criticism. (I quite like the fact that ‘genre’ isn’t mentioned in the September Skies review actually. Might just be me, but… Read more »

Yeah I completely understand what you mean. However all Im saying is it would make sense if all of the reviews we’re written from the same perspective. Some of the bands reviews are written almost as if it is a blurb to put on the ‘myspace’ etc.. whereas others are lacking in comments about the actual music? If you see where I am coming from.

Mr T
I do. But then if they were all in the the same style I’d personally stop reading halfway through the second review. No accounting for taste is there? Tis’ swings and roundabouts! Why not have a go yourself at the next gig? I’m sure Simon and Sal would be well up for publishing your take on things – don’t want to put words in their mouths, but… Read more »
Yeah, as you said about ‘genre’, I don’t particularly like to see the word to often. However it is nice to get a basic idea of what the bands sound is like and I don’t see that from the Sept skies review. Being a musician myself I think I’d be far to ‘muso’ when it came to reviewing an event and go into depth about things that… Read more »
Mr T

I quite like the ‘gargling in a lake of electro’ description!

I’ll definitely check S Skies out next time I see them playing somewhere for myself, simply because the review is intriguing – an air of mystery should never be underrated… ;)

Good luck with the music mate. You sound like you care, which is a bloody good place to start!

Haha, its a good play on words. I guess it can be perceived in a few different ways. Yeah I quite like them, they embrace new technology well and we’re probably the most diverse band in the competition. Worth checking out, maybe at the next heat of battle of the bands? Yeah im quite passionate about the Islands music, some great things happen here! Its a shame… Read more »
Mr T

I think Simon made my point in a much less abrasive way. :)

Reading mine back I sound like I’m having a pop and I’m really not!

Music reviews have always been like Marmite. People will either love certain reviews and reviewers, or hate them.

Donat Debreceni
And what about Jake Stimson and We are Chinchilla eh? I think they were far better than any other band…In my opinion many of these bands don’t even have a good song…especially Sundown City who think they are kings of the world, but its ridiculus how almost all their songs have the same beat…try to come up with something catchy people!!!Thats how you get famous…not by eardrum… Read more »
Donat Debreceni

Oh, I forgot…I think All seasons Ale Club was pretty good as well…but no others…and whats up with September Skies voice? It’s like a screaming rabbit…

Alex Varley-Winter
This comment stinks of bitterness. Regarding September Skies vocals… perhaps ‘submerged’ would have been a better word than ‘gargling’, but the effect did evoke water to me, maybe not to others. Regardless,the band were in *no way* screechy, screamy or rabbitlike and I think this person is involved in some sort of inter-band WAR which is, I suspect, part and parcel when a Battle of the Bands takes… Read more »

I agree with Alex, I think some one here didnt get through? Biterness is a good way to describe it Alex x

Donat Debreceni

One more thing…singing with gum in your mouth, I dont recommend it..

Alex Cooper
Just thought i add my comments. The quality of bands was outstanding, the thing i look for most in a band or individual is musicianship and there was plenty on show! With the Bluebyrds and all seasons aleclub in particular showing that they had original songwriting ideas and the talent to pull them off. Call me what you like but a bloke with a laptop who presses… Read more »
Alex Varley-Winter

I was unaware that geeks were excluded from music making! :) Please inform Fatboy Slim immediately.

Haha I agree. Technology can be hugely effective in music. May I refer you to the 2009 Bestival Headliners Kraftwerk!? Many local bands such as Openroom use laptops in their music. The key is using it in a way which adds to the music, rather than using it as an auto-tune which I thought was part of the way it was used in September Skies. I may… Read more »
I agree that the use of ‘Genre’ can be very restrictive as it is by default Generic. However if you are to categorise one band you must the rest. I personally thought that All Seasons Ale Club were extremely good and did not show this case of nerves you talk about. I thought all the members were amazing and showed exceptional individual musicianship. As for September Skies… Read more »
Alex Cooper
Don’t get me wrong i totally agree that technology can be hugely effective in music, however i felt that september skies over used the privalage.What really annoyed me was that the music playing from the laptop made up the majority of the bands sound!its effectively putting on a backing track and singing along, much like Karaoke! For me live performace sould be spontanious, and invole the showcasing… Read more »

Agreed, It was Karaoke with a bad sound effect..

At the end of the day, it’s not about getting a record deal is it. It’s about getting the chance to play the music that the bands like to play at the isle of wight festival. All this stupid mocking of the bands that play the music that they enjoy to do so is pointless. The chance that any of these bands will become famous is slim,… Read more »

Why does everyone on this Island have to bitch and complain, it’s hardly constructive, and for the record… If We Are Chinchilla were so good… How come they didn’t make the final eh?

Don Smith

It’s a known fact, that to moan and complain lowers your blood pressure.

Complaints, moaning, and protesting can bring about change.

jay z

i love Jake Stimson especially the FIT bassist. The lead guitarist was proper bangin too, but jake was a weasel.