Live Review: Eastbourne Extreme Battle of The Bands Heat One

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So, on a day devoted Christians thought would never come to pass, the long awaited first heat of the Eastbourne Extreme Battle of The Bands 2011 took place at the Crown and Anchor pub, and the line-up for the night was a good one; alternative Eastbourne band White Bus, Ska band The Masts from Ringmer, and Post-punk band On The Spot (pictured above) of Eastbourne all took to the stage to fight it out for the coveted place in the final.

First up were the shirt and tie sporting White Bus who played a superb cover of Bad Romance by Lady Gaga that I strongly suggest they record. In my opinion this band was as good vocally as they were musically; it was just a shame that they were difficult to hear on the night due to some bad acoustics. White Bus looked at home on stage and worked with their instruments as well as many more well established bands I’ve seen. They were a fun, talented band and were my favourites to win on the night.

After White Bus were The Masts. They started off rather nervously. They played their instruments as loudly as they could and the vocals were much the same. As they went on however they engaged with the audience a lot more and even made a few jokes along the way. For their single (all bands in the competition are required to choose a song from their repertoire that they would personally release as a single) they chose a reggae song. The single itself was excellent; it was a very funky song and for once we could even hear what they were saying. The problem with this was that the song they chose didn’t sound anything like them. The Masts weren’t my kind of band but they were very energetic and seemed to love the music they played.

Last onto the stage were the favourites of the evening On The Spot who were the first band to instantly gain a rapport with the crowd and get them moving. On The Spot were very good; they had some great hooks that the crowd could’ve easily sung along to, and they appeared to have some very good lyrics (although they drowned themselves out at times). Moving around the stage like they were very much at home and played songs of both high and low mood that the crowd seemed to be very much enjoying. Their single suited them but wasn’t quite as good as the rest of their set. On The Spot were finalists last year and their strong performance meant that I had difficulty deciding if I preferred them or White Bus.

I watched all three bands closely and was very much surprised by the quality of music that was put on. All of the bands seemed dedicated and were all quite different. I felt that On The Spot had the best stage presence, the most potential, and the most originality. White Bus was the most gifted of the bands, had the best single, and the best overall performance. The Masts had superb crowd communication and were very energetic. If I could have picked the winners myself my preference would have been; The Masts in third place, On The Spot in second place, and White Bus to win.

Last year this event received a lot of criticism as far as judging was concerned and many bands I have spoken to felt that decisions made were not fair. This year changes have been made to the judging criteria and I now believe the system is much fairer.

The judges felt that White Bus could have engaged with the crowd more, could have diversified the music they played, and could have worked harder to make sure that their vocals and instruments did not seem to be at war with each other. On the whole however they did very well with the lousy acoustics they had to work with. White Bus came third with 748 points.

The Masts were very energetic but one judge felt that their music seemed to be more thrash metal than punk or ska, I agree. Another judge felt that they needed to be tighter as a band and needed to decide what direction they wanted to go in. The third judge felt that they seemed uncontrolled and quite scrappy, but that they commanded the audience well. The Masts came second with 789 points.

On The Spot were the obvious winners from the get go. One judge described them as being very tight and hard to fault but lacking in passion. The second judge said that they were as good as session musicians, very well rehearsed, and had some very good songs. However the judge felt that their vocals could have been stronger and that they would benefit by having more harmonies. The third judge felt that were very similar to the Jam and looked like they enjoyed playing together. On The Spot won the heat with 850 points and go through to the final.

Next week, May 29th, will see Eastbourne’s Thirty Six 50, Rahmani, and The Drones from Camberley go head to head. Make sure you get yourself along and support bands in your area.

Originally published here: http://sqmagazine.co.uk/2011/05/eastbourne-extreme-battle-of-the-bands-2011-heat-one/

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