As I climbed the Crown and Anchor’s short narrow stairway up towards the function room where the second heat of the Eastbourne Extreme Battle of The Bands was being held I was filled with apprehension.
The previous week had been a mixed bag; we as an audience had been treated to some great music by some very talented people, but as an audience we were few in number. I expected the second heat to be more or less the same, but as i walked through the double doors into the venue room I was hit square in the face by the body heat of about one hundred people.
I was relieved that the event was finally bringing in the crowds that it deserved and that the night’s three bands: slayer inspired Thirty Six 50, cover band Rahmani, and hardcore band The Drones, would get the chance to brave the hotter than hell heat and compete in front of a gig worthy crowd.
First to take to the stage were the very young members of Thirty Six 50 who began proceedings with a guitar solo straight out of stadium rock and a call to arms style drum loop. From the beginning this band seemed like they might be ones to watch, but it quickly became apparent that they weren’t. With a style that reminded me of pre-signed demos of Slipknot (back when they sounded like a plane crash) thirty six 50 seemed to have good lyrics but sadly the shouting vocals of the singer made them impossible to hear. Most of their songs were very similar following the same vocal and musical pattern; however each song had a very promising start. Thirty Six 50 began their set by demanding that the crowd jump around and have a good time but unfortunately they didn’t follow their own advice and stayed very rigid on stage. To slate and belittle this band would be easy, but of course one has to remember that these four kids are still at school and have very little experience of what it takes to make good music and put on good shows. In my opinion these guys have a very long way to go but have the passion they need to get there if they just stick to it and keep getting better. I wish them luck.
Second on stage were a cover band; Rahmani. Now, I’ll make it very clear that I like hearing bands do covers. It can be great to hear a band rework another artist’s song. Sometimes covers are better, sometimes they aren’t. What I don’t like are bands that take a song, change nothing about it, and just do the exact same thing; Rahmani are one of these bands. They took us through a set that included songs by Kings of Leon, The Arctic Monkeys, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and Kasabian. To their credit the band played these songs well and the vocalist was a very good singer, but for the most part they were merely following practised tablature rather than demonstrating their own skill.
The last band of the evening was The Drones who came to us all the way from Camberley in Surrey. When I first came across this competition I expected it to be a chance for local bands to show what they’re made of. I didn’t expect it to be open to bands outside the area. Now, at first I was annoyed about this. I felt that allowing non local bands cheapened the event and took away part of what made it great. To an extent I do still feel that way, but I also feel it allows bands to come into an area that is unknown to them and play in front of crowds that would otherwise never have gotten to hear their music. For this reason I think it’s a good thing and firmly support the organisers in allowing it. Back to the music. From the very first note it was obvious that The Drones hadn’t wasted their time by travelling here; they were energetic, passionate, and they commanded the crowd who jumped around before them. The Drones had two singers which gave their songs an edge that reminded me of early Taking Back Sunday and transported their music to another level above the other bands. This band had some very catchy songs but just like so many other bands the crowds inability to hear what they were actually saying, whether it be down to bad acoustics or style, meant that they couldn’t actually sing along.
Those of you who read my review of last week’s heat will know that I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of music that was put on. This week I was a little disappointed, but felt the night showed a positive variation of what the local music scene has to offer. I felt that Thirty Six 50 showed the most potential for growth. The Drones had the best stage presence, the most skill and ability, the best chemistry, the most originality, commanded the crowd most of all, and put on the best overall performance. I felt Rahmani, being that they were a cover band, showed no originality whatsoever and didn’t allow themselves a chance to show off what they could do. My personal pick of bands for the night was; Rahmani in third place, Thirty Six 50 in second place, and The Drones as winners.
The judges felt that Thirty Six 50 were on the right track as far as gigging is concerned, and showed a great deal of passion as well as future promise. However, it was said that they needed a lot of practise and to learn the most effective way of playing their instruments. Thirty Six 50 came third with 577 points putting them sixth and last so far in the overall ranking.
The judging panel said of Rahmani that they were a talented bunch of people with great stage presence. However, the judges felt that they let themselves down by just doing covers and need to be much more original. Rahmani came second with 831 points putting them in third place overall and making them the highest scoring losers so far.
Obvious winners The Drones were said to have great crowd command, and superb raw energy. One judge said that it was extremely impressive that they managed to get the crowd into a mosh pit despite having never played their music to them before. The judges felt that the songs were impossible to sing along to and that changing that would benefit them greatly. The Drones came first with 890 points and are the highest ranking band at this time.
Heat three will take place on June 5th with Acres of Life (pop-punk), my favourites to win Monroe (punk/rock/pop), and Last To Know (metal).
Originally posted here: http://sqmagazine.co.uk/2011/05/eastbourne-extreme-battle-of-the-bands-2011-heat-two/