As I approached The Crown and Anchor pub from down the street I could hear music playing. Clear. Crisp. Perfect. What I could hear sounded a bit like Bruce Springsteen, and passersby, like me, were paying a lot of attention to what they were hearing.
Upstairs in the function room one of the competing bands of the night, Monroe, were sound checking and sounded so exceptional that my expectations were extremely high. Unfortunately the sound check that followed, by another band that I couldn’t quite identify, sounded a lot like a boulder rolling, Temple of Doom style, across the venue’s floor.
Last week’s heat, heat being an appropriate word seeing as it felt like I was having a sauna in hell, had an excellent turn out, but was somewhat let down by the quality of bands. This week, the third heat, had a line-up that suggested things were going to improve; Last To Know (metal), Monroe (rock), and Acres of Life (hardcore).
First up were four guys from Bexhill; Last To Know. This band were a very energetic bunch of lads that quickly gained a rapport with the crowd (although jokingly insulting a crowd that isn’t made up of your fans is never a good idea). They jumped around on stage, head banged, and got the crowd to clap along with them at the right times. Many of their songs had lyrics that wouldn’t have been out of place in a pop-punk song and would be very easy for someone to sing along with if they knew the words. To criticise Last To Know I would say that musically they weren’t as good as they perhaps could have been and that after a while a lot of their songs seemed to merge together into one. Never-the-less they performed excellently, were really easy to mosh to, and had a real explosive finish in true metal style. I believe that this band would benefit greatly if they enhanced the pop-punk element that can be found in their songs, and perhaps slightly toned down the metal part. Although this may to a degree water down their style it would make them much more accessible and give them a higher likelihood of progressing.
Next to take to the stage were my favourites to win the heat, and my favourites to win the entire competition; Monroe. In the run up to this heat I gave this band an awful lot of good press and recommended them to people as being a great band. Naturally I was worried that they were going to make me a liar and for a horrible moment the guys almost did; at first they were all a bit stiff, not quite loud enough due to a couple of technical hitches, and ignored the crowd somewhat. Thankfully, and not really to my surprise, they improved on a massive scale by the beginning of the second song. They were pretty energetic and seemed to be really enjoying what they were doing. Monroe showed themselves off as being really talented musicians and their vocalist, who can really sing and has a great rock edge to his voice, did himself proud. The songs, one of which was a superb cover of Just Dance by Lady Gaga, reminded me of the Clash and Bruce Springsteen and were really great to listen to. Although they could have moved around a little more the band were really fun to watch and worked together well. I personally believe that Monroe are a band that could go all the way.
Now, I’m all for rivalries between bands, obviously, but openly mocking another’s performance while you watch them is bad form and seeing Acres of Life, the last band to perform, do this just before their set didn’t give me a great first impression of them. Luckily for them their performance made up for it.
As Acres of Life stepped onto the stage the audience were chanting their name. As soon as that happened it was clear that they were going to be quite something to watch, and they were. The band went mad on stage; they rocked out, jumped around, started a mosh pit, and even got a few fans on stage with them as they played their single. Acres of Life had some great lyrics, although they weren’t particularly flattered by the vocals, that were easy to get into and sing along with, and a real knack to writing intros to songs (they could probably get work making atmospheric music for film). Unfortunately I wasn’t that impressed with them the rest of the time and felt they were quite bland. Towards the end the guys played an awesome slow song that was the complete opposite to some of their other songs; perhaps they should make more songs like this. Overall I think that Acres put on an incredible performance for an unsigned band and could really go somewhere if they work hard.
Last week I was a little disappointed to find that one of the competing bands was merely a cover band. This week all the bands put on an exceptional performance and it was impossible to dislike any of them. I felt that Acres of life had the best stage presence, the most chemistry, and communicated most successfully with the crowd. I felt that Monroe showed the most skill and ability, have the most potential to go somewhere, put on the best overall performance, and had the best single. My personal ranking for the night was; Last To Know in third place, Acres of Life in second place, and Monroe in first place.
The judges felt that insulting the crowd was a mistake on the part of Last To Know and that they could benefit from using their equipment more effectively. They felt that they put on a good performance but should concentrate on trying to entertain the whole crowd rather than just their own fans. Last To Know came third with 780 points and are currently ranked seventh overall.
The Judges thought that Monroe were tremendous and very much like Bruce Springsteen (although it was mentioned that they could benefit from being less like him). They thought the band looked and played well together. The only real gripe the judges had with them was that they could do with moving around a little more. Monroe came first with 940 points and hold the top spot in the ranking.
The judges were extremely impressed with how much Acres of Life moved around and involved the crowd in their performance. One judge felt that he didn’t hear a song he completely liked until they performed their single. Acres of Life came second with 855 and are currently third in the ranking making them the highest scoring losers.
Originally published here: http://sqmagazine.co.uk/2011/06/eastbourne-extreme-battle-of-the-bands-2011-heat-three/