To those on the outside, working as a reviewer can seem like an easy job. It has its perks, but it isn’t all free gigs, cheap booze, and crack whores handed out like skittles; there’s work involved too.
When reviewing you have to make the most of what you’ve got to work with regardless of whether the band is the next big thing, an assault on the eardrums, or so dull they’d be turned away from a Conservative Party tea dance. A lot of the time the best way to ensure a decent hit rating is just to flatter the artist, to lap eagerly at their arses like a dog with a new friend at the park, but sometimes it pays to just be honest. That’s how things are going to stay.
As we come close to the end of the heats for the Eastbourne Extreme Battle of The Bands the standard of groups taking part is getting ever higher, and competition for the remaining places in the final is becoming tight. This heat, heat seven, sees Junkyard Choir, Too Many Generals, and Blues Evergreens fight it out for those remaining places.
First band on stage Junkyard Choir, a blues band with a rock edge, started their set with a great riff that immediately reminded me of Nirvana. This band were great from the start and played very funky blues that I could just imagine hearing in a Louisiana swamp bar complete with Alligator neighbours. As they played, the band vibed well with each other and got a great reaction from the crowd. Junkyard Choir had great reverbing riffs, clappable basslines, and lyrics that reminded me of Leonard Cohen. I thoroughly enjoyed this set. I’m quite lazy when it comes to watching bands, I often tire at some point in a band’s set and start looking forward to the end, with Junkyard Choir this wasn’t the case and I felt like they were a band I should be paying a lot of money to see.
During this competition there have been a few technical hitches and sadly this band were interrupted by a few problems. They strode through these problems like complete gentlemen, helped the sound guy, and entertained the crowd with a beat boxing drummer; it was great to see this. I think that Junkyard Choir let themselves down with their single. It was a good song and easy to get into, but its sound wasn’t as defined as their other songs. I feel the band also could have gained a few more points if they got the crowd moving a bit more, but I also feel that too much movement in the crowd wouldn’t have suited their sound.
Too Many Generals were up next and following a band like Junkyard Choir put them at an immediate disadvantage. As they began a few audience members walked out bemused because the music just wasn’t for them; sadly this hurt the band further. Too Many Generals proved themselves to be a great rock band and put on a set that was fair superior to the last time I saw them; they had great solos, galloping guitar riffs, head banging basslines, and powerful drums. TMG were above all a likeable, very funny band with songs about concrete trousers, evil chickens, and going into a room only to find it cluttered by Mackerel.
The singer, who had a great voice, was a decent frontman, but sadly during a lot of their songs I found myself distracted from the music as I heard parts that reminded me of other songs by other artists. Their single was absolutely brilliant and was exactly the type of the song I would blast through earphones if I ever felt like going a little crazy. I loved this band, and with a few improvements, I can imagine them going far.
The last band of the evening, Blues Evergreens, played far too many covers. Their first song, which they claimed to be original, was sung along to by audience members, one of the judging panel, and myself from the very beginning. At the time I knew the song but I was unable to place it. The next day I realised it was, in places, a reworked version of I Feel Loved by Donna Summer. This was mainly apparent in the chorus as they shared the same vocal pattern. It was also apparent in other ways, but I will leave it to you, the reader, to find them. Their fourth song, which they also called original, was familiar as well. Despite this I really liked this band; they were five extremely talented musicians that played beautifully. Blues Evergreens had whinnying guitar riffs, funky basslines, a great smooth blues sound, and two exceptional singers. Many members of the audience really enjoyed their set; they were clapping, they were dancing.
I would love to see this band again and if Blues Evergreens wrote more of the own songs and improved slightly I can really imagine them being instrumental in bringing blues back to the masses.
Although the overall winners were immediately apparent I found that this heat, like a couple before it, was very difficult to score. I feel that Junkyard Choir had the most in-band chemistry and put on the best overall performance. Due to their humour, Too Many Generals communicated with the crowd most effectively. Blues Evergreens had the best single, have the most potential, and had the best stage presence. My personal ranking this week was Blues Evergreen in third place, Too Many Generals in second, and Junkyard Choir to win.
One judge said that Junkyard Choir were one of the best bands he’s heard so far with an excellent drummer and fantastic vocals, but thought they could benefit from having a slowing tempo at times The second judge thought they had infectious rhythm that forces you to move to it but could benefit from backing vocals. The third judge had nothing bad to say about them and thought they played really interesting chords. Junkyard Choir won the heat with 975 points; they are through to the finals and second overall.
The first judge liked Too Many General’s set even though it wasn’t really his kinda thing. He found the set funny and thought the singer made a great frontman even though he didn’t stand in the centre of the stage. The second judge particularly liked the song Concrete Trousers but thought they could benefit from mixing things up a little. The last judge said they were better individually than collectively and need to think about tempo changes. Too Many Generals came third with 870 points and are ranked tenth overall.
The judges were very split on Blues Evergreens. One judge felt that their cover of Come Together by The Beatles would’ve made John Lennon proud and that they were a privilege to watch. Another judge thought they were all very talented, particularly one of the vocalists (Sam), but would like to see them push some boundaries. The last judge, who used to play in a blues band so knows what he’s talking about, felt that nothing really grabbed him in the set. Blues Evergreens came second with 880 points and are currently ranked seventh overall.
Originally published here: http://sqmagazine.co.uk/2011/07/eastbourne-extreme-battle-of-the-bands-2011-heat-seven/