The finals of The Eastbourne Extreme Battle of The Bands were meant to take place across two days, but just like with the party cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, the 1986 World Cup final between us and the Argies, and Boxing Day beach holidays on the north-east coast of the Indian Ocean, the hand of God made sure things went horribly wrong.
With our so called sunshine coast being ravaged by torrential rain the first day of the finals was called off, and at the time things didn’t look great for Sunday either, but as luck would have it the sun decided to shine after all and eleven bands, Dinosaur! Attack!, Trade Secret, Monroe, Acres of Life, On The Spot, The Rahmanis, Audio 6, Junkyard Choir, Juno, and Centre Excuse, prepared for a massive one day final on the beach.
The first group to take to the stage were a hugely energetic band, and one of my favourites in the area; Dinosaur! Attack!. Every time I see this band I seem to like them more, the first couple of performances I went to a few months ago didn’t impress me, and in a really short space of time they have really upped their game making them well worth keeping an eye on. The whole band looks great on stage and are all surprisingly good musicians; Lex is a remarkable guitarist and some of their lyrics are well worth straining to listen to! Lead singer Wilde was disappointed with their performance; “We’re really good in spirit, on paper I think we’re great, but today? Whatever”. He was wrong to be disappointed.
The music was awesome, the vocals were at times a bit off but overall very good, and bassist Hayman once again proved himself to be a beautifully crazy lunatic as he moved around the whole beach entertaining the crowd. With one of the best Madonna covers i heard all day, Dinosaur! Attack! performed brilliantly. I could’ve watched them for the remainder of the final.
Next up was one of the lowest scoring winning bands in the heats; Trade Secret. A truly pop-punk band, this group had some great lyrics, excellent use of harmonies, and really catchy choruses that made their songs easy to sing along with. They did an excellent cover of “Hot N Cold” by Katy Perry and their cover of Like A Prayer by Madonna was very good indeed. My only real problem with this band is that at times they seem like statues playing pop-punk; they really need to move around a bit more to keep the attention of their audience.
The third band to come on stage are one that just hasn’t received as much recognition as they deserve, and one that is up there with City of Ashes as one of my favourite bands in Eastbourne; Monroe. From the start the band excelled themselves; they looked natural on stage, they got the crowd up and clapping, and they talked to the audience with ease. Since the last heat, Stewart the vocalist has improved massively; his voice is now a lot clearer giving the lyrics more room to shine. The band attempted a cover of “We Didn’t Start The Fire” by Billy Joel which gave the bassist Joe a chance to show off his vocal talents by singing the list-like verses.
I’m a bit of a closeted fan myself and even i think that the Piano Man himself would have been impressed (I’ll even admit to preferring the Monroe version). I could praise this band all day long; their cover of Madonna’s “Hung Up” deserves to be recorded, Stewart is an excellent frontman, and their replacement guitarist for the set did so well that I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do a Travis Barker and join the band permanently. In my own words; “quit your day jobs boys; you’re fucking fantastic”.
The next band Acres of Life missed out on qualifying for the final but got a second chance due to one of the other bands dropping out. Acres of Life aren’t my thing, I really don’t enjoy their music, but they improved massively on their performance in the heats making them, in my opinion, even more deserving of a place in the final. Although weak in some places they switch effortlessly between different levels of volume and speed bringing much needed diversity to their songs; something many other bands need to do. They look great on stage and have a knack for crowd interaction, although I feel they would be more suited to more intimate venues.
The next band Blues Evergreens sounded great and had a nice clean sound. They really got some of the audience going with their brilliant vocals, excellent blues bass lines, and purring guitar riffs. I’m not a blues fan, to be honest it all sounds the same to me, but even my uncultured ears were impressed.
Next up were the winners of heat one; On The Spot. The band were pretty decent; their guitar and basslines complimented each other well. However the vocals clearly needed work, as did their crowd communication. I loved some of the more chilled out parts of their songs and in particular I really liked the more high pitched guitar sequences. On The Spot were a little sloppy but their Madonna cover was pretty good and their crowd interaction improved towards the end. I hope to see them again next year.
Next up were The Rahmanis. I criticised this band in a previous review, perhaps a little unfairly given their age, for mainly playing covers. I’m pleased to say that since then they have come back with some of their own material and improved massively. Vocally and instrumentally, The Rahmanis were very impressive but I believe that their crowd interaction was slightly hampered by the fact that the heavens opened during their set.
Next up was the only female fronted band in the final; Audio 6. The singer in this band has an exceptional, beautiful voice, and it’s because of that that i was so looking forward to watching them play again. Audio 6 are predominantly a cover band, they included The Killers’ “When You Were Young” and “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns N Roses in their set, but they also played some of their own material. One of their original songs, “Chewed Up and Spat Out”, was absolutely superb (and particularly apt in the rain).
I would absolutely love a copy of this band’s EP. I think that by working on their stage presence and moving about more Audio 6 could become a force to be reckoned with, and perhaps even a festival headliner. I would have liked to have seen more of this band, but unfortunately I missed the last quarter due to a crisis involving the score sheet and the rain.
After Audio 6, we all rushed down to The Crown and Anchor as the rain had made it too unsafe to continue on the beach. Thanks, God. After a rather long delay, Junkyard Choir took to the stage. This band are a bit older than most of the other bands, and apparently with age comes quality; they were superior to many of the other bands in almost every way. Junkyard Choir controlled the stage like pros, are more or less perfect both musically and vocally, have bags of energy, and look great on stage. Junkyard Choir played an impeccable set, and their cover of Madonna’s song La Isla Bonita was my favourite on the day.
The second to last band were one that controlled the stage like pimps; Juno. With an effortlessly cool frontman they worked through a set of great music while vibing really well with the crowd. During their cover of Laura by The Scissor Sisters the band encouraged a few female members of the audience to join them on stage; the bassist seemed to have an especially good time dancing with one girl. I really enjoyed this set but feel this band, like many others, would benefit from diversifying their sound a little.
The last band to take to the stage was the highest scoring band in the heats; Centre Excuse. From the word go these young guys vibed with the audience; they jumped around, told jokes, got the crowd on stage with them, had the audience waving their hands, and even got down off the stage. Although their constant concentration on stage presence did at times seem a little forced their talent is undeniable and they clearly put a lot of work into their set; not only do they work well with the crowd they also play great music as well.
I’ve enjoyed most of the acts over the last nine weeks, and although there are a couple of bands i would have liked to have seen play in the final I feel that the best bands went through in the end. My personal ranking for the final was; Acres of Life in eleventh place, The Rahmanis in tenth place, Trade Secret in ninth place, On The Spot in eight place, Blues Evergreens in seventh place, Dinosaur! Attack! in sixth place, Juno in fifth place, Audio 6 in fourth place, Junkyard Choir in third place, Monroe in second place, and Centre Excuse to win.
I didn’t agree with much of the overall ranking and felt that some bands should have placed higher, but the final scores can be seen below. I would like to congratulate Centre Excuse on winning as they truly deserved it and suggest that anyone reading this makes an effort to check out their recorded songs. I would also like to make a special mention to Monroe who I feel were robbed in sixth place; this band are simply remarkable. I really hope there’s another Eastbourne Extreme Battle of The Bands, and maybe next year we’ll have some sun to compliment this awesome event.
Sian Hutchinson for an OBE? Fuck yeah.
Originally published here: http://sqmagazine.co.uk/2011/07/eastbourne-extreme-battle-of-the-bands-2011-the-final/