Three of Guernsey’s top indie rock bands play to a small audience at The Fermain Tavern, but why the small audiences in recent months, or is it just that I’m noticing it more?
It was another night of three bands for three pounds at The Fermain Tavern on Friday 20th April 2012 as indie bands Last of the Light Brigade, China Aster and The Raffle took to the stage.
Last of the Light Brigade were, oddly, up first, but they took the opportunity to play a different set to usual including several brand new numbers that will be featuring on their upcoming release, including what they described as their new single.
The new songs had a darker edge and often a slower tempo than much of their earlier work taking the indie-mod-punk sound they have become known for and doing something new with it.
The new single, which started the set, stood out particularly as combining the band’s own sound with elements reminiscent of the Manic Street Preachers ‘big’ songs.
It was just a shame the audience remained distant and seemed more interested in talking as loudly as possible over the music than engaging with the quality music on offer.
China Aster were up next in a four piece form I had not seen before which, if nothing else, removed the constant instrument swapping issues that had been one of the major flaws of their earlier sets.
Tonight the 1980’s style indie band once again showed that they have some great original tunes and they are clearly well versed in the sound of band’s like The Smiths but, unfortunately, their lack of presence and confidence on stage made it hard to connect with them.
While I understand confidence on stage is often a problem faced by new bands (I’ve felt it myself), it just feels like a shame to me as with a bit more strength in their performance China Aster have the potential to be a great band in a style not so regularly seen in Guernsey.
Finally on stage tonight were The Raffle, and I have to admit that I was skeptical going into their set.
While I have thought the band had, in the past, shown themselves to be a top indie act in the style of many of the 1990s bands that populated the scene that spawned mega-stars like Oasis, their most recent shows I had seen had been something of a disappointment and then they all but disappeared for what must have been a couple of years.
My skepticism was un-nesscesary though as by the second song of their set this seemed to be a rejuvenated Raffle with their old swagger and edge-y sound and attitude firmly back in place across a set of great songs.
My only criticism of their set would be the ‘banter’ between songs which seemed to go right over my head and was meant for their friends only, giving anyone who wasn’t part of the group the feeling of being something of an intruder at the show.
Tonight also seemed to be a night for drummers with all three impressing greatly.
Last of the Light Brigade’s Stu Carre has always been a solid presence at the back of the three-piece and remained so tonight.
China Aster’s George Le Page really showed a drive and energy tonight, and a strength his band mates would do well to take something from and it seemed to me George was even holding back tonight and it would be great to see him let go and really rock sometime.
Ben Hewlett, who beats the skins for The Raffle, also showed elements of being a real powerhouse behind the kit, especially on the band’s final song where he pretty much took over from the guitars and vocals and made the track his own with a real strength and power not often seen in this style of music.
Once again the crowd was quite small tonight and this led me, and several of the people I spoke to at the gig, to ask the same question, which I will end this review on… is the recent issue of many small audiences at gigs down to the fact bands don’t do enough to help promote shows?
(I honestly don’t know the answer to this one, but feel free to let me know what you think in the comments box below).