Update: The Niche website has now been taken down, scroll down the page to read the full review
On Saturday 27th July 2013 Teaspoonriverneck staged their second mini-festival at The Fermain Tavern with a line up of bands, DJs, movies and other entertainment all selected by them.
Across the night acts from Guernsey, Sark and Jersey took to the Tavern’s stage with music ranging from crushingly heavy doom metal to freaked out folk including The Recks, Whitechapel Murders, Lifejacket, Bright_Lights, Byzanthian Neckbeard, DJ Oneofakind and, of course, Teaspoonriverneck themselves.
The first half of 2013 has seen many standout events spanning musical genres and showcasing acts from around the Channel Islands, but, aside from the two weekend long festivals, I’d be hard pressed to name one that sums up the live music scene in the islands better than SpoonFest 2.
“Curated” by the guys who make up Teaspoonriverneck, their second mini-festival saw six bands take to the stage spanning sounds from dance rock to doom metal with a bit of funk, hip-hop and rock ‘n’ roll all featuring on the night too.
Things started out early and heavy as newcomers Byzanthian Neckbeard started the noise just after 6 o’clock in the evening. Following a debut set that, while good, was somewhat underwhelming at Chaos a couple of weeks ago, here the five-piece seemed to find more of a groove (when necessary) and otherwise just proceeded to crush those who’d turned out early with their viciously heavy riffs.
The more intimate environs of The Tav certainly seemed to suit the band better than the huge tent at the festival and Byzanthian Neckbeard set the tone for the night, at least in terms of quality of music, if not style.
Stylistically things couldn’t much more different as Bright_Lights were up next with about the only similarity to Neckbeard being that they sounded huge. Once again guitarist Oliver and drummer Barney were the band’s energetic focal point (with Oliver putting so much into his playing he managed to sprain his ankle) and despite the still early stage of the evening it was clear many had come to see Bright_Lights and even if people weren’t full on dancing many heads were nodding to the combination of electronic beats and noisy guitars.
While the band were excellent musically my only criticism of them is that despite the best efforts of Oliver and Barney vocalist Fran and bass player Joe often look bored which, for me, causes a fairly major distraction and means the breaks between songs often drop the energy levels the tracks do so well to build.
For their set tonight Lifejacket were down a bass player so had drafted in Stace Blondel, more well known as a singer, for the show. Despite Stace being a comparative novice on the instrument the band stormed through their set and, to be honest, if I didn’t know their songs so well I wouldn’t have know this wasn’t their regular line up.
Once again it was the inventive lyrics and rhythms that stood out and tonight Claire Mockett’s drumming seemed to have stepped up a gear from an already high level. These two factors combined to show why Lifejacket are generally one of the most underrated, and criminally under-appreciated, bands on the circuit today.
Things got heavy again next as Jersey three-piece Whitechapel Murders brought their unique take on heavy metal to SpoonFest with Dave Spars sporting a stillsuit, as seen in the movie Dune, hinting at the concept for many of their songs.
Describing Whitechapel Murders is never easy, as there are few other bands like them, other than to say their conceptual noise is some of the heaviest music I’ve ever heard live.
While it is certainly not easy listening and I got the impression is something people either love or hate, for me they came close to stealing the show, particularly with their take on Heave’s Smoking Molasses and they got many heads banging tonight and seemed to win some new fans as well.
Of course the show wouldn’t be complete without an appearance by the band who put it all together and it was with a raging One Riff Pony that Teaspoonriverneck launched into a set of two distinct halves. The first portion of their performance took us through their second release, Craft of Lisia, in almost its entirety, with every song greeted with a warm reception but the crushing Gideon and the Black Jaws getting the biggest reaction.
While the first half of the set had a somewhat nostalgic feel to it the second half launched us into new territory with three new songs showing that Teaspoonriverneck are a band who never stop. Their newer tracks may be more focused on groove rock than the doomy sounds of Lisia but it remains clearly the sound of the same band and the new songs were welcomed with almost as big a reaction as their older, more familiar, material.
The set was, of course, rounded off with Eaten By The Devil which saw the crowd explode and go nuts (a bit too literally in one case) as the band once again showed why they are one of the most celebrated on the island.
Between all the bands tonight music was provided by Jersey based DJ Livingstone who, like the show, mixed disparate sounds to keep the nights vibe going. With everything from rock ‘n’ roll to 60s TV themes being thrown into the mix he certainly lived up to his billing as “the eclectic wizard”.
The live music for SpoonFest 2 was rounded off by The Recks who in the eyes of Guernsey crowds, it seems, can do no wrong – and that’s largely because they have stormed every set they’ve played in the last few months in astonishing style. Once again the dance floor was packed and moving from the start of their set and didn’t let up throughout and they once again got a reaction like no other band playing original music in the islands that I can remember.
Certainly The Recks also highlighted the mix of genres that had marked SpoonFest 2 as a whole and rounded off the live portion of the night in spectacular style and left many wondered quite what the Teaspoonriverneck boys could do to top this next year?
After The Recks, DJ Oneofakind took to the decks and, while a few were up for dancing, his late time going on and the fact that he came straight after such a high energy performance, meant many headed outside, or in fact left, before he’d even begun, which was a shame as Oneofakind has consistently proved himself to be a great DJ – though I will admit that 7 hours into the show I too sloped off before Oneofakind finished his set.
For the second year in a row SpoonFest has provided a highlight of the local music calendar. Where it goes from here remains to be seen, but I certainly hope it continues to provide such an eclectic and accomplished mix of music from the islands as it goes forward.
I got a video of Byzanthian Neckbeard on the night: