As the remains of hurricane Bertha prepared to give the island a bit of a battering the music in The Fermain Tavern took on a tropical air on Saturday 9th August as Australian band Tropical Zombie made their Guernsey debut.
The live music on the night started out with The Phantom Cosmonaut, now performing as a sort of garage rock two piece I will, of course, refrain from more comment other than to say we had fun on stage, even if the crowd was still small while we played.
Before the Australians though, To The Woods were the main support act on the night and continued their run of great shows. Following amp issues at their last outing they were back on full strength from the start and played with even more confidence as guitarist, singer and undeniable frontman Robert ‘Bobby’ Battle marshaled the band and led them through their set of grungy, indie-inflected rock.
While Bobby led the band, Dan Garnham had something of the look of Animal on the drums while creating beats that manage to drive the music but also grab attention and bass player Jake Martel was his usual solid and dependable self, but mostly left Bobby to the posturing and antics.
Tonight’s highlights of antics, aside from the usual sweary but funny banter, was when Bobby downed his guitar and decided to fill the empty dancefloor while beating on a tambourine, before heading back on stage and continuing the song without missing a beat.
Between To The Woods’ raft of older originals a few new numbers appeared and continued the band’s trend of catchy, noisy tunes and, while the crowd remained at best small throughout their set, a few were nodding and bouncing along.
The crowd remained disappointingly small as Tropical Zombie took to the stage, fresh off a show at Jersey’s Watersplash the previous night. Across the set the Australian five-piece combined elements of surf with other tropical sounds and a hefty chunk of indie, along with a very laid back temperament, to create a unique sound.
Unfortunately, after a few songs, despite the band putting in a lot of energy their songs did start to merge together somewhat and, though a few were dancing, it wasn’t until a much more energetic surf rock number that the band really came alive.
While Tropical Zombie were tight and full of energy, and the two frontmen really did a great job of connecting with the small audience, throughout the set something seemed to be missing and things didn’t really kick off again until their encore blast at The Clash’s The Magnificent Seven.
This, for me, summed up Tropical Zombie’s sound as it was all a bit like how I felt about the London punk band’s Sandinista album – some great ideas and energy, but ultimately with something missing.
That said, it was a fun performance and those who were there mostly seemed to be enjoying things and, I was left with the feeling that at a festival, on a sunny late afternoon, or in a packed out venue, Tropical Zombie would be excellently placed, but maybe not here tonight.