Sound Guernsey Christmas Party – The Venue – 21/12/15

Asylum Seekas
Asylum Seekas

With their second event due to fall on Christmas Day, Sound Guernsey moved the show to the preceding Monday and dubbed it their Christmas Party.

As the target age group had all just finished school for the festive holidays, a Monday was as good a night as any and quite a few tickets had been sold before doors opened and a reasonable crowd was there from the start – albeit spread around the main room, front bar, side room and balcony.

Having gained something of a reputation for his performances over the past year Toby Falla kicked off the show with his Ed Sheeran guitar, loop station and tandem mic set up. Technically what Falla did was astonishing, layering up loops of guitar, percussion and vocals to create an amazingly deep range of sounds and all in perfect sync. Despite, or possibly due, to all of the technical wizardry though, Falla’s performance lacked a certain emotional connection making for something impressive but ultimately hollow.

Toby Falla
Toby Falla

That said a few moments stood out where everything fell into place, including a section of Eminen’s Lose Yourself and when he let go a little on the final track after putting down his guitar and rapped over the previously layered loops.

As was to become something of a default setting for the night the youngsters in the audience all seemed to appreciate and enjoy the performance but from a polite distance.

After some choice punk, reggae and ska sounds from the evening’s DJ, Vale Earth Fair Collective member Rob Roussel, Rentoclean took to the stage. From the start were far tighter than I have seen them in a while, and certainly far more so that a couple of night’s earlier at the Vale Earth Fair Christmas party.

While the songs were the bouncy, energetic, reggae-punk we have come to expect, the lack of their usual chat between songs made the set feel a little disjointed – though, having spoken to the band backstage, this was largely down to their fear of saying anything too inappropriate for young ears. Certainly this was admirable but it did mean something of the band was missing from the show.

Dan from Rentoclean
Dan from Rentoclean

Once again the audience was appreciative but distant, with most preferring to listen from seats near the back or the seclusion of the small room to the side of the stage.

It was at this point that it struck me the reason for this may be fairly simple and that, for many, this would be their first chance to experience music like this, not just live but at all, as Rentoclean are about as far from standard pop radio fare as you can get. Maybe I’m doing the audience a disservice but that is how it felt, so it is great that they are now getting the chance to hear and feel this music played live.

For this, rather different, show headliners Asylum Seekas did something a bit different to start their set. With DJ Mini-Rol in place behind the decks Apex and Jimi Riddlz invited some guests to take the stage.

First was Atari, making his live public debut. He delivered two tracks packed with solid, speedy MCing and, despite clearly being nervous nailed it. Though he had little direct connection with the audience (who had come forward following the Seekas encouragement) for a first outing this was strong and showed promise of Guernsey’s hip-hop scene having some new talent on the way up.

Devilish & Doyle
Devilish & Doyle

Added to this ‘new blood’ was the duo of Devilish & Doyle who put in a more developed performance than Atari, somewhat aping the back and forth rapport of their hosts.

Both delivered their raps tightly over well-constructed beats and offered a little more in terms of ‘performance’ and I hope all three will be able to showcase their abilities to a wider audience at The Get Down or similar events in the future.

From the newcomers to Asylum Seekas the difference was evident and served to show just how much talent this trio has. With a lot of new sounding material they combined wit and rhyme with excellent balance as the seemingly permanently wired Jimi Riddlz jittered his way through his parts in his trademark style while Apex added a more grounded and humorous energy the show.

The two MCs may have slightly censored some of their stronger material but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t still as edgy as ever. With slightly deeper grooves from Mini-Rol’s DJing in places the set hinted at a slightly new direction and the MCs managed to get the crowd to join in with a few call and response elements.

Asylum Seekas
Asylum Seekas

While the audience as a whole remained only quietly appreciative the trio did what they do excellently and showed quite how professional they can be – delivering, despite the muted response, to round the night off strongly.

Following the set it was clear they’d struck a chord with quite a few of the youngsters present as they were mobbed for the download cards they were offering for their latest album, showing how the youngsters attending Sound Guernsey events are really looking to discover something new and different.

You can see more photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page.

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