After nearly a year gigging in pretty much every other venue in Guernsey, Static Alice returned to The Fermain Tavern last Saturday with a line up of new bands in tow as well as a Jersey quartet making their second visit to the island.
Newcomers, Rogue, started things off with some reasonable middle of the road style rock sounds that saw them looking and sounding a little lost. As the set went on things became a little more metallic and they seemed far more at home in this territory, particularly drummer Luke Corbin and lead singer Carmen Stella Tippett who seemed far more relaxed with this material and had the feeling of a less ‘emo’ Amy Lee.
Mid set she took a back seat for a cover of Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name that was far too polite for such a potentially incendiary track and the closing drums and guitar instrumental metal duet, while well executed, left the set with an oddly disjointed feel.
It’s always hard to criticise a band so new to the public stage and, with a little more self-assurance, I think they could be onto something good, particular Tippett who seemed to poses a latent stage presence behind the nerves – though I couldn’t help feeling if the guitarists invested in a tuning pedal each it might help the whole thing appear a bit more slick.
As Burning At Both Ends launched into their set it was hard not to think I was being transported back to the L’ancresse Lodge, circa 2008, as metal-tinged, emo-ish pop-punk leapt from the speakers. Added to this was the presence of guitarist Martyn Brown and bass player Adam Dawe who were stalwarts of the young bands of that scene.
Completed by frontman Peter Mitchell and drummer Andy Nicholson the four-piece delivered a set of well executed covers (including the likes of Lit, Good Charlotte and more) and solid originals all matching their chosen style to a tee.
Particularly impressive was the opening pair of their own songs as well as Mitchell’s obvious range of skills not only on guitar but also switching from melodic vocals to hardcore inflected shouts with ease.
Though there was definitely a sense of nostalgia to Burning At Both Ends’ set with this came the beginnings of something new and, currently, a bit different to anything else on offer with a definite crossover potential.
Though not playing last it was clear that, if there was a headline band tonight, it was Static Alice as they launched into one of their rockier sets with a track that highlighted their debut album, King Kong.
With the crowd firmly onside throughout they rolled through a set that, while probably the heaviest they could offer, still found dynamic in its pop-rock sounds that came in multi-song volleys with little break between. This more rapid fire delivery did trip the band up a few times but never in such a way as to derail their energy and, if anything, this extra looseness benefitted their performance as a more fun example than you might get from them in front of a regular pub crowd.
Closing the set with Hurricane from their Beautiful Mystery EP Static Alice left it as it began, with a rocking blast that made for a very enjoyable performance.
While every other band on the bill had included a heavy dose of pop in their sound, Jersey quartet Hank Chinaski (named for a literary alter ego of Charles Bukowski) dispensed of it entirely to present a wall of hardcore inflected noise for the best part of an hour.
The belligerent assault, led by a frontman who barely set foot on the stage preferring to stalk the floor, had a feel at times of the kind of anti-music discussed, but rarely practiced with sincerity, in many punk circles and in that found a raw kind of energetic commitment that spewed forth from amps, drums and mouths.
Unfortunately, while all this was impressive and commendable, the lack of any dynamic beyond this tantrum-like rage, especially for the first half of the set, did start to become rather one note and, in the face of the energy on display, somewhat boring. This wasn’t helped by a lack of direct engagement with anyone but a few friends from the frontman who was shrouded in hood, cap and hair throughout, rarely looking up or eliciting any kind of real connection rather focussing on fairly standard ‘hardcore frontman’ poses.
As the set neared its end other elements began to creep through in Hank Chinaski’s sound and the final track finally coalesced into something certainly more palatable.
I was left, though, with the impression that palatable was far from the aim and the intent was to alienate as many as possible, in a somewhat clichéd old punk way despite this not being a band of old punks. If this was the case the rapidly dwindling audience certainly demonstrated the performance to be a success, but it left the end of the night with a rather odd feeling in comparison to the three engaging performances that had come before.