The latest Sound Guernsey show for 11-17 year olds had something of an ‘end of chapter one’ feel to it. Having started last November with Buffalo Huddleston packing the house the series of events have had their ups and downs but the last few have really found their feet with Blakalaska bringing a highlight a few months ago and Last of the Light Brigade going down a storm at the previous show. Here a band who it was clear many had been waiting see, were closing what looks to be the last Sound show at The Venue, Static Alice.
To clarify, posters around the room were advertising the Sound Guernsey summer party in July which will be the first to take place across the road at the home of live music in Guernsey, The Fermain Tavern… but before that, we had the end of May bank holiday show.
As I arrived Cosmic Fish were just getting into their first song when bass player Billy achieved the rare feat of breaking a bass string. Thanks to Dan from Jawbone lending his instrument it wasn’t long before the young foursome were back into it and tearing through a set of grungy, punk-y, rock covers from the likes of Feeder, Green Day and Nirvana.
For such a young band (at the risk of sounding patronising) they performed with a surprising amount of attitude, though there’s plenty more for them to find, and, while they had their musically wobbly moments its clear they were focussing on playing a gig for the audience as well as being good on their instruments, which all four clearly are (despite Billy understandably struggling a bit with an alien bass guitar) and this is really great to see.
Lead guitarist Jamie had the lead breaks of Smells Like Teen Spirit and more down very well, while frontman Toby brought an innocent suggestion of a pop punk sneer to the Green Day tracks and the drummer (another Toby) kept the rhythms strong.
Throughout the set both the young audience and the members of the older bands were clearly enjoying the show and I would say this four-piece is certainly one to watch as they grow and develop.
A new song (even compared the new songs played last weekend) showed a more complex side to their version of this often derided genre, while This Ain’t No Christmas Jingle showed they certainly have the fun side sorted as well.
Across the set frontman Peter Mitchell was far more chatty and engaging than I had seen previously and, with a few ‘classic’ pop punk covers from the like of Blink 182 and Lit along with some catchy originals they got some mild pogoing going around the room to close things off on a high.
Having had a while away from the live scene Jawbone were back here in three-piece form and with guitarist/vocalist Lee Burton on the verge of loosing his voice – that didn’t stop them though as they blasted into their set of classic punk covers (and an original or two). Setting the scene with a sloppy version of The Damned’s Neat, Neat, Neat, they spanned 40 years of punk, and a little else besides.
If I’m honest, they did their best to murder a few of these classics with not only Lee’s voice going more and more but his thumb getting split open on his guitar strings not helping either – their attitude though just about carried things through.
It was clear from the start the young audience weren’t entirely sure what to make of this raucous and ramshackle sonic assault, but, by about half way through they started to get the measure of Jawbone and, by the time they closed the set on The Ramones’ Bonzo Goes To Bitburg, they won the crowd over with a lot of fun, high-spirited, ‘tea’ fuelled, noise.
While the three previous bands had all gone down well, it was clear as the audience came forward right away that Static Alice were the band they’d come to see. With the words to most of the songs being sung back to them, Static Alice have clearly gained a following with the island’s younger music fans and the band paid the enthusiasm back with a hugely energetic performance.
Like Burning At Both Ends they seemed to be a bit more relaxed than they often are but were no less musically tight and Dom Ogier’s stage presence and performance really shone through as she headed off into the audience several times bringing everyone into the show whether they were lurking in the side room or the tables at the back.
With Hurricane closing the set an encore was called for and came in the form The Sweet’s classic glam stomper Ballroom Blitz that, with the encouragement of Lee and Dan from Jawbone, saw Sounds’ first circle pit kick off, albeit in rather polite fashion, and close out the show on a real moment as Sound prepares to expand with their summer party at The Tav in July and on into the Autumn once the summer holiday is over.