As I arrived at The Fermain Tavern on Tuesday evening, through a sea of bad Christmas jumpers, Santa hats and other festive ephemera, Equilibrium were mid-way through a set of upbeat pop rock to kick off the Sound Guernsey 2016 Christmas party.
The band really came into their own on the slower more melodic tracks that showed off their talent with harmonies, but it was the rockier stuff that quickly got the crowd bouncing and singing along, culminating in a rendition of Slade’s Christmas classic, Merry Xmas Everybody. Equilibrium may still be a little rough around the edges but they are one of several young bands with great potential and already have built quite a fan base.
After the accessible, easy pop sounds of Equilibrium, young trio Track Not Found put a slightly different spin on things with their shoegaze-y indie grunge.
The band have already gained a reputation for being something a bit different at the younger end of the Guernsey music scene and they continued this trend as their extended songs veered from a kind of sparseness to thick fuzz tones over which Grace Tayler’s vocals, also veering from tuneful to screams and roars, laid.
While they still lack some of the stage craft necessary to entirely live up to their potential, Tayler already has a kind of enigmatic presence that could become a signature, while playing almost all their own material shows they have a real creative drive with stories and emotions to transmit in their own way.
As the set went on this drew the audience in, helped by a cover of Slaves’ The Hunter, with The Doomsday Projects’ George Russell on vocals before, ending on a grunged up cover of Wham!’s Last Christmas.
After that Zak Trimmer treated us to a brief more relaxed interlude with a couple of solo piano songs. Displaying quite some confidence chatting with the audience his pair of covers went down well, particularly a brave and largely successful take on Bohemian Rhapsody that got carried through its more rocking moments by an inevitable mass singalong.
Kicking off with an original by the name of Spiteful, Problematic’s set started on a high point they never quite made it back to. Mixing bluesy tones and grooves with hard indie rock and a bit of Muse’s sensibilities made for an interesting sound but one that never quite coalesced into a convincing whole, despite being very well-played.
None the less, after Track Not Found’s more nod along stuff, it provided the perfect soundtrack for the bouncing bodies on the dancefloor, building the energy towards the trio of headliners and Problematic are yet another on the growing list of young bands with a lot of potential who will be worth keeping an eye on as they grow.
Despite being seemingly constantly gigging this year, this was my first time seeing Buffalo Huddleston since the summer and it made it something of a refreshed experience for me.
The band seemed more relaxed on stage than I have seen in a while as they did exactly what they do best getting the audience involved with their upbeat, ‘folk-hop’, vibes from the start.
Sunrise stood out as a highlight tonight and it was nice to see the crowd responding to the whole band and not just Jull-z, as sometimes happens, and Mr. Cloud rounded off the set in fine style with everyone dancing and singing along.
After a Christmassy start Burning At Both Ends rounded off what has been an excellent first year for them with a set of their typically tight and energetic pop-punk and the audience responded accordingly going as far as to get something approaching a pit going.
There were a few point across the set where it sounded as if frontman Peter Mitchell was having trouble with his voice but he battled through as the words were sung back at him by quite a number in the crowd, probably more than to any other band tonight, showing just how Burning At Both Ends have caught the imagination of the young crowd.
What If Someday They’re Not There provided a nice slower interlude mid-set before they got everyone bouncing once more and guitarist and bassist, Martyn Brown and Adam Dawe, headed off into the crowd bringing the set to a close on a high.
Static Alice kept the rocking energy up in the room as, despite being six bands in, the Sound crowd showed little signs of flagging (sugar and caffeine are marvellous things!). The band seemed even more relaxed on stage than usual and their mix of stage presence and precise, tight packages of pop-rock were the perfect thing for this party.
Along with the usual favourites like Hurricane, King Kong and Black Cadillac Man, Static Alice introduced a new song and told us they are in the early stages of work on a new album they hope to record and release in the new year. Based on this we’ll be getting more of the same kind of rock, and that’s no bad thing.
With an encore almost called for, the band launched into their take on The Sweet’s Ballroom Blitz anyway and brought another standout night for Sound Guernsey to an end. Lets hope that continues as we head into the new year as it really feels like a new scene is beginning to grow at these shows that can only start to feed into the energy of the rest of Guernsey’s ‘scene’.