For the last few years Guernsey’s School of Popular Music (SOPM) have held a week-long summer school where they put youngsters together in ‘bands’ and, with the help of the school’s teachers, put a set together to busk in town on the Thursday before performing for friends, family and well wishers at The Fermain Tavern on the Friday evening.
As with last year the event then continued with a group of more experienced bands organised by Guernsey Gigs.
Once again the bands pulled together by SOPM were very impressive given their ages and mixed experiences with each one of the eight having at least one highlight moment.
The Lemmings started the night off with some pop punk before what looked like the youngest band of the night, Thee Unloaders, delivered the a truly unique version of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit.
Clash of the Bloosers and the improbably named Squidward On A Chair both went down well with the crowd before Avocado Geff (featuring The Violet Diversion’s Kiya) delivered some grunge-tinged acoustic songs with Kiya continuing to stake her claim as a true up and coming front woman.
Purple Paradox and World On Fire featured some of the best moments, particularly on the latter band’s version of Sweet Child O’ Mine before Lady And The Tramps closed the first part of the event with some semi-acoustic songs.
The second part of the night when, unfortunately, due to the awkwardness of Guernsey’s licensing laws anyone under 18 had to leave, began with relative newcomers, The Buried Kings.
Made up of Elliot, Harvey and Steve Falla they are something of a family band, but, I’m pleased to say, that while that sounds like a rather naff concept that isn’t what they were.
Taking Elliot’s style of blues and adding in a nice dose of modern folk, with the inclusion of Harvey’s mandolin and Steve’s double bass, made for a broad and deep sound with all three providing vocals as well.
More lighthearted than Elliot’s solo material many of the songs contain Guernsey and Sark references including Bec Du Nez (the cider rather than the place) which sounded like something of a family favourite tipple.
While they had a few technical issues with the upright bass it wasn’t enough to entirely detract from the overall performance which was a fine way to start the evening, even if the crowd was woefully small.
Its been quite a while since Lifejacket have graced a stage and it showed during their first few songs as they seemed to struggle to find their usual intensity.
By the time they got to the celebrity baiting Meanwhile In Hollywood though they hit their stride and the last half of their set was heading back to their past form.
A few new songs showed that, while they sticking to the same formula of powerfully hard indie rock, strongly inspired by the likes of Mclusky, they are developing it in their own ways with different rhythms slipping in behind the barked vocals.
While this wasn’t their most slick outing, with a set at the Vale Earth Fair coming up I hope we get to see more of them and hear more new material soon.
Another band who haven’t been seen in a while are, Gay Army. Despite this they were as darkly intense as ever as frontman Rolls prowled the Tav’s dance floor while Jo, Ian and Jay owned the stage with the swirling wall of dark disco noise that has become their trademark.
Rolls once again showed that he is genuinely one of the island’s most charismatic frontmen whether playing to 5 or 500 people (I’ll let you guess which number tonight’s audience was closer to) and with tracks like Cracked Amerika sounding enormous Gay Army proved they’ve lost none of their power over the years.
Blasting into a set with a raft of songs from their early days Thee Jenerators seemed reinvigorated playing the back to basics trashy garage songs that made their name. As the set went on newer songs came too with the same energy driving them.
While it was one of their more physically restrained sets until the very end, possibly down to the sadly small audience, the band were more relaxed than I’ve seen them in a while.
Mark Le Gallez lead them in a non-stop garage rock blast highlighted by the best rendition I remember hearing of I Hate You So Much along with classics like Mystery Man and Burn Down The House to close the night on an energetic, if disappointingly barely witnessed, high.