The set up was pretty simple, any musicians could put their names in one of the ‘sexy buckets’ (no one could work out why they were sexy but we were told they were) related to their particular skill and names were chosen at random to form a band generally consisting of a guitarist, bass player and drummer with, in some cases, a vocalist and a ‘wildcard’ entry as well.
The newly formed band would then, after coming up with name, have twenty minutes on stage to jam and see what would happen.
The first band of the night were possibly the one with the toughest job of getting things underway but with John McCarthy, Pete Le Lacheur, Jack Crisp and Gregory Harrison amongst them things were in safe hands. Going by the name Agents of Obscure Enterprise things were mostly blues rock noodling but at points some nice grooves were found and Greg’s violin added some extras along with Jack’s funk-scat like vocals.
The second act found a kind of jazz-hip-hop-punk fusion with the addition of a saxophone as the wildcard and Silas The Assyrian Assassin himself on vocals. While this might sound like a mismatch the band, going by the name of Bitch Master General, provided one of the highlights of the evening.
Featuring Lord Vapour guitarist Henry Fears and Brunt bass player Elliott Mariess it was not surprising which musical direction Existence is Pain (a cheery name) took as the duo were joined by Seven Day Riot drummer Scott Angus for a long hard rock jam. Henry did what he does so well in his regular band with some cracking riffing and solos, while Elliott found space for some enjoyable rolling grooves.
With James Dumbleton being drawn as the wildcard and coming armed with a tin whistle and violin amongst other instruments (we were spared the bagpipes tonight!), Prolapsed Conscience created yet another hybrid sound with a kind of Celtic funk blues with Henry Fears on guitar, Claire Moxie on drums and Jack Crisp back on vocals.
Despite some interesting moments, particularly thanks to the wildcard instruments and drums, most of their sound felt a little too much like the same riff rolling on and on for the twenty-minute set in fairly unremitting fashion.
With Elliott Mariess on guitar, Graham Duerden of Tantale (and the evening’s compere) on drums, Tom Relf on bass and Gregory Harrison back with his violin Black Slags (can I repeat that? I just have) spent 20 minutes building up an epic instrumental with Greg’s violin working well alongside Elliot’s guitar work.
It had to happen eventually but The Screaming Ninnies, made up of Static Alice‘s Dominique Ogier (vocals), Jawbone‘s Dan Keltie (bass), Rob Gregson (guitar) and Brunt’s Christiaan Mariess (drums), felt like the first real miss match of the night with grunge, punk and pop all battling. Despite the groups’ best efforts they never quite wrangled their own styles into something coherent so, if nothing else this served to show quite how hard this jamming thing can be.
Named after a member of the audience, Nick Farnham was comprised on two-thirds of Lifejacket, John McCarthy and Claire Moxie, along with Tom Relf on bass, Paul Dowdney on tuba (possibly the wildest of the evenings wildcards) and Jade Grace on vocals.
Jade’s particular style brought a 70s rock vibe to the beginning of their jam with tuba adding a nice dynamic to the bass sound before things took a more indie turn with Moxie and John taking something of a lead and building the whole thing to great dance rock climax.
To round off the night it became a bit of a bigger jam with Henry, Graham, Elliott, Greg, Jack and Dom all taking to the stage and they developed a sound that I can only describe as a kind of sonic madness with everyone just going for it over one another, so to speak, but again with some fine moments amidst the chaos.
While the night as a whole was a mixed bag in terms of the music, and there seemed to be something of a drought of guitarists, for a first go at something like this it worked really well. Added to that in the relaxed atmosphere everyone seemed very much in the spirit of the occasion both onstage and off.
What stood out most thought was just quite the level of talent there is in Guernsey’s musical community as just getting up on stage with a group you’ve never played with before is certainly not an easy thing and if this happens again it would be great to see even more and varied a group of musicians take to the stage and see where things end up.