Tag Archives: Sound Guernsey

Sound Guernsey: Burning at Both Ends, Jawbone, WaterColour Matchbox and Track Not Found – The Fermain Tavern – 21/04/17

You can see a gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page

Jawbone

Jawbone

As Sound Guernsey have now announced their involvement with both the Chaos and Vale Earth Fair festivals this summer, it might just be me, but their April show at The Fermain Tavern seemed to have a further increase in its positive atmosphere amongst the assembled youngsters.

The first band to form out of the Sound events, Track Not Found, opened the show and once again showed some development following recent appearances in front of new audiences at both a The Vault and the recent metal night at the The Tav.

With more fuzz in the sound here and a more deliberate pace their grungy blues had something of an added stoner quality to it.

Track Not Found

Track Not Found

While the band have become nice and tight they still lack something in stage presence between the songs, but this is a minor criticism and something likely to develop with time and guitarist/vocalist Grace Tayler in particular has a great look evoking something of the riotgrrl feel of the 1990s but with her own twist.

Highlights in their set came with Ecstasy and new song Code Red both of which demonstrated not just their sound but their way of writing songs exactly as they want them in their own way, which is refreshing to hear in a young band.

Following a successful couple of first gigs over the last few months WaterColour Matchbox brought their brand of nu-grunge flavoured prog metal to Sound.

While it seemed to lack some of the metallic bite of their outing at the recent metal night, the four-piece were still as tight as they come and did crank up the heaviness a few times as the set went on.

WaterColour Matchbox

WaterColour Matchbox

With heads banging to some of the heaviest sounds the Sound crowd had been treated to, the band debuted a new song indicating we can expect more of the same to come.

After the precision controlled delivery of WaterColour Matchbox things couldn’t have been much more different as Jawbone took to the stage with their usual chaotic brand of punk rock.

While the classic covers that have been their hallmark up to now were all present, correct and hugely enjoyable, it was the raft of new originals that brought the highlights. Combining something of the abrasive Californian skate punk of the likes of NoFX and mixing it with the intensity of the classic British style led to a sound at once politically charged and vaguely nihilistic with a typically direct lyrical streak.

Steve of Jawbone

Steve of Jawbone

In the midst of the chaos that saw guitarist Lee Burton don a wedding dress (for reasons best known to himself) and bass player Dan Keltie head of stage with bass and mic for a run at The Damned’s Neat Neat Neat, frontman Steve Scratton demonstrated a newly confident side to his performance properly interacting with the crowd during the songs in a way rarely seen over here.

All this made for a set that was my highlight of the night and, suitably enough, included their take on The Misfits’ Astro Zombies on Jerry Only’s birthday.

The punk rock vibe continued, in slightly different form, with the powerful pop punk of Burning At Both Ends.

Over the last year ‘BABE’ have become one of the favourite bands for the Sound audience and, while going on a bit late mean the crowd had shrunk somewhat, they still got the audience onto the dancefloor from the start.

Another band debuting some new songs, BABE showed they are continuing with more of the same as their first album, in this case no bad thing, and the crowd ate it up.

Burning At Both Ends

Burning At Both Ends

For me they lacked the raw energy of Jawbone that I love, but it’s hard to escape the infectious quality of Burning At Both Ends and with a streak of heaviness alongside some great singalong moments they closed the show on a high, maintaining their spot as Sound favourites.

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Sound Guernsey: Sons of the Desert, Honest Crooks, Equilibrium, Cosmic Fish – The Fermain Tavern – 17/03/17

Sons of the Desert

Sons of the Desert and friends

You can see a full gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page

Sound Guernsey‘s March 2017 show had a very punk-ska flavour to things with their old formula of two young bands playing alongside two more experienced groups.

Cosmic Fish kicked off the show with a set of old-school pop-punk starting with Green Day’s Welcome To Paradise and continuing in similar fashion.

Compared to when I’d seen them throughout last year the trio have come on in leaps in bounds and, while they still have some way to go in terms of audience interaction and performing confidence, their renditions of songs by Blink-182, Good Charlotte and their ilk have a lot going for them.

Cosmic Fish

Cosmic Fish

Throughout the set there were a few moments where the energy found a good level that, in a perfect world, would have seen the audience get more energetic (they remained attentive but restrained) and it was the closing pair of Jimmy Eat World’s The Middle and Blink’s All The Small Things that closed the set in a high.

Another band who made a good impression last year and have built on that are Equilibrium.

Having been one of the young highlights of the early Sound events the band went on the play Liberation Day and the Vale Earth Fair amongst other things but like the openers they seemed to have stepped up their game once more.

Sticking with a similar pop-rock selection, including a couple of extra Red Hot Chilli Peppers tunes, the band had a much more relaxed energy from the off and this was clearly infectious.

Equilibrium

Equilibrium

The aforementioned Chilli Peppers track Otherside was a highlight of the set as was their take at Blink-182’s Stay Together For The Kids where several members of the band swapped instruments.

Their takes on Basket Case and All The Small Things (also done earlier by Cosmic Fish) didn’t quite match the previous band’s but in all it was a good set and, with a little bit more power, Equilibrium will be a band worth keeping an eye on.

After a few months off following a very busy 2016, Honest Crooks were starting to gear up for an already busy summer season as they took to the Tav’s stage. While they were a little lose compared to past gigs it was all relaxed and fun as they mixed their own songs with some more ska oriented covers and they had the crowd going from the start.

Honest Crooks

Honest Crooks

With a genuinely funny ‘play some Slayer moment’ (a rarity these days where that joke wore thin a decade ago) and great covers of Reel Big Fish’s Beer and Sublime’s Santeria it was really their own songs that provided the highlights and they certainly set the mood well for the night’s headliners.

Following the more modern ska warm up, Sons Of The Desert set out to provide a perfect primer for all thing two-tone and of the late 70s/early 80s UK ska scene. Spanning tracks from The Beat and The Selecter to Bad Manners and Madness it was prime upbeat skanking material all the way.

With the audience a sea of bouncing red fezzes thanks to the always manic and energetic Chris Pearson, it wasn’t long before everyone was on the dance floor and both the band and audience were having a whale of a time.

Sons of the Desert

Sons of the Desert

The band themselves are something of an eccentric mix of performers that come together brilliantly and create a huge sound with a three-piece brass section and Andy Coleman on the organ bolstering the usual rock band line up for a real authentic two-tone sound.

There were many highlights in the set but for me Lit Up Fatty, Too Much Too Young and set closer Night Boat To Cairo were the standouts before it all went a bit chaotic in the encore with the entire audience joining the band on stage for a skank to bring one of the most energetic Sound nights yet to a close on a major high.

One of my photos of the show was used along with a review from Becks Cox in The Guernsey Press:

Sound-review-March-2017-for-blog

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Sound Guernsey: Asylum Seekas & Friends and Sons of a Maniac – The Fermain Tavern – 17/02/17

Sons of a Maniac

Sons of a Maniac

After taking a break in January following their great Christmas party night, Sound Guernsey returned to kick off February half-term with yet another night championing new live music for a young audience.

It was very much a night of two halves and brand new band Sons of a Maniac kicked it off, following a recent well received outing in a local Battle of the Bands.

Playing a mix of 90’s and 00’s pop-rock standards from the likes of Snow Patrol, Coldplay and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers the five-piece, while clearly nervous, sounded good. As they settled down their were moments where they found some really nice grooves and frontman Sam Ashcroft has something going on when he breaks through the nerves.

Above all though what came across and really worked for them was the sense of fun and enthusiasm they brought, with smiles all round throughout that were infectious and got through to the audience.

B-boy Dave Hyett

B-boy Dave Hyett

With something of a switch of tone Asylum Seekas’ DJ Minirol, took to the decks while the scene was set for a night of grime and hip hop by Dave Hyett getting a dance off going with his classic b-boy moves.

Inspired by him several of the crowd took turns showing off their moves while others gathered round to watch and cheer them on in what was a lot of fun.

As Test Switch took the place of Minirol the live hip-hop portion of the night got going with Lowlife.gy.

With a confident and legitimate feeling delivery, Lowlife was captivating from the off as he delivered a series of what felt like rough and ready, but impressive, sketches and he definitely has a presence on stage that went down well and kept some of the crowd breakdancing.

Lowlife.gy and Test Switch

Lowlife.gy and Test Switch

Jordan Mauger, aka Atari, was up next with Smellz on the decks delivering a more electronic inflected set of grime.

While his delivery was somewhat more proficient the tracks still felt like sketches rather than totally finished products and he seemed to have more trouble keeping a connection with the audience, possibly due to the more intense nature of his style for this more upbeat and fun-loving crowd.

Finally of the trio of new(ish) faces was Doyle, again along with Smellz, keeping a similar style to Atari but with a slightly lighter feel. Again the tracks felt like sketches but with a lot to like and some spot on delivery.

For all three of these young performers I’m not sure the audience entirely knew how to react (and I’ll admit as I often have, neither did I) but its great to hear something new and for both the performers and the audience to be exposed to something new and fresh.

Asylum Seekas

Asylum Seekas

As soon as Asylum Seekas hit the stage at full strength, with DJ Minirol alongside MC’s Jimi Riddlz and Apex, the dance floor of The Tav filled up and everyone seemed up for the energetic performance that was delivered.

Much like at past Sound Guernsey shows, Guernsey Bus was a highlight of the Seekas’ set with Jimi Riddlz heading into the crowd to get them singing along to the title.

While there were points where the audience began to drift after what had been a fairly intense hour or so of hip hop from the support acts, Asylum Seekas brought them back in towards the end of their set by setting up a freestyling game.

Asylum Seekas

Jimi Riddlz gets in with the crowd

With Minirol providing a bag of ten random items purchased from local budget store Poundworld, Apex and Jimi Riddlz freestyled around these in fun and lose but still impressive form, with everything from Marigold gloves and cardboard pirate hats to thermal socks and Chewit sweets coming out of the bag.

With a couple more tracks to close Asylum Seekas once again showed why they have been so popular for so long as they have some great lyrics and are like nothing else in Guernsey and, above all, they work damn hard at what they do on stage and it really pays off and once again did here bringing the night to a close on a high.

You can see more of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page

Some of my photos were used alongside the review of the show in the Guernsey Press published on Saturday 25th February 2017:

Sound Guernsey review and photos - 25/02/17

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Music in Guernsey – Review of the Year 2016

2016 has been another packed year for music in Guernsey and the Bailiwick. With more festivals than ever, events seemingly most nights of the week all year and many records released covering everything from acoustic folk to drum ‘n’ bass to heavy metal its fair to say the ‘scene’ is possibly the most varied it has ever been.

My review of the year was published in The Guernsey Press on Saturday 31st December 2016 and there’s a full version below.

Review of the Year 2016 press scan

2016 has been something of a landmark year for me with regards to Guernsey’s music scene as it marks ten years since I started reporting on music on the island. In that time countless bands have come and gone, some making massive waves others barely ripples, but it’s been very rare that any haven’t at least given it their all.

This level of enthusiasm from bands, DJs and any other performers can, I think, be credited with 2016 being the year when locally produced music seemed to most crossover into Guernsey’s mainstream public consciousness.

SugarSlam

SugarSlam

One of the ways I think this crossover has occurred has been with the recent proliferation of music festival and ‘all-dayers’, hitting a high of at least 10 across the past year ranging from the established and varied likes of the Vale Earth Fair and Liberation Day to more specific events like Chateau De Son and Smaashfest or charity based shows like Jonah Beats.

Jonah Beats set the bar high for these back in March with a day spanning everything from lo-fi folk to pounding drum ’n’ bass at the Vale Castle. Highlights on that day included Blakalska, SugarSlam, the return of The Swallows and a rare big stage appearance from Last Of The Light Brigade. The organisers also released a double CD compilation album to raise money for the Helping Jonah – Helping Others charity.

The summer festival season got going, as has become the standard, with the Chaos weekend. While the event has been bigger in the past, this year’s slightly scaled down show had something of the old atmosphere back.

PUNiK at Chaos

PUNiK

This was certainly helped by the presence of great visiting bands like Japanese punks PUNiK (who also released a fine debut album), Manchester noise-rock duo The Hyena Kill and experimental rock two piece Science Of Eight Limbs.

As well as the visitors Honest Crooks continued their run of great shows with a standout set in The Peace Tent that had everyone skanking as the sun set, while SugarSlam, Brunt and Static Alice stormed the War Stage across the weekend.

The Sark Folk Festival continued its run of great events with this year’s having less of the ‘us vs them’ atmosphere of traditional folk fans and those out for a fun weekend in a field.

Burg with Becky

Burg And The Back Porch Band

Musically there was a lot of good stuff on offer but it was the artists with their roots in the islands that really stood out for me. The highlight came from Burg & The Back Porch Band bringing some Americana to the spectacular teepee stage on the Saturday evening and invoking impressive singalong moments as well as creating one of the best atmospheres I can remember at a show in a long time.

Meanwhile Robert J. Hunter, The Space Pirates of Rocquaine, Buffalo Huddleston, Nessi Gomes and visitors Mad Dog Mcrea provided other choice moments.

New festival The Gathering took place at North Field in July and showcased a real variety of bands from the island. With three days it felt like almost every band with a slightly mainstream angle was featured on the main stage but it was the Friday and Sunday evening that brought the musical highlights for me with SugarSlam and Static Alice playing to a disappointingly small crowd on the opening night and Kings and Of Empires closing the show on Sunday on a real high.

Static Alice at The Gathering

Static Alice

Whether The Gathering becomes a regular part of the island’s festival calendar remains to be seen but as an event helping spread the word about the great talent in Guernsey to a wider audience it certainly did a good job.

The Vale Earth Fair this year certainly claimed its place as centrepiece of the island’s musical calendar as the Collective presented a year-long series of events celebrating its 40th anniversary.

The festival weekend itself was as big as its ever been with a series of gigs across the Friday and Saturday leading up to the main festival day.

Teaspoonriverneck at Vale Earth Fair

Teaspoonriverneck

Asian Dub Foundation were one of the biggest headliners the show’s ever seen but for me the highlights came with She Drew The Gun, a special appearance from Teaspoonriverneck, The Correspondents and Heads Off, though special mention has to go out to Honest Crooks and Buffalo Huddleston who, with earlier slots, did a great job of getting the festival atmosphere going much earlier than usually happens.

Along with the festival weekend the Collective staged an exhibition of photos and poster art chronicling the 40 years of the event which was a fascinating chance to chart some of the performers who’ve been there for the whole time and see how the event has evolved since its humble origins. The now annual Unplugged and John Peel tribute nights both provided some great moments, but it was the return of Pussycat And The Dirty Johnsons that was my Vale Earth Fair related highlight.

Away from the festivals there was of course plenty of other music going on, in fact I think its fair to say that with the exception of Sundays there seemed to be something musical happening every day of the year if you knew where to look.

For me though the highlights amongst all of this came in the form of the Sound Guernsey events for Guernsey’s youngsters. Showcasing a range of music they have grown from relatively humble intentions with shows at The Venue to fully fledged event gigs at The Fermain Tavern.

Honest Crooks at Sound Guernsey

Honest Crooks

Their summer party being a highlight of this as The Doomsday Project, Honest Crooks, Asylum Seekas and Blakalaska shared a stage with already impressive new comers Track Not Found and Equilibrium while their Christmas Party later in December gave was another great night.

When it comes to new bands a few have stood out. As well as the aforementioned Track Not Found, hardcore metallers Granite Wolf made an impressive debut in September developing on the likes of Brutus Stonefist and She Haunts The Roads and I very much look forward to hearing more of what they’ve got to offer.

The real stand out of the new crop though were Burning At Both Ends who have taken the fairly well trodden pop-punk template and breathed a new life and energy into it, winning over many fans with their tight live shows and impressive debut album.

Burning At Both Ends

Burning At Both Ends

As well as great music on the island, musicians continued to spread their wings further afield.

Along with two BBC Introducing showcases on BBC Radio 1 featuring 12 acts, a few stand outs emerged, Robyn Sherwell continued her rise with the release of her debut full length album to much acclaim back in April, including a UK tour and having one of her songs picked up for use on the trailer to Hollywood movie Suffragette.

Nessi Gomes also completed a hugely impressive crowdfunding campaign leading to the release of her debut album, Diamonds & Demons which was supported by a tour of the UK, Europe and the Middle East which will culminate with the official Guernsey album launch event next month.

Of Empires continued their march to becoming bona-fide rock ’n’ roll stars with support from all over the place including debuting new single Baby Darlin’ Sugar on BBC Radio 1 through BBC Introducing and picking up many nods as one of the UK bands to watch as we head into the new year and they prepare for the release of more music and a lot more gigs.

Robert J. Hunter

Robert J. Hunter

Meanwhile Robert J. Hunter continued gigging around London and the rest of the UK regularly, initially supporting his second album, Before The Dawn and then releasing his third, Where I’m From, though the Spiritual Records label a couple of weeks ago.

Plenty more records were released this year with Space Pirates of Rocquaine’s Vraic & Roll, Lord Vapour’s Mill Street Blues, Brunt’s Blackbeard and the aforementioned Burning At Both Ends all standing out, but it was a single, Drifting, from the duo of Flexagon and Buff Hudd that really seemed to take off, receiving much praise and also being picked up by Tom Robinson on BBC 6 Music.

As the year neared its end The Recks made something of surprise return with a new single and line up and they look set to make 2017 their year as they plan to finally unleash their long-awaited and much-anticipated debut album and in a standout live moment SugarSlam (yes, them again, they’ve had a great year) and Insurrection marked their 25th and 30th anniversaries respectively with an excellent night at the De La Rue.

Insurrection

Insurrection

It’s safe to say that 2016 has been an impressive year for music in Guernsey with a real variety of sounds and styles coming to the fore (beyond what’s mentioned here drum ’n’ bass and electronic music have had a real growth as well with Hard Riddims and Strategy gaining footholds as regular events) and opening up what could easily be a small and insular scene to a wide audience, and lets hope that continues with more people heading out to listen to new music around the island and there’s already some exciting sounding things coming up!

And a few particular highlights by category…

Band of the Year – Honest Crooks
Festival Stage/Event of the Year – Vale Earth Fair’s 40th Anniversary celebrations
Newcomers of the Year – Burning At Both Ends
Set of the Year – Burg & The Back Porch Band at Sark Folk Festival
Album of the YearRobert J. Hunter – Where I’m From
Visiting Band of the Year – PUNiK

You can listen to the BBC Introducing Guernsey review of the year radio show here

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Sound Guernsey Christmas Party – The Fermain Tavern – 20/12/16

Eqilibrium at Sound Guernsey

Eqilibrium

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.

Grace Tayler of Track Not Found

Grace of Track Not Found

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.

Problematic at Sound Guernsey

Problematic

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.

Mike Meinke of Buffalo Huddleston

Mike of Buffalo Huddleston

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.

Peter Mitchell of Burning At Both Ends

Mitch of Burning At Both Ends

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.

Dom Ogier of Static Alice

Dom of Static Alice

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’.

You can see a full gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page

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Sound Guernsey Birthday Show – The Fermain Tavern – 25/11/16

Honest Crooks help Jon and Ani celebrate a year of Sound

Honest Crooks help Jon and Ani celebrate a year of Sound

For their first birthday show Sound Guernsey put on a show at The Fermain Tavern that continued their mission to allow the island’s youngsters to experience a range of live music, in a safe setting, with four bands spanning a range of sounds and styles – you can see more of my photos from the show by clicking here.

First up was garage punk two piece The Phantom Cosmonaut.

As I’m a member of the band I can’t really say much about them other than that we had a great time on stage and it seemed the audience responded by heading down to the front for the duration.

Having made their mark at Sound back in the summer Jawbone hit the stage to a great reception that continued throughout their typically raucous set.

Jawbone

Jawbone

With covers by the likes of The Damned, Vandals and The Misfits alongside originals and a couple of punked up pop songs they delivered one of their tighter sets, though still with their own sense of sloppy fun that had the enthusiastic audience singing along to both well-known covers and the band’s own songs – all while pogo-ing along.

The second act making their Sound debut tonight were Day Release, more accustomed to the pub rock circuit that didn’t stop them getting the crowd going from the off and it was their take at Green Day’s Basket Case that really got them moving and singing along.

With some extra guitar solo moments thrown in from fellow birthday boy Tricky the band had an extra energy than when I’ve seen the, in the last, possibly down to playing to quite such an energetic crowd.

Day Release

Day Release

This aspect of the crowd is one that has developed along with Sound and its move to The Fermain Tavern seems to have helped it no end. While in the first few months the audience would get involved from time to time now, in the environs of Guernsey’s premier music venue, they have become engaged and enraptured throughout.

While some seem content to nod along, intently watching the performers, others are more inclined to dance, but all head to the front seemingly regardless of the style of music on offer which is refreshing to see when so often bands play to an empty dancefloor with an audience lurking in the shadows,

Another band who’ve become firm Sound favourites, Honest Crooks, rounded off the night with guest drummer Barney Bean (more commonly seen in Blakalaska) adding something of an extra speed and punch to the ska punk sounds.

Honest Crooks at Sound Guernsey

Honest Crooks

Once agin the audience were into it from the start with many singing along to the band’s original songs as well as the their takes on a few pop hits. Some guitar issues didn’t slow the band up as Lee from Jawbone happily provided a replacement before himself joining the Crooks on stage to add kazoo (in the place of brass) to High Grade.

The fast paced Stressball rounded off the set with plenty of skanking (of a sort) on the dancefloor before the surprise birthday cake was served and, with an impressive line up already confirmed for their Christmas party, it looks like Sound is going from strength to strength in helping create a new generation of musically inspired youth.

You can see more of my photos from the show by clicking here

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Sound Guernsey Summer Party – The Fermain Tavern – 24/07/16

Blakalaska

Blakalaska

Since last November Sound Guernsey have been running monthly nights at The Venue giving under-18s a chance to experience some of the wide variety of new, live music available in the island.

For their summer party though, they stepped things up a bit, moving to their new home at The Fermain Tavern for an extended session featuring some of the bands who’d been most popular at the monthly nights alongside a couple of newcomers.

The first hour of the show had been deemed an open mic session, but only one, brand new, act took up the offer, Figure It Out. Formed literally within the last few weeks the quartet played a couple of songs and, while they were probably playing out a bit too soon, their enthusiasm couldn’t be faulted and they seemed to have an idea of what they wanted to be doing, even if it wasn’t really there yet.

Equilibrium

Equilibrium

The first advertised band on the line up have been around for the last year or so and have gained quite a reputation in that time and showed why tonight. Much tighter than even a few months ago Equilibrium have a light, poppy tone that sounds great on the likes of Scouting For Girls’ hit She’s So Lovely and got the already enthusiastic audience bobbing along.

While they don’t quite have the attitude for the slightly edgier songs they play, as a band they connected well with the crowd here and continue to show growth making them a band still worth keeping an eye on.

Track Not Found were billed as ‘the first band born out of Sound’ as they made their ‘proper’ debut. Mixing 90s style American indie, grunge and a hint of Riotgrrl the trio were a breath of fresh air amidst young bands playing the same old covers as one another. Already presenting a united front in terms of both sound and attitude all three came with presence and power and their songs backed it up.

Track Not Found

Track Not Found

Drummer Emma Thomas was a stand out, far more assured, confident and in her zone than when with The Bone Idols, while dual leaders Maisie Bisson and Grace Taylor captured the crowd from the off.

Taylor was particularly impressive giving off a confidence and ability beyond her years and, while the trio still have plenty of rough edges to work on, this goes down as one of the best debut sets from a genuinely new band I’ve seen in a long time.

From a band taking their first steps to one heading for their last, The Doomsday Project were fully in fun mode for their penultimate performance. This sense of fun that is embodied by frontman George Russell, but is clear in the performance of the other three members too, is making for some of the best shows I’ve seen from them, following their set the weekend before at The Gathering.

Already warmed up the crowd came forward from the start and it wasn’t long before they were bouncing, particularly when Smash Mouth’s All Star got an airing.

The Doomsday Project

The Doomsday Project

A highlight of the set (that was reprised for the encore) came with a run at Slave’s The Hunter that saw the band and the crowd all crouching down in preparation for the song’s roaring middle section. Even if The Doomsday Project don’t quite have the bite of the Kent duo it worked really well with a great relatable energy between the young band and audience that permeated the entire set.

Wrapping up with Chelsea Dagger (before the encore) closed off probably the best set I’ve seen The Doomsday Project deliver and if they are capable of this regularly it will certainly be a shame to see them go.

For the second time this weekend Honest Crooks took to The Fermain Tavern stage and it wasn’t long before the crowd were getting into their punk-ska-reggae sounds.

Honest Crooks

Honest Crooks

Once again the band played a blinder and, having seen them many times recently, I will admit that my focus drifted and I took the chance to get some skanking in. If a band can be as engaging with their own material as with covers by Sublime and their ilk then they must be doing something very right.

To ease in the change of musical styles DJ Four-Q took to the decks and filled the dance floor as his hip-hop sounds even got a fairly elaborate ‘dance battle’ going on in the middle of the floor – it looked like something out of a movie!

Then, with the crowd already worked up Jimi Riddlz and Apex of Asylum Seekas joined Four-Q, feeding off the energy from the crowd who, unlike some other audiences, weren’t shy about the call and response moments.

Asylum Seekas

Asylum Seekas

Seeing this trio in front of such an energetic crowd is to see them at their peak and they were as entertaining as I’ve ever seen them, ranging from the intensity of Riddlz work to Apex’s more lighthearted touches.

It felt like a mini Get Down was kicking off for a few minutes as the set flew by culminating in undeniable crowd pleaser Guernsey Bus.

Having been one of the most popular bands from all of the past Sound Guernsey events Blakalaska were suitable headliners and from the start had the crowd involved with their captivating electronic, dance-rock sounds.

Despite missing guitarist Oliver Farimond (his parts were filled in from Ollie McVey’s bank of electronics) the band sounded huge and the high energy of the earlier sets was still flowing, even if the crowd had shrunk a little (likely down to it getting a bit later on a Sunday night).

Blakalaska

Blakalaska

While most of the set is familiar the fact the band play rarely meant it still sounded fresh and there were some newer songs in the mix too culminating in an encore of Hands Up that had the desired effect of closing Sound Guernsey’s first show in their new venue on a real high – lets hope this carries on when the under 18 nights continue monthly from September.

You can see a full gallery of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page and a few of my photos were used in The Guernsey Press along with Becky Cox’s review

Sound Summer Party - photos 30/07/16

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Sound Guernsey: Static Alice, Jawbone, Burning At Both Ends and Cosmic Fish – The Venue – 29/05/16

Static Alice

Static Alice

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.

Cosmic Fish

Cosmic Fish

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.

Burning at Both Ends

Burning at Both Ends

Barely a week on from their first gig together Burning At Both Ends came on with a much more relaxed confidence and had the audience into their take on pop punk from the start.

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.

Jawbone

Jawbone

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.

Scott and Luis of Static Alice

Scott and Luis of Static Alice

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.

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Sound Guernsey: Blakalaska, Flexagon, Equilibrium and Loose Ties – The Venue – 27/03/16

Blakalaska

Blakalaska

Even as I arrived at The Venue for the Easter Sunday Sound Guernsey event it was clear this was going to be a busy one with more than 100 tickets sold before the show, it wasn’t long until capacity was reached and new band Loose Ties took to the stage.

Made up of students from St Sampson’s High School, Loose Ties were making their first public performance. This comprised a set of covers delivered mostly fluidly despite the obvious nerves on display.

The inclusion of a piano added something a bit different to most young rock bands and all five members showed potential that could easily begin to be reached with the confidence that comes after a little more experience in front of an audience.

Loose Ties

Loose Ties

Another new young band took to the stage next, Equilibrium. A little more experienced than Loose Ties, this was still my first chance to see them and I was impressed both by their playing and their choice of covers.

Spanning upbeat jangly indie like Scouting For Girls’ hit She’s So Lovely to Blink 182’s All The Small Things to The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army it was a varied collection and all delivered with a relaxed and vibrant feel.

Drummer Charlie really powered the band from the back and, at the risk of sounding patronising, it was great to see a pair of female guitarists (Lili and Elle) fronting the band, along with vocalist Ivy, that gave the band a different dynamic from the usually male fronted rock bands I’m more used to seeing on local stages.

Equilibrium

Equilibrium

Getting calls for an encore Equilibrium delivered a second run of All The Small Things and, while it was maybe all a bit reserved and polite, they again showed a huge potential and really got the crowd going.

After two straightforward pop-rock cover bands things took a turn for the more experimental as Flexagon made their live debut in two-piece form. Armed with an Ableton Push set up and electronic drum kit, as soon as they set up it was clear this wasn’t going to be something many in attendance were used to and, in that, the duo didn’t disappoint.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect and I got it in spades. Rhythmically focused electronic sounds were layered one upon the other creating dense, sprawling tracks with hard to resist yet relatively laid back beats. The whole thing felt fluid and organic with what seemed to be an improvised edge, but was tight enough to create an engaging performance that got many a head nodding, mine included.

Flexagon

Flexagon

While it wasn’t the sort of music to fill a dancefloor it was clear many were engaged from the sidelines and it gave a good flavour of what could be expected in The Peace Tent at Chaos (after the live music) to this audience who would have been unlikely to experience that before.

As Blakalaska set up on stage they provided a DJ set which drew many back to the dancefloor and even instigated something of a dance off with Loose Ties’ piano player busting out some breakdancing moves, all of which kept the audience engaged for the night’s headliners.

Playing with a reduced line up thanks to an injury that kept guitarist Oliver Farrimond from appearing, Blakalaska didn’t let this phase them one bit as they launched into their huge sounding electro-rock. Instantly the crowd filled the dancefloor and, while maybe not as active as the audience at Jonah Beats earlier in the month, were clearly loving the sounds.

Lee of Blakalaska

Lee of Blakalaska

The use of pre-recorded guitar parts did mean the band had to stick to a more rigid performance than usual, which made some of it feel a bit restrained, though it was impressive to see a band carrying on in the face of a missing member.

Frontwoman Lee Rosete put on a great show (despite taking ‘selfies’ mid-song – I don’t think that will ever stop frustrating me) that really engaged the audience while Barney as ever excelled on the V-Drums that help give the band their unique sound and power.

With this newer songs built on the familiar ones to continue the bands evolution and they closed the night off on a real high that marked, to my mind, a high point of the Sound Guernsey shows so far – and long may they continue giving youngsters a chance to not only experience a broad range of live music but also play to their peers away from school.

You can see a full set of my photos from the show on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page by clicking here

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Sound Guernsey present Lifejacket and Lord Vapour – The Venue – 22/01/16

Lifejacket

Lifejacket

After hip-hop and reggae last month and punk-ska and folk-hop the one before, things got undeniably more rocky for the third Sound Guernsey live music event for under-18s as they welcomed stoner rockers Lord Vapour and ‘hard-indie’ troupe Lifejacket to their stage at The Venue.

Lord Vapour started things off with their brand of groove fueled, vintage-tinged, rock and immediately seemed to engage the young crowd getting more than a few heads nodding.

With new songs mixed in with those we’ve been hearing for the best part of the last year they have extended their range somewhat to include a slightly broader mix, but it’s certainly the more groove based tracks that work best compared to more the more heavy metal flavoured numbers.

The trio suited the small stage well with Joe Le Long and Christiaan Mariess really rolling with the rhythm on bass and drums, while Henry Fears lead guitar wailed impressively over the top (though his vocal moments were less impressive).

Lord Vapour

Lord Vapour

As the set went on the audience began to drift somewhat and I’ll be the first to admit that there were points where Lord Vapour’s sound did get a bit ‘same-y’. At just over an hour their set felt over long no matter how well delivered their lose, semi-improvised, jams were.

Far more to the point were Lifejacket who blasted out of the blocks in their usual intense fashion. Seemingly fuelled by a barely contained ire at the world in general, they too grabbed the attention of the crowd and held it in probably a more sustained way.

With a few newer songs laced through the set the trio were at their slickest tonight and there were points where the performance was almost too slick for its own good, losing a bit of the intensity they have at their best. Nonetheless they gained cheers and applause after every song, I think much to their own surprise given the fact this was an audience most of whom had never had the chance to hear them before.

Lifejacket

Lifejacket

Even with the good response the audience remained largely static and maintained a polite distance from the stage. This is something that has come up time and again with regards to many gigs on the island in recent years (with a few notable exceptions) so its hard to tell if the reason for the lack of interaction from the audience is down to this crowd being less experienced gig goers of if it’s just something to do with audiences in Guernsey in general. It could of course be the music, but all of it seemed to be eliciting a strong positive reaction.

Back to Sound Guernsey though and once again both bands put in great performances that were generally well received and  more youngsters seemed to appreciate what they were experiencing than previously (with the notable exceptions of Buffalo Huddleston’s wildly received set a few months back) and the organisers seemed confident they are now reaching the untapped audience of young music that exist on the island.

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