Rhian Daly reports on Band Competition Heat 4 – The Junction, Cambridge, 28 Mar 2007

Local Cambridgeshire Artist
After an undeniably interesting and exciting journey through Cambridge and its surrounding area's musical talent of the present and future, tonight we come to the end of the heats for the Band Competition 2007. All three previous heats have been packed with diverse acts from metal to indie through to rap and back to punk and tonight is no different.

Ska punk doesn't appear to be as in vogue as it was back in the days of 2002 but that doesn't seem to bother Space Cadet Steve. Whilst they've got some good tunes and can get the crowd moving, they look, for the most part, like on stage is the last place they'd like to be. In between songs, it's an embarrassed race to get into the next song with no banter at all or some that's mumbled so hurriedly, it's impossible to decipher. Whilst it's a pleasant enough start to the evening and their summery vibes will definitely put you in a good mood, they fail to make a lasting impression, particularly after the second band on.

Coming on stage to a pre recorded mix of vocals and loops, The Hot Bang make an entrance like no other during this competition. Original, interesting, eccentric, eclectic, quirky - there are many words you could use to describe The Hot Bang, but not one category you could fit them in comfortably. An odd bunch of characters, they create an even odder sound - think the quintessential bizarreness of Patrick Wolf, multiplied by gypsy punk troupe, Gogol Bordello and then divide by the diluted snarling ferocity of Johnny Rotten and the slurred lilt of Shane MacGowan and you'll be slightly closer to imagining what this band are like. They've got the audience entranced with their freshness and you can't help but feel like the contest is already over.

It's certainly going to be hard to top that performance, but Linda's Nephew give it their best shot with their fantastic, synth-tastic electro-pop. Singer and guitarist, Jaime Randall leaps around like it's going out of fashion whilst thrashing out some proper tunes, which even the most tone deaf person would find hard to ignore. Strangely, they play only for twenty minutes rather than the allotted thirty, and leave the stage much sooner than is desired, ending their set with the awesome Not Enough Forward Planning.

After Linda's Nephew's unexpected departure comes a band called Solvent. The name seems highly appropriate as for 99.9% of the next half hour, the majority of the band members appear to be stuck to the same spot. This could probably be forgiven if the music was of a super high standard but, unfortunately, it's not. Amongst their influences, they cite the Foo Fighters and that's exactly what they sound like, albeit the songs that Dave Grohl and co. decided to leave on the cutting room floor. Average, middle of the road rock and no stage presence whatsoever mean the next half hour feels like days and the already small audience dwindles even further as more and more people head to the bar. Eventually, it's over and Solvent finally find it within themselves to move, as they walk off stage.

The band taking the last slot in the final are, somewhat predictably, The Hot Bang, who join Heks, Fugazirum, Flamboyant Bella and Under The Streetlamp (who go through for having the most audience votes) in what will be a fitting end to such a diverse contest.

Writer/Photographer: Rhian Daly