Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Love Music Hate Racism Heat 1 The Rittz / Rumour has It / The Decision / The Fears 5th May 2009

Review by Dave Harrison

Photo by Simon Bamford

Tonight was the first of four heats for the Love Music Hate Racism Battle of the Bands competition being run by various members of the Stoke community. In a way, this competition could be construed as merely a run up to the much larger event happening at the Britannia Stadium at the end of the month, but to say that would be to cheapen the talented bands that played tonight and will be playing over the next week in order to gain a place in the final, held on the 21st May.

First to take to the Sugarmill stage were The Rittz, a young band from the Stoke area. Their set was generally strong, kept especially tight by Drummer Matt’s thumping beats and metronome-esque timing. In an apparent flash of pure genius, the band even managed to slip in a cover version of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face into their set in a style so indie it was as though it had never been a dance floor filler. Their set was well received by the crowd, although they were hesitant to join in with the proceedings- Perhaps because of this, The Rittz’s performance felt a little bit flat, as if the band weren’t particularly enjoying themselves on stage; indeed, the band only seemed to perk up during the cover version, almost as if they didn’t feel totally confident in their own songs. Another criticism, although more personal, is that despite their tight riffing and good songs I found their sound to be rather derivative, in that it is basically the same strain of indie rock that’s been bandied about for years now and it’s starting to wear thin on me. That said, The Rittz were a fine example of that sort of music and deserve the following that they are quickly gaining.

Taking to the stage in brightly coloured vest tops, short shorts and headbands a la the 118 men, second band Rumour Has It were clearly making the most of playing at the Sugarmill, bringing their fans and jumping around the stage like possessed kangaroo’s. With guitars. And fake moustaches. Unfortunately, this on stage exuberance didn’t carry into their music, instead being a rather shambolic punk metal crossover, complete with feedback ridden guitar work, American accented singing and OTT double bass pedal action. The crowd, presumably comprising mostly of their friends, were having a good time though, joining in with the singing and generally dancing about, at one point even attempting to create a circle pit, although with only a handful joining in, it lacked some intensity. The band were obviously having a brilliant time onstage, and top marks must be awarded for effort, but unfortunately, their music was far too messy for the judges on the balcony to consider them as winners for the heat.

Next on were The Decision, a young three-piece bringing their 60’s tinged Arctic Monkeys-esque indie to the stage with an obvious passion and intensity that propelled their fairly standard sound to giddy stratospheres. Guitarist and singer Ben in particular had come out fighting tonight, bringing his peculiar yelping vocal style out more prominently than in recordings and becoming more powerful and exciting because of it, and thrashing about on his guitar fearlessly, pulling out almost Hendrix baiting solos and riffs left right and centre. That is not to say drummer Liam and bassist Rob weren’t on form, keeping a tight rhythm section for Ben’s increasingly complex guitar lines to run off. The crowd reacted well to their set, which included a new song that went down well, showing off a darker side to their sound. Unfortunately, their set overran, meaning they could not finish with fan favourite The BIB, but nevertheless The Decision tonight were a young band on top form, and it was exciting to witness because of it.

The last band of the night were The Fears, a five piece who bought their Joy Division inspired brooding indie sound to the stage. The crowd was less energetic towards the band, perhaps because the band themselves were generally older than the other bands and therefore they didn’t have such a rabid teen following, but the audience was receptive to the energetic and tight set they played. Clearly not put off by the thinning audience, The Fears played as if The Sugarmill was in fact a packed Stadium, rising to the occasion very well indeed. It was showing that their extra years over the other bands had given them more confidence on-stage too, presenting themselves as astute professionals. Their songs rolled along nicely and at pace, their half hour set flying by quickly- a sure sign of a band confident of their own abilities and sound.

After a short period of rumination, the Judges presented The Fears as the winners of the first heat of the Love Music Hate Racism battle of the bands. As consolation The Decision were also given a slot on the Sugarmill stage at the event. The night overall was well organised and all the bands put on a good show, keeping the audience entertained for the 3 hour duration, The final decision made by the judges must have been a tough one, what with each band presenting a good show. With tonight a success, here’s hoping that the other three heats will be as interesting as this one, and present more of the Stoke music scenes best talent.

The Rittz
Rumour has it
The Decision
The Fears


adammm said...

The Rumour Has It review is a joke right?

Charlotte said...

It is merely my opinion- your myspace shows you have over 7000 friends and from the turnout at the gig, you obviously have a lot of support. Don't let one person's opinion of you change anything- Music is a highly subjective medium and you're never going to please everyone.

Dave Harrison