Review and photo by Robert Egan
Arriving to a darkened room with a generously sized crowd, My Vote of Confidence opened with a suitably inspiring intro which breaks into a driving rock number. It's immediately apparent that there seems to be a hint of the balladesque stadium rock from the mid/late 80's and early 90's here although not too much to be fair and as more and more crowd seem to be appearing from somewhere like moths to a flame; the question is, will they get burned or dance into the light? The answer is the latter.
The second track which begins with a Slash like guitar solo & pacey tempo. Their third number 'Holding Fast' changes the mood slightly as it holds within a darker & drier sounding menace than the preceding tracks and the guitarist/front man has a style, ability and experience to draw from than I would normally associate with a guy of his age. The drummer is certainly enjoying himself, providing such an amount of energy to the performance that I'm jealously wondering how he is able to play like that & not be dripping with sweat. 'Demons by Design' is a new track with a gorgeous bass line that winds around your ears as if tapping in to your body’s' rhythms. I have to say that I was left wondering where the grungy, heavily distorted guitar was; I’m tantalised & expecting it, but it doesn’t come; perhaps it's the mix levels tonight? Not that its absence detracts from the sound at all as this 3-piece are definitely whacking it out, just that in other bands with a similar sound, there's another guitar complimenting the bassline and providing a driving grind which I think would add effect-but that's my opinion.
'Hand Full of sugar' comes after an impromptu interaction from the singer with the crowd and they give thanks for the preceding band which is always nice to hear. Overall My Vote of Confidence are tight sounding and professional, the guitars are slick and imaginative, the drums are energetic and driving and the basslines are to die for, which given the volume of the Mill's sound system, could cause bodily dysfunction...I did note a lack of variety in their set however, but if you like indie/rock with a hint of grunge then you will get it more than enough if it. My Vote of Confidence are definitely worth catching, especially as they announced that their last Stoke gig was 12 months ago, the brevity of their appearances locally is surely a motivation to catch them when you can...
Headlining tonight's showcase is Breaking Satellites, by which time I was hanging around the balcony like a shadowy phantom, waiting to capture some images of their opening track. Instead we were greeted with a pre-record intro that shook the room if not the soul like 5.9 on the Richter scale. This band wants to make an impression & an entrance and by the time they emerge from the green room, the crowd are chomping at the bit.
I was caught on the tidal wave of the first two tracks 'Spilt Ink', 'Take Flight' as I certainly did not expect this kind of audible assault from them. With 5 members on the stage, they have a big sound and a big presence to go with it, people are hugging the stage like it is their last chance to get on to the evacuation ferry and holding on to the rails just as tightly. Their third track 'Bang Tidy' has the front man screaming out at an impressive larynx shattering level at times & although I can't hear him, the 2nd guitarist seems to be belting it out just as much on backing vox. Of particular note to me was the intricate & unusual drum pattern which gives a hint of their potential although at times it did sound as if there was a slight delay between the synchronisation of the rest of the members playing along with it; not that it was that noticeable to be fair.
There seemed to be some issue with equipment by this point & I was not surprised given the level at which it was coming out-I've seen bass amps on fire whilst being played a lot quieter! But the drummer filled the space with an impressive solo. The variety between tracks is of note and it is not easy to categorise them, especially as the front man announces that the next track is a 'slow depressing' one, which it certainly isn't. It does have a story however which seems quite dark & the singer's vox are gravelly at times; he definitely doesn't have a voice that you would expect for someone so young, nor do we have a lot of in Stoke, he sounded like a younger version of Translucid's front man-which is not a bad thing at all.
The crowd are certainly kept involved throughout the set & the front man engages with them at every opportunity which not a lot of bands do these days and it does seems to be appreciated. For me there's a little punk, a little emo maybe and a developed sound, which can be a little loose at times, but nothing that detracts from the enjoyment. An example is the new song '3/4' which as the name suggests, has a nice 3/4 timed intro which seamlessly develops into a 4/4 which I was massively impressed with and there is a sizeable amount of people dancing away, absorbing the energy. 'Nothing to Hurt You' has a high pitched guitar over a tom-driven drum beat & the singer is straight up onto the stage riser to entice the crowd further. Their encore 'Sleeping Alone' gave a fitting finale to their set and left everyone satisfied with the experience.
Breaking Satellites are young, energetic with a large sound. They already posses a quality repertoire and this hints at how good they could become as they develop musically.