The Common: Welcome the Dawn of ‘Geek-Hop’

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The Common are a local Southampton band that, in a world consumed by debt, unemployment and Justin Bieber, are arguably one of the best undiscovered original bands yet, guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. If you’re a fan of Jamie T and Alex Turner’s quick-witted lyrics, then The Common are the band for you. Combining Jamie T’s rapping ability with Alex Turner’s humour, they create songs that can only be described as sharp.

The band formed after all five members met up at a local open mic night and fell in love with one another’s music. After three months of rehearsals they sold out The Joiners, and since then they’ve been trying to break out of the south by playing  support shows with the likes of Tine Tempah, Guru, Iglu & Hartly, Kid British, Akil the MC from Jurassic 5, and most recently Goldie Lookin’ Chain.

Collectively they are an ‘odd’ bunch, with jobs ranging from Tesco shelf stacker to Professor of Engineering; but it’s these combined experiences upon which they rely to craft their songs. The Common are part of a rare species of bands, who are able to just reach out and punch you in the gut with their lyrics — direct and to the point. Whilst most rappers seem to prefer talking about money and women, frontman Mike Brown cuts straight to the chase, choosing to write about the things that he knows such as being a skint student, evading sobriety and, more importantly, cult movies and comic books.

Theoretically this combination of indie, hip-hop and rock shouldn’t work. But it does, and The Common insist on calling this genre geek-hop. I personally was skeptical about this as a genre, however that changed as soon as I heard ‘What It Is’. A song based on the stupid things that tend to happen when you’re drunk and the desire for fame, ‘What It Is’ is fast, funny and extremely quick-witted. It is full to the brim of brilliant one-liners such as “What it is, is the metaphors I’m spitting are so intelligent that nobody can match my lyrics; what it really is, is I got a bit bored on Tuesday and wrote this song in five minutes”.

Granted, the guitar riff for the majority of the song is reasonably repetitive, and compared to some other local bands out there it isn’t technically complex. This is irrelevant however, as guitarists Richard Berner and Jon Cox compliment Brown’s vocals perfectly, allowing his genius lyrics to shine through. Whilst Neil Downton’s bass lines subconsciously keep us hooked to the chorus (which is notably weaker in terms of its content), it’s a song that can guarantee a jumping crowd as it’s full of energy.

However, The Common aren’t just a stereotypical feel-good band; they also write songs with a darker vein at their core. ‘Skint’ is one of those songs, and unfortunately it relates to the majority of students in a dire financial state. The guitar for starters is toned down, following a progressive steady drumbeat from drummer Scott Walker to create a modernised pop ballad. But, as with all songs by the band, this song still retains an edge through its lyrics. Favourite lines include “You know you’re broke when you’re chuffed when you find 10p” and “Using washing up liquid instead of shampoo”. For any student who has ever had the misfortune to run out of money at the end of a semester, this song is very relatable!

They currently only have three songs available online on their Facebook page, but this band has a vast live repertoire and are worth checking out at any gigs. They are becoming renowned for the highly charged atmosphere they bring to any venue, and it won’t be long before this band gets snapped up by an independent label seeing as they are already a commercially viable act who meet the standards set by other major bands today.

Expect to see The Common at the Alternative and Indie Music Society’s Frequency event in May.

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