In the aftermath of its glorious reopening weekend The Talking Heads has once again bravely championed the local music scene with the appropriation of Rock’s most ancient and sacred ritual – a Battle of the Bands competition. Taking place sporadically over the next few months, with two heats in Southampton and six in Portsmouth, undiscovered musical prodigies will fervently guitar battle it out in waves for nothing less than a tasty cash prize.
Thursday (April 19th) saw Heat 4, and Southampton’s first battle kick off as Triassic, Retrospect, Dolomite Minor, The David Gilani Experience and The Roaring Twenties performed a variety of sets pertaining everything from heart melting ballads to comical genius.
Opening the night were the newly formed Triassic, fronted by an uncharacteristically straight haired Jonny Vaughan, whom has apparently pledged to wear a Star WarsT-shirt at every gig. Though it might have been their first performance as a collective group, each member demonstrated a wealth of talent and experience, almost to the extent that I’ve come to view them as more of a ‘local superband’. Though an early set might have given them a slight advantage on the alcohol inspired improvisations of later acts, this is undoubtedly a band worth keeping an eye out for as they get more gigs under their belt. Everyone at the Talking Heads loved them.
Up next were Retrospect. While they presented an unquestionable technical ability, in contrast to the show put on by Triassic, they felt contrived and uninspired. Their onslaught of well performed covers went down well with an increasingly ‘merry’ audience but creatively they were years in Triassic’s wake. Admittedly, I don’t think it’s worth losing any sleep over, in retrospect. By the look of them, Jonny’s beer belly was conceived before half the band members. Speaking of which, if any of the lovely young mothers who accompanied their Paramore loving tween offspring would like to contest my sentiments, feel free to email me your numbers.
The David Gilani Experience epitomised a distinct change in proceedings. Whilst the previous three bands had stayed within the confines of guitar based rock (to varying degrees of success), fronted by enigmatic keyboardist David Gilani, the trio provided a wholly unique brand of comedy. Their witty on-stage banter, interaction with the audience and quirky charisma were smart as the band’s suit strewn uniform. The music was genuinely inspired, and despite the occasional divergences into the realms of cringe, the audience adored the craziness of songs about Mexicans and cobras.
Wrapping up the event were mod rockers, The Roaring Twenties. Swinging back to guitar led rhythmic tracks, this five-piece attempted to present a sophisticated and layered band, but at times seemed to simply emulate angry young men. Although the talent was certainly there individually, the boys struggled to pull it off as a group and some of the songs came across as messy and unpractised. This was not helped by the fact that The Roaring Twenties seemed unsure as to whom should be the frontman, with unorganised band members ebbing back and forth throughout the set. That said, they redeemed themselves somwhat with a vigorous cover of The Jam’s ‘Eton Rifles’, engaging the few audience members they hadn’t driven off to the bar.
Then came the results. After a brief wait, it was announced that Triassic had won and would be heading down to Portsmouth on June 16th for the final, much to the awe of the band members. All in all this was an excellent event, brilliantly organised and provided a perfect showcase for the great wealth of talent that can be found in and around the local Southampton music scene.