Oxjam Battle of the Bands

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What better to do on a Wednesday night than see three different acts compete in a local Battle of the Bands? September 23rd saw The Small Town Rivals, Kitchen Sink Drama and Rhythm Propelled Grenades play their hearts out for a place at Oxjam’s Southampton Takeover, taking place on October 24th. The atmosphere was great with fans of all three bands in the room and as 8pm rolled on the music began.

First up was The Small Town Rivals, a band who encapsulate all that is Indy in modern music. Their playing was really rather good, the drummer in particular was excellent. One surprise was the use of two singers, both the guitarist and the drummer taking turns on vocal duty, unfortunately an opportunity was missed with no harmonies being present; probably because the difference between the two singers’ voices was minimal and their range slightly lacking. Their opening song was fantastic but unfortunately they then subsided into a series of rather similar songs and musical styles, and whilst they were generally a good band they just didn’t have anything defining or special about them.

After a short interlude came Kitchen Sink Drama. Considering their minor status and their ages they exuded confidence and for the most part put on a great show. Sadly they were plagued by technical difficulties, with microphone volume levels being out and they even had to drop a song from their set-list due to a problem with the acoustic guitar they brought. However the songs they did play were very good; they were a 5-man band, the biggest of the night, and used their numbers well; there was good use of lead-licks over strong rhythm playing and each member really added to the band. Flexing their musical muscles the two vocalists pulled off some brilliant harmonies that really showed The Small Town Rivals how it should be done with two singers. A really enjoyable band and well worth checking out if you get the chance.

The final band on stage was the tremendous Rhythm Propelled Grenades. They stole the show and went on to win the voting and a place at Oxjam’s Southampton Takeover.

Fusing a wide range of styles from rock and funk to hip-hop and R’n’B the band had the most distinct and enjoyable sound of the night. A particular highlight was their vocalist, Bentrueman Stephen Anderson, despite starting their time on stage with an apology for his sore throat, he gave one of the best live vocal performances I’ve ever heard, his range in terms of style and tone was utterly amazing, spitting out raps at blinding pace in one song, then belting out sustained growls that would have Eddie Vedder running scared. The whole set was brilliant, start to finish, and I would heavily recommend checking out the band’s MySpace page; though this is one band you really should see live.

It was a great night for live music with three bands putting on a really enjoyable performance, thankfully justice prevailed and the best band won – congratulations to Rhythm Propelled Grenades!

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