When I arrived at AIM’s Battle Of The Bands live music event last Monday, level 2 of SUSU mainly consisted of musicians twinging guitar strings, but as the lights dimmed and things got going there seemed to be a good turnout; it was clear the performers had a decent support base.
The first band to take to the stage was Innogen, who instantly caught the audience’s attention with their rocky guitar sounds and undeniably catchy riffs that had an Artic Monkeys vibe. Unfortunately the vocals were slightly overpowered by the heavy drum beats and backing, but there was no mistaking the quirky lyrics such as ‘Buy her a Jagerbomb’ in the song ‘Ugly Girl’, perfect for a student crowd heading onto Jesters. The range of guitar solos rocked up the set and got the audience going, kicking off the event well.
The next act; Louisa and Andreas, an acoustic duo, slowed things down with their laid-back style and melodic chords. Louisa’s smooth vocals complemented the relaxed sound, and both performers worked well together with the mix of Andreas’ strumming and Louisa’s finger-picking riffs. The acoustic genre created a refreshing change yet seemed out of place within the nature of the event, especially since the melancholy tones lacked the energy of their contenders. However, the performance was an effective break from heavier, amplified bands which framed the performance.
Then came The Fever Dream; a six-piece band with a soft, indie-folk feel. Harmonious guitar riffs along with backing vocals were engaging, and, mixed with a range of upbeat, repetitive melodies; easy-listening and fun. However, such varieties of instruments tended to clash and drown each other out – at one point there was too much crashing on the high hat, and, although striking when played, the violin was often inaudible. Despite this, you couldn’t fault the band for its uniqueness and enthusiasm; halfway through, the frontman swapped his guitar for a clarinet; it felt like we were watching three different bands in one!
You, Me & Yuri, were perhaps the most entertaining with their rather tongue-in-cheek, ‘Call Me Maybe’ cover. The alternative take on the pop song was an instant crowd pleaser and got a few dancing, especially as the structure of the set was well carried through with rhythmic, alternating drum beats. The performance reached its finale with ‘Sick Jams (Old pimps, and late night pizza),’ a title which seemed to include more substance than the actual song. The amusing lyrics (or rather lack of them) were compensated by the instrumentation; which began with a Red Hot Chilli Peppers sound. Funky bass-slapping riffs and impressive guitar solos were complemented by the soulful improvisations of the saxophonist. Unfortunately the energy of the song seemed to cause shouty vocals that progressed to somewhat screamo at the end, but there was no doubting the effective stage presence of the band.
Band five, Freefall, didn’t get off to a great start with the emergence of technical difficulties, but soon regained the audience’s attention with their rocky intro which followed through to a fast paced beat. Their second song was instantly catchy, added to with the use of guitar effects, and seemed to stray into a more pop-based field. There were again some technical issues with feedback and an over-amplified guitar, but their overall sound was tight and professional.
Last but not least were Elaztic Banned, a group whose sound reflected their quirky, individual name. Their cover of the dance song, ‘Day ‘n’ Nite’ was a great start, the relaxed drum beat mixing well with electro-based guitar riff to create a diverse but effective shift from the original. The vocalist/drummer proved to be a good multi tasker and added a certain edge to the song, although his voice was sometimes too harsh for the music.
After the votes had been counted, Fever Dream, were announced the champions, bagging themselves a headline gig at The Talking Heads in the new year, whilst You, Me & Yuri lost out by a painstaking three votes. Despite this, there didn’t seem to be much focus on the event as a competition – every act seemed to enjoy themselves, as I did. Not recommended for Nicki Minaj lovers (as the friend I brought along unfortunately realised) but a great event for those who appreciate local live music.