Showcase 05 - Heat 4

Heat 4 - Tuesday 2nd of August 2005:

by Tommy L

The Wedgewood Rooms’ annual showcase is a chance for many young bands to get an early shot at playing one of the Country’s most famous small venues. This year’s event has been, by all accounts, a resounding success with the crop of bands being described as one of the finest in many a year. So, with notebook in hand I made my way down to check out round four of the competition. Clearly pre-empting that age is not a huge positive in the competition, Goffman started with a proclamation to the effect that they were on first “so the old gits could get to bed”. Despite their negativity at their chances, their brand of spunky, funky, rock brought a smile from quite a few members of the crowd, myself included. If Brian Ferry played guitar, grew his hair and stripped Roxy Music down to a three piece, the result is not far off Goffman. Three-way vocals, funky groovalicious bass-lines, and just a smidgen of soul all contribute to a ‘Young Americans’ era post-glam sound. Second up were Trixter, a late replacement for Black 13. They frequently, err, frequent the Edge of the Wedge's acoustic nights. However, what works in the cosy café environment seemed slightly out of place when put on the bigger stage. Consisting of a guitarist, another with added vocal duties and a lone female singer their sound was reminiscent of Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks’ vocal interplay for ‘Rumours’ era Fleetwood Mac. Some nice harmonies and intricate guitar work, the band seemed the very definition of ‘horses for courses’. Nothing they did was wrong but due to the situation, it equally never seemed quite right. The penultimate act, Smiler, predictably enough from their name, are a Brit-pop kind of band. All arrived bearing acoustics and the expectation was a Travis sound-alike, but the addition of a harmonica and some upbeat tunes gave them more than a hint of early Boo Radleys or Dodgy. Pleasant enough; it’s easy to envisage the band’s music accompanying a beach party - jumping into waves and playing volleyball. However, when it comes to the music alone having to hold your attention, they just fell slightly short. Finally we were treated to eventual winners, H.A.L.O (Hate Anger Love Obsession). It’ll come as no surprise that a band with as angst-ridden a name as this are all in their mid-teens. By no means the finished article they showed more than enough in their short set to think that given a few years practice they could really do something. Sounding like an up-to-date Sisters of Mercy what really stood out for me was the front man’s huge stage presence. If he could bottle and sell his charisma he’d be a rich guy. Getting a crowd to chant your lyrics back at you is no mean feat for a band in its infancy. To be honest they’re unlikely to walk away with the overall prize, as the competition is fierce and their music and stage show are very much the domain of the under 20s. But like an uncut diamond, after a bit of polishing up I’d recommend having another look at them. They could yet shine.