Showcase 05 - Heat 5

Heat 5 - Tuesday 9th of August 2005 The Rasputins + The Stations + Spontaneous Suggestion + Waiting for Superman.

by Tommy L

It’s a rare occurrence when a battle-of-the-bands night contains more than one band of any real quality. As such it borders on inconceivable that four bands of such a high standard would have the misfortune to be grouped together in tonight’s round. Hence, as set after set passed by - leading each band to (almost certainly) inwardly curse their luck whilst diplomatically praising their rivals, the audience were treated to a melodic master-class. Arriving to a stage adorned with flowers, the first of our musical mentors were the eclectic 'Rasputins'. Quintessentially English, they drew influence from everything from the ambient side of Joy Division to early 80s new-romanticism. Their unique brand of experimental art-rock involved all manner of instruments and brought into play the criminally under-utilised melodica as well as a fine handclap solo. Overtly pretentious, the band frequently appeared far too cool to move, but never to the detriment of their strangely compelling vision. I can imagine people deliberating for hours over whether they were genius or just a musical experiment gone gravely wrong. But it’s surely better to provoke that kind of debate than be ‘just another rock band’. Following on from all that eccentricity were the total antithesis: ‘The Stations’. If their straightforward name gave a clue as to what they’d sound like, entering to the strings from ‘Elanor Rigby’ removed all doubt. These boys were Brit-pop influenced rock, all the way with the spirit of Gallagher,
Power, Craddock et al flowing through their veins. From their supercharged, opening diatribe, guitar solo heroics and vocal trade offs - nothing about them was subtle. Maybe they lack originality. Maybe they lack a bit of polish here and there. But despite sounding like any number of bands on a mid 90s ‘Shine’ compilation they were great fun to watch. If this were ten years ago there’d be a fair chance of them being signed. Although they had a difficult act to follow, from the moment ‘Spontaneous Suggestion’ played their first note, the only thought on my mind was: "we have our winners". Dominating the stage due to the immense aura and energy of the front man, all the band members played their part in an awesome set. Serving up a concoction of funk and rock that involved elaborate, spiky guitar work mixed up with a solid bass backbone and some raucous drumming, this was a sight to behold. Mesmerising the crowd with a fantastic vocal display from both singer and guitarist, some of the harmonising can only be described as mind-blowing. As they left the stage to be replaced by ‘Waiting for Superman’ the previous mood of joviality vanished. Picture 'the Crow' entering a sleazy, underground rock club; these are the guys playing in the background. Decked out entirely in black and sounding like ‘Down on the upside’, era ‘Soundgarden’, mixed with NY Loose. If Papa Roach weren’t shit, they may be lucky enough to sound this good. In the end it was no surprise to hear the compere state that all the bands were ‘almost’ guaranteed support slots with touring bands. With that, all that was left was to pity the Judges as they made their choice. Oh, the winner? Surely that’s not important after such an event? Except maybe to tonight’s victors: ‘The Stations'.