by Tommy L
Playoffs. The very concept conjures up images of tension, excitement, drama and finally, heartbreak. More importantly for the four bands performing in tonight’s showcase, it was their last chance for redemption after falling just short in their previous heat. Due to this fact, walking in to find the Wedge populated as sparsely as a village in South Wales was more than a little surprising. However, “from humble beginnings” and all that. Opening the night (and seeming to suffer because of it) were a slow starting Spontaneous Suggestion. The initially lifeless audience took a few songs to warm to their groove-laden rock and by the time they had the set was drawing to its conclusion. It’s still true to say that they had choruses catchier than a broken fingernail; stunning, unconventional legato guitar soloing and a drummer who looked like a member of East 17, but sometimes even sharing a face with Tony Mortimer is not enough. Their demeanour toward the crowd occasionally verged too far towards obsequious and they never seemed quite 'into' the performance. The exact opposite must be said of the follow-up: Terra Deforma. This incessant noise machine grabbed the crowd by the throat from their very first note and didn’t let go until they’d strangled the fight from any dissenters. Showing an energy which drab indie bands would inevitably mistake for a lack of musicianship, their trashy, thrashy sound was redolent in parts of Eighties Matchbox and mid-nineties Sonic Youth. Some simple but effective lead guitar lines furthered their appeal and with a touch more variation and dynamism they could have been in with a shot for the prize. Following this sonic invective were The Rasputins, a band for who the term un-pigeon-hole-able was coined. Although they start slowly their peculiar music is undeniably unique and when it picks up pace it shows some great whimsical passages. However, as with virtually every artist labelled 'eclectic', the songs have an element of trial and error about them and occasionally lack a bit of focus. At certain points elements were dropped frustratingly early; while others just as surely outstayed their welcome. Still, for every detractor and naysayer there’s surely at least an equal amount of people thankful that someone is making music of such ingenuity. With a bit of refinement I fully expect them to go places. The final act were as big a surprise as I’ve seen during the showcase. To me Funk Ya Mum should be the title of a Joe Dolce song title, and if a band were to be named so ridiculously they must be either a comedy band or shite. Fortunately neither is true and they’re exceptional in both style and quality. Lining up looking for all the world like a Ska band, the instrumental four piece are surely just a sultry vocalist away from walking this whole competition. As it was their well-polished, sax-led, jazz escapades mesmerised sections of the audience and showed more than enough quality to win this round comfortably, which they did. Although I’d love to see them with a singer, their session quality musicianship, tremendous song-writing and intelligent arranging should still see them in with a chance come the final. It promises to be a belter.