Set To Stun

The Opera House, Bournemouth - April 2006
Images: © 2006
Written by Sam Goodman

It’s an early start for tonight’s Opera house event and school is barely out as I take up my spot at the bar. This, however, is no ordinary Wednesday. ‘Set to Stun’ is the brainchild of local singer/songwriter and youth worker Laura Nicholson and features 11 bands between the ages of 11 and 18, over two stages. As all proceeds from tonight are going to the Mayor’s Charity Appeal Fund, it’s not long before the Mayor himself is kicking things off and introducing first act Cause for Concern - whose old-school rock (and Metallica covers) get an early mosh pit underway. That there are so many bands on tonight means there is barely pause for breath between them let alone room to cover everyone here, but it’s clear from an early stage that every band is putting their heart and soul into the performance. Third on, Fitzpain really begin to pick things up with a polished and melodic style, delivered with enthusiasm from start to finish. In songs like ‘Broken Harmony’ there is a touch too much Nirvana but the effect on the crowd is electric with singer Andy putting on all his best “rock” posturing throughout. On the second stage, and drawing the biggest audience, are Gun Angel. Raising (or lowering) the bar as far as young bands go, Gun Angel are all 11 or 12 years old and open with an almost note-perfect ‘Smells like teen spirit’. Their crowd is a mix of fans, gob-smacked onlookers and sing-along parents who are clearly as impressed as I am. Racing through another cover and then their own ‘Screw it’ (do they really teach them words like that nowadays?!) it’s as though Hanson never grew up but instead moved to Boscombe. Fearne are noticeably older and more experienced than most of the other bands playing tonight and it’s a fact quickly apparent in their music also. Playing the sort of acoustic based indie favoured by art students and people who buy their music in Sainsbury’s, their initial crowd response is comparatively lukewarm at best. Their Travis-inspired Britney Spears cover and a wealth of hummable, inoffensive tunes does much to win them some new friends though, as does their relaxed and humorous stage presence. Rounding things off with the impressive, lovelorn ‘Green Eye Shadow’, on which their male/female vocals seem much less contrived, and a rendition of ‘Chocolate Salty Balls’, they clearly have potential. The night concludes with a curious mix of the emotionally articulate post-hardcore of Write In Pictures and the immensely popular and infectious pop-punk of A Flaming Florence. Both acts are greeted by a crowd dancing like they never want it to end. Tonight was a great night not only because of the money raised but also, especially perhaps, for the opportunity presented to the bands and the scene involved.

For more information on the bands listed in this review or how you can get involved with projects such as these, please visit