The biannual showcase for up-and-coming British bands has had a knack lately for landing on celebratory days. The first one of 2005 was held on Queens Day and this one was on Museum Night. First time I thought it was bad planning; by the second time I am beginning to suspect it is deliberate, although I don't yet know the reasoning.
Earlier this year, the lineup was lead by bands on the verge of stardom: Kaiser Chiefs, The Others, and Tom Vek. This time all but one band was unknown to me, and that one I had to miss due other commitments on Friday night. But then, unknown bands and new discoveries are what this mini-festival is all about.
First up were Field Music, who perhaps could be called Green Pastures. It's a tough spot at the start of an evening. They were nervous and failed to really engage. Perhaps they realised their 1960s guitar pop wasn't quite the thing for there and then.
Next up came Amusement Parks On Fire, who play that kind of processed noise and vocals thing which made every song indecipherable from the last. Kind of Nottingham Sea Power as in the sort of band to play 4 songs in a 30 minute set. Very difficult to be engaged by.
The Guillemots play world music with feedback. Elements of Badly Drawn Boy meld with Rod Stewart, Jack, The O-Diddley Social Club and jazz-school musicians everywhere to form an experimental whole. Good dinner music.
Battle took the main stage next and provided the first band of the evening to really make you go "ooh." When Hastings Financial Software went bankrupt, four of their hardest working employees went, "what the flip?" They shut down their computers, closed their ledgers and learned instruments to become a great indie rock band.
They are all short and geeky-looking; Their bassist sports a tank-top, and not in an ironic way; their drummer made an attempt at being Rock'n'Roll by having no shirt, but it just looked even more geeky given the fact he was bright English pale. Plus he is the only drummer in existence to have NO tattoos. I expect after a bit more success, he may start to get it and get himself a tattoo, but I'm not sure how Rock'n'Roll "Linux" is. It's their look more than anything that makes you surprised how good they are and how much you allowed your prejudices to influence you. Geekophobia is one of the few bigotries the politically correctors have missed. Probably due to their own anti-geekism. And if the electronic music revolution has taught us anything, it is the geek is king.