Battle Of The Bands at Mission Sunderland

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April 4, 2011 by Dan Swinhoe

Tonight those youths are fighting it out at the Battle of the Bands hosted by Mission. This is the second of the two opening nights at the under-18s club to determine which lucky band gets to play at the final on the 15th of April. And it’s my job to play Simon Cowell and judge the next Strokes from the next Rebecca Black.

First up on their debut show are The Catharsis. The inexperience shows and their growl-and-chug approach to thrashy death metal doesn’t really get the crowd going. The effort is there and after some more rehearsals they could stand a better chance of winning.

Clearly with a few more shows in the bag are Alaska Young. It’s a rocky Post-Hardcore set that shows a different tempo on each song, ranging from slow and soft to full pelt sonic assault. These guys are pretty impressive. The frontman has enough energy to fill the stage, even if the screams aren’t quite up to scratch. The songs are great and the backing singer has an impressive voice that they use to good effect. The best band of the night, but the competition is tight.

“We’re The Bolts, and we don’t play Heavy Metal”. A good way to separate yourself from the rest of the bill, sporting a good sense of humour. And he’s not wrong. Playing catchy Indie Pop á la The Kooks they get the best crowd reaction of the night and end on a big sing-along to Oasis’ Wonderwall. It’s decent fun and well-played but lacks any urgency or real excitement.

The problem with one band having gaining the support (or bringing along) most of the crowd is that they soon disappear. Most of them miss Backfire, who open with a cover of Fightstar. But despite the poor choice of opener and complete absence of a crowd they’re actually a genuinely very good band. Going for a big noise and clean vocals approach they fill the stage and play a confident set that really deserves some praise. Maybe it’s past the bedtime of most of the audience.

Closing are Oh My Days! The Newcastle boys put the most energy into interacting with what’s left of the crowd and clearly are happy on stage. Musically they’re probably the most professional sounding, but it’s a tried and tested American pop punk sound that’s been done to death a million times before. The songs are decent and it’s easy to imagine them standing shoulder to shoulder with bigger bands, just not standing out.

The judges results come in and Backfire, Alaska Young and The Bolts get the job done and earn their place in the final.

After jumping at the chance to be a judge for tonight, I had illusions of making the move from hugely important music critic to power mad pedagogue with an ability to dictate what the kids should be listening to. Instead they do the Macarana to Duck Sauce’s Barbara Streisand.

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