Rock En Stock Band Competition – The Hope 06/04/2014 – Review

Jipsy Magic

A Sunday evening is perhaps not the most obvious time to hold a battle of the bands competition. However, having never been to one before, and not having an early Monday wake-up I found myself heading down to Brighton’s The Hope in order to catch a night of indie riffs, beer, and sweaty bearded people.

There were four bands playing, but only one place at small French festival Rock En Stock up for grabs. First up were catchy Southend-based pop group Youth Club, who’s long haired pop groove released refreshing sunny vibes into the rapidly overheating venue. They were impressively tight, and sounded almost as if they were playing a recording, which is surely a testament to how crisp they were.

After a fifteen minute sound check, Jipsy Magic took to the stage. These guys mixed noise with funk, which worked well sometimes but fell short in others. Their bassist seemed like their stand-out player, which perhaps says something about the band. They weren’t terrible, and perhaps were slightly unlucky to be following Youth Club; however, they did have a highschool band feel about them. They were sorted on the merchandise front though, with a stall selling wristbands and t-shirts next to a huge poster emblazoned with their logo.

nearly bringing down the lights at the front by jumping and grabbing at them. It felt a bit like sabotage

Atlantic were up next. I’d seen these guys before, a year previously, and they’d tightened up their sound, having played a few shows in France during the interval. A rich blend of shoegaze and spoken word, they manage to combine raw energy with catchy hooks; possibly best illustrated by their song “So Real”, a dreamy yet tenacious track which had the crowd captivated. Their set was punctuated throughout by their resident poet, who at one point went a bit mental; snatching a mike stand from the stage, getting it confiscated by taking it into the crowd, and nearly bringing down the lights at the front by jumping and grabbing at them. It felt a bit like sabotage, and got mixed reactions at best from the audience, but at least it made for an interesting experience.

The last band to play was five-piece Fragile Creatures. They had a keyboard which they’d managed to get working (Atlantic couldn’t get theirs to make any sound). They were also tight, had a good ear for harmony, and displayed the best instrumental talent of the night. Their song-writing felt like it belonged in a different era, with several Beatles-esque numbers containing story lyrics. But it sounded good, so why not?

So who was the best overall? We’ll have to wait to find out who got the slot. For me, the stand out bands were Youth Club and Atlantic – Both very different in styles, with Youth Club perhaps having the more polished sound, but Atlantic having a raw energy which made them the more exciting to watch out of the two. All in all, it made for a more entertaining Sunday night than staying in and watching the TV.

Update: It turns out that Rock En Stock have awarded their place to Youth Club. Well deserved.

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