I used to be extremely sceptical about Battle of the Bands, viewing them as the final throw of the dice marked “desperation” for venues and promoters. The cop out way to try and fill your night, populated by average bands who can’t get any other gigs. Not any more though, after Ocelot Editor Jamie and I were invited to join the judging panel at the Hubcap Battle Of The Bands Final at Readings College Arms. Arriving to a full and buzzing venue was the first surprise, but would the music follow suit?
It started off almost as I had feared, as first band De La Rue were simply a competent Rhythm & Blues act. For me there was little originality and too many covers for them to stand out as much more than a functions band. But, thankfully, salvation was just around the corner, as Komodo Krimes ripped into an explosive set of melodic indie straight out of the Foals book of plays. They had the place immediately jumping and dealt rather well with a stage invasion from two perma-tanned girls wanting to shout out dedications and dance with the band as if it was a cheesy club night.
One of the more interesting aspects of the night was the varied styles of music on show, as we moved on to the country-rock Americana of Damian A Passmore & The Lovable Fraudsters (pictured), who played a fantastic set of hook-filled rootsy songs that were lapped up by the crowd and had the earlier orange skinned stage invaders dancing on tables. Penultimate act was Vine Messiah, who proceeded to tear the roof of with some stone cold classic rock. But rather than pub standards they played a highly energetic set of original songs that had twists on the generic staples and earned a crowd reaction that suggested they were in with a shout for the title.
Final band Rise Of Rome were different yet again. Striding onto stage with two 7 string guitars and a 6 string bass (a combined total of 5 strings too many in my opinion) they launched into a tight set of Metalcore noise. Not my bag, but I did enjoy the return of the Tango Twins attempting to get them to shut up. But, to give them credit, the band their thing well, and had obvious fun slamming around.
And with Komodo Krimes taking home the honours, the right band won in our opinion. Watch out for more from them around the region.
(Original article first published in The Ocelot January 2014)