The Battle for B-Fest at Ceol-Mor brought an amazingly strong strength of depth that was complimented by the vast array of genres on show.
The format of the evening saw each of the 8 bands (apart from two, you know who you are hang your heads in shame) play three songs. The four judges were a collection of local band members, festival organiser and the on-line media (cough splutter). The marking broke into the 4 parts relating to stage presence, suitability for the festival, song choice and professionalism.
First off the block were Edinburgh based Maydays and whilst much was made of the size of the band’s organ, more was made of the level of skill on offer. Similarities were noted between the lead singer and Julian Casablanca. The early slot could have been perceived as a killer, however this was not the case and the band, following much discussion were awarded runner’s up for the evening.
Second off were much fancied and dare we say “band of the moment” Whisky River Band (see an interview with the guys here). A fiddle player down with Iain having commitments with his other band. It appeared that this did affect the song choices for the evening with a couple of the most commonly songs not being played. However this did not dampen the audiences appreciation. The only cover of the evening (that we spotted) was the last song in the short set : “King of the Swingers”, it’s hard to tire of a cover that has been well and truly “whiskied”. Its no surprise that they pulled first place and wan the competition. (Ps big up to the band for wearing an invernessGiGs badge!!)
Aspen Tide, it would be fair to say, were put at a slight disadvantage having blooded a new drummer during the sound check. The result was surprisingly coherent set that made listening to the freebie CD give away an absolute must. The heavier almost mainstream rock style made the short set one of the standouts for invernessGiGs.
Next up, We are Mars who are fresh from a few months where their tunes have evolved and adapted to the changes in the band (see here). The true range of tracks were on offer, with an almost Muse mix of style and influences on offer, moving to the final track which was heavy on the vocals and softer in tone.
There was an air of anticipation with Toecutter (another band who have featured in invernessGiGs recently, here) and it would be fair to say that they blasted the tunes out, with no equal on the night (and heavily emphasising the difficulty in nights like these where you are comparing chalk with camembert). An epidemic of moshing some of which may have been perceived as ironic. It would have been interesting to have them judged by their peers. We left as fans and are looking forward to hearing much more from them.
It was left to Last Summer Effect to change the mood again. We saw nothing to surpress our belief that they are certainly ones to watch. Stage presence and confidence complimented their anthemic style tunes, just keep an eye on the co-ordinated moshing!! It is no surprise that they were very high up in all the judges lists, with only one point separating 2nd from 3rd.One of their songs asked to “say what your thinking” you know what we were thinking, why are you guys not acknowledged more?
The Frues were the penultimate act and after coming from the success and disappointment of Live and Unsigned. They provided a set that was faster and more current than their amalgamated name indicated.The tunes appeared tighter and stronger than we have heard them in the past, particularly strong final song stood out.
Final act all the way from Glasgow but with a growing fanbase was Breakglass_Emergency, their songs appeared a lot less immediate but compensated with an additional depth. The lead singer commented , “it’s been a long night and it’s been a f****** pleasure”, invernessGiGs couldn’t help but agree.
Terry who organised the event, noted that he could have filled the bill several times over and whilst it acknowledged the flaws of this kind of competition, it also highlighted the skill, talent and mix available and wanting to play in Inverness.
The Whisky River Band will be a great addition to B-Fest, and the other winner of the night was Ceol-Mor which as a venue continues to bring a sense of community to those that are attached to the music scene in whatever guise.
Thanks to all those that contributed to the Kids of Kolkata fund.