Monday, 16 December 2013

899 THE 12 BANDS OF CHRISTMAS! Swindon The Victoria, Friday 13 December 2013

A regular event on the local music calendar, apparently, this one, although it’s my first time of attending... Basically, the format is simple; 12 local bands each get 2 songs, both cover versions, either to evoke the Christmas spirit, try out something new, or play a favourite or even unfamiliar number in their own style. All well and good, but what attracted me up to it was Tim's band The Shudders being present on tonight’s bill and promising a couple of intriguing covers…

So I was up for that, heading off up The Vic after Rich got back from swimming, and hitting the venue at 9, thereby unfortunately missing Shudders vocalist Danny’s girlfriend Ellen’s band The Rumour Shed, on first at 8.30 tonight. I’d been meaning to catch them “live” for a while - maybe in 2014? Bumped into Tim and Trace in the bar for a chat, thereby missing young band THE DEBUTS, on in the already very busy back room. I could make out their second number - a rambunctious “Three Lions”, but missed their opener, which was apparently a good reading of The Smiths’ “Bigmouth Strikes Again”! D’oh! I eventually wandered in at the end of DEAD ROYALTIES’ noisy finale, but was in place for THE BLOWBACKS, on at 10. Featuring Tim’s former 101 colleague Matt on drums, they turned their opener, Taylor Swift’s girl pop agenda-setter and one of Kasey’s favourite songs “We Are Never Never Never Getting Back Together” into a drawn-out alt.slacker laze-fest a la Promise Ring, then followed with an immense, stomping version of “Addicted To Love” which was more akin to Ciccone Youth than Robert Palmer. Impressive.

THE SHUDDERS were next up; by now I’d bumped into Stuart Gould, Ben Warr and entourage, and was happy to fill Ben in on what was next up, although Stuart didn’t want to know! Sure enough, Tim and crew opened with a beefy, grunge-tastic version of Smashing Pumpkins’ finest hour, “Cherub Rock”, apparently a rehearsal favourite of theirs and featuring some uncharacteristic strident vocals from Danny, which they totally nailed. Tremendous stuff. Follow-up, Phil Oakey And Georgio Moroder's 80’s synth-pop anthem “Together In Electric Dreams” was less rehearsed, a little haphazard and understated, yet ironically more akin to The Shudders’ own more thoughtful, introverted material. I suggested to Tim afterwards that they should crank up the noise more often, given how well they delivered “Cherub Rock”; he promised their new material is more upfront. I’ll hold you to that, Tim!

Next up were BRITISH HARLEM, another young band who evidently had been rifling through their grandparents’ record collections, let alone their parents’ stuff, as they delivered crowd-pleasing, modish, push’n’shove versions of “Suspicious Minds” and “Can't Take My Eyes Off You” which went down very well, the young vocalist igniting the crowd with a performance full of nervous tension and energy. However I was much more impressed with the subsequent NUDY BRONQUE; a young trio featuring a vocalist who reminded both Stuart and myself (at the same time!) of a young Brett Anderson, their covers of Cornershop’s “Brimful Of Asha” and an excellent reading of Gomez’ “Whipping Piccadilly” (for me the best thing on the menu tonight) were thrilling, glammy, riff-tastic noisefests, and made me want to check out their original material. Which I suppose is the whole point of this, really!

Took a wander to the back end of the venue as I wasn’t really impressed with SUPER SQUARECLOUD and their sparse, saucepan-bashing r’n’b numbers; then closers THE COSTELLOS took an absolute age to tune up (which was totally not the point: with the backline set up beforehand, bands literally were supposed to just bring their guitars, plug in and play...) then started up some unimpressive reggae ska stuff, which made me realise it was 1/4 to 12 and waaaay past this old chap’s bedtime. So off I went, giving Tim and Trace, plus fellow Shudder Liam, a lift home first. A very fine night, showcasing some impressive local bands, and hopefully not the last time I check out this annual local event. As for Band Of The Day; sorry Tim, but much as I loved “Cherub Rock”, I'm going to give that to Nudy Bronque!

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