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Monday, 28 February 2011

HMV's Next Big Thing @ relentless garage London - Gig Review

Escaping the harsh cold outside, and a man offering me £40 for my ticket, I ventured into what was meant to be ‘HMV’s Next Big Thing’.

Banjo or Freakout, emerged from behind a red spotlight, the bassist facing the back wall. Frontman, Alessio Natalizia, drew himself to the mic, launching straight into his set. His awkward feet caressed the stagefloor, eyebrows raised with each lament of ‘ahhh’, and the end of each song was met with a shy offering of thanks.

Halfway through the set, roles were switched; Alessio manned the synth, whilst the bassist guarded the drums. The uninteresting lighting took a turn for the strange and a kaleidoscope of strobe lights fought for the attention of the audience. The drum beat quickened and this collision of sound and vision, twisted the perceptions of everyone in the crowd. This was certainly a powerful image but is was far from engaging as people kept their distance from the stage. Maybe the crowd needed a few more beers in them.

Phoenix Foundation were the next band on, and the stage had been transformed into something close to Jimi Hendrix's guitar wet dream. People were fighting to be close to the stage and to gain the beardy band's attention. They mostly failed.

Compared to Banjo or Freakout before them, they were far more static. However, their impeccably mature pop still had the desired effect without having to resort to on-stage theatrics. Sam Flynn Scott took the time to actually talk to the audience and regaled them of the previous night's show. “Our dressing room was titled ‘the mystical land of cocks’ and as you can guess, the wall was decorated with a range of many dicks.” Still, it was better than just a whispered “Thank you”.

Dutch Uncles didn't need any introductions yet their penetrating guitar melodies heralded their arrival regardless. People nodded in appreciation, more than they did for the other two bands, although there was a slight sense anti-climax about the set. Duncan Wallis encapsulated all that was expected of a front man; genuine heartfelt vocals and eccentric dance moves that couldn't help but hypnotise. The set moved between guitar-based tracks to more melancholic piano tracks, with the band members connected throughout, finishing in an accomplished, reverb-embellished frenzy.

There was evident talent in the Relentless Garage that night and an overall positive vibe, although I would have been reluctant to pay £40 for a scalped ticket.


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