Imagine, if you can, thousands of teenagers, tweenagers and generally young people paying £40 or more to see a load of pampered pop poodles mime their way through a few songs. It’s difficult, as a fan of live music, to understand the popularity of the annual event known as “T4 On The Beach”, whereby UK seaside resort Weston-Super-Mare (Latin for “West Town On Sea”, language fans) is subjected to miming morons and odorous offspring for a weekend. You may have guessed that I’m not a fan…
This year a couple of local bands have decided to do their bit in an attempt to freshen up the stale event. The actual mimefest isn’t on until tomorrow, so I’ve been invited to the campsite that has been set aside for ticket holders to see a rarity at an event connected with T4 - live music. Completely off their own backs, young local band Show It Off have hired a truck with the intention of giving the camping faithful a free show, roping in their mates Sleeping With Satellites to help out. Having seen and enjoyed both bands previously I am happy to trot along to take pictures and generally feel old. As the equipment is set up, I ask Show It Off guitarist/vocalist Ale Mcmain what possessed them to do something like this. “We thought that t4 always comes to Weston and misses out the unsigned and under the radar bands,” he explains. “So we really wanted to say 'Hey there is some great music from Weston why don’t you give it a chance, and also lets give these campers who don’t want to go into town a free 'gig' so they can have a weekend of live...ish music.”
Show It Off are a rather young band, still full of enthusiasm and energy, hoping to get a leg onto the punk pop bandwagon that seems to have been rolling along for quite some time now. I ask Ale if it might be coming to the end of it’s run. “I don’t think that pop punk will ever stop,” he says enthusiastically. “It has just evolved like most music does, it went from bands like the Ramones to early Green Day and the Offspring and then again to Blink 182, and now we are on the new wave of pop punk bands like All Time Low and that’s where I think that we come in. I think we are a mix between our favourite pop punk bands mixed together. I don’t think it will stop I just think it will carry on growing and getting better.” With such strong competition, it’s going to be hard to stand out, surely? “I know that with today’s music its hard to stand out mainly because everything has already been done before, but I think that as long as you play good catchy songs and really have fun then that’s really what matters. We try to make every show a big party and make sure everyone is having as good a time as us, and right now I think we are doing it pretty well.”
The proof, as they say, is in the pudding, and there is a sense of bemusement as the bands take to their stage on wheels, for even though this is a free gig it’s not like anyone actually asked for it. First up are Sleeping With Satellites, another local band who are making quite a name for themselves. One of their strengths is the fact that it’s not easy to pigeonhole them, which is something reviewers find very annoying! Their sound is ripe with aggressive riffs and melody, borrowing slightly from the likes of Lostprophets and Foo Fighters, but they then layer it with something that refuses to be nailed down. The addition of keyboards works incredibly well, with Jo Barwell contributing some very useful fills and backing vocals that raise the songs in a way another guitar just couldn’t do. Vocalist James Wiggans has a great voice and holds the stage very well, belting out a short set that gets the campers up and bouncing. Special mention must go to their song writing, with “Wide Awake” and “Never Forget” just waiting to be discovered by someone with cash to splash. There’s also a great new unnamed song which I hereby christen “Head In My Hands (Oh, Fuck…)”, although they may want to call it something else. It’s immensely satisfying to see such a talented young band so full of fresh ideas, and I promise you that we have not heard the last of Sleeping With Satellites.
As they arranged it, Show It Off get to close the show, and by now there’s plenty of people quite happy to watch another band, although some of them look confused by the whole “Live” thing. Show It Off are another band who seem to ooze talent, helped by the fact that they have not one but two charismatic frontmen. The aforementioned Ale is joined by bassist Robbie “King Of the Gingers” Coles, and the two of them swap vocals very effectively. There’s a definite swagger to Ale, who has been playing in bands since he was a foetus, and he definitely seems like someone who would wear sunglasses in a coal mine. On the whole, the band just look happy to be playing, which echoes Ale’s comments to me earlier. Special mention must go to Migs on drums, as he also deputised for Sleeping With Satellite’s drummer earlier. The last piece in the Show It off puzzle is rhythm guitarist Ricky, a man so amiably sweet that grannies often try to kidnap him after a gig so they can force feed him biscuits and knit him sweaters. As a band, they are very tight, and once again show a genuine flair for song writing talent. Musically they are pretty much what you would expect from a modern punk pop band, with plenty of melody and plenty to bounce to. Both vocalists have good enough voices to front a band, and have learned to harmonize nicely so it’s something of a treat fro me to hear fresh punk pop tunes by a talented band without having to turn on Kerrang! TV. They air plenty of their own songs, with the standouts being “Tell Me”, “Seventeen” and the very catchy fan favourite “Big City Dreams”. they even throw in a quick cover of The Beatles “I Feel Fine” whilst Ricky sorts some technical problems, and he returns for a rather ambitious attempt at “Don’t Stop Believin”, which is muted somewhat by the fact that Ale forgets rather a lot of the words. Never minds, it’s all good fun in the end, although if he does it again I will stick a pool cue up his bottom. The show is rounded off by the reappearance of Sleeping With Satellites, who join Show It off for a go at “Poker Face” that is, well, lotsa fun.
I don’t usually cover unsigned bands, as there is, to be honest, a billion of ‘em out there. I couldn’t resist doing this, though, because it’s rare to find two bands in one small area that you can believe in as a rock music fan. Maybe they’ll get nowhere, and maybe they’ll co headline Wembley one day - it doesn’t matter. The bottom line is that behind the money, miming, poncing about and ego trips, this is what it’s all about, and for that I think these guys deserve a bit of our time.
Review and photos by Alan Holloway
(c) 2010 RockUnited.Com
17 July 2010