The fast-rising talent of today must be really stepping up a notch; with alternative-music marking a rectified resurgence after a recent few years in the wilderness, and a worrying wallowing in the shadows of the identikit pop-market, the last two years have been a bountiful launching-pad for all those with the look, presence and tunes to match and stand out.
Thus, the fruition of The Basement Club's one-off, new talent showcase was an inevitable evening in our regular fixture of live-nights - to celebrate the current wave of underground acts that have shocked and delighted us lately via a series of demo-CD's and sensational performances. With each act singular in their own unique artistic-niche, assured and decisive in their output, it was little wonder that this four-band bill packed out our premises and prompted a motion-filled sea of rather serious record-label/A&R eyebrow-raising.
Kicking off proceedings was Red Fishes: Chaz Sharp's rich, blues-pop, calculated-prog combo, with as much a keen emphasis on textured vocals as layered, down-trodden guitar. It's all a brooding affair, Sharp leaning towards the distortion-pedals whilst flicking his mop of bleached-blonde hair and applying in force the likes of the naggingly-infectious, groove-based '5 O' Clock'; the rest of the resulting set continues accordingly, only truly veering the course of a sleazy, Beck-ish route when surging into a mass of fuzzed-up amplification and steely stares. It's a trip alright - and one you're only too inclined to wanna be a part of.
But Corporation:Blend are void of all the previous introspection and contemplativeness; they're on a mission. With only five songs to air and enough ferocious, unhampered energy to bolster their sweat-dripping sex-rock to its fullest, the Muse-battling-Mansun 'Blew It' melds into a frothy 'Jailbait' and explodes within the bass-fuelled frolics of 'Contradiction', sending four-string purveyor Dexy of the quartet amidst a pogoing daze to attempt smashing some equipment. To the merriment of the venue-owner/promoters, he fails. Yet it's still an unquestionable, if mildly too exciting, treat.
Accelerator, true to their name, aren't going to be halted by the competition; stumbling upon more unashamed riffery and Supergrass-meets-garage-rock musoisms than once thought legal, the three-piece discard tuneful anthems such as the aloof majesty of 'Chosen' and early-exerted, upcoming single 'Lollypop Rock' as if they're just the tip of an iceberg. They probably are - for as the trio collide to an extravagantly crafted and mightily noisy crescendo of sound and as Dan Skelt rattles his bass-guitar against a borrowed amp, it's the epitome of punk. Only with more graceful finesse.
Conclusively, it's all a tough feat to follow, but Miss Machine poutingly rise to the challenge, the opening thud and bounce of 'Pop Queen' marking the onstage arrival of their leopard-print clad sexpot-singer, Anna Mercedes. Even when the product becomes bordering-on heavy-metal ('Groupie Supremes'), keyboard-infested ('Runaway', as aided by producer Gordon Raphael on synths) or all-out thrash ('Mary' and the finale of 'Lucky Me'), the product is still resultantly glamorous on the tinge of trash, and compulsive viewing on the verge of eyes-roll-back arousal. You shouldn't enjoy it... But how or why resist..?
With Kevin of 'Machine on decks later on, and wilfully haphazard, in-between DJ-appearances from Raphael, which involved the shameless self-promotion of his own music, the evening soon draws to a close, dozens more invigorated by the prospects of 2003's new music-scene - and how some of the rich skills demonstrated by the artists on-show tonight just may play a significant part in the grand scheme of it all. Just don't say you weren't offered the chance to have a prior peek into the gleaming potential.
Photo-Credit: Tina McClelland