Battle of the Bands: Heat One
Kris Lavin gives The Buzz his roundup of the UCL Battle of the Bands
Every year, Britain plays host to a number of significant events in the global music calendar: T in the Park, Reading Festival, The Proms, UCL Battle of the Bands, to name just a few. They're celebrations of musical talent which require hundreds of hours of painstaking labour from both performers and organisers, the overall result being a humbling presentation of the staggering power of music.
The first heat of this year's UCL Battle of the Bands was certainly no different; it featured seven acts from all kinds of different genres battling it out for a place in the final, which takes place on March 22. The judging panel, comprised mainly of members of the UCL Live Music Society, gave a score to each band, with the top 3 going on to progress to the final.
The first act was Chris Hicks, whose strong, husky voice made him sound like the offspring of David Gray and Kelly Jones from Stereophonics if one of them was capable of giving birth. He played a handful of acoustic numbers, the highlight of which was Down in Ladbroke Row, which combined clever guitar work with some very powerful vocals.
Cats in Crisis were up next. The lead guitarist pretty much stole the show with his bluesy guitar riffs and effects-driven solos. His backing vocals left something to be desired though. All in all, they were a fairly standard, tight rock band.
The Twisted Hearts followed, bringing some much needed attitude to the proceedings. They were very impressive, but also very loud, and it was nigh-on impossible to hear the vocals for the majority of the three songs that were played. The parts where the lead singer stopped trying to sing and concentrated on playing his guitar were by far the highlights of the set.
Then Van Howling took to the stage. These guys are essentially professionals, and it showed. Their songs were catchy and full of passion, and the musicianship was spot on. By the end of their set, it was already clear that the rest of the competition was nothing but a battle for second place.
The Movie Scene were faced with the challenge of following Van Howling. They mounted the stage, complete with a violinist and the tiniest drum kit I've ever seen, and bravely rose to that challenge. The Movie Scene are another great band. Fleet Foxes style harmonies, soaring violin solos and a flat cap – these guys were folktastic.
Now, I don't know whether it was because I was on my fifth pint of beer by now or because the previous two bands were genuinely great, but it felt like the final two acts didn't really happen. Lycis Strata were an interesting-looking bunch of young people who played their own brand of gothic soft rock. To be fair, it was their first gig, but it was a bit weird. Vocals weren't bad, though. Then, the final act, BHOS, was basically a man with a guitar who played Adele covers. Again, I can't guarantee this actually happened, but I'm fairly certain it did.
The final results were proof that this heat of the Battle of the Bands peaked in the middle. The Twisted Hearts got third place, The Movie Scene came second, and first place was awarded to Van Howling. A satisfying end to an eclectic evening of home brewed music.
The next heat takes place in Mully's Basement on March 8. Tickets are £3.