Bound by journalistic duty to venture outside on the first frozen night of what will surely be a long Lenton winter, I was in a less then generous mood to judge the latest raft of Nottingham music hopefuls. The malaise must have been shared, judging by a crowd greatly diminished from previous years. The significance of the event can be further judged by its being delayed forty-five minutes so everyone could finish watching Arsenal versus Dynamo Kiev.
When things finally got underway, The Prevention were first up. A standard four-piece arrangement with two vocalists, only one of whom should have had his microphone plugged in. It was difficult to pick out the lyrics, although this was a common problem which perhaps owed more to the acoustics of “The Venue” than to the bands. Their instrumentation was loose and their songs overlong. Bands of this calibre should not be selling t-shirts. Practice before promo boys.
Next on was Suddenly Phantoms. Their enthusiasm was admirable; the adolescent swearing was not. Their music was a hodgepodge of styles hewn from Kerrang TV filler, their swagger sadly misplaced. The undoubted highlight was when the guitarist, resplendent in an olive wife-beater, flung himself to the floor and proceeded to gyrate like Madonna.
Things picked up when with the arrival of eventual winners Ocean Bottom Nightmare. Heavier and much tighter than the first two bands, with better-crafted songs. The two vocalists were complementary, if unremarkable. I swear at one point they broke into the Knightmare theme tune, and they even got a baby mosh-pit going. Impressive stuff.
Next came Ghost Cassette, whose lead singer had a truly epic fringe. Their set picked up considerably from a lacklustre opening which included some Stain’d-esque dirge, with some nice vocals and well-structured guitars and drums.
Finally came three-year veterans Faces For Radio. They were more cohesive and polished than the others, and their songs betrayed the intricacy of a long cultivation. Their sound lay somewhere between Take That and Weezer. The now-swollen crowd seemed to affirm their superiority. Alas, the judges disagreed. I was just glad to go home.