Battle of the Bands Review – Heat Three, Grizedale

Grizedale Bar was the place to be for what was to be a very competitive and exciting third heat of Battle of the Bands. The competition had already seen a questionable heat at Lonsdale and a much more impressive heat at County, so a crowd eagerly waited in the home of cheap cocktails for an evening that could bring us just about anything.

8pm struck and the night kicked off with solo artist Richard Cowley, otherwise known as “Signposted Disaster”. A talented singer, guitarist and songwriter from Bowland College, Richard adopted a typical acoustic style and created some really catchy melodies and imaginative lyrics. Although the structure and build of his songs wasn’t brilliant, everyone could appreciate how naturally song writing came to Richard, particularly when he pointed out that he’d written “My Little Piece of Hell” at 3am just two days before the heat!

Another gem of the set was “I’m Breaking up with you”, a comical song about his girlfriend, where Richard’s voice really got stronger and we were able to get a real sense of how personal experiences contributed a lot to his song writing. A musician who certainly wasn’t a “Signposted Disaster”, Richard Cowley promises to go far along with the fictional girls of his songs.

Next up were a band that had already performed at Battle of the Bands in aid of Water Aid last term, “Underwater Gunfight”. In contrast to “Signposted Disaster”, the gang of five stepped up and produced a very funky, unique and I’ve got to say sexy sound. What is very special about Underwater Gunfight is that their music is entirely improvised with very little planning in advance, so throughout the set it was evident that the group had a natural feel and passion for music and their connection as a band was fantastic. Of course, the danger of improvisation is that it has a tendency to drag, but “Underwater Gunfight” were able to maintain a sense of drive and direction, keeping everyone entertained. The set contained so many enjoyable moments including the epic, crazy sax and guitar solos from Nick Webb and Luke Fright and the astonishingly powerful voice of Natasha Gilbert. Throughout their time on stage, the funk maestros looked like they really were having a good time; some really enthusiastic moves were coming from bass player Alex Williamson and constant energetic drive from drummer Dan Woodward kept everything up and running. The particularly special tunes of the night were undoubtedly their very own version of “Superstition” and the unbelievably cool sound of “Sea Manners”. “Underwater Gunfight” gave an extremely entertaining set and were certainly potential winners of the heat.

Following them were an acoustic duo known as “Ziggy”. Although this team had good voices and a smooth, mellow sound, there wasn’t anything very gripping or exciting about their set. They produced some sound cover versions of popular songs such as “Dynamite” and “California”, but without any original self written songs, they couldn’t really hope to succeed much in this heat. Credit to two musicians who have potential to be fantastic, but on the night their repertoire was far too typical and unfortunately uninspiring.

Next up was the male duo, “Sunset Boulevard”. This pair was an improvement on “Ziggy”, with much more texture and harmony going into their songs. Again though, it was a very typically acoustic set with very little spark. Despite evidently being very talented, there were too many covers which may keep the crowd happy, but at the end of the day this is about the possibility of going to Beach Break live, and there just wasn’t enough skill on display for that.

Finishing an interesting and varied third heat were 6 piece group “Soulrigg”. From the very beginning of their set, it was obvious that this group were already potential winners. Their powerful sound was breathtaking and although they sounded a little distant in the slightly awkward acoustic of Grizedale Bar, they were collectively attempted to sound as full and textured as they could. Special features of their set were the strong and beautiful lead vocals, harmonies that gave you goose bumps and the fact that they played around with all sorts of set ups. They started out the set as a 4 piece group but advanced throughout to a 5 or 6 piece group, which really displayed their desire to explore a variety of sounds. They also explored all types of genres, with everything from soul to rock coming through in their music.

The result of the heat saw third place given to “Ziggy”, second place to the funky five “Underwater Gunfight”, who after an inspiring performance could well receive a wildcard and progress to the final we hope. Worthy winners of the heat were “Soulrigg” who will go on to the final at Cartmel College for what’s turning out to be a thrilling line up of music.

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