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As far as I have experienced, the news that Sigma are headlining Grad Ball 2015 has been greeted with the sort of vaguely-despondent apathy usually reserved for when Alan Shearer starts talking on Match of the Day. I have to confess, being chronically late to the party on the tunes of today, that I had never heard of Sigma when the news dropped. However, having done my research, I’ve realised that I am vaguely familiar with a couple of their songs, which are apparently part of the select group of about 20 songs that get played in Sugarhouse every night on a seemingly perpetual loop. I suppose that if you’re a fan of generic, fairly banal ‘bangers’ then Sigma are a perfectly acceptable booking for Grad Ball, but if your taste is slightly different (dare I say discerning), you may be uninspired. I of course realise that drum and bass is perfect for nightclubs, and I’m incredibly partial to a bit of last year’s headliners Chase and Status when the moods strikes, but I was hoping against hope that LUSU would be a bit more imaginative for a Grad Ball. Give the people something surprising, not something they hear every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday like clockwork. I’m not even going to moan about the fact that students are paying £50, plus extras, on seeing a headlining act that charge £13 on their current tour – I don’t know the financial restrictions or logistical challenges that accompany such an event, so I can’t comment. All I know is that I won’t be attending Grad Ball this year. If LUSU had pulled something magical out of their musical hat, I would have considered taking out the other student loan required to afford the ticket. As it was, I think I’ll make do with the debt I have already accumulated.
Anyway, because I can and it’s an excuse to dream, here are five acts that may have been a bit less yawn-inducing. I’m suggesting bookings on the basis that we’d all rather see a set from more established acts that may have become slightly less relevant, than an up-and-coming drum and bass duo who we’ll all have forgotten about in a couple of years. Maybe I’m wrong.
1) The Vengaboys. Sure, it’s a bit kitsch, but if Dutch pop won’t get people on the dancefloor, what will? Vengaboys are available for prices that could comfortably be achievable for LUSU, which for a group that sold 25 million records worldwide, is very reasonable. They have previous experience over the past few years playing student unions and comparably smaller venues, so why not? ‘Boom, Boom,Boom, Boom’ (the Bohemian Rhapsody of the Europop world, so I’m told) would surely be worth the ticket price alone, but with a host of another classic nineties hits such as ‘We Like To Party’ and ”We’re going to Ibiza”, they’ve got the quantity as well as the quality. I’d love it, I really would.
2) Razorlight. Razorlight, five years ago, were a massive name, but they haven’t released an album since 2008, and have recently been mainly playing small-scale festivals and intimate gigs. Their set list (‘America’, ‘Somewhere Else’, ‘Before I Fall to Pieces’ etc) would obviously be massively impressive, and they are renowned for their stage presence and showmanship. Obviously, a band who have sub-headlined V Festival and played at Live 8 have pedigree above and beyond playing a university ball, and it would be ambitious to approach them, but given their lower-key status this decade, you never know.
3) The Feeling. Fairly similarly to Razorlight, The Feeling were successful new kids on the block who fizzled out a wee bit. Having been the most-played act on UK radio in 2006, the Sussex outfit have been notably less successful since 2008’s number one album, Join With Us. With only sporadic festival appearances and fairly small-scale gigs in the past few years, maybe Lancaster Grad Ball could be tempting for a band who are known for their bouncy live shows and feel-good riffs. They usually throw in a couple of fun covers as well, so they would be an exciting booking. They may be lacking the ‘cool’ factor that apparently all students desire, but I’d be more than happy to see them.
4) Mika. Another slightly less relevant name, but as with the prior acts I’ve mentioned, Mika is renowned for his energetic live shows. He rarely plays festivals and isn’t an excessive tourer, but has been a judge on talent shows in the past few years, so is still very much in the public eye in Europe. His rates probably wouldn’t be extortionate, he’s got a bunch of emotive ballads that can reduce a grown person to tears, and who wouldn’t want to see ‘Grace Kelly’ belted out at Blackpool Tower?!
5) Seasick Steve. Okay, having a 73 year-old Blues artist would be a pendulum-swing away from Sigma, but that’s not a bad thing. Seasick Steve is an incessant performer at festivals both great and small, and his easy charisma, and blend of smooth melodies and harder guitar riffs, should have something for everything. He’s an incredibly adept live performer, and his lack of commerciality means that he would probably be an achievable booking. Oh, and he happens to be in the UK on Grad Ball week…
Of course, maybe I’m being unfair and out of touch. Maybe I really do want Sigma to play, so we can live vicariously through their lyrics: ‘This ain’t real, this ain’t cool. This ain’t what I signed up to. This ain’t right, it’s no good. No good, oh.’