Live at Cockpit on Thursday, 8th July 2004
Enthusiasts of tonight's bands nervously surround me, uniting in small rival groups, all with a clear objective at hand, to support and more importantly, cast a vote for the devoted band of which they are acquainted to. The room feels dense and clogged to the brim with apprehension and curiosity, heartbeats banging like industrial techno-rhythms. The word 'Competition' is imprinted in the air and pervades around the audience like an unavoidable virus.
For tonight is the Futuresound Competition, where the hybrid of Leeds most talented bands battle it out against each other, with the focal impetus being the luring prospect of performing at this years Carling Festival. 5 out of the overall 30 bands will be given this unique opportunity and who can blame any band for entering with this in mind. Yet, the competition aspect turns the milk sour for me personally and the gig now transforms into a battle, a dual, like two cockerels wanting to peck the fuck out of each other. Creativity and style are now weapons that can destroy their counterparts and win over the hearts of the honorable judges.
First to set foot in the ring was Project New City, a gathering of gifted lads, oozing charisma and a zest for success. Technical problems unthinkably arose as soon as they started the first song and this amplified the already uneasy and tense atmosphere within the room. Project New City showed a tremendous amount of composure and professionalism by stopping and proceeding again. First glimpses of their set suggested that they sounded a bit like Radiohead during the Pablo Honey thing and a sense of déjà vu pummeled my fading enthusiastic exterior. But when the Latino sounding drums detonated through the speakers, my premature impressions were diminished and we were now hearing funky house music. Parts of it reminded me of Layo and Bushwacka and the room was now full of euphoria, moving limbs and beer bottles. I could imagine this being played in the chic bars and clubs of Leeds, flourishing with intoxicated, fashion conscious individuals who are there to dance and look good. It was refreshing to see a Leeds outfit performing dance music in relation to the recent up-rise in rock and roll bands.
Daft Punk, Air and Kraftwerk are all victims of the wonderful world of vocoders, and Project New City are no exception. Track 3 was the highlight of the night for me, a masterful Daft-Punk-esque epic with exhilarating vocoder-vocals laden with immense potential and magnetism. Legs moving like pneumatic drills fuelled on whiz, the audience reaction was an evident indication that this was something very good indeed. However, the set seemed a little fragmented at times and the momentum gained from the more up-beat dance tracks was lost through the good but lackluster guitar pop songs. I believe this band needs to concentrate on what it does best and forget about fusing dance and guitar based music. The dance element of Project New City is what makes them tick and the more vocoder and beats, the better.
Next - Is it a man, is it a mouse, no its Robochrist. An intergalactic, metallic faced wild man who reminds me of a grade B sci-fi movie villain. Taking to the stage armed with a distorted guitar, a lighted cigarette and brash and irregular body movements. Robochrist heroically rampaged through his half-hour set with a poignant and narcotic performance. Impeccably playing along to a sequenced backing track, full of electro-metal beats, familiar samples, (Grange Hill being the most notable) and other crazy noises entwined together, his display was a true spectacle for all to see. He entertained throughout; it was one of the quickest ½ hours I've ever known. His radical and proficient guitar playing complimented the dramatic presence of this thriving and talented man. I can not reiterate enough, that Robochrist is a MUST see act on the Leeds Music Scene for anyone who hasn't yet seen him. I could imagine some people perceiving Robochrist as novelty or gimmick act and I can understand why. Yet, I feel you have got to take him and his music seriously cos it kicks ass and he may just bite your fucking head off.
Soberskin were given the difficult and ungainly task to follow Robochrist. They kicked into their first song in a determined, upbeat manner and their contagious melodies instantly surfaced like a deadly viper. The three-piece sound was similar to that of Mansun, with mountains of slick riffs, a top lead singer with curly hair and enticing Moog noises. They implemented themselves well and the accomplished ensemble are more than worthy to be in tonight's competition. I have purposely avoided the word Competition but as Soberskin's set withered towards the end, I felt that they did not do enough to have a chance to play at the Carling Festival. Maybe I have just become accustomed to bands such as Soberskin over the years, where Robochrist and Project New City offered more of what the competition is all about, a Futuresound.
industrial pop metal techno