Live at Joseph's Well on Friday, 18th February 2005
The first band to be showcased were York-based Kanuba, a fresh-faced quartet whose funk-rock billing doesn't really reflect their versatility and ability to cause a stir with some heavy beats and bass lines.
Currently they are wrestling with a busy gigging schedule, and this was evident as they blustered with panache through a short half hour set consisting of songs both old and new (very old in the case of their cover of the Kinks' You Really Got Me). It seems that the old chilled out Kanuba have been mugged and replaced by something quite a lot angrier. Their first EP had a picture of a lake on the cover for God's sake, it seems unlikely that the latest recording will follow suit.
Lead singer Dan, who reputably suffers with pre-gig nerves, certainly didn't show them as he swaggered through his duties as prime mover at the epicentre of the otherwise moody-looking outfit. The raw and punchy quality that he injects into the tunes is crucial to their sound. The most well-received songs that Kanuba performed were undoubtedly their heavier material, songs like Small Dark Place and Freedom allow the rhythm section of the robotic drummer Glynn and bassist Sam "G-Rex" Greatorex, to combine with ear-splitting effect. Catchment, on the other hand, harks back to their previous incarnation, with axe-man Simon serving up some faultless fret-work a la Top Gun.
Most impressively, Kanuba managed to swell the number of the audience throughout their short set, as curious drinkers dragged themselves away from the bar to have a look at the act on stage.
Kaylium were the total opposite to Kanuba in many respects, they were short of practice, but had a much more enthusiastic and vocal following. They can't have been much older than 16 years old, but got stuck into a potty-mouthed display of hip-hop influenced metal with typical youthful zest. The female lead vocalist had bags of attitude and even succeeded in some Robbie Williams-esque audience participation, but for the music purist, the hap-hazard musicianship of the guitarist and bassist spoiled the set. Kaylium took their performance to its logical conclusion with Mistake, an angst-ridden swipe at the world. Odds on, the lead singer will do very well in her upcoming GCSE drama exam, but possibly won't rise very far in the Leeds music scene.
Off Ramp offered what Kaylium couldn't; some angry metal sounds with structure and a genuine creative spark. The vocalist was very strong, but as they suffered from being the third heavy rock band on within ninety minutes, without too much in their armoury to set them apart from the other acts. However, uniquely, one member of the band did appear to be wearing a pair of swimming trunks on stage, well... swimming shorts.
Deserved headliners Nutty Skunk were clearly the most experienced outfit on show at Joseph's Well on Friday night. There was a noticeable intuition among the band members, as they marched their way through an up-beat ska-punk set. More importantly, the change in rhythm from the previous three bands enthused the audience, and kick-started the Showcase from its prolonged inertia.
On trombone, Tim brought a new dimension to the evening, and the trio of vocalists that lined the front of the stage was also welcome, as they launched into an opening assault of rolling rhythms and chanting choruses. The unfortunate breakage of a string in the first song left the remaining three members not involved in running repairs to show their improv skills and entertain the expectant audience with some stripped down jazz jamming.
It's not surprising that Nutty Skunk have supported a number of notable touring bands including Sola Beat Alliance and Captain Everything. They're the perfect warm-up act, instantly inducing an uncontrollable foot-tap from the word 'go,' and wedging a memorable hook or lyric in the brain for the rest of the evening.