Review: BelFEST showcase 24th November 2004

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Review: BelFEST showcase 24th November 2004
(Disclaimer: I have tried to compile this review without comparing anyone directly to another band!)
The previous night (Desert Hearts, Contraband) is reviewed here.

After last night's subdued show in the Pavilion, this free four-venue event had a lot more atmosphere and a huge variety of music. Obviously I couldn't see all of it, in fact I couldn't even stick to my provisional timetable!
What I did see was a lot of enthusiastic people turning out to watch (mostly) unsigned local acts, and overall I got a better feeling about this than BelFEST 2002 which is the only other one I had attended.
Although the opening slot at any of these showcases is often the booby prize, the venues are already pretty full, so there was no loss in going on first.
The Embers were the first band that I saw, in their self-confessed bogey venue Katy Dalys, and it turned into one of the best shows I've seen them do. This was shorter than their normal set, although they still managed to show off a range of their best material - a good mix of their pop songs and the more intricate pieces. Best of all, they hung on their crowd and it actually grew by the end of the set.
Unfortunately Driving By Night are on next door in the Spring and AirBrake at a similar time and although I only caught the last three songs they were a pleasant surprise. It's great when a band that you have never heard before impresses you. I was told that I had seen the slower part of the set so it would be interesting to hear more of them. The vocals in particular stood out, but as I didn't see the whole set I'll not compare the band to anyone in particular, I'll just recommend that you go and see them.
I catch a few songs by Duke Special in the Limelight. This was a solo show, a bit refreshing amongst all these guitar based bands, and a good show it was too. The velvet drapes and the old gramophone gave him a bit of an eccentric edge and he went down very well with the crowd. He also plays with a band under the same name, and as a result of this performance they could also be worth a look.
Torgas Valley Reds follow soon after in the Spring and Airbrake and once again they deliver the goods. Starting off slowly with the keyboard based 'Appalachia', they soon step things up a notch and the crowd starts to build up as well. You can only review a band so many times before becoming repetitive, so all I can say is that TVR were the best on offer tonight - great songs and a great performance.
There is a bit of a lull next and I get distracted as there is no-one to really grab
my attention in the three connected venues. I should mention that because I watched TVR I missed Le Scenes who impressed a lot of the people I was with and could be worth a further look. Sadly we miss Foamboy in Auntie Annies, but we arrive in time for Tom McShane. His set is a great end to the night - gentle, slightly melancholic songs which are well worth checking out. His band are subtle and understated as well, and they do the songs justice.
Although I had seen some of tonight's bands before, I still left feeling very positive about the local music scene. Lots of good performances over the last two days, and although the record companies may not have been here in force, generally the acts that I saw got very good feedback from the crowd. Now if only the accompanying CD had been released in time I would be very happy indeed!

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