Review: DESERT HEARTS + CONTRABAND BelFEST showcase 23rd November 2004

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BelFEST showcase 23rd November

I went to the first of the 'showcase' gigs last night in the Pavilion to see Contraband and Desert Hearts - LaFaro had to withdraw due to illness.
Once again I feel that the impact of these showcases is blunted because the supporting compilation CD isn't ready - it was supposed to be available last night at the gig but it wasn't. I'll have another look tonight - you never know your luck. Although it was a free show there wasn't a huge crowd and very little atmosphere, which is a shame because both bands played good sets.
In fact, this was the best show that I have seen Contraband play. Tons of energy and some decent material to match. They've already written some cracking songs and the newer songs they added tonight show a lot of promise too. If you're looking for reference points think early SubPop, grunge, metal and I can't help thinking that every time I see them I'm reminded of Babes in Toyland. Contraband were probably about five years old when Babes in Toyland were playing venues this size, so I don't know if they've ever even heard them!
I hadn't seen Desert Hearts in such a long time so it was good to see them last night. The crowd didn't seem interested though and the level of chat during the first (quiet) song was a bit disappointing. That's one of the drawbacks of a free gig I guess. Anyway, the newer unfamiliar material sounded good, but it was the material from 'Let's Get Worse' which really impressed me. Maybe it's partly familiarity, but mostly I think it’s because that album was the best to come out of this music scene in years. It's a shame they were peddling their material to people who weren't that bothered last night. Still, that's what we're up against.

Tonight sees many acts spread across four venues for free. I am attempting to see:-
Handsome Gaz, Auntie Annies, 8.45pm
The Embers, Katy Dalys, 9.15pm
Duke Special, Limelight, 9.50pm
Torgas Valley Reds, Spring and Airbrake, 10.20pm
The Foamboy Deluxe Arkestra, AAs, 10.45pm
Tom McShane, AAs, 11.35pm.
Obviously this all depends on peer group pressure and drink taken, but I'll do my best!

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