After the excitement of the 2016 competition, I was very excitied to see what 2017 would bring.
Last year we had 5 heats and there was a mixture of applications and me nudging a few bands asking if they might like to apply.
This time round we’ve filled 6 heats without me having to nudge anyone, as we had more than enough applications.
Now, when I took on the 2016 competition – I hoped that most of the bands would get some form of benefit from it – the general feedback being many had, some seeing it as a good networking opportunity, playing with bands they wouldn’t normally play with, making new friends, showcasing themselves to the venues, other promoters, etc and while there can only be one prize winner, getting as many to benefit as possible is a plus.
There’s a lot happening in Newcastle at the moment – and I think it’s very exciting. I don’t want to start name dropping or anything (because I am likely to miss someone!) and I don’t get to nearly as many shows as I would like to – but there are some good DIY promoters doing amazing things for underground bands of most genres.
The net result of this is that a clash was inevitable – we’d moved a few dates around to try to avoid clashes, but tonight we end up clashing with Anthrax… oh… hope we didn’t take too many from them.
The plus of this is it means that although Yersin draw the cursed opening slot, they have a full bar to play to of people finishing their pints before going to see Anthrax. Quite a few stick around to watch them also.
To give an idea, they have a setlist of 12 songs and stick within the 25 minute slot, loud, punky crust – and whilst I didn’t not their track names, I did think with a closing song like “Dave Mustaine Must Die” they’d be ideal for Bloodstock 😉
The set is abrassive, energetic and enthralling – they keep people in the venue (apologies to the opening band at Anthrax) and their quality is superb.
Ladies and gentlemen, the bar has been set. What away to open the competition.
And – spoiler alert, they DON’T go through. Although a very close third place.
Kraken Waker took slot number 2 – lots of beards, riffs and groove metal. Opening with ‘Born with a Beard’ is about the size of it, they also manage to retain some of the Anthrax stragglers and soldier professionally despite seeing a lot of the venue having to reluctantly leave – they’re here to have a good time and it was unsurprising to see them go through.
Stoner Witch is a bit of a surprise package and I think he’s picked up quite a few new fans. Solo acoustic performer, but yep, dark, dank and a good use of minimalism.
At first a lot of people do not know what to think, but by the third song there’s a lot less chatter as he captivates everyone.
I feel things were tough on him, but he held his head up and did himself proud and I’d hope this at least scores himself some attention.
The last competing band, Blood Moon Bandits are also the last entrants, being recommended for the competition after a stunning gig at Trillians last week – they’re straight up high energy rock n roll – and one of the few bands in the competition to have a clear considered image, a bit like a glossier Misfits.
They done well and raised the roof and helped cap off a very good quality opening heat.
Finally, Dirty King play a special guest set and, you know, they were always a good band – but you can see how far they’ve come in the year since I first met them. This is now the 5th time I’ve seen them and they just seem so focused and confident, I think their M2TM run last year has really helped them come on.
Unfortunately they have to cut a little short, but, wow, it is good to see them back.
Roll on Heat 2…