Review by Woody, photos by Rob Stanley
I really enjoyed the first Live and Unsigned show at the Robin last year and was really keen to get back down for this second unsigned band showcase at my favourite local venue. It was great to see a decent turnout again to support these bands; it’s not easy for up and coming bands to get the opportunity to play on a decent stage. So you do have to tip your hat to the promoter and the venue for having faith and supporting these bands, allowing them a chance to play a real music venue with a great sound system.
First up was young Wolvo Indie pop-rock quartet Jump The Shark. I’d heard of these guys before so I was shocked to learn just how young they all are at seventeen so they really did start their career’s young. I’d done some research on them before hand and thought they played pleasant enough indie fused pop, but I wasn’t sure it would be my thing live. I was really struck with what a solid live band they are and their songs took on a fuller sound live and they really hit home with me. They have a feel good vibe to them and their entire set had an uplifting tone that could quite easily have you float away with a huge smile on your face. Jump The Shark have the sort of songs you would bung on when the sun is out, the beer is cold, you’re ready to relax and let the smile rise across your face.
They are not a very visual band and it was the songs that did the talking for them tonight, I think one of the biggest drawbacks for them becoming more active performers is that lead singer Tasha Jones also plays drums. I think they would have more visual impact if they moved Tasha to the front of stage and she could help the young guys around her become more visual performers, you can’t knock their playing but they do seem to want to blend into the background. Tasha is a real star in the making, she has such a beautiful and melodious vocal she makes the songs really enchanting, she puts me in mind of Sophie B Hawkins (remember her?) and I think if she could take on the front woman role she could have a similar performance impact as Hawkins.
Jump The Shark have the potential to be a great band, they have the songs now they just need that visual performance to take it to the next level!
My fellow Walsall rockers Stone Broken have been quickly winning fans in recent times with their ballsy no-nonsense riff driven rock and it’s easy to see why as they have a strong confident stage presence. I really enjoyed these guys at the last Live and Unsigned and I enjoyed them just as much tonight because they are a solid act who can entertain. They really put me in mind of Nickelback, mainly down to vocalist Rich Moss’s deep vocal tone but also in those big chunky groove laden guitar riffs. They have power rock down to a fine art and as a whole are a solid live unit.
The only criticism I can spin their way is the similarities to their influences is really apparent and I think they need to stamp a little more of their own identity in the future song writing otherwise they may fall foul of people claiming they lack originality. They have some really great songs as it is so it shouldn’t be hard for these guys to evolve and develop their sound in the coming years and I’m confident that they will! Another entertaining performance from Stone Broken, I highly recommend people get out and check them out.
Cancel Tomorrow are a female fronted metal act and another band I’m new to and after visiting their website I thought they may be too heavy for my tastes. I was proven totally wrong tonight as I have to say I was really impressed with how their songs come across live, old school metal with big melodic vocals. They seemed less aggressive than I was expecting and their eighties metal inspired music coupled with front woman Emma’s frankly awesome voice was a recipe destined to appease my taste buds. I very quickly added them to my ‘bands to be watched’ list.
It was clear from the onset though that they are used to playing confined places as they all bunched up on stage and it seemed as though they couldn’t get close enough to one another. They do lack a bit of fire in their performance but this is something that will come with experience and Emma does have a confident stage persona so they have the roots to build on quite easily. Its bands like this that really benefit from opportunities like this as it gives them the experience they need to grow as performers.
I knew Leeds band Chasing Dragons had the potential to steal the show tonight. I wasn’t wrong; they had an explosive energy that took the roof off the Robin from the opening note to the closing. Full on no holds barred melodic metal with a band that put on an extremely powerful visual performance. I knew I was going to like these guys because although they have a strong heavy metallic tinge their songs ooze and overdose in melody, it was just a case of if they could bring it live, and that they did by the bucket load!
I spotted front woman Tank mixing with the audience throughout the night and she is quite a petite and unimposing woman, I’d love to know the origin of her nickname. On stage though she explodes and is larger than life full of energy and grabs the attention of the audience with total ease, she’s a totally mesmerising front woman and was evidently born for the stage. She has an amazing voice, so smooth, so melodic it hooks you right into the power and the energy of all the songs. She may have the tattoos and the piercings but her voice never veers into screaming or punk growls you may expect, her voice is pure unadulterated melody. She also has a great stage persona and has a welcoming attitude towards the audience getting them involved in their performance, which only made me enjoy the show more.
I enjoyed their set from beginning to end, lots of energy and catchy songs that stick in your head and make you want to sing along and above all else a whole juicy dollop of melody dumped heavily on top of their powerful metal backbone. This was their first show in the West Midlands and I sure hope it’s the first of many because I’d love to see these guys crank it up again!
Things were running a little late tonight so headliners Sister Shotgun had to shorten the slot slightly to squeeze in before the curfew. Following Chasing Dragons was never going to be easy but if there was one band on tonight’s line-up that could do it, it would be Sister Shotgun. They were just as explosive as they were the last time I saw them, but I think they edged their musical performance up a tad tonight so they did sound even better. It was great to hear a personal favourite ‘Riots’ and their new single ‘No Hope’ also hit all the right notes with me with its ultra melodic catchy as hell stance.
I think front woman Chloe Ozwell is pure dynamite and I absolutely adored her energetic and emotive stage performance. In fact anyone who I think is even thinking anything even slightly negative about Chloe is likely to be met with a nasty backhand across the face followed by some crazy eyes, pointy finger and sharp message of ‘Don’t say it…. I will mess you up!’ Sister Shotgun as a whole are all quite visual performers but it is Chloe who you tend to get drawn to. It also helps that Chloe has a strong voice to back up her visual performance you only need to switch the TV on to see great visual performers who can’t sing a note if their lives depended on it, where as Chloe is the full package.
It was a short set but enjoyable nonetheless and these guys are quickly making a stalker fan out of me. Metallic and melodic songs with energetic, entertaining performances sounds like everything I need for a good time. Another fantastic evening of music and I sincerely can’t wait for the next one!