Showdown At The Corner @ The Corner
I stepped through the door as Hotel On Mayfair were just getting started. The alternative four-piece are fronted by a female vocalist – a very talented one at that. Hannah Shomali’s vocals are vulnerable and fierce all at once, she has great control and her melodies are placed well within music that builds steadily to a punch then drops back to a lullaby.
The voice over announced “round two” to a backing track of Eye Of The Tiger as a rather busty and attractive, corseted young lady acting as Ring Girl sashayed across the stage holding a sign of the same declaration. But don't worry guys, the term 'Showdown' is metaphoric. They’re punching it out musically, not literally.
It was surprising how soon the next band, Kettlespider, were on the main stage. And what’s more surprising is the fact that it actually took until their second last song before I snapped out of an awestruck trance long enough to surmise that something was unusual. Oh right, these guys don’t have a vocalist. I only just noticed this? Okay then. They don’t need one! I haven’t been kidnapped by a band in this way in a very long while. A quick scan of the room told me that I wasn’t the only one. Precisely layered music played by proficient musicians with a very tight live sound.
The Khyber Belt never fail to put on a seamless performance. This being no exception, despite the fact that vocalist Forbes McKail meekly bounced on to the stage clutching a tea cup, which I later discovered was filled with a mysterious magic herbal tea in order to sooth a sore throat. Sore throat or no, his voice was in fine form and he remains an incredibly gifted vocalist. With a replacement sound guy, their live sound was sitting more high end than it normally would, which grated the ears a little. But all is forgiven as they know how to pump up a crowd and deliver a kick-arse live show.
Groovy, retro, prog rock sons, Moroccan Kings funked out with their ultra creative sound. A large portion of the crowd seemed a little unsure of how to take this audio fusion, but the fans up close were rockin' out. "Round eight" brought the rock goddess vibe with Bellusira and their high energy live show. The combination of their signature hostility and the quieter moments of Crystal’s falsetto, which is the perfect complement to the overall sound, really takes the music to a place you want it to go as a listener. They really have the art of live performance down pat.
I suddenly felt the urge to wave glow sticks in the air and dance in circles as I was watching Sub Atari Knives. My rock music state of mind (read: not on LSD) was unprepared for this wall of electro, trip metal that came at me like a tidal wave. If not for the melodic undertones I would have decided this sound was better suited to an underground club fitted with black lights and neon paint. I adjusted my ears and decided that I liked it. But I still wanted glow sticks!
The room swelled as "round ten" was announced. The crowd was mellow, standing ready and watching the stage intently. Engine Three Seven brought an incredible ending to the night. Their sound was crisp and refreshing as they shared with us their newest musical enchantment. An unexpectedly gentle and pristine single Watermark that builds to a heartfelt pouring of emotion and careful earnestness. An absolute delight!
All in all, Showdown made for an excellent bill of live music. A varied line-up of bands that ranged from pop and alt rock, prog, electro, funk and melodic metal.
BY LESHA PAVLIS
Photo credit: Rebecca Houlden
LOVED: Kettlespider. This band of modest young men blew my mind with their phenomenal sound.
HATED: The drunk chick who spilled her beer on me. Watch the suede shoes! Thank baby Jeebus for scotch guard.
DRANK: Bulmers Pear Cider. Delish.