SXSE 2014 – A Judges View

A musical recipe.

Take one stage, seven bands, five and a half hours of music, four judges, two sound engineers, several photographers, and countless enthusiastic observers.

Add one pre event band break up, and one last minute replacement act.

Mix all those ingredients together in The Union Bar, and you get SXSE (South by South East), supported by The Stinger magazine. Just one of the many events that took place over the weekend of Hastings Fat Tuesday 2014.

All seven bands were competing to fill the prestigious final slot on the Fat Tuesday Tour, which would see the ‘winners’ play three gigs, in three different venues, over the course of one evening.

First up were The Piercings, who various judges said reminded them of both The Housemartins, and The Lightning Seeds. Not a bad thing.

They were closely followed by Great Snakes, another of the recent surge in guitar and drums duo’s. Passion, energy and solid drumming.

To showcase the variety of the acts, next was Tom Cole, who was described as a ‘1960’s style protest singer’ by one judge. Good guitar work and a nice rapport with the audience too.

At this point, it is worth mentioning that the acts were judged on three main criteria. Musicianship and Tightness, Lyrics and Melody, Stage Presence and Charisma. All acts were given a maximum of ten marks for each category. They also had a twenty minute time slot.

Next, and upping the ante, were Wax. A tight quartet with an 80’s feel, sound effects, and even electric drum pads. Stage presence, and a sound described by one judge, and not in a bad way either, as ‘The Pet Shop Boys with guitars’.

Keeping up the quality were Irie Method, another quartet playing what they call ‘Skindie’ (Ska and Indie). Lively, fun, catchy and with audience participation, these guys got the toes tapping.

Last minute replacements Xup Sup got the house rocking. Tight, energetic pop-punk, a phenomenal drummer, and a great cover of ’99 Red Balloons’. One judge said ‘Xup Sup would not be out of place on a bill with the likes of Green Day, or Blink 182’. Praise indeed.

And so to the final act, Riddles. An air of expectation was apparent and they certainly didn’t disappoint. A trio creating a tight, intense, relentless (in a good way) sound, not unlike Hawkwind, this was a perfect way to end a musically rich afternoon. Half the judging panel said Riddles were the band they would personally choose to go and see again tomorrow.

But, there could only be one ‘winner’. There were several contenders, and no clear front runner. Advice was sought on exactly what was being voting for. Was it the best band on the day, the act with the most potential, or (as it turned out to be) the most suitable band for the Fat Tuesday Tour.

Any one of those options would probably have produced a different result. But, after much debate, Irie Method were invited to play the Fat Tuesday Tour, and by all accounts did SXSE proud.

It’s a bit of a cliche I know, but on the day local music was the winner.

The judges were very impressed with the quality of both the bands and the musicianship.

Unique among the judges, I’d seen most of the acts before, and thought I knew what to expect. But even I was pleasantly surprised by the standard of the music, and the performances on the day.

That can only be a good thing.

(All photo’s by John Powell: http://www.johnnypowell.net/)

Hastings – A Musical Town

You may have already seen the news that Hastings has been voted the most musical town in the UK.

I’m sure that comes as no surprise to most of you anyway and it certainly doesn’t to me. So, I thought I’d make a quick video giving my thoughts on this ‘award’.

Let me know what you think.

The Stinger – Now Online

Some of you out there may well have already seen a copy of the first issue of The Stinger magazine. We have been gradually distributing copies around Hastings and the surrounding area over the past two weeks.

Well now you can also read and even download a copy from The Stinger’s website. So if you’ve missed out so far, or live outside the Hastings area, there’s no need to feel left out.

Just go to the website and click on the download link: http://www.thestinger.org.uk/

Now that you’ve had a chance to see and read our first issue, we’d like to hear your thoughts on The Stinger. We’d like to know what you feel we’re doing right and also if there is anything about the magazine that you’re not so keen on.

We realise that we can’t get it right straight away, although the feedback we’ve had so far has been very positive. So, if you’re happy to give us your views, we’d love to hear them.

Email The Stinger via: contact@thestinger.org.uk and tell us what you think, or ask us a question about the magazine.

We’ll try and publish some of your comments and answer any questions in our next issue, which is due in mid April by the way.

Thanks.

The Stinger

February 19th 2014 see’s the official launch of a brand new, free, independent local music magazine for Hastings and the surrounding area. Called The Stinger, the magazine will be published every two months.

The Stinger will include coverage of original local music, bands and artists, across different musical genre’s and age groups. There will also be gig and music reviews, local and national music news, comment pieces and much more relating to the local music scene. Another aspect that will be covered is the musical history of the Hastings area, something that is well worth talking about and reliving.

You can keep up to date with The Stinger via its website: www.thestinger.org.uk and also their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thestingermag

The Stinger is the first project of the newly formed Hastings Fat Tuesday charity, which we’ve talked about here at Pierless Music before.

As you may remember from previous posts, Pierless Music, and especially myself, are joining up with the team behind the Fat Tuesday and Voodoo Fest events to help with the running of the Hastings Fat Tuesday charity.

I am pleased to say that I am now the Managing Editor of The Stinger and my Pierless Music colleague Richard Lock is a contributor, so you may see some crossover between the two projects in the future.

When Richard and I created Pierless Music, back in late 2012, one of our initial aims was to start up a local music magazine/fanzine for the Hastings area. But, for several reasons, we weren’t able to fulfill that ambition. So, in many ways, The Stinger is the realisation of that dream.

Sometimes things take a little longer than you’d like, and as Tom Petty said, “The waiting is the hardest part”.

But, we got there in the end and we hope you’ll agree that The Stinger has been worth that wait.

PS: We now have an official launch party and you’re invited. For more details visit the Facebook Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/801133736579983/