Old Fire Station, Bournemouth

What else are you going to do on a wet Wednesday evening? The final of Bandstorm 24…

A good friend’s son is the lead singer in a band and they had battled through to the final, which was to be held at a proper venue; the Old Fire Station in Bournemouth. All the bands were under 18 and so a few of us thought we should get down and offer our support. I envisaged some very average children playing the triangle and us adults plotting up at the bar for the duration, how wrong was I?

We arrived at 6.30pm and the place was busy with a larger crowd than I had expected, plenty of parents around the edges and all the youth in front of the stage. As the majority of the youth were 6th form girls, we had a clear run at the near empty bar all night – which was a bonus!

First up were an all-girl group called Salamander, they came on to a great reception and set about the first of their 3 songs. They had two singers with contrasting voices who worked well together, one of the girls played three different instruments in one song which was impressive to say the least. They were decent and better than I had expected from such a young band.

The panel of three judges gave their verdict in an X-factor style, all the feedback was encouraging which was good to hear. Next up were Hereafter a four-piece consisting of three lads and a girl lead singer, they looked the part with the singer a cross between Siouxsie Sioux and Joan Jett. She looked the part and demanded everyone’s attention; she sounded the part as well. Her singing had bits of Siouxie, Joan jet and Alanis Morrisette and all three tunes were very good. Drums and guitars were also quality, the bar had now been set higher.

Next up were the mighty South Street, this was who I had come to see. It wasn’t just me, Russ the bin dipper was in attendance along with Craig the Mod (well he owns a scooter), Voodoo Ray (the proud uncle), Carlos and the Healer (parents), Sunny-Ray (DJ and big brother) and by now Big Ross had arrived to live stream some tunes, his 6th gig of the last 6 days. We made our way to the front of the stage to show support. The lead singer Albi had great hair, which is important in a band – think Indie/Surf dude. The drummer and guitarist had amazing hair too, think the fella off the “Hair Bear Bunch” (younger readers may need to look up The Hair Bear Bunch TV show from the 70’s).

These three lads had only played one gig prior to tonight (on stage at school), but they appeared confident and looked great. The first two tunes were originals, “Space Suit” and “Dystopia” and were again way better than I had dared hope for. Their sound was very 60’s and there were screams from the young girls at the front which is a plus if you’re an up-and-coming Rock star. They finished with a classic, a cover of the Beatles “Back in the USSR”. The two “Hair Bear” boys joined in the chorus and the harmonies had Beach Boys influences written all over them. So, the Beatles and Beach boys rolled into one- in my world this is very good. I would have declared the contest over on the spot, but I may be a little biased and they had played my kind of music.

Next up were Sanguis Mortem, another three lads and from the minute they walked on I knew I was going to struggle; snow-wash denim jackets were not a good look in the 80’s, now it’s a disaster! They were very loud and the lead singer shouted a lot; I’ve no idea what he was on about. Big Ross informs me that they were Post/Hardcore with elements of Rock/Sceamo/Thrash & Deathcore. I imagine they have Slipknot posters on the walls of their bedrooms and wear engine oil instead of aftershave?! Hands up though as I appear to be in the minority as 90% of the place went mad for them. Their second tune was slower, and I could hear what the singer was saying, when he wasn’t shouting. He did sound good and this tune had slightly more of a Goth feel to it. The Drummer was excellent and the guitarist who looked about 9 was an absolute maniac. Like I said; this is just not my type of music but if this style is your thing, then they were clearly very good.

Last up two lads going by the name of “41 Days”, the lead singer looked the part and had a powerful voice. The drummer was again excellent, Russ the dipper was a drummer in a few bands back in the day and was nodding approvingly inbetween guzzling pints. I guess I would class them as a Rock band, (think Bush/Royal Blood as main influences). From memory they opened with a Muse cover (don’t quote me on this) before an original while ending on a Royal Blood cover with an extended drum/keys/percussion finale. They certainly knew how to engage the room and get the crowd going and closed the contest to great applause.

It was now up to the judges comprising local musicians including Carley Varly and Zoe Schwartz. I know I keep saying it, but the standard was very high and it was difficult to predict a winner. South Street were my favourite for obvious reasons with Hereafter a close 2nd, they both played music I like but the judges would clearly be taking a more balanced approach.

They started by announcing 4th and 5th place and made their way up stopping to give praise to every band. 4th and 5th positions were announced with no mention of South Street, so they would be on the podium in the top 3. Hereafter were awarded 3rd place, this was now getting very exciting. Could they do it? They came second which was a fantastic result and there were some very proud parents/relatives and family friends like me in the audience. The “Headbangers” were the winners and I don’t think anyone (even me) could argue, the judges loved them and so did the crowd. They were very good at what they did so take a bow “Sanguis Mortem” and all the best for the future. As winners they got to play out the event with another song and once again their talent was evidenced for all to see…

If this is the future, then the local music scene is in a good place. Most of the bands had their own material which is always good to hear, and I look forward to seeing them playing at local venues going forward. I’ve already offered to do the Merch on any future South Street European tours!


Review by Robert Davro
Additional content and genre specifics by Ross A. Ferrone

Bandstorm 2024