Wednesday, August 3

Overplay Festival @ The Gosta Green, Birmingham
With the recent and well deserved success of Editors, the Birmingham indie scene is currently buzzing. There are more bands than ever and new nights and promoters springing up left right and centre in the city. The question remains though – Can another Brum band follow in Editors slipstream into the charts?

The Overplay Festival at the Gosta Green began as an idea to put a few local bands on over one evening. Clearly things spiralled out of control and such was the demand by artists to be on the bill that the festival expanded to twenty-four bands over the course of three days…

Saturday night saw some of the best unsigned local talent in Birmingham take to the stage.

The Program
Although not much to look at image-wise, the sound The Program produce is something special.

Densely layered swirling soundscapes and discordant guitars dominate proceedings. The singer doesn’t say much, but exerts a commanding stage presence throughout. The anthemic ‘Changing Allegiance’ is the stand-out track of the set and this is a band that is definitely worth watching.

It’s a tough act to follow and sadly next band Red:Line:Ratio don’t quite manage to do it. They’re an entertaining, if unremarkable group and the songs were nice enough, but sadly I can’t remember a single one of them.

The frontman has an excellent voice in the James Dean Bradfield mould and the band is tight and focused, putting their all into the performance. However, I’m afraid that for me they just don’t stand out enough from the crowd.

There’s only one word to describe Lo-Ego and that’s intense. Five serious young men from Nottingham with furrowed brows and sombre expressions on their faces.

Opening track ‘Floods’ is astonishing. An epic, melancholic rocker with complex guitar lines, off-kilter melodies and frontman Martin Collins’ trademark anguished wail. It’s an arresting start to proceedings and we’re only half way into the second song, when Collins makes the first of his forays on the deck for a spot of his trademark rolling around on the floor and screaming.

It certainly grabs the attention, though it makes for decidedly uneasy listening. As the set progresses, things get even more intense as Collins lurches into the crowd and then back on to the floor, seemingly having an onstage nervous breakdown.

The musicianship is excellent, although there is sometimes seemingly too much going on at once. They’re experimental, edgy and impossible to take your eyes off.

Despite their young age, Black Country quartet Midas have been together for quite a while now, playing many gigs and acquiring an ever-growing reputation. Immediately it’s easy to see why.

The band are tight, effortlessly switching from quiet to loud dynamics and back again during each song. Midas have an energy and a sense of urgency that in the main has been noticeably absent from the other bands of the evening. It’s as if they want you to hear as many of their fantastic songs as possible, so they rattle through them at a fast pace.

Singer Kris Lloyd is relaxed and engaging as he banters with the crowd, with the rest of the group clearly enjoy playing live.

Every song has something going for it - the driving riffs of ‘Black Box’, the catchy hooks of ‘Not All Over’, the fragile ‘Oxygen Tax’ - all of them possessing soaring choruses and an underlying pop sensibility.

The New Blacks
The New Blacks have been getting a lot of attention recently, after beating Green Day, Jimmy Eat World and Velvet Revolver in public votes on a New York radio station.

They play simple, straight to the point rock in the vein of The Wildhearts. And while it’s not in any way subtle or complicated, it does what it says on the tin - though two words spring invariably to mind - cock and rock.

Their EP was produced by Ian Hill from Metal Gods Judas Priest, but they aren’t quite in that category of heaviness, as their cover of Gene Pitney’s ‘Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart’ shows.

They’re a bit like The Darkness, but without the comedy – playing catchy rock songs like ‘Still’ with sing-a-long choruses, whilst pulling rock moves and shapes onstage.

It’s entertaining, undemanding and crowd-pleasing stuff that provides a good end to the night.

Making the breakthrough?

The New Blacks may be currently getting the most interest, but if I had to put my money on one of the bands I’ve seen tonight making the http://help.blogger.com/bin/answer.py?answer=880
more »breakthrough then it would have to be Midas. With youth on their side and a bunch of quality songs already written - they can only get better and better.

Full credit must go to organisers Black Scorpion promotions for a fantastic job arranging their first event. Hopefully this will become an annual festival showcasing some of the best unsigned talent in Birmingham and beyond.

See you next year then?