Finally we have made it through the preselection days of Emergenza 2003, and where the first week was actually quite amusing, the second was rather tedious, to say the least.
Today it was Soul Season's task to start at 8pm, which is always quite early, and again the opening act didn't make it into the next round. It can't have been the quality, because even if Soul Season may not have yet found the shape they need, they were one of the few good bands this evening. The opener was a typical Soul Season song, the way we loved them five years ago. Which of course allows the question: is Emergenza really a place for a band that has released already about three CDs? Sure enough, they showed some new influences this evening: one song was interpreted in French, another song showed guitar distortion the way we haven't heard it from Soul Season yet. If Soul Season were a new band, it would be easy to put the stoner label on them, but this way, they are just a true 100% rock band with a lot of groove, somewhere between Noir Magnet and Monster Desir. Vocalist Emi seemed to have borrowed his grandfather's clothes, but apart from that, he didn't act like the old man he is (I think he's as old as me). At times, he bounced into the bass player and the guitarist, then he forgot what song was on next. All in all, this was a good show.
Afterwards, I kind of refused to get back to the audience, because the three following bands Holy National Victims, Strangers and Nomad's Land were all three so generic that I went through the Hume syndrome I was suffering only a day before. Where Hume got their just punishment, this evening saw the perversion of two of these three bands actually succeeding. HNV actually brought a lot of friends (probably had to buy them beer all evening to keep them from running away), and Nomad's Land must have had a friend in the jury who allowed them to become a lucky loser. Rocco from LDC asked me how I am able to write reviews from bands when I am not even watching them, so this is how it goes: if the first impression is bad, I don't even bother watching a band. Apart from the band Strangers, I actually spent one or two songs of the other bands in the audience, and they all quite seemed the same: alternative rock, quite powerless, with very uncharismatic frontmen, and nothing whatsoever to remember. OK, Nomad's Land were apparently political, and as much as I respect that, that shouldn't be enough to make it on. Hence I also refused to put a photo online, as there is the risk that you would forget what you have seen as soon as your attention goes to somewhere else.
I had the same fear about Couchgrass, which is quite logical after having suffered through three bands that made me drink more beer than was good for me. But then I saw a flyer for a concert where Couchgrass were described as wannabe rockstars. Bands that can make fun of themselves can't be that bad, now can they? And as a matter of fact, Couchgrass were not only good, they were totally fucking great. They are a mostly female band of genial dilettantes and idiot-savants. The first impression you may get is a bunch of average musicians with a crazy frontwoman, but the deeper you get into it, you feel a fierceness that was unique on this day, and quality that so far was only equalled by the Mighty Pussy Lickers, Chief Marts and d-fact. Couchgrass have a very bosshoggish quality, their music is blistering with eroticism and raw rock'n'roll attitude. The use of cello and violin add originality to their sound, something which the defunct Mister Steele probably always wanted to achieve but never were able of. If this were only my opinion, you could easily forget it, but people were streaming in to see this band, although probably most have never heard of them before. Even if they only came in second, they were the best band of the evening, and are definitely Finals material.
Always funny to see again are Crying Souls, who are about my age, and went to the same high school as I did. They used to be a poser hard rock band, but now they try to sound like a hard rocking No Name. Especially the singer tries to dig into the prog rock sound, without much success though. It's high time that Crying Souls notice that their time is already over, when it never even started yet. Of course they didn't make it to the next round, and even if the audience shows proof of bad taste more often than is good for my morale, this time common sense wore over bad quality.
The band - if you can call this bunch of studied musicians a band - that won today was
Puma. So allow me to quote freely Rocco from LCD, who said that Puma is a bunch
of losers that make recycled music. Just because they once listened to a James Brown album doesn't mean
they understand the soul behind funk music. I totally agree with that opinion. All of Puma are fine
musicians for sure, but even as today the call themselves Puma, some weeks later they may change again a
few members and do something totally else, with perfect techniques, but no soul whatsoever. This gives
the impression of totally arrogant music, an impression I always get when musicians like these are
involved. Anyway, every time this Gawlik guy is drumming, I tend to fall asleep. He must have studied
his drums for decades, but when you study too long, you forget what music is about. These guys should
learn a lesson from Couchgrass who probably were not too great technicians, but who had attitude. Of
course Puma won, because the general Emergenza audience doesn't understand music very well. The fact
that three out of four times, total crap bands won should be proof enough of this.
(I write this half a day later, when I learned that Puma will have a different saxophonist for the semi-finals, which proves me right when I said these are just session musicians. They can be replaced by one another because they are not a band, but just a bunch of musicians without any bond that keeps them together as you have it with real bands.)
Last band tonight were Myein, who start to become more routined lately. Their hardrocking alternative rock isn't too bad, and they had the ability to get people moving for a last time tonight. I think that one day they can become truly awesome, but for now there is - in my opinion - still something missing in their music. Last time I saw them was on the Sonic Faces festival, and they follow their path relentlessly. They came in third tonight, and deserved it. Myein is a band you should look out for, as these youngsters have quite a road waiting ahead of them.
The winners tonight were: 1. Puma, 2. Couchgrass, 3. Myein and 4. Holy National Victims. My winners would have been 1. Couchgrass, 2. Soul Season and 3. Myein. All other bands were so bad that again I would have denied a fourth band the way to the semifinals. As a matter of fact it is frightening how low the musical quality has become among newcomer bands who want to play at the Emergenza. This is throwing a wrong light on Luxembourg's music scene, because there are some very talented and even great bands around, just think of Actarus, Narayan, MDE, Poshblokes and many more. But most of them don't like the Emergenza idea of playing against each other, and losing against unnecessary bands that just happen to have a lot of friends.
The lucky losers by the way were Aching Mind and Nomad's Land. It should have been Fourmis and Soul Season, if there was anything like justice on this planet. The fact that those two rather boring bands became the losers made me wonder about the criteria: swallowing gallons of cum? or just having friends in the jury? A fact is that especially the second week put quite some shame to Luxembourg's music scene. As many bad bands have been eliminated, we may still have hope that the semi-finals will eliminate the rest of lucky winners and lucky losers alike. If there is any quality god around, here's which bands should be in the finals: Ophidian, Inborn, Might Pussy Lickers, d-fact, Shortk[u]t, Chief Marts, Spyglass, Couchgrass and Myein. Any other band making it will be proof that there is no god, or at least no god with an understanding for music.
One last thought before I let you go: none of the bands that had to play first made it (I consider Ophidian a second band, because Schweinepest were virtually the opening act), as people tend to be at concerts at a later hour. So to be fairer to those bands, why not let people first vote FOR a band, then vote AGAINST them, calculate the difference and see what comes out. That way, people would be more motivated to tell their honest opinion.