Note from the editor: First of all I apologise for having been so late with the semi-finals reviews, but I have decided already on my biggest loser of this contest: the computer shop where I buy my stuff. First my computer broke down and my CD writer went berserk, now I have replacement that crashed only one day later. Anyway after having been computer-less for more or less a week (and not seeing any light of the tunnel), I hope that the future will be more bugless.
The Emergenza fans had to wait for nearly two months until the second round of the newcomer contest would begin. The organisers, GUM Entertainment, had decided to put two changes into the course of the contest. First of all, the spectators weren't informed which band would actually play at what time. It was a pity during the preselections that most people arrived only at the time when their favourite band was playing. So the first bands had of course the disadvantage to play in front of a smaller audience which meant that there were less spectators who could vote for getting them into the next round. Although the organisers offered some free beer to the persons appearing at time, this didn't change the problem. So all bands playing at 8pm (Nowhere Fast, Fast Friday, Soul Season) couldn't qualify in a direct way for the semi-finals.
So GUM decided to invite Emergenza bands from other cities taking part in this European contest who had to play at 8pm so that the first Luxembourgish band had to start half an hour later. On Friday the guests were Dragster Baby from Turin, who were supposed to be a combination of P.J. Harvey and Sonic Youth. Although the Italian music scene is often one or even two decades behind, this was sounding very promising. But it was only sounding... After a few minutes, I compared Dragster Baby as a musical confrontation between Janis Joplin and Frameless (remember Day 3 from the preselections). The female singer had a loud voice that was put too much into evidence while the instruments occupied just a minor part. Most spectators didn't appreciate this music and it must have been a very frustrating experience for Dragster Baby to drive 700 km for a single show and getting no attention at all. Myein will play in Turin on April 27th, and I hope for them that they will do better there.
The actual contest began with Spyglass, a band I never expected to reach the semi-finals. Two guitar players and a bassist (all former Mister Steele members) took three chairs to sit on the stage. All instrumental, they play relaxing and atmospheric guitar music. The audience was really impressed by the unusually sounding music and there was nearly absolute silence inside. People were interested in the music and listening. Their music is not bad, but again, I got bored after two songs. Nevertheless Spyglass took a courageous decision to play like Apocalyptica without cellos, but with two six-strings and one four-string guitar and not following any commercial trends. After Emergenza Spyglass will continue with a drummer and move into a more emotional direction. Good luck, boys!
The second band of the evening was D-Fact who surprisingly won one of the preselections. D-Fact were the most extreme band reaching the second round. Some years ago they were a pure hardcore band that often were compared to the early dEFDUMp. Now that former Clean State singer Marcel is playing the second guitar and also contributing some of the vocals, D-Fact have changed their music and are playing a music where hardcore and metal elements are floating together. The absolute highlight of the band is their frontman who is screaming with lots of emotions, jumping around like a berserk, and all of this combined with evil attitude. D-Fact were again able to offer the audience first class entertainment, although they didn't exactly reach the same high level as in the first round. I suppose that they felt more comfortable on the smaller stage of the Kulturfabrik. The only negative aspect were the announcements during the songs where you had the impression that the singer was afraid of the big audience.
The next band was called Granny's Favouritz and sounded absolutely the same way. This mellow piece of folk pop was even too harmless for my grandmother. From the musical point of view, it is very disturbing that the two male and female vocals and the guitars are dominating the music. I wonder if the other musicians in the band don't feel sometimes frustrated because of their minor parts. Scouts sitting around a campfire are making music this way. Not that I hate people with an overall positive attitude towards life, but this exaggerated anachronistic flower power hippie crap made my ulcers bleed already in February.
Fourth band of the evening were Holy National Victims, a real newcomer band only founded about half a year ago. The musicians were looking very young and Jeff Hemmer (ex-Carefree, A Furnished Soul) told me that all the band members are aged between 16 and 18. He also told me that they gave one of their first concerts on a party organised by Roger Hamen. I never knew that the Backline godfather was a secret party animal. But let's come back to H.N.V. who were playing alternative rock. Yes this is a vast expression, but I can't describe it any other way. The musicians surely try their best and you see that they enjoy playing their music, but somehow it is sounding still a bit uninspired. Someone in the audience compared them to the Black Crows. Even if the spectators liked the music very much, I still haven't detected the magic or charm about H.N.V. But as they are still very young, I suppose that there are ways to work out the songwriting.
Again it was time for friends of harder music: Short[k]ut. The six musicians plus a DJ can be described as Luxembourg's answer to Rage Against The Machine and Linkin Park. Today it's not unusual that crossover acts have two vocalists. One is normally responsible for the rap vocals while the other one has a more various voice, varying from metal screams to melodic passages. Although Short[k]ut's songwriting isn't original at all, they are an excellent live act. This evening no band was able to release more power and energy. The spectators noticed this of course and the atmosphere in the first rows was quite hard, but nevertheless peaceful. The same situation could be seen on stage where the musicians, especially the singers, were jumping around like crazy. Short[k]ut definitely is a band that is made for larger stages as they need a lot of space.
A very lucky loser were Soul Season who didn't qualify at first for the second round. But as CorrXion split up (I wonder who's to blame for that), GUM Entertainment decided that Soul Season should replace them. In September 2002, they gave their first reunion concert with singer Emi in a pub in Differdange and I was impressed what energy is behind the band. When reading that Soul Season would play at Emergenza, they were the absolute favourite to me. But their gig in the preselections didn't impress me too much. During the semi-finals, Soul Season again seemed to be unmotivated and not interested in the contest. I know that these guys can do a lot better, but maybe they feel more at ease in a small club than on a big stage. Anyway they are already a bit too old for a newcomer contest.
Not undisputed was the choice that Thorax won one of the four preselections. Their set contained three cover versions, which should not the actual meaning of a newcomer contest. They promised to play just a single one during the semi-finals, but people were confronted with Van Halen's Panama and AC/DC's Whole Lotta Rosie. Their own songs go more or less into the same direction and can be described as party hard rock. Surely well done and I suppose the musicians had a lot of fun on stage, but it's not my generation. However I want to add that Thorax singer Raf is one of my favourite barkeepers. There are a lot of concerts in his pub, the service is very fast and he even went once on stage to sing backing vocals for a Belgian punk band. He's a nice guy, but I prefer seeing him behind the counter than on stage.
Next band were the very young Paraflip and I heard that they had sold about 120 tickets. When they entered the stage, you could hear that all these 120 fanatic people had arrived and it was obvious that Paraflip would reach the finals. In the first round, they left quite a good impression, although it was a pity that they didn't have a bass player. Now the trio has become a quartet with bass guitar, but it still wasn't absolutely convincing to me. The new Luxembourgish alternative rock scene is suffering from the phenomenon that the musicians know how to play music, but still haven't succeeded to write decent songs with memorable structures. The sound of Paraflip was most of the times too noisy to me.
Last band of this evening were Ophidian and I was really looking forward to their gig. To me they were one of the big revelations during the preselections. At first I didn't think very much of them as they described their style as super metal. But after having listened to them, I was sure that this was just an ironic description. Good metal bands are very rare in Luxemburg. When Ophidian play live, all eyes are fixed on front lady Cassy Wire who's not only very attractive, but also knows how to use her voice in very different and efficient ways. Screams, growls, melodic passages and more emotional moans make part of her big repertory. But don't forget the three musicians who not only know how to play their instruments, but contrary to most alternative rock band, they are also able to write good songs that are most of the time very complex. Ophidian who consider Nevermore as their major influence are the brightest star on our national metal heaven.
Then there was a pause of a few minutes and the jury came with the final decision. Here's the people's
Position 4: Short[k]ut (a deserved result because of a great live performance).
Position 3: Paraflip (120 tickets should bring more than a third position).
Position 2: Granny's Favouritz (no more comments).
Position 1: Holy National Victims (I didn't notice that they had so many votes).
Jury's choice: Ophidian (a very wise choice).
Four bands got eliminated tonight:
Spyglass (the opener always has a difficult situation).
D-Fact (what a pity, I'd have loved to see them in the final round)
Thorax (good riddance, as they are too old and too retro for that kind of contest).
Soul Season (no surprise after this gig).
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