Two years is a long time, and as much as a lot of people dislike the way the Emergenza festival is stirring an uneasy feeling of competition (instead of cooperation) among bands, it is also a good way to have a look at a lot of newcomer bands playing under professional criteria, without having to travel from one Youth Club event to the next one, and always in strange faraway villages that are sometimes not even on any maps. And anyway, if you know me and Lex, you should also know that we party the feast of Carnival always a couple of weeks later, during the Emergenza weekends.
2005 is, according to rumours, the last Emergenza organised by GetUp Music, something I don't understand as tonight there were 450 people for the first preselection night. There were some good and some bad changes. Two years ago, eight bands were playing, which had the first one start at an early 8pm, not always a good prerequisite for success, so the fact that there were only 6 bands per evening (although this was not planned, there were just not more young bands willing to fulfil the general conditions) so that it started at a reasonable 9pm and already was done by midnight. The bad change was that the new announcer was not nearly as cute, chubby and cuddly as Dave from Eldoradio the years before.
Opening act tonight were Undone, a band that claims already in their Emergenza site info that they have different views when it comes to music. That by itself would be alright, but at least on stage it would have been better if they hadn't played also different songs. The guitar player was totally metal, the singer didn't know if he wanted to be punk or alternative, the bass player was rooted to the stage and wouldn't have moved if the four riders of the Apocalypse had been charging at him, while the drummer tried his best to keep the whole thing going. Undone have never played a regular show before, something you would have known intuitively without reading about them. The vocals were so bad, the guitar so detuned, if this had been a jam session of thirty year old hippie-go-junkies, you could have thought that this was Alan Vega jamming with the early Rollins Band, but as these were rather healthy young men, it pin it down to a lack of talent, except in choosing their name, because they were truly undoing the concept of music. Still it was mildly entertaining, as you never knew what to expect next, except that they would never make it to the next round.
Anybody remember my favourite band CorrXion, the one that burned in Hell after last time's Emergenze preselections? Their bassist came out reborn as a dedicated metal kid, but their singer Julie still doesn't seem to have learned her lessons. OK, she's now an adult, and she looks it, but it was still not satisfactory. Although Claudine Muno, who didn't participate this year with her new band, said slyly that Miss Julie looks just like the German Schlagersänger Nicky, we were spared a nasty Bavarian accent. Instead she sounded the way I would if I inhaled a balloon full of helium. Normally she sings for the cover band Life Style, and to be sincere, Triad seem to be nothing but a cover band with their own songs. There was not even a hint of originality in their pop music. I truly love well made pop sounds, but this was a plastic substitute for a generic mass of radio compatible bulls**t. While Steve from Orange Squad fell in love with the bass player, a true teddy bear of a male human being, I was awed by the guy on the right side of the stage playing his chin guitar the way we haven't seen since the last days of Level 42 bass man Mark King. And once we start to consider that not only the band is led by two German from Bitburg and Trier, but also that the guy from Trier (Matz) used to play for nearly 10 years in a cover band (now how old does that make him? And haven't Byozide been disqualified this year for that very reason?), and that Dirk from Bitburg owns his very own music school, then what fairness is that compared to young local upstarts? Also the two Germans living in Germany played already in a German band where they were second best at the "Deutsche Rock and Pop Preis". You can think of Triad's music whatever you like, but I demand they should be disqualified immediately. Maybe it's not too late yet to get them to perform at one of the German Emergenza festivals.
Next up were ILL?, a band that not only stole (even if apparently not on purpose) its name from a local theatre company, but also fulfils every cliché in the book. They met as boyscouts, and now are together studying at the Arts et Métiers. Their vocalist looked rather old, and with his 50ish clothes, he looked like the little brother of James Dean having become the school janitor. Their music was probably the least interesting of the evening. Yes, it was done rather well, they were very self-confident on stage, but who needs these days melodic hard rock music? It's been so many years that Bon Jovi played in Luxembourg, and ILL? don't seem to have got over it yet. When their last song was even done in Luxembourgish language, I had to think of Moof, and that this is really all so passé, but they brought a lot of friends anyway, which guaranteed their success this evening.
From here on things only got better, if still not great, to be sincere. Graceful Rage are more or less the same musicians that used to play with Solipsism on the last Emergenza festival, but as their vocalist quit, they hired their guitar player's sister Nathalie on vocals, and only a couple of weeks before this gig, they got ex-ODC casting star Laura to perform second vocals. At this point you might notice that there are a lot of re-performing artists (Julie from Triad, Solipsism / Graceful Rage, and later Fast Friday, plus more to come in the next preselections), which could give you the impression that no so much has happened during the last two years in Luxembourg. Wrong, I dare say, but the acceptance of Emergenza seems to be highest among metal and alternative musicians, while punks steer clear of this event. Anyway, Graceful Rage did their best this evening, but they didn't bring that many friends from the North of the country, and couldn't convince the regular audience with their groove metal music. It is true though, they sound a lot like Fluyd, a local East Coast band that were called already passé by critics when they were starting more than five years ago. Nathalie used to sing with a cover band (Challengers?), but at least her voice has more stage presence than Julie Triad's. Gerry is a slapping bass performer, while Fritz on guitar sound at his best moments like Tom Morello. Luc (also from a cover band, that seems to be a rite of passage in Luxembourg's North) did some good stuff on the drums, except Laura had a pale performance. Nobody really heard her, she was dressed up funnily and made weird body movements. What Graceful Rage need is a change of style, maybe something less groovy and more driving, because the talent is there, what we need now is the right application.
Fast Friday were also performing at the last Emergenza, but the two times shouldn't be compared. Fast Friday have been playing a lot of concerts ever since, recorded a good CD at the Kulturfabrik, and gained a lot of experience. What they did tonight can in no way even be compared to their CD. They were animals on stage, the only band that not only played their songs, but lived them, too. They ran across the stage, suffered through their lyrics, the drums were pummelling the band ever forward, the bass was fierce, the guitar was tearing holes in the air, and the kids started building a moshpit immediately. Where most bands only brought their friends, Fast Friday may have been the only band tonight that brought their fans. Afterwards everybody seemed to agree that Fast Friday were by far the best band of the night, and the only reason that they didn't come in first was that the preselections are still decided by show of hands and not quality.
Disappointed ended the evening, and if you read my Livejournal comment some weeks earlier, when they played this disastrous gig at the 911 in Belvaux, well, it wasn't that bad tonight. They even had a bass player. The band still looks funny on stage, and their music is too much rooted in the Nineties, but at least I discovered, even after I don't know how many beers, true inspiration, and a vocalist who did sometimes really cool stuff. Disappointed are still a very young band, and even though they didn't make it tonight (but what about a lucky loser bid for them?), I am certain that we will hear more of them in the future.
Maybe having only six bands instead of eight made me less drunk than the years before, because I still remember who won:
3. Triad (although I really think they should be disqualified, see above for reasons)
2. Fast Friday (the only truly professional band of the evening, they rocked the house)
1. ILL? (boyscouts and janitors still have the most friends)
All in all it was an entertaining evening, with the conclusion that band participating at Emergenza seem to be generally stuck in the year 1995, there is not enough risk for musical innovation, and we absolutely have to stop Triad's German invastion.
See you all tonight, I guess.