Emergenza Preselections - Day 2

Jay's Pub, Kyrenee, DeadBoyDreaming, Airback, Death Symphony, Javies at the Kulturfabrik (Esch/Alzette) on February 19th, 2005

And on it goes. Cold weather and heavy snow falling around midnight, like the day before, turned this Saturday into another perfect Winter night. As we Luxembourgers are a very safety conscious people, and the Road Security Department made its latest campaign with a national brewery, plus the fact that all our cars have snow tires, was the reason that again good 400 people showed up for the six bands tonight. Before I am going into detail about them, I have to say that although tonight there was not one single highlight like Fast Friday before, but then there were no bands infuriating my good taste like ILL? and the vomit inducing sweet pop of Triad.

Jay's Pub: bringing the 'rock' back into folk rock Jay's Pub had the duty to open the night, and I say it again, with the schedule one hour late compared to the last Emergenza, that shouldn't be a handicap any longer. Their guitar player performed and failed with Paraflip two years ago at the same place, and where Paraflip were heavy retro rock from the Seventies, Jay's Pub chose to get a violinist and head into a retro folk rock direction. From the first song on it was clear that although these were without exception very young people, they already knew what they were playing. Pol's heavily distorted guitar prevented the music from dropping into fake camp fire romanticism à la Granny's Favoritz, while Adèle's stylishly designed e-violin had an eerily transformed sound, transporting us back to the early Seventies with bands like the Mahavishnu Orchestra and early Hawkwind, even though I doubt that she ever heard of those bands before. Vocalist Simone had a tremendous voice, but unfortunately she didn't have the necessary discipline which made her hit the wrong notes just a couple times too many. If she learned a bit of self-restraint and stayed in the lower registers of her voice, she'd be one of the really amazing young talents. Thierry who was standing next to me felt reminded sometimes of the melancholy of German post-wave bands like EA80 while I supposed that Jay's Pub went browsing through their parents' old vinyl collection and discovered the likes of Lindisfarne, Magna Carta and Renaissance. Anyway, the audience liked it, and I have a strong suspicion that not only their friends voted for them.

Kyrenee: Thekla Metal for the Children of the Night Kyrenee cast a different light on their perception what music is supposed to sound like. I heard their demo CD that they recorded nearly two years ago – my ears are still bleeding – and I hoped and prayed that they had improved over the years, but luck decided not to be on my side today. First of all, playing gothic metal can be one of the hardest tasks in life, because these artists pay often more attention to the aesthetics of their clothes, hair, image than to good song writing, and having a violinist doesn't make you immediately original, especially in this case where it seemed that the violinist was absolutely tone deaf, setting me back in time to the Seventies when the Biene Maja was tortured by the scratching fiddle of the mean spider, inspiring me to call Kyrenee's music Thekla metal. The shared male and female vocals didn't convince me either. While the imposing female singer did at least a good job with a good voice, the male vocalist made too much a James Hetfield impersonation, and truly, Hetfield is such a bad vocalist that he can only work with Metallica, where we are used to his monotonous voice, or why do you think he has never released a solo album so far? But again, the people liked it, and I wondered if it's enough these days to have a violinist in your cast to make the average Luxembourger think that we have Saint Patrick's Day, walk like a drunk Paddy to the bar, get a pint of lager (where is Guinness beer when you actually need it?) and hold their hands when the voting starts.

DeadBoyDreaming: the heaviest band at Emergenza this year My favourite band of the night were DeadBoyDreaming. With the guitar player from my former favourite band Yuzu, they were anything but stoner metal. And though their info material said that they were also inspired by hardcore music, they played straight forward old school death metal, reminding me more often than not of Six Feet Under. I doubt that from here on there will come another more extreme band, but unfortunately, they seemed to be a bit too much on the heavy side for the more rock and alternative audience, and some parts could have been worked on. Between the songs, the band seemed rather helpless, after 15 minutes they already left the stage because they thought their time was over, and had to be brought back for an encore. Also the undistorted guitar parts took the power out of the music, and visually it would have been cooler to share the vocals radically between the vocalist (deep growls) and the guitarist (high shrieks). DeadBoyDreaming are still young, even a student band, you may be tempted to say, but I dare say they have a future, and left not only me impressed with the brutal power they generated at times.

Airback: uninspired alt rock with a talented horns section And then comes the moment when you can't understand the world anymore. Nobody ever heard of Airback before, even their short biography on the Emergenza site left you wondering about what to expect. And then the surprise: this was totally cheaply done alternative rock, stealing from this band and that band, with really bad vocals to make things worse. What saved the music a little bit was the brass section (trumpet, trombone) that was truly gifted and did some amazing ragtime and swing stuff, but it never sounded like anything more than a gimmick. I wanted to see the band, but they brought so many friends that I wasn't able to enter the concert room, so I watched from the door. Airback were today what ILL? were the night before. Maybe they were not as retro, reactionary and conservative, but there was no trace of originality, and to be sincere, it is a bit infuriating that a sub-average band can take the night just because they have all the friends it takes. But then we know that Emergenza wants money, and it's normally only in the finals with a jury where quality reigns over the number of people you can gather around yourself. Just imagine sending these guys off to the Taubertal makes me wonder what image we would get in Germany!

Death Symphony: youngsters playing Apocalyptica in a nutshell A band that splits people quite heavily is Death Symphony. This duo of cellists is very young, with one of the members being the brother of the Ophidian drummer, and although I want to be nice, I just can say that when two long-haired guys are playing cello and call themselves Death Symphony, the result can only sound like a one-to-one copy of Apocalyptica. They started their gig as a duo and later were joined by a drummer, but then this is like the history of Apocalyptica in a nutshell: they also started as a cellos-only band and only later used a drummer. And again where Apocalyptica were original on their first album, they failed with all of their succeeding efforts, because music like that can only be a gimmick. Tonight Death Symphony had enough people voting for them, and I don't know if people did this because of the kids' tender age of 15 years or because they thought it was original (because it wasn't). Anyway I only followed their show from the outside, and the people I was talking to seemed to share my opinion.

Javies: student rock at its most generic Last band of the night were Javies, and they had al the attributes your general students band has. In fact I felt so reminded of the has-beens from the years before (Hume, Crying Souls). You actually felt that Javies were striving for coolness, but as they don't seem to know what rock'n'roll is about, they only failed miserably. Guitar solo followed guitar solo, but they always sounded so constructed, never actually fitting the song material that was totally unexciting. As much as the vocalist tried to make her best, she just didn't have stage presence, which can be said for the rest of the band. I mean it's ok if six people want to hang around and have fun while playing harmless pop rock music, and it's also alright if they want for once play under professional circumstances at the Emergenza, but I hope for the band that they were not disappointed for not reaching the semi-finals, because this just wasn't the quality you need to succeed with your music. My advice is they should buy some fashionable rock albums (Interpol, Bloc Party, TV On The Radio, Franz Ferdinand), lock themselves for a week away from civilisation and learn what modern alternative rock is really about.

The results tonight were not that surprising, apart from the fact that two bands shared the third place, leaving unfortunately only room for one (instead of two) lucky loser(s). And by the way, you nice people of Get Up Music, "loser" is written with only one "o". Didn't your spellchecker make you aware of this?

So the final results were:
3: Death Symphony (Apocalyptica clones, but the people seemed to like it)
3. Kyrenee (and I tell you again, it is not yet Saint Patrick's Day)
2. Jay's Pub (best songwriting tonight, with a vocalist whose voice needs some working yet)
1. Airback (who had a good horns section and a lot of friends)

And I am happy that I have six days off now, not from work, but from Emergenza, which should make me gather some energy again, so that I won't have the same fate like Bon Scott who died exactly 25 years before. Thanks to Kyrenee for the reminder. And hope to see many of you people back next Friday.


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