Thirteen weeks of heavy competition and 16 bands have been chiselled down to four. Helvellyn, Cousin Buzz, Common Logic and Ten Zero One all battle it out for a place as winner of Livewires Battle of the Bands 2016, and of course, for that all important prize. May the odds be ever in your favour boys…
Common Logic’s greatest talent by far is their ability to always out-do themselves. Just when you think they’ve reached their peak, they only go on to perform better than before; but Livewire’s favourite underdogs’ modesty remains intact: bassist Toby leans back in his chair, “…We got to the semi’s and thought ‘oh okay, we’ve done pretty well for ourselves, we’ll bow out gracefully now’.”. Josh, guitarist, laughs “We didn’t even think we’d make it past the first round.”
Last week’s secret weapon was the power of funk (as said by drummer James, and not Toby as quoted. Sorry guys!) this week however, the secret weapon is pretty straightforward: “As long as we’re having fun.” Says James, who seems to be pulling secret weapons from his sleeves at this point.
The four boys walk out in their signature shades of green to a more than enthusiastic crowd before flinging themselves into “Monica”. Josh spits out a capital solo and breakdowns and small solo riffs in their second number “Marrginal Error” – spelt specifically with two ‘r’s – keep the audience in all the right places. To say that Common Logic warmed up the crowd would be an insult. Their third number “The Train Song”; introduced simply as “This is a song about trains”, is a catchy crowd favourite thanks to Thorr’s keys solo and bold riffs. And thanks to an extended set time, the boys have time to bless their crowd with a heavy funk dance number called “Greenhouse”.
Describe your set in five words:
“Getting the audience flippin’ hyped.”
Helvellyn have the heir of a band that’s consumed way too much caffeine within the past 24 hours. “I’m kind of nervous,” states lead guitarist Isaac shifting in his seat, “the bands are quite good… I didn’t expect to get this far.” Anxious, confident, and “excited to the point where I feel a bit sick”, vocalist Joe keeps his eyes fixated on the table in front of him – hopefully concentrating on not bringing back up his lunch – while drummer Joe briefly explains an odd dream he had regarding the finals. Nerves are taking their toll.
You never would’ve guessed it though. One by one each member strolls casually on to the stage under dimmed lights filling the room with floating melodies of their own concoction before hurling themselves into their first, violently upbeat, song “Magnusson”. Helvellyn have perfectly mastered the skill of losing themselves in their art, what they’re still working on however, is dancing. Helvellyn’s second, self-titled track is less powerful, but doesn’t lack their signature dynamic range and intensity.
Unlike the other bands, the four boys decided to forfeit and extra song or two in favour of friendly talk with their highly interactive audience. It’s safe to say Helvellyn know how to pull a crowd and as they launch into their final song “The Boy Who Cried Basking Shark” which must be a fan favourite since everyone was singing it back at them. In a moment of apparent spontaneity, vocalist Joe ditches the guitar and dives into the crowd; or rather, on to the crowd. The shocked, yet undeniably delighted audience guide Joe back to the stage and they come together for a final, finishing, deafening crescendo. And then they leave, as casually as they walked on, sweating and beaming.
Describe your set in 5 words:
I don’t get it either!
“I think Arthur’s confident, [Jack] is… slightly less confident; and I’m bricking it!” drummer Dom’s voice cracks slightly as he tries to refrain from laughing. Something about Cousin Buzz’s presence makes you question how they could ever be nervous at anything. Their first call of action seems to be to just crack jokes and laugh it off.
The Liskeard trio were determined to make a comeback after their appearance in the semi’s: “Our semi final wasn’t the best thing in the world… and we thought we should probably practise, so we’ve spent the past three days practising.” It shows too, you may have heard of going out swinging, but have you ever seen a band come back in swinging? Cousin Buzz’s return to the Battle of the Bands final saw the reappearance of inflatable bananas, their rather adorable stuffed bee mascot, Drumble Bee, a substantial amount of sweat, and of course, an energy level that could bring the roof down.
After spitting out their usual amount of heavy, gritty solos, dirty riffs and a small amount of saliva Cousin Buzz had thanked their crowd and left the stage before you could even say ‘encore’; leaving their audience dazed in a metaphorical state of awestruck whiplash.
Describe your set in 5 words:
“beards, bromance and bumblebees bruh”
TEN ZERO ONE
“The standard for tonight is set really quite high…But we’re not about that, we’re just gonna have fun and if it’s good enough it’s good enough.” Bassist and vocalist Max seems pretty matter-of-fact about the whole thing, but guitarist Jack says they’ve got nerves.
As perfectly polished as ever the Tavistock boys take to the stage with gritty distortion and clean harmonies, their heavy pop-punk inspired sound encompasses the best of both worlds with catchy hooks and ripped solos. Ten Zero One, as always, take to their set with confidence, well rehearsed and sure of themselves, Max even unabashedly admits that their second song “Fall Into Me” is about a girl in the audience. They receive a few wolf whistles for that one.
Talent becomes them. The boys keep up a dynamic structure, their sound: bright and fresh, they ooze professionalism but they really are just set for a good time.
Describe your set in 5 words:
“modern rock with pop elements”
THE VERY CLOSE FINAL RESULT
The judges spent even longer than usual deciding on the final vote, and when they finally emerge after a sickeningly exciting wait with a decided winner, it’s told there was only two points in it. Ten Zero One’s polish pop-punk feel just missed out on the top spot as Cousin Buzz take the winners prize: £400 cash and a recording opportunity at DbS!
It’s been tough, there’s been sweat, sweat and more sweat. Helvellyn and Common Logic take their runner up prizes with dignity, everybody hugging and congratulating each other, and neither band goes home too disheartened: as runners up they get the opportunity for a day long recording session at Livewire’s very own recording studio. Congratulations to all the bands from Heat 1 to the Final, it’s been a wild ride, until next year.
Livewire has put on one of the most wonderful and enjoyable competitions and it’s been a pleasure for my colleague and I to be a part of it. Since it’s opening, Livewire has shaped itself into whatever the young members need, whether that be support in careers, a place of refuge, a place to seek advice or friendship. Livewire takes music and uses it for it’s primal function, to bring people together. No matter who they were, or where they came from, Livewire has taken each and every person to walk through their doors under their wing, they’ve changed the lives of so many youths and with support, your support, they can continue to do so for years to come.
It’s been an absolute pleasure being able to write for Livewire and the Herald these past weeks, and we’d like to thank The Plymouth Herald, the Livewire Supporters, and the workers at Livewire, who pour their heart and soul into Livewire daily.
Review by Enya Williams
Photos by Shaun Gregson
Andy Rance, Livewire’s Youth Work Co-ordinator commented:
Firstly a huge well done to Cousin Buzz for winning and second place winners Ten Zero One and runners up Helvellyn and Common Logic, it really was an epic finale and ALL of the bands played their hearts out. The quality of bands throughout this competition has really blown me away, right from the very first heat to the final and this event for me highlights what Livewire really is all about, ‘creating opportunities for young people’ which has been our mantra for many years now and will continue to do so for many years to come I hope.
A Massive Thank You!
Of course without the support of the competitions supporters, this event would not have been possible so a massive thank you to long time Livewire supporters Marshall Amplification for donating some awesome amps and a cool NATAL snare drum. Local (and not so local) Music education establishment Deep Blue Sound donated the winners a day in their pro studio. Protection Racket who supply soft protective bags for musicians gave the winners a load of back packs and last but not least local independent music store Hartnolls have donated a band goodie bag.
Thanks also to The Herald for covering this competition and of course our own Enya Williams and Joe Day for their wonderful reviews throughout (both of whom are budding young journalists) and Shaun Gregson – another young person from Livewire – for his photography throughout the event and thanks to all the judges who have supported this event over the week, its been a tough task for them!
And lastly our thanks to all of our staff team and sound/lighting crew who have worked tirelessly throughout this competition.
Livewire provided the £400 and £100 cash prizes it was lovely that winners Cousin Buzz decided to donate £50 of their winnings back to Livewire.
Whilst the battle of the bands has now finished in grand style, Livewire’s ongoing Battle to survive cornwall council’s complete withdrawal of support and funding continues, but we are as determined today as we’ve been throughout that Livewire WILL continue.
2016 marks Livewire’s 70th Anniversary
Livewire will be hosting some great events throughout the year to both highlight the work livewire does and to hopefully raise more funds to help secure the projects future.
Or if you would like to make either a regular or one off donation to this vital work please visit www.mydonate.bt.com/charities/livewireyouthmusicproject