From the small twin islands of Trinidad & Tobago, rises a band like no other! With determination to bring Rock music back to its Full Glory!
From the strum of the first chord to the crash of the final cymbal; Sidekick Envy envelops the listener in the sound of creative riffs and emotional lyrics. The band has brought together four of the most uncommon friends set to working towards a common goal; and that is to bring rock and roll back to its full glory......however under their own terms. Terms that include un-apologetic loud guitars and a hard hitting rhythm section, with romantic melodies laced with rude wit folded in. SkE brings together a new sound as each member come from a different musical background. Drawing musical references from all different genres from punk to alternative to EDM to form a fusion. Logan, Disko, Stephen and Matt are here to mix their own concoction of a musical drug that will ebb into your hearts and flow into your soul.
Lead Vocals/ Guitar: The Logan - Not just the dreamer but a ‘Fly Boy’ with his eyes to the sky. The fact that Logan literally has his ‘head in the clouds’ makes him the right man for the job of writing and composing those emotional lyrics that SkE has become known for.
Lead Guitars: Disko Pigg - A Beast on Guitar, nothing can be said about Disko's playing. You need to hear it, to believe it.
Drums: Stephen- The Powerhouse.....Stephen is heading to Infinity & Beyond. Stephen’s love of percussion brings the beat to SkE.
Slapping da Bass: Matt Da Fourth...Bringing to light all that lay in darkness. Proving that even a Ginger can have Soul.
Sidekick Envy. Keep an eye out for these lads from Trinidad!
Sidekick Envy rocks on
By JANELLE DE SOUZA Sunday, June 19 2016
They classify their lyrical style as rude and witty, and their music as “modern, alternative, mainstream rock with romantic melodies.” Their formula? Strong guitar rifts with a memorable melody, and high energy that people could enjoy.
This is what solidified Sidekick Envy as one of the top bands on the local rock music scene even though they are a relatively new band.
Sidekick Envy consists of Logan Tang on lead vocals and guitar, Ravi “Disko Pigg” Maharaj on lead guitar, Matthew “Matt Da-Forth” Mohammed on bass guitar and Stephen Yen Chong on drums.
Despite their on-stage rock demeanour, they are ‘every-day’ people. Tang has his helicopter and aeroplane commercial pilot’s licence, Disko Pigg is a music producer, Matt Da-Forth is a motorcycle technician and Yen Chong is a sales representative.
Tang told Sunday Newsday that he writes the lyrics for the band’s songs while all the members come together to compose the music. He noted that each song has an underlying message touching a wide range of issues, as there are no topics from which they shy away. For example, he said, their song “All My Life” sounds romantic but is really about BDSM (erotic practices of bondage, dominance, submission and sadomasochism), while “Wetman” is a bit of comic relief about men who drive Tiida cars.
“The crowd seems to get a good laugh out of that song,” he added.
Tang said he has been playing guitar since his early teens, and playing in a band was a dream he always wanted to pursue. In 2013, he got together with some friends and formed the band. They immediately started writing original material and began doing live performances in 2014. “We just wanted to see how far we could take it and try to make it in the international industry,” he said.
But the original members could not continue for one reason or the other and so the band now has its new line up.
Tang said he knew Disko Pigg was a talented musician, so when his lead guitarist left, he asked him to join and was elated when he accepted in March 2015. Yen Chong joined in December last year, while Matt Da-Forth joined in April 2016.
“Last year was our biggest year so far. We went from being not so known to being one of the top bands in Trinidad and Tobago.
We played the local Skyy Rock Music Festival last year and I think it was because Skyy Rock had a bigger audience. When we played that show is when people started paying attention to who we were,” she said.
In March of this year, Sidekick Envy also performed at the annual South by Southwest Music Festival, in Austin, Texas after being selected to play along with local bands Joint Pop, Jaundice-I, and 5 Miles to Midnight.
Their next performance will be on July 9, at Space La Nouba in San Fernando, at LYNCHPiN’s fundraiser in aid of LYNCHPiN’s journey to Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany. There, six of the top bands in Trinidad and the Caribbean will be taking the stage in support of LYNCHPiN becoming the first band from the Caribbean to perform at Wacken.
Tang said they try to keep their music as “radio-friendly” as possible but refuse to hold back on creativity. “We want to appeal to the masses. We don’t want to put ourselves in a niche market, but at the same time we are very open to experimenting with new sounds and pushing the envelope in terms of creativity,” he said.
He noted that everyone in the band listens to different genres of music - he enjoys British rock while Disko Pigg likes funk and electronic music. Yen Chong is into Indie bands from the United States while Matt Da-Fourth listens to heavy metal music. “We all come from different musical backgrounds but we all seem to make it work. We don’t try to emulate any band. What the song calls for is what we give it,” he said.
“The main thing for us is to capture an international market, and put TT on the map for something other than soca,” he added.
To that end, the band is planning a US tour in 2017.
If you’re on the ground for the local rock scene you have probably heard whispers and rhoumors about this … “Rock Revival”. We may have found the first major event to catapult this revival in the Skyy Rock Festival.
Schmidt Entertainment’s second Skyy Rock promised a rock show like no other, at the Skyy View Lounge in San Fernando. Some of the best local bands in the country came together for one of the largest throw downs in Trinidad rock in quite some time.
The line up of heavy hitters was as follows:
5 Miles to Midnight
The Supernormal Band
Bound to Oblivion
Devin Harry Paul the Band
Absence of I
Disaster’s Perfection (Formerly Far Away Fate)
Fly By Night
Tie Dye Kitty
That right there is a great mix of heavy metal with some lighter alternative rock mixed in so everyone could get their vibe, but before getting to the music, let’s talk about that venue. The Sky View lounge our opinion is a great spot for rock and even other genres of music, we guarantee it’s a great spot. On the scene was a swarm of rock paraphernalia and of course no rock show is complete without a tattoo shop. Something of note was the tight security, which we learned was a side effect of the security company owned by the promoters, so yuh safe!
On to the show! It’s not easy to sum up the show in one word, but epic does come to mind. They nailed the schedule with all the bands on stage in time and the majority crushed their performances, this really does speak a lot for the increased quality and diversity of local rock bands. The first few performances, though some were better than others did not have the crowd cheering, however as the night crept in so too did the moshers, alcohol likely played a role in this. By the time The Supernormal Band was on stage headbanging was in full effect with fans screaming BIG BIG GORILLA! Special mentions to Tie Dye Kitty, Alter Roots, Goodnight Parliament, The Supernormal Band, 5 Miles to Midnight, Sidekick Envy and of course Orange Sky who in our opinion were the expected show stealers.
On stage were a few specials for the peeps in the crowd. Far away Fate announced their new band name Disaster’s Perfection. Supernormal threw out a new song that had everyone kicking themselves … literally. The Carib girls were up there too giving out the goods to some lucky trivia answering fans.
There were a few hiccups here and there with the audio and some equipment malfunctions particularly during the Tie Dye Kitty performance, but they powered through it, nothing that’ll cause a riot … MC Jose, Dj’s Glen, Shane and Poonie kept the crowd riveted during the short interruption.
All in all the event was well done, from Jose’s awesome MC commentary to all the band performances to the free shit from Carib and Monster, it’s good to see people in Trinidad taking the rock music scene seriously again. If this is the expectation for rock then this ought to be an interesting revival indeed. Big shout out to all the bands and to Schmidt Entertainment for putting together an awesome event, can’t wait for next year.
Saturday SXSW Showcases
BY JIM CALIGIURI, FRI., MARCH 18, 2016
Trinidad & Tobago
9pm, Buffalo Billiards
Best known for bringing the world the type of intensely rhythmic dance music known as soca, the twin island country located off the northern coast of South America expands its range by adding a couple of alternative rock bands to the mix. From Trinidad, 5 Miles to Midnight is a long-running sextet bringing a hard rock sound that's drawn favorable comparisons to Fall Out Boy and Maroon 5. Sidekick Envy, four youngsters from Port of Spain, provides a smoother take on alternative rock with chiming guitars and soaring vocals. A nearly 20-year veteran of the local scene, Destra Garcia remains one of soca's stars with an international fan base and a sound that mixes traditional beats with electronic vocals and unremitting energy. Among the favorite performers at Carnival 2016, stylish vocalist Isasha brings a positive and political message to his soca and reggae rhythms.
For the first time Trinidad & Tobago rock music will showcase at the world-famous South by Southwest music festival.
Sidekick Envy, 5 Miles to Midnight and Inzey & DopeskisDaBand will represent Trinidad and Tobago next month at a special Trinbago showcase on March 19th in Austin, Texas.
SXSW Booking Programmer Todd Puckhaber selected the bands after they performed at AMMBCON 2015 in Trinidad, last August. Puckhaber has attended AMMBCON for the past three years and said he is always impressed by the talent at AMMBCON so he invited the conference organisers, ASK Promotions, to coordinate artistes to showcase at SXSW. “When I went to AMMBCON I saw an undiscovered pool of talent,” Puckhaber said. “And seeing the talented musicians who may benefit from attending SxSW motivated me to do a special Trinbago showcase.”
Puckhaber has committed to attend AMMBCON 2016 and share his wisdom in one-on-one sessions and panel discussions. Artistes who participate in AMMBCON in August also may have a chance to be invited to perform at SXSW in 2017.
“Part of AMMBCON is giving musicians a chance to be seen by booking agents and be selected for big opportunities like this,” said ASK Promotions CEO Stephen Howard. “SXSW is undeniably one of the most influential music events in the industry with thousands of artistes worldwide applying to perform. It is rare that one country gets its own stage at the festival to showcase its music.”
Also performing at the Trinbago showcase is I-Sasha, known for his popular song “Let’s Do This”. Destra and Trinidad-born Haddaway ("What is Love") will be the showcase headliners.
For the first time in 2015, SxSW featured a Trinbago showcase with eight musical acts performing. It was also the first time steel pan and parang were featured in the music industry’s most influential event. Mungal Patasar, Los Alumnos de San Juan, The Codrington Pan Family, and Dennis Morgan were selected to perform at SxSW last year after working with AMMBCON and ASK Promotions. Past headliners included Trinidad James, Machel Montano, Shurwayne Winchester and The Mighty Sparrow.
Three rock bands from T&T have the chance to perform next month, at one of the biggest music events in the world, the annual South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas.
However, as the time draws closer, they find themselves far short of the necessary funds required to participate.
SXSW is an annual set of film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences that take place in mid-March in Austin, Texas. This year, the event which attracts some of the biggest global acts, takes place from March 11-20.
The three bands that have been chosen to participate are 5 Miles to Midnight, Sidekick Envy and King Inzy & DopeskisDaBand once they can get the funding, they will appear at the Trinbago Showcase at Buffalo Billiards Bar and Grill, in downtown Austin on March 19. The showcase event is sponsored by ASK Promotions, an entertainment management company headed by Stephen Howard.
At a media conference at COTT offices hosted by ASK, the bands admitted that they have only raised less than 30 per cent of the required money needed to fund their travel and participation.
In 2016, ASK Promotions said that state support for the artistes was not forthcoming as it was in 2015 when it debuted the Trinibago SXSW Showcase. For the bands and entourages which range from five to nine people—including sound technicians and marketing specialists—the cost is more than $100,000. That figure has proven to be a burden and is the reason that rock band jointpop, which was originally chosen for the showcase has opted out.
These six-figure amounts include travel and accommodation, SXSW fees, media and marketing facilitation, technical support, and underwriting the cost of the headliners, soca star Destra Garcia and Trinidad-born Eurodance hitmaker Haddaway.
ASK Promotions CEO Stephen Howard, said at the news conference: “The recession is preventing public funding.”
Howard said his organisation approached the ministries of Culture, Trade and Tourism as well as the private sector, but support was not forthcoming.
As he addressed the press conference, the entertainment executive made comparisons with other countries which give their SXSW delegations state funding. Howard pointed out that there were benefits for the careers of many of those participants, and urged investment from both the public and private sector.
Three bands indicated that they were registered with the Artists Registry at the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts and this meant that companies that sponsored, were entitled to tax deductible investment benefits.
Howard reiterated that the SXSW four-day trip—including the Trinbago Showcase on March 19—provides ample opportunities for acts to interact with music industry “movers and shakers” in North America.
“Acts have to take advantage of connections. The industry is music changing, and one needs to be there to be relevant. Networking is essential,” he said.
Howard said ASK Promotions has sourced music journalist Patricia Meschino, a veteran who writes for Billboard, Rolling Stone and other major publications focusing on Caribbean music, to act as publicist for the T&T contingent.
ASK has also done the pre-event legwork of networking with booking agents and label executives via the SXSW online social network that “locates the right people for our music” to ensure that they turn up to the Showcase.
Speaking to the T&T Guardian, ASK chief operating officer Charlene Belfon said the initial contingent was reduced from 44 people to 28 as some acts opted out.
The financial burden remains the same however as bottom-line costs are unchanged. The company is still in active negotiation with private and state agencies for funding support.
When asked about the possibility that the bands being unable to go because they were not able to raise the $100,000 plus figures, she admitted they “have not planned that worst-case scenario as yet, but the option of having a smaller show utilising US-based talent” was offered but not confirmed as yet.
Stephen Howard is confident in the possibilities that can accrue from participation at SXSW. He is also aware of local attitudes towards funding and sponsorship for the music business from both artistes and potential sponsors.
“Acts have work to do, and that includes marketing preparation and fund-raising. It’s not cheap to showcase internationally,” said Howard. “If acts can’t raise their funds, ASK will decide what to do.”
A search online revealed that many of the unsigned and independent bands who attend SXSW from both the US and abroad are using crowd-funding methods as one way of underwriting costs to attend the hugely-anticipated event. Most are seeking between US$3,000 and US$6,000.
International showcases clearly are risky and expensive. With less than a month to go before the planned trip to Austin, the continued desire of all acts to go is tangible, and the harsh reality of their current shortcomings has not jaded that desire as yet.
How are the acts for SXSW chosen?
The process for going to the 2016 SXSW Trinbago Showcase included a local audition at the AMMBCON Expo in August 2015 where six acts were chosen by SXSW Music Fest programmer, Todd Puckhaber. Those bands received “coupons” that allowed them to register in the official SXSW database.
The six acts were 5 Miles to Midnight, Sidekick Envy, King Inzy & DopeskisDaBand, jointpop, Orange Sky and pan player Derron Ellies. Orange Sky, Ellies and jointpop later dropped out and invitations were then extended to soca star Destra Garcia, reggae singer I-Sasha and Haddaway for the six-act, six-hour showcase in Austin.
What success has come from SXSW?
There was success for some of the acts at the 2015 SXSW Trinbago stage. Parang band Los Alumnos de San Juan were invited to the World Music Expo (Womex) in Budapest, Hungary in October 2015. Womex is known in the music industry as the “most important professional market for world music of every kind.”
Based on their appearances at Womex, Los Alumnos de San Juan received bookings at five festivals in Canada with the potential for several more in Europe.
The Codrington Pan Family, who also attended last year, has a pending recording and teaching collaboration with Emily Lemmerman of Barracuda Steel Drums of Austin, Texas.
SXSW or bust: How to get to Austin in one piece.
ASK Promotions once again was able to secure a Trinidad and Tobago stage at the annual SXSW Music Festival and Conference in Austin, Texas in March of 2016. Following from the 2015 event where the T&T stage debuted with Mighty Sparrow and Trinidad Jame$ headlining, SXSW Music Fest Programmer / Venues Todd Puckhaber via ASK Promotions selected six acts to get the opportunity to register to showcase at the festival “for over 25,000 industry representatives and fellow musicians combined, plus nearly 3,000 media members and thousands of fans in attendance.” A larger venue for the T&T stage is promised with the spillover increase in potential connections.
By attrition, four acts are now set to be in a position to go to Austin with headliners Destra Garcia and Trinidadian-German Eurodance artist Haddaway, famous for his 1992 international hit “What is Love”: rock bands Jointpop, 5 Miles to Midnight, Sidekick Envy and hip hop innovators Inzey and DopeskisDaBand. This eclectic mix of talent seems to contradict a sentiment earlier in 2015 by Stephen Howard, ASK Promotions CEO, about the difficulty of local rock and R&B acts to compete effectively in the US within those genres. That said, the additional difficulty on the bands for SXSW 2016 is the funding options that seem to have dried up completely.
In 2015, the Ministry of the Arts funded the artists participation at SXSW to the tune of $1 million plus. In 2016, Ask Promotions decided that the risk was not worth the rewards in terms of business engagement, public relations and personal interaction, so the company has asked the acts to pay for their expenses including travel and accommodation, marketing and PR, some production costs and registration fees, all sourced by ASK. Charlene Belfon, ASK COO told the T&T Guardian that the total figure is close to $1.2 million for 44 persons consisting of artists, film crew, PR, tour manager to go for four days. ASK has a reciprocal arrangement with SXSW where they do not have to pay, and the figure does not include ASK personnel. Any sponsorship gained by ASK would offset any down-payments already made by acts.
Bands have already noted the difficulty in sourcing investments of more than $100,000 for their individual contingents to travel to Texas. Gary Hector of Jointpop admitted that he had two coupons for SXSW, but even with the increased odds, corporate sponsorship is almost closed to his band because of the genre. Rock is shunned locally for practical (small niche market) and perceived (it's too risky) reasons by corporate investors. (A coupon is the “ticket” to register in the database for the festival. An “invitation to perform” is the desired piece of paper for any act. No invite, no SXSW performance. Guerilla marketing and performances are not allowed.)
Younger rock band 5 Miles to Midnight recognises that SXSW is “where this band needs to be,” according to drummer Rhys Thompson. They have opted to do fund-raising concerts, some corporate solicitation with brands that would be at SXSW as a kind of “branding by association” strategy. They are even looking at barbecues all in an effort to raise their $140,000 tab. Sidekick Envy, so far uniquely, is utilising Indiegogo crowdfunding to raise US$10,000 to pay towards getting to Texas.
All the bands left of the initial six recognise the potential to get to SXSW. “Showcases lead to touring,” says Hector, a veteran of touring on the UK circuit but some 15 years out of a US tour. Thompson say that if the band can't raise the funds, he will still go to participate in the festival as a means of connecting and networking via the conference route. These responses beg the question, what was the purpose of MusicTT and CreativeTT investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2015 to do a parallel SXSW jaunt with just a reminiscence of the trip as a pair of video excerpts on Facebook? Public sector financing of these showcasing tours was a function of the state enterprise, but the shoddy performance has cast doubt on the efficacy of the business model in the future.
ASK Promotions has upped the game in terms of engagement with music stakeholders by exposing the nuts-and-bolts negotiations and some say wheeling and dealing that exists in modern music industries. There have been grumblings about advantageous contracts, broken promises and perceived opportunism by ASK from stakeholders. Entitlement is something that is no longer on the table from signals from government, and ASK by-passed the easy way out to set up a situation where acts had to do some hard digging for their careers. As deadlines approach for down-payments for the Texas trip, the desire to make these international music showcases an annual rite of passage for the local music sector becomes jaded by the harsh realities of a global music industry that takes no prisoners.
West Side Rockin! Strings
"Ugh! What is that noise!" That likely the reaction of the regular Avenue zombies shuffling past Aria on an average Thursday night. That sound they hear would be the sweet sweet metal sound of Strings. "Wait, but this is Ariapita Avenue, that kind of thing is a Central rock people vibe thing, what that doing here?" Well yes it's here in the North West and we love the idea.
So just what is Strings then?
Aria on Ariapita Avenue has been so AWESOME as to facilitate a DJ rock party with live performances by local rock bands. This seems to take place roughly twice a month on Thursdays ... yes the Thursday night curse strikes again, I spoke about this issue in a previous blog regarding BPM Thursday.
The roster of performances has featured some of our current top bands such as Orange Sky, Supernormal and Sidekick Envy. Strings is a rock show but it's not your typical TT metal vibe. You would expect the typical mosh pit with head banging, hair flipping all over the place, a crowd throwing horns skyward while screaming at the top of their lungs and some die hards possibly in their 80's somewhere in this fray rockin till they die.
That's not Strings
However it's not a bad thing this event is very ... chill in comparison. It offers a different vibe for the rocker who just is not in to the chaos but loves the music and wants a place to lime that caters to their specific tastes.
At Aria a metalhead could hang out at the lounge and enjoy the show and ambiance with out the wine and go dong thing to hear two Linkin Park and a LMFAO transition that into some song about a "pretty gyal" touch a something. It's an interesting alternative style of local rock shows where you can kick back, rock out or just find somewhere in between.
For the local rock scene to be revived and to thrive, a stage worth performing on for and a crowd worth performing for is undeniably necessary. With the right support this could truly be the beginning of a new era for local rock. If this stage is successful enough it can be expanded for those international bands we have all been dying for.
So the potential stage is here so what's needed is the crowd ... that means you to perform for. Quoting Soca might be inappropriate given the subject matter but in the words of Machel Montano "the stage is in front of us, time to get advantageous".
The potential here is huge! I truly hope the organizers understand what they could have possibly started and play their cards correctly. I understand they got some Carib sponsorship of some sort which is an excellent direction for the event.
Major kudos to Aria for giving this group a shot, we understand the likely reasons for the Thursday but it would be even better on a Friday or Saturday. Hopefully the event receives enough attention to get a better slot in the week.
To the Fans - I don't like to say "support local" as it's a highly abused commercial concept that is used by anyone trying to get a sale here and there but this could be a movement to help a community you want to see flourish. So I say... support that movement because it's the only way things are going to change.
To the businessmen - Use it! Yes, to your own benefit. Promoters, throw your brands in. If you can be part of something or just attach or affiliate yourself, your brand with the revitalization of the genre, that could generate brand loyalty like nothing else. I'm sure there are marketers out there that will understand this. Consider it.
Fun if you get in to it.
Accessible to North West.
It's on the Avenue - I't can just be another stop on your bar hop.
Potential - This could truly grow into something great.
Thursday - Can't stress how much of a drag this is.
Cover cost - Everywhere else has it so why shouldn't Strings? Regardless that could be a disincentive.
Under advertised - Spread the word of this little movement.
1) "Perfect Part of Me"- Andrae Ricardo (2 weeks at #1, 4 weeks on charts)
2) "All my Life"- Sidekick Envy (same position, spent 5 non consecutive weeks @ #1, 11 weeks on charts)
3) "Mama Don't Cry"- Ras Lett (same position, spent 1 week @ #1, 9 weeks on charts)
4) "Not Turning Back"- Denyse Plummer (same position, 2 weeks on charts)
5) "Old Time Kaiso"- Native Alfie (same position, 2 weeks on charts)
6) "Hercules"- Nandelle (same position, 2 weeks on charts)
7) "Unexpected Love"- Melody DeForge (prod Roger Ryan) (same position, 3 weeks on charts)
Indigenous is an initiative of ACTT to promote local content quotas, aired on Power 102.1FM on Sundays from 8 p.m. Supported by artistes, fans, Sunday Mix, more FM 104.7FM, Synergy TV, West Bees Supermarket, & BlinkBmobile. New songs are introduced every week. From these songs text your votes to 687-5576 and/or leave a voicemail, e-mail choices to firstname.lastname@example.org and join the Indigenous Facebook page for updates, artist interaction and to post videos and songs. For eligible songs look for the files: Songs Introduced and HITS
1) "Perfect Part of Me"- Andrae Ricardo (up from 4, 1 week at #1, 3 weeks on charts)
2) "All my Life"- Sidekick Envy (drop from 1, spent 5 non consecutive weeks @ #1, 10 weeks on charts)
3) "Mama Don't Cry"- Ras Lett (drop from 2, spent 1 week @ #1, 8 weeks on charts)
4) "Not Turning Back"- Denyse Plummer (new)
5) "Old Time Kaiso"- Native Alfie (new)
6) "Hercules"- Nandelle (new)
7) "Unexpected Love"- Melody DeForge (prod Roger Ryan) (drop from 6, 2 weeks on charts)
Indigenous is an initiative of ACTT to promote local content quotas, aired on Power 102.1FM on Sundays from 8 p.m. Supported by artists, fans, Sunday Mix, More FM 104.7FM, Synergy TV, West Bees Supermarket, & BlinkBmobile.New songs are introduced every week. From these songs text your votes to 687-5576 and/or leave a voicemail, e-mail choices to email@example.com and join the Indigenous Facebook page for updates, artist interaction and to post videos and songs.
For eligible songs look for the files: Songs Introduced and HITS
In San Fernando our own local music festival took place with an impressive line-up of ten T&T rock bands at the 2015 Skyy Rock Festival on March 21. The festival, which its organisers hope to make an annual show, was a revelation. There was music played that everyone interested in T&T music needs to hear.
The Skyy Rock Festival at Skyview Courtyard featured a line-up of long-standing as well as relatively new bands on the scene, from jointpop and Orange Sky (whose performance I regrettably missed), to more mainstream island-rock bands like 5 Miles to Midnight, viral sensations the Supernormal Band (aka the Tilapia Boys) and newcomers Imaginary Friends, only two years old and fresh on the local rock scene.
The Bad Ass Female Rock Bassist award for the night went to the band Imaginary Friends, and facially stoic but nimble-fingered Tash Ramcharitar. Ramcharitar doubled as a vocalist and was an admirable vocal doppelgänger of Cranberries front woman Dolores O'Riordan, when she jumped from the bass to the lead mic to bring the crown to life with a cover of Zombie.
Three-man group Prime 3 featured David Sookram on lead guitar/vocals, Glendon John on bass and Brian Mahaise on drums. Prime 3 was able to play through some major technical difficulties to unleash their original song Jumbie on the crowd.
Jumbie was an infectious, catchy and unique soca/rock fusion song that had all heads bobbing. Lucky for us band manager Jared Abdul confirmed Jumbie will be recorded and mastered at the end of April 2015.
The Supernormal Band, with lead singer Andy Rambharat and his surprisingly beautiful vibrato vocal tone, along with a face-melting lead guitar solo from Johnathon Agostini nearly set the microphones on fire.
Their original song Zombies took the mood into a kaiso/ rock crossover with some colloquial ad-libs sung in the mix. One thing of note was that every Supernormal song seemed to be in the same key, which had the ear desiring some more variety after a while.
Good Night Parliament’s front man Luke Edwards brought intensity and passion, and went almost red in the face with effort to perform this band’s style of music.
Between the band’s natural style, which varied from screamfest to growling, the only song I could appreciate was Quiet Hole, because it was announced and it was regulated to a moderate volume, tolerable enough to actually hear the lyrics. Other than that, the set was loud. Everything, from top to tail of every song, was played at screaming fortissimo and difficult to enjoy.
Sidekick Envy reminded us all that the point of the evening was to listen to music. The main ingredient seemed to be well-known musician and songwriter Ravi Maharaj (aka Disko Pigg, aka a_phake) jamming out hard on guitar, elevating the song composition past garage band experimentation into songs that have the potential to take Sidekick Envy out of the underground.
The songs were catchy, with really memorable melodies. Their original song, All My Life, is already on local radio rotation. Their vocal delivery at the festival was almost too clean thanks to an incorporation of live mic Auto-Tune that the band uses to provide a studio sounding experience whenever performing live.
Spectral were the musical scientists and eccentric rhythm experimentalists of the entire festival and reminded me very much of System of a Down in their boldness with trying different musical statements.
Just when I thought they were cooling down the vibe with a rock ballad, Spectral Vibes, performing together for the first time in six years, completely reinvented my understanding of the calibre of rock of which local bands are capable.
First of all, this band was all about the unexpected. Wonderful dissonant chord play and abstract affectation to both the vocals by Cutter Ramchanee as well as the melody created an unearthly combination of sounds that lived up to the band’s name.
Full marks for composing a tonally clashing rock song, add the 7/4 time signature from Khalid Anderson Pahalwan on drums, and it make the musical complexity of the song arrangement perfectly match the theme and mood of one of their original compositions about changing one's life path. They urgently need to do a studio mastered EP in order to allow me to appreciate the details, with headphones, preferably on a rainy day.
The band 5 Miles 2 Midnight was probably the most satisfying performer of the evening, polished, well-rehearsed and executing a non-stop flow of music that was professional and tight. Band members Rhys Thompson on drums, Alex Burt Ou Young on guitar, Mark Wallace on bass, Dale EP Dolly on keys, Shallun Sammy on guitar and extremely charismatic tenor vocalist Liam King executed a set that looked ready for commercial exposure as soon as tomorrow. Their smash-up of AWOLNATION’s Sail and Imagine Dragons’ Radioactive was the mass thrash moment of the night, and had the entire crowd alive with hands in the air.
From jointpop’s set we got a little 50s rock-and-roll à la Elvis, with a softer Beatles style coming through on Simply Beautiful, the lead single off their upcoming 2015 album Quicksand (to be released on April 1). There was also a side of Tom Petty-like interludes with a startling and deeply appreciated rock-jazzy virtuoso fusion jamming from keyboardist Phil Hill, and that grungy, drawled vocal quality by lead vocalist Gary Hector that is unique to jointpop.
With some support and investment, some of these bands could be more than ready for showcasing to a wider local audience and for export to other territories.
It was also encouraging and exciting to learn that almost every band was either about to record; in the process of recording, or getting ready to release studio recordings of their originals. This is fantastic news and shows the investment that local rock is making in itself to punch through the smoke and fog of the bars, restaurants and smaller performing spaces underground into the light of both local and international mainstream.
A statement made mid-performance by Imaginary Friends lead singer Rajesh Arjoon summed it up perfectly: “Promoters, be nice. We trying to bring the scene back alive. Is not only calypsonians and chutney artistes working hard out here.”