Sunday 30 January 2011

Teenage Kicks: Voltage Variety Night at the Sage

I just got back from Gatehead's Sage, a big shiny building that specialises in art exhibitions and classical concerts. It was nice - a group of volunteers (connected to an organisation called CoMusica, I believe) had organised a showcase of a few young local bands - some probably not even out of sixth form - and, though about as small as you can get there were a handful of cool bands that are worth checking out.

The overall theme of the night - presumably because it's every teenage boy's dream to be a rock star - was heavy, often pop-punk, rock. Unfortunately, while the Sage is presumably a perfectly decent venue for classical concerts, it made a terrible place to hold a rock gig: for a start, the audience was seated, giving it the atmosphere of a high school assembly. Nevertheless, the bands had a good go at entertaining the sedentary audience.

The two that really stood out were Beckenheim and Warning. Beckenheim's impressively dark sound, sporting heavy, chugging riffs, didn't quite work within the family-friendly setting; the lead singer repeatedly assured the audience more upbeat songs were on the way. After a year's hiatus it was a good warm-up gig for greater things yet to come (hopefully!).

The other great band that played was Warning, an energetic rock trio with a surprisingly confident and well-developed sound. Of the original songs being presented by the bands of the night, Warning's 'Domino' stood out with its bouncy beat and great riff; as a friend remarked later, it could come on in a club and easily fill the dancefloor.

Paige Temperley (photo adapted
from promo pic on Solar
Powered Supermen's website)
My favourite act of the night though was Paige Temperley, who perfomed a quietly brilliant acoustic set of just two songs. The first, an original composition, was a lovely little ditty (the name of which I unfortunately completely missed) with interesting chord sequences and changes in tempo; while the second was an excellent reworking of Soulja Boy's 'Turn My Swag On', presumably influenced by Cher Lloyd's famous cover.

Initially Temperley's guitar wasn't miked up properly, which actually worked in her favour - highlighting her surprisingly soulful (and excellent) voice and giving the performance an almost a capella sound: even when volumes were restored to normal levels Temperley's short but sweet set was a joy to behold. Yet it's a little disappointing to find that Temperley's own band, Solar Powered Supermen, is a bog-standard bedroom-rock band - nowhere near as interesting or original as what was on display tonight.

The gig finishes on a group singalong of 'Teenage Kicks' with all of the bands that have played tonight. Though it's a shame the Sage can't even accommodate a standing audience or a fully-darkened room, kudos to them for giving these talented youngsters a platform to perform.

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