• Eleanor Martin

Battle of the Bands Extravaganza

So last Friday (24th November that is) Livewire hosted one of their biggest nights of the year – you guessed it – Battle of the Bands. However, this year we decided to ramp it up a notch or two by hosting it in town at the beloved Be At One with some delicious discounted cocktails and a star-studded judge panel. Did we mention Dave Rowntree from Blur was there?

As a bustling crowd (roughly 150 excited bodies) gathered in front of the stage it was time for the presenters (Erin and I) to take to the stage and introduce the first up – UEA’s very own Robust Soul. They served up a perfect mix of psychedelic rock and blues as their songs captivated and freaked the crowd out. Despite being a relatively young band they performed together like a well-oiled machine and as the last of Monica’s vocals twisted in with the rest of the band’s strange groovy sounds we knew that this competition had just been taken up a few levels.

Serving up some classy funkadelic feel good tunes, Gladboy (well 3 glad boys) swaggered onto stage and burst into their opening number. And then about 10 seconds into their opening number they stopped. I mean a broken E string could happen to anyone and Gladboy handled it with such ease and professionalism the crowd didn’t even bat an eye lid (however, as lead singer George pointed out ‘Eleanor looks rather stressed out right now,’ meaning maybe I could have taken a few lessons from these chilled out talented trio!) Despite this little mishap they still served a fierce set that had the crowd and front row dancing hard. Yet another young band that are going to make some serious waves.

Having had a taste of the funk and psychedelic Simple City Dress came into the picture serving up some 70’s sounds and 90's attitude/ punk spirit realness. With Simple City Dress spanning a jam-packed couple of decades they delivered a thoroughly diverse set list. Being one of the heavier sounding bands they certainly made sure they made an impact – with the occasional scream just in case! It was one of the most fluid and confident sets of the night and with the rest of the competition that’s impressive!

Dishing up the first solo act of the night was acoustic wonder Oliver Beardmore. Being quite a stark difference from the previous Single City Dress yet just as fierce. The acoustic wrapped a gentle hug around the crowd but was not lost within the other acts. Already self-admitted as to ‘Trying to take over the world’ we all agree with him – ‘it's going alright so far.’

Saving the best till last (I am not biased, the judges voted him the winner) is Zoka. Our solo rapping one kid wonder. Having only been writing and rapping since the summer yet controlled the crowd with such natural confidence he had us all mesmerised. Partaking in an acapella song AND crowd participation (not something that a first time performer would usually do) but Zoka killed it. The judges had their work cut out for sure but the decision was always safe in the hands of Issy Panyis (Radio X Presenter), Sam Parker (Audio Producer at Smooth, Classic, and Gold Radio,) Tom Little (intern at Sony Music, previous Battle of the Band winner) and Dave Rowntree (did we mention he is the drummer of Blur.)

As Zoka was crowned Battle of the Band Champion 2017 we let the music play in the form of our very own Livewire DJs. It was an incredible evening with lots of hard work that paid off. All of the bands were just perfect examples of the amazing musical talent that UEA has to offer in one of the fabulous venues that Norwich has to offer. While the DJs were setting up in the background, the bands, crowd and judges made use of Be At One’s brilliant cocktail discounts and celebrated successful gig. (It’s good to know that lugging a drum kit and sets of amps around for two days was worth it – Dave Rowntree said so!)

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