The day after tabloid kerfuffle over the spat between hype reality talent show debutants the Voice and the usual rigmarole that is Britain’s Got Talent, I count myself lucky to have found myself on the hinterland of the music industry- a night showcasing independent unsigned UK bands, at the 02 Academy. Presented by Jar Music Live and Reverbnation, 12 bands from around the country: Kent, Southampton, Wales and beyond were on the line up at the small concert hall, nestled behind the 02 shopping centre in Islington, NorthLondon. A mixed crowd was in attendance on this summerySunday evening, I could see a stock of die-hard male hipsters in slacks and carefully coiffured hair; guys who were more casual, with stubble, teenage girls in summer dresses; young women daring to show some skin in tights under mini-skirts-this included me. Older men stood around the sidelinessipping on beer, with a, “I-appreciate-good-music” look across their face. Some bands brought posses; their family, hoping to witness their offspring avant-fame.
The 02 Islington Academy is small enough to be able to read the slogans on performers tee-shirts from the back of the halland large enough not to be able to smell the sweat from the people around. Performers mingled with the crowd before and after their sets. Indeed, I watched the first two acts, unaware that I was standing right next to Toby White-Chambers, drummer from the 3 piece rock band- Auction for the Promise Club. He told me they had only had arrived in London at 3pm, after playing a gig at Driftwood, in their hometown, Cornwall. When I asked him about the future of the band he said,“Everything is a bit hush hush at the moment,” in other words, some prospects have to be kept secret. Well, Auction for the Promise Club are no strangers to notoriety, the past two years have seen them support diverse acts, such as Paolo Nutini, the Canadian folk-songstress, Martha Wainwright, Pendulum and Reverend & The Makers. In this time period, Auction recorded some of the songs from their debut EP- entitled “One” released digitally this February- at the inimitable Abbey Road Studios.
To be honest, I was relieved when the band took to the stage around twenty past eight, as Auction for the Promise Club followed a difficult performance by a girl named Thea Ford-think Kerry Katona crossed with Britney Spears cum Piper Perabo in Coyote Ugly- dressed in leopard print chaps, who whined her hips all the way through her set. The band were introduced by the evening’s MC, Antoine Allen, a tall debonair fellow with a small blond afro Mohican and a navy blue military style jacket.
Auction for the Promise Club is comprised of Zoe White-Chambers, sister of Toby and Perran Tremewan, a friend. Zoe, with her short carefully cut bleach blond hair resembleda younger version of Debbie Harry from Blondie with a large black shirt over zebra style leggings and grey ankle boots. She gave the necessary Facebook shout outs, while balancing her silver electric guitar over her chest, “Come see us later for our EP”. The band then thundered into their first track Dancer (Running in the Dust), which layers simple base electronic synth sounds with more complex guitar vibrato and if I have to say is the catchiest album from their EP urging “good night romance, just dance, dance, dance, right up in the front row, can’t be too close” . Their experience was apparent in their performance, Auction executed the track flawlessly, Perran,tall and dark haired in a black jacket over tee, confidently delivered bars on his electric black guitar, moving around the stage. I was amazed at the way Toby, with short blond hair, who appeared calm and laid back when I met him, pounded into the drums with all of his might, providing rhythmicintensity to Dancer (Running in the Dust) which builds up to a melodic crescendo, a bridge then back into the chorus; then,swiftly moved into transition to the softer, slower trip-hop like intro to “Under China”, their latest video.
An explanation wouldn’t have gone amiss for the cryptic linesZoe sings, hauntingly, in “Under China”; “Take me down under China, I’m losing you and I’m losing you, when it takes me down…aiming for collision we can’t see our head, we’re tied under China, it’s giving me away”. As for Zoe’s voice, there is something about her intonation that reminds me of Ellie Goulding’s voice, the way she leaves her English accent in her singing, which makes Auction tracks sound all the more edgy. Zoe was only one of two female guitarists of the night.Unfortunately Auction didn’t move so smoothly into their next number, a new song, called “Walk the Line”, nevertheless, it was wildly great. With all the bands on the roster, Auction only had 25 minutes to themselves. The band really amped up towards end. Their last song, “See Through” was the song from their first video release, before they produced their EP.
Auction for the Promise Club’s ability to get lost in their music, whilst delivering sharp ephemeral sounds definitely enraptured the audience- my only regret is that I didn’t ask the meaning of their name.