Words – Claire Hill
Photos – Mac Kendrick (MK Photogrxphy)
Layered up and ignoring the freezing weather, we’re excited to see the trio of emerging bands on the bill in The Alleyway, the live music venue at the back of The Cobblestones traditional pub, courtesy of Hold Tight PR.
CANCEL THE TRANSMISSION
First up tonight is Caerphilly’s Cancel the Transmission, with frontman Justin Crowe acknowledging the cold and saying “Dance if you want to, warm yourselves up!”, after introducing themselves. The band sound good, though perhaps the vocals are a little low in the mix, which is a shame as Crowe has a great voice. The venue is around half full, which is not bad considering it is such a dreary, rainy evening, freezing cold, and there’s a new COVID-19 variant lurking around every corner.
The band storm through their set with not much chatting in between, but they do play a new tune, one they’ve not even recorded yet, called Light The Fire. “Wouldn’t that be convenient, ‘cos it’s fucking freezing”, says Crowe, before going on to perform Back to the Start, taken from the album they recorded just before lockdown. They’re enthusiastic and technically very good, finishing their set with Light up the Night, “The most balls-out rock ‘n’ roll song we do”, which seems to go down well with the crowd. A nice opener and a band I’d like to see again.
DAXX & ROXANE
Beginning their set with the explosive Ticket To Rock, Daxx & Roxane waste no time in motivating the crowd to move, with frontman Cedric Pfister encouraging everyone to warm up their hands by clapping, which more than a few were happy to do; “Let’s get this party started!” he says, looking like he means business.
In fine voice, sounding groovy and with the volume on point and filling the space right to the back of the room, the four-piece make what they do look effortless. Guitarist Cal Wymann’s masterful solos and riveting riffs appeared to be achieved with ease, at one point he even stands on one leg like a flamingo whilst playing something that looks nigh on impossible to me.
Drummer Luca Senaldi is giving his kit a damn good pummelling; he starts the set in a NWOCR t-shirt but it’s not long before that is stripped off. How his skins and sticks survive the set I’ll never know, but he’s in his happy place on that stool. Strange Woman is a highlight, but Heal is just incredible. Both vocals and instrumentation are so much more powerful than on recording.
Superstition is the track that always gets everyone dancing even more, and tonight is no exception. The band’s version of the Stevie Wonder classic is just so so good, and it finishes far too soon. It’s a real shame that the venue was only about half full tonight as this was such an excellent set by this fantastic band.
Pfister plays the role of frontman with gusto, his funky bass slapping and hair thrashing between singing adds to the visual appeal, as does rhythm guitarist Simon Golaz’s stylish hat and harmonica flourishes. The whole band look like they are having the time of their lives while playing, the crowd are loving it, and that’s really what it’s all about. This was a faultless performance that left everyone with a big smile on their face.
DIRTY SOUND MAGNET
With the intro to their set coming from a theremin controlled by drummer Maxime Cosandey, it soon becomes clear why Dirty Sound Magnet call themselves psychedelic rock, mystic rock or creative rock. The three-piece from Switzerland are animated and clearly thoroughly enjoy playing their rather unique style of music. Frontman Stavros Dzodzos breathes life into the lyrics whilst displaying his best guitar face. Bassist Marco Mottolini appears trance-like at times, head down and totally lost in the moment.
When all three band members are singing, the vocal harmonies sound fantastic, but at times it feels disjointed, like they are each playing a different song. I’m not entirely sure if I’m watching a band or if I’ve been beamed into a parallel universe, and Dzodzos commments, “I know we’re a bit strange, right?” Although the audience has thinned quite considerably, some of the remaining dozen seem to be really enjoying this, particularly Gary ‘The Pieman’ Cox, who told me, “It’s like watching an episode of Starsky & Hutch!”
Some of the band’s tracks are more the traditional rock, which is definitely more up my street. The long instrumental passages on some of the tracks sound almost proggy in places and are really rather pleasing to my ears. There is no doubt that these guys have talent, and bags of enthusiasm, but they are definitely an acquired taste.
This is a venue that doesn’t often seem to be promoted well and it’s a real shame that the bands that play here often don’t get more people through the door.
You can catch Daxx & Roxane and Dirty Sound Magnet on this co-headline tour on selected dates across the UK.
Daxx & Roxane: https://daxxroxane.com/
Dirty Sound Magnet: http://dirtysoundmagnet.com/
Cancel The Transmission: https://www.facebook.com/CancelTheTransmissionUK
Hold Tight PR: https://www.facebook.com/holdtightco
MK Photography: https://www.instagram.com/mkphotogrxphy/