One Hell of a Weekend

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Schizophrenic weather changes, grass stains, undercooked beefburgers, and a mixed-bag of bands: last weekend, Wadham College managed to recreate the authentic summer festival feeling with Wadstock, the daddy of student band events. The diversity of the styles represented frequently left the inebriated audience befuddled by the sudden transition from accessible folk music to angsty cathartic metal. Openers, the Wadham Swing Band eased the early arrivals into the proceedings with an innocuous and chilled-out set, which didn’t quite prepare us for the distorted aural assault of Advert From TV. Initially insipid and lacklustre, the band warmed up to belt out a medley of The Hives-influenced rock sounds. Follow-up act Saturday Night Suicide peddled that generic indie-schmindie punk with which we’re all a bit too familiar. However, they managed to raise themselves above the banal with the occasional flamenco guitar moment, and a dash of Smashing Pumpkins-esque melodic rock.
The Alternotives, a cappella group fronted by two sweetvoiced darlings, got the audience going with well-known tracks like ‘Kiss The Rain’ and ‘Like A Prayer’. The group clearly have talent in spades, but the grubby faux-festival atmosphere did them no favours, the backing singers frequently slipping out of step with the lead vocalists. At Risk were a cut above the average rawk band, fluctuating between heavy distortion and melancholic introspection, with innovative electric violin moments thrown in for good measure. Even those who weren’t enamoured by the prospect of ‘rocking out’ in the rain could nonetheless appreciate the eye candy of a Brian Molko-alike guitarist, just one of the obscenely attractive band members. More visual treats were in store, the compère informed us drunkenly, in the shape of Rich Reason, vocalist, guitarist and purveyor of all manner of random instruments, in Vaughan. The compère needn’t have talked them up, for Vaughan were undoubtedly the most technically competent and refreshing act of the day, marrying eclectic jazz, funk, rock and folk sounds in a sonic onslaught that was consistently surprising and upbeat. The audience was also treated to trumpet-playing, a violin solo and swift hand manipulations on the decks, gaining a genuinely enthusiastic response.
So as the sun set over Wadham, now littered with plastic cups, and drunken students, the college could breathe a sigh of relief. Not merely the satisfaction of having pulled off a monster band event, but also the relief of having a whole year to recover before Wadstock 2004. Every student worth his Belle and Sebastian cds and designer denim will be waiting with bated breath.
ARCHIVE: 4th week TT 2003

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