Surface Festival 2012

It’s official – Surface Festival 2012 has now kicked off across Europe and this year is the biggest year on record!! For up to the minute updates follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/surfacefestival

2012 will see Surface Festival rolling out the first European tours involving bands handpicked by our area managers. Alongside these European tours we will be hosting over 600 shows across major cities in the UK and Europe. New areas will include Berlin, Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada and Almería as well as Barcelona, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Nottingham, Oxford, Swansea, Cardiff, Bristol and London. The International Showcase will take place at the internationally recognized 02 complex in London, at which the best bands of the Festival will play in front of an invited industry panel. This year the panel will consist of major music industry bods like Jon Brookes (The Charlatans) and Alex Baker (Kerrang Radio).

Alex Baker from the Kerrang Radio Unsigned Show, explains: “Surface Festival gives bands a genuine opportunity to get their music in front of people in the industry that can help further their careers. The prizes offered for the winning band and runners up are just fantastic and the experience all the bands gain from playing larger venues is priceless.”

Liquid Fuse describe the experience: “Surface Festival has been one of the best things that has happened to us so far – it’s given us the opportunity to play at venues we wouldn’t otherwise be able to play at right now, given us exposure to people in the industry, and helped us cross over with other bands and fans. It forces you to look critically at every part of your band (your music, your image, your performance, your promotion) and as you build momentum through the stages and play progressively bigger venues, you and your fans begin to feel a sense of collective achievement and pride that really fires everyone up. You’ll come out of it a better band than when you started.” For a full list of testimonials see: www.surfacefestival.com/testimonials.html

Jon Brookes from The Charlatans, who has been involved in the Festival from its beginnings, recently stated in his blog: “Surface continues to act like a giant music magnet finding exciting ground breaking new acts. It re-energizes the inner cities searching out new talent. The prizes and industry weight of the various associate sponsors shows the level at which this festival is now held in the industry.”

With amazing venues booked for 2012, including the O2 in London, globally world-renowned sponsors, and more prizes than ever on offer, Surface Festival 2012 will be an amazing experience for everyone involved. For further info and to apply to Surface Festival see www.surfacefestival.com.

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Last chance to apply for Surface Festival 2012

Surface Festival 2012 is already the biggest year on record with more applications from bands and musicians than previous years. Some areas are already fully booked, however, there are still some places left and we are putting out a final call to all bands to apply ASAP as we will no longer be accepting applications from the end of next week. You can only apply via our website.

2012 will see Surface Festival rolling out the first European tours involving bands handpicked by our area managers. Alongside these European tours we will be hosting over 600 shows across major cities in the UK and Europe. New areas will include Berlin, Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada and Almería as well as Barcelona, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Nottingham, Oxford, Swansea, Cardiff, Bristol and London. The International Showcase will take place at the internationally recognized 02 complex in London, at which the best bands of the Festival will play in front of an invited industry panel. This year the panel will consist of major music industry bods like Jon Brookes (The Charlatans) and Alex Baker (Kerrang Radio).

Alex Baker from the Kerrang Radio Unsigned Show, explains: “Surface Festival gives bands a genuine opportunity to get their music in front of people in the industry that can help further their careers. The prizes offered for the winning band and runners up are just fantastic and the experience all the bands gain from playing larger venues is priceless.”

Liquid Fuse describe the experience: “Surface Festival has been one of the best things that has happened to us so far – it’s given us the opportunity to play at venues we wouldn’t otherwise be able to play at right now, given us exposure to people in the industry, and helped us cross over with other bands and fans. It forces you to look critically at every part of your band (your music, your image, your performance, your promotion) and as you build momentum through the stages and play progressively bigger venues, you and your fans begin to feel a sense of collective achievement and pride that really fires everyone up. You’ll come out of it a better band than when you started.” For a full list of testimonials see: www.surfacefestival.com/testimonials.html

Jon Brookes from The Charlatans, who has been involved in the Festival from its beginnings, recently stated in his blog: “Surface continues to act like a giant music magnet finding exciting ground breaking new acts. It re-energizes the inner cities searching out new talent. The prizes and industry weight of the various associate sponsors shows the level at which this festival is now held in the industry.”

With amazing venues booked for 2012, including the O2 in London, globally world-renowned sponsors, and more prizes than ever on offer, Surface Festival 2012 will be an amazing experience for everyone involved. For further info and to apply to Surface Festival see www.surfacefestival.com.

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New European Tour / Top 5 Tips

In the past we have posted many articles on our blog that contain invaluable information for bands and artists striving to achieve self sufficient success within the modern music industry. With the arrival of Surface Festival 2012 comes a new, unique concept that will give bands and artists priceless experience in touring, playing to new audiences, playing in different venues outside of the UK and understanding more about the industry and more about themselves.

In 2012 Surface Festival will be offering bands the opportunity to go on tour across Europe. Bands will be chosen based on ability and will not have to progress through to the International Showcase at the O2 in order to be chosen to go on tour. The experience bands and artists will gain from this opportunity is clearly unlimited and will provide an amazing experience for everyone involved.

One of the key ingredients to the success of any artist or band is the ability to network. Surface Festival has ticked the box of every single aspect that bands will need to attain success and durability. Everything from U.K. tours, European tours, education and digital distribution to equipment, recording and photo shoots is catered for. In a nutshell, Surface Festival bestows all the tools bands and artists need in the modern digital age to gain precious exposure in the discordant music industry. Musicians and artists must understand what principal issues are at stake to their success and survival in the changing face of the U.K. music scene. Here are our top 5 tips for coming to terms with today’s music industry:

1. Live performance

The main focus of a band and artist is live performance. The sweaty, loud and beer saturated venues across Europe are where bands and artists are born and it’s this aspect that Surface Festival is focused on keeping alive. It’s your live performance that makes you stand out from the crowd and get people talking. Each and every live show presents a great opportunity to reach new fans and meet your existing ones face to face, these people in return will be the ones who download and buy your music. Always remember, with major festivals, stadium concerts and large shows habitually selling-out within hours, there has never been more demand for live music.

2. Social Networking

The importance of social networking and web-based presence is colossal. All bands and artists should make sure they have a MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and/or YouTube page. Connecting to your fans is probably the most important aspect to a band that these can provide; and this should be exploited as much as possible. The social networking phenomenon has meant every artist in the world has a voice to self-promote to the people who can have a direct influence on their success. Policies and rules presided over by record companies for decades have been shattered, and bands and artists should make the most of this renaissance of independent control over their destiny.

3. Online Releases

Never before have bands and artists been more in control of distributing and selling their own music. Before the online digitalization an artist/band would record their music and then depend on their label and the media (radio, press, television) to broadcast in the hopes of finding an audience. Today the model is turned around. You first have to build an audience and then get down to business. Just passively making your music available for download in the hope of finding fans won’t work. Digital release stores are only the means to the sales, it is your responsibility to build and maintain a fan base, who in turn will buy your music. This audience can be built on the live circuit and on the internet. You then have to maintain that relationship through social networking and further live shows. It is still all about making great music, but you need to add the layer of community building which merges into sales.

4. Merchandise

While generating money is the most obvious benefit of band merchandise, the valuable impressions made from exposure to potential fans is just as important. When your fans wear your Merch there is no limit to how many people are going to see it and/or how many people are going to ask about it.  Selling your band merchandise can be done at live shows or online via your web site. Email fan club members and use social networking when new products become available to create hype. Consider offering special packages, bundling your CDs or downloads with t shirts, buttons and/or stickers to drive sales and spread the word about your music. Bring your merchandise to every show. Display your merch on a stand and make sure to stick around after your set (for as long as possible) so that you don’t miss an opportunity to sell. Most importantly at live shows the middle man is left out meaning all profits are returned to the band.

5. Sustainability

Bands and artists should always try and remain self-sufficient and look after their own affairs as much as possible. Sustainability, the most demanding aspect of longevity, is down to a band’s continued belief in why they formed in the first place – the scene that inspired them and in turn the music that inspires the fan base. A fan base will care for a band and keep them alive, so bands and artists must care for them back with a true to themselves attitude and great music. Nurturing this fan base and realising its importance is crucial.

Surface Festival takes bands and artists at grass roots level and brings them through a journey culminating in an industry showcase at the 02 in London. The quality of the sponsors, judges and management lends colossal credibility to this event and should be a breath of fresh air to all bands and artists in the UK and Europe. We are constantly looking at the future of the music industry and analysing the processes and methods that bands and artists will require in tomorrow’s digital world. Alex Baker from the Kerrang Radio unsigned show explains, “the Surface Festival gives bands a genuine opportunity to get their music in front of people in the industry that can help further their careers. The best bands WILL inevitably rise to the top. The prizes offered for the winning band and runners up are just fantastic and the experience all the bands gain from playing larger venues is priceless.”

For more information, detail about our sponsors, information on prizes, testimonials from bands and to get involved in Surface Festival 2012 please see the website: www.surfacefestival.com

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Surface Festival 2012

In 2012 the Surface Festival is back and bigger than ever: we are organising over 500 shows across 14 cities in the UK and Europe.  Shows will take place in London, Bristol, Cardiff, Swansea, Birmingham, Nottingham, Oxford, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Barcelona, Seville and Berlin.

The climax of the Festival will culminate with 32 bands playing the IndigO2 at the O2 Complex – a venue which has seen acts such as Jools Holland, Timbaland, Joss Stone and Estelle to name a few. Leon Van Den Broecke, U.K. manager, explains “Surface gives bands the chance to play the type of venues that most bands only dream of when they’ve ‘made it’ – add to the expertise Surface offers in terms of lighting and sound management, PR and exposure and you’re looking at an opportunity and experience that’s too good to miss”.

The main focus of a band should be live performance. The sweaty, loud and beer saturated venues across Britain are where bands are born and it’s this aspect that the Surface Festival is focused on keeping alive. Other venues Surface will be using include the O2 Academy Main stage in Birmingham and Bristol, the Dome in London, the Manchester Academy and Oxford Academy. Nights are set out by genre providing opportunities for bands and artists to gain exposure from new audiences, sell merchandise, promote networking opportunities and attract new fans. For a list of testimonials from bands that have played the Surface Festival check the website.

The Surface Festival works in association with 24 international sponsors that cover all bases for a band. “Marshall Amplification are extremely excited to be working with the Surface Festival for 2012. This event is truly inspiring for all involved” – Marshall Amplification. For a further list of sponsors see the website.

With a prize pot of £100,000 including a slot at Sziget Festival 2012, Monkey Week and a U.K. and European tour bands and artists get the opportunity to progress further in the music industry.The prizes offered for the winning band and runners up are just fantastic and the experience all the bands gain from playing larger venues is priceless” – Alex Baker; Kerrang Radio Unsigned show. For a full run down of the 2012 prizes please see the website.

Surface Festival takes bands at grass roots level and brings them through a journey culminating in an industry showcase. The quality of the sponsors, judges and management lends colossal credibility to this event and should be a breath of fresh air to all bands and artists in the UK. In an uncertain time, where longevity and sustainability is rare in today’s music industry the Surface Festival can be exemplified as a solid force for good, offering some amazing opportunities to bands. Working together with key industry bodies and organizations is paramount to developing a model that is fair for everyone – the promoters, the venues, the fans and most importantly the bands taking part and the experience and value they get from playing the live shows.

“Surface has been an awesome experience for us as a band, it’s pushed us as performers but has also helped developed the business side of the band. The best thing about Surface is it’s an honest process, it doesn’t claim to turn you into rock stars overnight or at all, instead it gives you the confidence, the experience and ultimately to the winners the tools to make a success of the band yourselves. We’ve enjoyed every second of the competition, developed good relationships with other bands and people within the industry and we hope now we can keep that going. We would recommend Surface to any band out there: realistically we would have never had the chance to play such iconic venues as Cardiff’s Coal Exchange or the IndigO2, through this we have and we can’t thank everyone that has supported us enough, especially the fans who have voted and the Surface Festival crew.” Blackwaters.

For more info and to sign up see the website.

 

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Surface Festival Finale 2011

On Saturday 1st October London’s Indigo 02 arena was the battlefield for a truly epic event. For it was here that twenty-one emerging bands, finalists from across the UK and Spain, went head-to-head in musical combat at the 2011 Surface Festival International Finale. With guitars as their guns and power chords their bullets, there was but one target in their sights: the Surface Festival prize pot, which stood at a life-changing £100,000 worth a prizes and opportunities.

First on the field were funky folksters The Robbie Boyd Band. While some may have been daunted by the prospect of opening a show of such magnitude, this West London crew rose to the challenge, delivering their set with a cool and welcomed ease. Their original, offbeat style offered an effective combination of traditional country beats, Celtic melodies, hypnotic choruses and intimate vocals. Frontman Robbie’s sensitive lyrics and mesmerizing vocals – especially charming in “Oh Alaska” – flowed perfectly with the instrumental pieces, giving major kudos to a line-up that is, stunningly, only around a year old. The Robbie Boyd Band therefore hit the ground running, their cheerful tunes and catchy choruses hooking the crowd and the judges alike, cementing themselves as real contenders early on.

After such a strong opening, the O2 waited expectantly for more. And it came in the form of a unique progressive rock quintet by the name of Dreamers Nightmares. These Birmingham-based rockers kicked off with a very raw and compact sound, but as songs followed and confidence built, the boys decided to take a risk and experiment with some very interesting alternative rhythms. Their influences shone through here; the guitar riffs on one of their songs in particular were notably reminiscent of the Kaiser Chief’s “I Predict a Riot”. They consistently retained their own identity however, and satisfied onlookers with some very meaty grunge rock. One of the unique delights of Dreamers Nightmares came with the spontaneous instrumental breaks on some tracks which demonstrated some hard-core musical structures. It was in these segments that the band (particularly the drummer, who stunned this reviewer with his exceptional beats) got the chance show off some very impressive technical skill. A real treat.

Then the mood of the show changed, and things suddenly took an unexpected turn. It happened when Brighton band Liquid Fuse decided to stop by and tear the place apart. These guys were born to be real rock stars and they proved it from the moment they stepped out on stage. The band hit hard, thrashing out with a simple but highly effective melody, analogous to classic stadium bands like Aerosmith or Guns’N Roses then, seconds later, frontman Joe Wareham exploded into view, blowing the audience back by screaming “You know who I am, baby!!” at the very apex of his remarkably powerful voice. Song after song the quintet offered a portfolio of virtuosity and charisma. The lead guitar nailed it with some beautifully soulful licks, while the vocalist threw himself into his role, uncovering his outrageously flamboyant stage persona. It was clear that stage presence was the forefront of Liquid Fuse’s live show; they retained audience familiarity by playing extracts from AC/DC’s “Back in Black” and Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” in between their scintillating original tracks. As the set hurtled towards its climax, the stage was alive with action. The singer was up, Christ-like on the drummers’ stage box while the other members were on their knees by the edge of the stage, blasting their music out to the crowd for all they were worth. In just 30 minutes, Liquid Fuse taught many a valuable lesson: how to play rock and roll with attitude. The benchmark was set.

The audience was sated, but then the metal arrived in the form of Heaven Asunder and it all kicked off again. The boys from Bristol got things rolling with a frantic and galloping song in which the vocalist displayed his penchant for rich, gravelly screams. At times his harsh, throaty vocals rang similar to the likes of Matt Heafy’s in “Ascendancy”. Some of the songs that followed entered into the areas of black metal, and this is where Heaven Asunder showed their influences. It seemed that the guitar riffs on their third song were an indirect homage to Bullet For My Valentine’s “Scream, Aim, Fire”, while other tracks dove headfirst into thrash metal. Harmonic guitar lines filled the venue and were intersected by fast-paced, frantic shredding, demonstrating that these guys were not afraid of screeching up the dusty end. When it seemed the band did not have anything else to offer, they came up with a catchy melody off the top of their heads that could have slid perfectly into the soundtrack of any Tim Burton film. The finale came with some pretty impressive clean strumming and the vocalist singing his heart out on his knees.

Up next was a five-piece ensemble with a mission to accomplish: The Pargeters had one goal in mind – to get the crowds dancing with their lively, upbeat rock and roll style.  The three first songs turned up in the category of a classic style of bands like Jet. They stepped back for a moment and started again with a more acoustic vibe followed by an interesting eclectic sound. It seemed that here was the perfect opportunity to capture the moment, not just musically as the guitarist took out his camera and snapped the rapidly warming crowd. To finish up they returned to the original sound and said good bye with a comfortable but very vivacious tune.

South Wales group Reconcile were the next act hoping to wow the audience and impress the judges. When the show’s presenter was introducing each band member, singer Dean Yhnell took the opportunity to show off his beat-boxing skills as a refreshing teaser of things to come. Reconcile is the kind of band not to be taken for granted; they deliver a more spectacular and fresher sound than one expects when seeing them appearing on stage. The five-piece hip hop/metal band brought a collection of songs with an unbelievable feel and energy. A rap metal masterpiece with an outstanding slap bass line began their set. This delightfully unique opener threw in some good old-fashioned screaming at the end that got the crowd back up on their feet. As the songs went by, the band matured like a good wine, offering an even more polished sound with impressive rap dialogues between the two singers, groovy guitar parts, funky bass beats and a terrific drummer with an excellent sense of time and pocket. Even though they have only been together for about three years, it seems Reconcile are an old hand at performing for big crowds. Very well received.

Then, seemingly straight off the London streets just outside, came Kickstarter. From the off this four-piece offered a thunderous spectacle combining nu-metal and electro rap, all wrapped up with aggressive lyrics and a clear message against violence, racism and social inequality. One of the things that defined Kickstarter was that they enjoyed every single second on stage and connected with the audience by doing so. Even though at times their delivery was less than perfect, their lack of technical solidarity was more than made up for by their raw energy and thriving passion. The highlight of their performance was seeing the guitarist messing around with his wah wah and vocalist Laurence Ayeni, a self-confessed audience junkie, coming down to sing with the crowd.

With seven bands down, it was time for the first international act of the night to take centre stage. Born, raised and formed in Barcelona, Rossvelvet covered all the bases, a fusion between jazz, blues, funk, 80s Spanish pop and any other musical extravaganzas. The band shamelessly embraced their Latin heritage with tracks such as “La hormiga Valentina” or “Todas las Flores”, where vocalist Olga Boronat crossed the border from chilling to emotional with her skillful operatic tones. Their next notable track, “Please”, was their only English language song and a brilliant piece of art with a breathtaking sax solo. The last song came up and these simmering Catalans demonstrated their unique amalgam-styled signature, leaving the audience with trails of their inimitable Latin fever.

Stoke-on-Trent band Obey landed at the O2 like a musical hurricane, their hard rock repertoire cooked with Wyldeske galloping guitar riffs and soaked with pure motorcycle 80s thrash metal beer drops. The show started with a pre-recorded classical tune, but soon the trio unloaded their secret weapon and the mini-stadium started to tremble with Steve’s guitar pinch harmonics. His rough but penetrating voice sailed across the audience, accompanied by furious beats from bassist Swampi, who wowed the crowd with his stage presence, going from one side of the stage to the other and defiantly pointing at the audience, all to the beat of Matt’s wicked drums. The climax came with “Bad Days Blues”, a Black Velvet-alike melody in the verses with a crazy-as-fuck chorus rhythm. Obey closed their memorable performance with a powerful old-school speed metal track.

The 10th band to go live was The Tender Machine, taking the audience back to the eighties to rediscover an evocative set of powerful ballads and spirited eclectic themes. The opening track saw front woman Poppy Roberts taking the audience on a dazzling journey with her sweet, reverberated voice that was accompanied by a discreet group of highly talented musicians. Lead guitar Sam Toro was the one to shine on his own with his passionate soloing technique. After a pair of songs the singer left the guitar aside to focus on the vocals and it was here that keyboardist Adam Payne offered up his musical skills. Even thought he was not superb, his breaks between songs allowed the singer to reveal her inner personality: “If you want us, really want us, you will recall this ridiculous hair”. The band knew what it was what the people in front of them wanted, so they retained their masterpiece to the end of the concert. The O2 saw the Manchester piece twisting into an even more experimental flavour, a megaphone-amplified voice and beautifully mystique sounds.

Next it was the turn of The Jays to deliver their well-crafted mild-rock combo. The alternative rock trio kicked off with a 3 Doors Down-alike powerful rock track, a solid choice for an opener.  Following that, they brought an arsenal of radio-type gems. Their ‘soft verse, strong chorus’ formula was a definite crowd-pleaser, delightfully topped off by singer Daniel Broadhurst’s hauntingly impassioned and soothing baritone vocals. After that it came the time to dust off that old guitar, flick off the lights and perform an intimate, subtle and heartfelt ballad to a now devoted audience who clapped gleefully along to the music. Last song entitled “You too” offered a taste of a different direction, with a hooking delayed guitar effect, but concluded in the band’s popular and familiar style.

The next act to perform was the five-piece ensemble The Sharp Darts. Coming from the Birmingham suburbs and Australia, Jamie O’Neil and his troop captivated with their catchy Brit-pop anthems and the frontman’s delightful and shameless stage presence – “You know what to do!!”, he remarked at the start of the show. The Brummies projected a sense of reverence for 60s, 70s and 90s British working class music with clear influences from bands like Oasis, The Stone Roses and The Beatles. While each band member undoubtedly held their own, the real shining star was O’Neil, with his Gallagher-esque lazy, arrogant attitude, hands-behind-the-back pose and infectious voice. The best bits undoubtedly were “Down in Flames”, O’Neil’s melancholic voice in “Time Again” and fans dancing while holding their shoes in their hands and sporting “Shoes Off” banners, making reference to the band’s debut EP title.

It was all sex and spandex next, with Liverpool all-female band The Union Dolls. The quartet appeared on stage squeezed into leather pants and some other 80s glam fashion items with a unique mission: to celebrate garage punk rock. However their intentions remained just that, good intentions. The girls, who draw inspiration from The Ramones or The Runaways, offered a collection of uncomplicated, but persuasive guitar lines encased with spicy lyrics and remarkable drum beats. With their interesting style, it would not surprise if they turned up in the next Tarantino film. It was clear from the start, however, that drummer Emily Haywood’s performance with her unique groove, talent and feel was going to be the highlight of the set. The girls claimed the last song was going to be all “sex, drugs and rock’n’roll”, but unfortunately left most wondering where they’d left the rock’n’roll. The Union Dolls hadn’t lost all however, with Haywood’s unbelievable drumming skills saving the others’ skin and delivering a finale that could have been a lost worse.

Then something truly remarkable happened in the O2 arena. That something was Merseyside singer/songwriter Laura Oakes, who left the audience speechless with her performance, bending the bounds of country pop-rock. Laura who was accompanied by a set of very talented musicians who got down to rootsy country rock with songs such as “Therapy”, letting flow her sweet and passionate voice and her hearty acoustic guitar lines. But it was ballads like “Let Go” that captured the best of Laura’s singing – a charismatic and heartfelt voice, akin to such A-list artists as Sheryl Crow. As a farewell, the band played another song with an impressive keyboard sound; the perfect theme to conclude a charming performance by a very gifted singer who claims she started out at the tender age of just 14. Following Laura Oakes, it was the turn of the night’s second Folk Band: Indigo Earth.

It seemed nerves betrayed Indigo Earth band members in the first few seconds of their concert but, before the jitters became too noticeable, everything got back in track. The band were a lot of fun to watch – it was very entertaining watching bassist Matt Facy trying his skills at the cymbals – and the plucky Londoners delighted the audience, sharing their expertise on bucolic acoustic sounds and intimate lyricism.  It was “Wise Man” that worked as a fine point on their artistry. A strong message wrapped around the perfect combination of captivating vocals from singers Amy Wilson and Ben Nash. During the whole gig, but particularly with the last song, Indigo Earth proved that, although they vary their style from contemporary country to Celtic rock, they always remained true to their musical roots.

Half past Six had rolled around, and the evening was ushered in by an act that was very much for the ladies. Already Gone took the stage, and with it, a few girls’ hearts. This Stoke-on-Trent band put into practice that old saying “veni, vici, vidi” by selling a very commercial but implacable and crushing southern rock and roll combo. It is inevitable to compare Already Gone with Bon Jovi, not only by their looks, but singer Luke Maskery and lead guitarist Dan Nutt form an explosive musical union that would make the New Jersey boys jealous. However, Already Gone was not just another radio sensation. They had more to offer: well structured songs, catchy lyrics, two astonishing guitar players, a dexterous drummer, a bassist who measured up to his band mates, and a LOT of charisma. Maskery knows he has a lot of potential to attract a female audience and uses it to the maximum – sending out the kisses and winking at the delighted girls. Throughout the whole gig they demonstrated that they play at another level and, considering they have been together for just a couple of years, they were indeed Already Gone.

The next band had their work cut out; admittedly it was hard to focus after the scintillating wiles of the previous act, but Spanish group Random Feelings put themselves on a par with their competitors by virtue of a very energetic and twisting opener. The Barcelona quintet quoted ‘Yankee hardcore punk’ as their musical references and, in fact, songs like “Unknown Future” or “Atlantis” were like a look back at the hits that catapulted bands like Green Day or Incubus. However Hector and his gang demonstrated that they know their exceptional show in and out; it was a musical jewel that will surely always stick in one’s mind. Other songs saw drummer Bernat spewing out his drumming skills like a volcano, making allusions to Travis Barker or The Foo Fighter’s Taylor Hawkins, and acrobatic Hector doing some screaming while lying on the floor, reaching the audience or running around using the microphone cord as a whip.  Despite the fact that their music generally belonged to a different genre, it was curious to see how some of the songs recalled The Pink Elephant’s repertoire.  They came to a close with a final track full of uncontrolled anger and insanity-soaked musical mayhem.

Next up was Oldham ensemble The Crabs, an interesting and experienced ensemble that has been frequenting the live music scene for more than two decades.  Lights went off and it seemed the band’s main goal was to invite the audience to embark on a magic ride of pure 60s rock and roll, no special effects or make up added. The Crabs lightened up with hits like “It’s Cold”, paying tribute to their British musical ancestors with the use of clean chords, danceable melodies, contagious lyrics and some inspired solos.

We all know that good music can take any form, but there is something particularly rewarding about delivering it in its own primitive state because, as singer Mark Pattinson confessed, “This is what music is all about”. He also thanked the festival for giving the opportunity for emerging bands to make their dreams a reality. The highlight undoubtedly was “I am Free”, a musical masterpiece that reminisces to “All I Want is You” by U2 and that could easily be included as an ending song on any of the albums from the Irish band. Nineteen bands in and the Surface Finale was going from strength to strength, so three years playing together and a debut album released last year were the perfect excuse to take Brought Into Being to the main stage.  The set’s opening theme probably labeled the boys from Yeovil, Somerset, as being one of these predictable pop bands specialising in hooking rock tunes aimed at adolescents, but as their show proceeded, Joe Hardy and his squadron proved yet again that one should never judge a book by its cover; or a band by their looks. One moment they were kicking out a frenzied rhythm to dance to then, suddenly, keyboardist Dan Bramley succumbed to his unique experimental sounds. Meanwhile, the guitarist demonstrated a delicious Hendrixian lick, as the bassist effortlessly hypnotized the audience with his funky slapping. “Chain Reaction” showed them at their best – original songwriting and even more original playing –  and Hardy’s sharp scream was the best way to said goodbye.

So, by twist of fate, it stood to Welsh-based group Blackwaters to appear as the penultimate act of the Surface Festival Finale 2011, and they did not disappoint. The quintet cooked an explosive scrambling of killer progressive metal seasoned with a heartfelt classic rock riff-o-rama and colourful soloing. As they played on, the audience started to connect with the five beasts they had in front of them, so the Blackwaters rewarded their loyalty with “Yesterday’s Fight”, which saw the frontman Paul Walsh, patriotic to the core, running all over the place proudly flying the Welsh flag. They drove a short journey to the early 90s to end up with some impeccable grunge, but before they left the band showed their gratitude, with groover Dan Davies joyfully throwing his drumsticks into the audience.

And so came the final battle. The culmination of so many hours, so much work, so much passion, hope and fear. The Surface Festival Showcase was at an end. All that remained were one band from Caerphilly, the intriguingly-named Stag Firm Collapse.  No one quite knew what to expect, but the final band of Surface Festival Finale 2011 issued a solid finish to a fantastic show. The boys gave it their all, trying very hard to set the place on fire with their incendiary live show. There were indeed some superb musical moments, including thrilling guitars and an A-list drummer, with a very versatile frontman who danced, jumped and owned the stage with his every move. “The Switch” or “Dark Guitars” covered the band’s unique style travelling from funky bass lines to some rapping and juicy nu-metal.  And then came the final song of the night, the highly appropriately titled “Bye Bye”. This was the highlight, and saw the rockers achieve their greatest splendor, closing an incredible finale on a rapturous high.

And with that, it was done. All the bands could do now was to wait, hope, and pray that they had done enough.

The show was over and it was decision time. The judge’s panel, which included Alex Baker from Kerrang Radio, Darren from Audio Rokit and headed by Jon Brookes from The Charlatans, were out to decide who was going to be this year’s winning act, while on the main stage special guest band Strangle Kojak was closing the musical evening with some ripping tunes that had everyone up in arms, dancing the night away.

A tense forty-five minutes went by as the judges deliberated. Then, after what must have felt like an eternity, the verdict was in and the winners were announced:

Obey.

The Metal lords ended up in first place with a total of 66 points, followed excruciatingly closely by The Pargeters with 65. Welsh band Stag Firm Collapse got 64, meaning the top three bands were just three points apart, the closest finish ever seen in a Surface Festival Finale.

A nail-biting end, then, to a phenomenal journey. Not just for the victors either, but for every band that took part. While some were winners and some losers, it was clear that every band fought tooth and nail to earn their place in the Finale, and gave everything they had for a shot at the big prize. What a truly epic day.

Until next year…

www.surfacefestival.com

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International Showcase @ The 02 London

Wow, this is it, we have finally reached the Surface Festival International Showcase 2011!! After an amazing 8 months of live music up and down the UK and Spain involving over 500 shows the best 21 bands have won a place on the International Showcase at the O2 in London on 1st October 2011.

What will undoubtedly be a spectacular event this will be the biggest and best Surface Festival show this year. What will be an unprecedent…ed opportunity; the remaining 21 acts will battle it out in front of the Surface Festival Committee, who will decide the three winning bands.

In accordance with the rules of the O2 tickets for this event can only be bought online via ticketmaster: http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/event/35004693F4F14124

The International Showcase is a 14+ event. 14-15 year olds must be accompanied by an adult. Please bring a valid form of id.

The Surface Festival Committee will award who they consider to be the best bands with prizes on the day of the showcase. We have some amazing prizes up for grabs, worth in excess of £100,000:

1st Place
•A slot at Sziget Festival 2012: Travel and accommodation included
•A slot at Guitar Nation
•Professional one-day video shoot including edit courtesy of Creative Junkie Media
•Marshall rig courtesy of Marshall Amplification
•Ashdown rig (ABM C210T-500 EVO III) courtesy of Ashdown
•Tailor made PR campaign for the release of a single in the UK as well as marketing advice to help drive sales courtesy of Quite Great Communications
•Digital distribution contract with Zimbalam Digital
•Sales promotion from Believe Digital
•Online banner marketing package from Believe Digital
•European and UK online PR package from Believe Digital
•UK radio plugging package from Believe Digital
•40 hours multi-track recording from Univibe Audio (Pro Tools HD)
•A 4 day (3 gigs) UK tour courtesy of Jumbocruiser
•Individual one-track/single deal from Believe Digital
•Professional full day studio or location photo shoot courtesy of Dominic Nicholls Photography
•4 Pairs of Travis Barker Zildjian Artist Series Drumsticks courtesy of Zildjian
•Silver Organic Search Engine Optimisation package / Blog package courtesy of Band SEO
•Marketing via ents24 website (1.3 million unique visitors per month) plus e-shot promotion to an estimated half a million music fans courtesy of ents24
•P.M.T. are providing a special “custom” prize for the winning band
•T-Shirt Merch – 100 T-shirts, 3 colour screen print courtesy of Check Mine Out
•6 months membership to Audio Rokit, the UKs professional song pitching platform

2nd Place
•Marshall combo courtesy of Marshall Amplification
•Tama Superstar drum kit courtesy of Tama
•Steve Gadd Cymbal Bag courtesy of Zildjian
•Zildjian 20 A Custom ride, 16 A Custom crash, 18 A Custom crash, 14 A Custom Mastersound hats courtesy of Zildjian
•4 Pairs of Travis Barker Zildjian Artist Series Drumsticks courtesy of Zildjian
•Top end guitar courtesy of Ibanez
•Guitar Case courtesy of Ritter
•A 4 day (3 gigs) UK tour courtesy of Jumbocruiser
•Individual one-track/single deal from Believe Digital
•T-Shirt Merch – 75 T-shirts, 2 colour screen print courtesy of Check Mine Out

3rd Place
•Marshall combo courtesy of Marshall Amplification
•15 x sets of D’Addario XL strings, 15 x sets of D’Addario bass strings, Planet Waves S.O.S. guitar tuner, Planet Waves S.O.S. bass tuner, 5 x Planet Waves instrument cables, Planet Waves capo, Evans tom pack (3 tom heads), Evans snare head and an Evans drum key courtesy of Planet Waves, D’Addario, and Evans
•4 Pairs of Travis Barker Zildjian Artist Series Drumsticks courtesy of Zildjian
•A 4 day (3 gigs) UK tour courtesy of Jumbocruiser
•Individual one-track/single deal from Believe Digital
•T-Shirt Merch – 50 T-shirts, 1 colour screen print courtesy of Check Mine Out

For the full line-up please see our homepage: www.surfacefestival.com

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Regional Showcases

After literally hundreds of great nights of new, emerging, independent and unsigned music up and down the U.K. and Europe the Regional Showcases of Surface Festival 2011 are now just around the corner. These shows will be some of the best gigs of Surface Festival 2011 in the best venues across the U.K. and Europe.

U.K. Manager Leon Van Den Broecke explains: “The 2011 Festival has surpassed all expectations. Not only has the quality of bands been fantastic but their enthusiasm for the event is exceptional. Many of our sponsors, who have attended the shows, have also commented on this. We are really looking forward to the Regionals – for the bands this is a major achievement, they are entering a big stage in Surface Festival, they are one step away from playing the 02 in London.”

At the Regional Showcases the remaining acts will battle it out to get the chance to play at the International Showcase at the 02 in London in front of a capacity crowd and our panel of music industry judges. With a prize pot of £100,000 including an all expenses paid slot at Sziget Festival, bands and artists get the opportunity to progress further in the music industry. Our homepage has now been updated with information about the International Showcase: www.surfacefestival.com

The prizes offered for the winning band and runners up are just fantastic and the experience all the bands gain from playing larger venues is priceless” – Alex Baker; Kerrang Radio Unsigned show. For a list of prizes visit www.surfacefestival.com/prizeList.html

For full details of the Regional Showcases take a look at our Gig Guide Section: www.surfacefestival.com/gigGuideAndResults.html

MANCHESTER, LIVERPOOL AND NEWCASTLE REGIONAL SHOWCASES:

– Events Billing 1: Friday 19th August 2011 @ Academy 3 MAINSTAGE, 99 Oxford Road, Manchester M1 7EL.
Doors open: 19:30

Age Restrictions: 14+

– Events Billing 2: Saturday 20th August 2011 @ Academy 3 MAINSTAGE, 99 Oxford Road, Manchester M1 7EL.

Doors open: 19:00

Age Restrictions: 14+

– Events Billing 3: Sunday 21st August 2011 @ Academy 3 MAINSTAGE, 99 Oxford Road, Manchester M1 7EL.

Doors open: 18:30

Age Restrictions: 14+

BIRMINGHAM, NOTTINGHAM AND OXFORD REGIONAL SHOWCASE:

Sunday 28th August 2011 @ O2 Academy Birmingham MAINSTAGE, 16-18 Horsefair, Bristol Street, B1 1DB.

Doors open: 12:00

Age Restrictions: Under 14’s to be accompanied by an adult.

BRISTOL REGIONAL SHOWCASE:

Saturday 3rd September 2011 @ The Fleece MAINSTAGE, 12 St. Thomas Street, Bristol, BS1 6JJ

Doors open: 16:30

Age Restrictions: 14+

BARCELONA REGIONAL SHOWCASE:

Saturday 3rd September 2011 @ Sala de conciertos MAINSTAGE: Sala Salamandra, Av. Carrilet, 235 L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona.

Doors open: 16:00

Age Restrictions: 16+

LONDON REGIONAL SHOWCASE:

Sunday 4th September 2011 @ O2 Academy Islington MAINSTAGE, N1 Centre, 16 Parkfield Street, Islington, N1 0PS.

Doors open: 11:30

Age Restrictions: 14+

CARDIFF AND SWANSEA REGIONAL SHOWCASE:

Saturday 10th September 2011 @ The Coal Exchange MAINSTAGE, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff, CF10 5EB
Doors open: 14:00

Age Restrictions: 14+

GLASGOW REGIONAL SHOWCASE:

Sunday 11th September 2011 @ The Classic Grand MAINSTAGE, 18 Jamaica Street, Glasgow, Glasgow City, G1 4QD.

Doors open: 17:45

Age Restrictions: 14+

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