Kidsmoke Sophie
I made a pact with myself that when at festivals, to seek out bands and acts that I’ve not seen before, rather than playing it safe. Yeah it’s great to see the bands we love and adore like Baby Brave, but what can I express about them that I’ve not already said (many times)? They are however, sporting a new drummer in the shape ex-Orient Machine‘s Jason Williams. He’s three rehearsals into his new position; not that you would’ve noticed.

I’m sat in Alexander’s in the heart of Chester with Elephant Al and his far better half. People are pouring into the venue; it’s a trendy place and a cool place for a band to play due to it’s shape and location. Chester Live is full swing, Al tells me of acoustic artists in the streets and venues aplenty. He gives me the run down of how good The Undertones were last night and how better The Roseville Band were and how they managed to keep Undertones’ audience entertained after the Northern Irish veterans had finished.

are on, I recognise Sopihie Ballamy (main pic) on guitar from Wrexham’s Sparrowhawks and noted I’d not heard from them for a long while. Kidsmoke play pop, as a lot of Wrexham bands do… When I say pop, I mean indie pop, and they’re very good at it. Check out their latest single Heartache if you don’t believe me.

Kevin Critchley
During the interval before Kidsmoke, the bar staff were clearing up all the broken glass due to Kevin Critchley‘s set. This man has a voice that breaks glass. Such was the strength of this Scouse lad’s vocal chords that it actually detracted from the songs he and his band were playing. A listen online to his latest album ‘As I Disappear’, reveals that amazing voice and a mixed bag of eclectic easy listening goodies.

I did earlier squeeze into The Live Rooms main-stage to catch a bit of Science Of The Lamps who are described as quirky vaudeville dreampop with influences from rock, blues and whiskey, yep I can second that. It was more of a Mum’s and Dad’s setting, with tables laid out and couples nodding along to a pretty decent remake of Britney Spears’ Toxic.

Caught a bit of Mida at the Live Rooms’ other stage. Bass driven songs and a guitarist with his axe slung as low as you can get. They have the tunes, the harmonies, the hooks and the talent, even their rock-ballad stuff was good, as it didn’t include any cock-wankery. Their only falling, and I’ll say this about a lot of bands is, if you’re gonna play this stuff then SAY SOMETHING! Sounds like a silly statement, but Kidsmoke are playing up the road doing the same thing, as are countless others, and you all have very little to say… We live in a fucked up world and you have the perfect platform to say something about it. Perhaps I’m getting all punk rock on you, but keep those tunes, those harmonies, those hooks and use that great voice to make people sit up take notice, make them think.

My find of the night was Plastic – who played an opening set at The Live Rooms to a mere smattering of people. You do feel for bands who play the opening slot at 6.30pm when there’s SEVEN other venues here at Chester Live all playing music as well. Hey! We’ve all been there, and some of us are still there!
Plastic are Matt, Matt, Dom and Elliot who play miserable grunge and play it so well… They stand out because of that voice! It’s a gravelly Kurt Cobain or a sincere Eddie Vedder fronting a post-Nirvana, post-Curtis, post-Ride shoegaze band. Make that a steel-toecap bootgaze band. And they look about sixteen years old, apart for the drummer, who’s about twelve.
Cool songs, cool look, cool band… Nice one!  (bandcamp them here)