For this years final of the ‘Future Sound of Nottingham’ competition we had 7 performers, with the winners going on to play the main stage at Nottingham Splendour Festival, there was a big incentive for each performer on the night. Ultimately, the winners would be decided by a combination of an audience vote and an ‘Industry Professionals Panel’ vote. All details about the event can be found over on their website.
The doors opened at 6.30pm, with the first act due on stage at 7pm. Each act had a time limit of 15 minutes, and a maximum of 4 songs. The final act would go on stage at 9.30pm, with a winning result expected at around 10pm. Going into this, I had only seen one of the acts performing before, some names rang a bell, but I’d not seen or heard any music from them, so I was going in with an open mind and not knowing what to expect from most of the artists.
Kicking things off was Jacob Fowler. It’s a tough spot to be in, to open a show, especially on a Sunday evening, but he and his band did a great job. It was a very laid back and chilled out set, he played 2 new singles, and after three songs his set was over. It’s hard to really learn much about an act in 15 minutes, especially if they are totally new to you, but I think it was an excellent start to the event and I’ll be checking his music out in future for sure.
In between acts the host came out on stage to talk to the audience about the voting procedure. Throughout the night there would be three audience votes in which each act would be named and then the crowd cheers for their favourite. The reason for three audience votes, rather than just one at the end of the night, is to try and get people to come along and stay for the whole event, see new music and have a good time. Having these votes also allowed there to be less ‘dead air’ in between acts. While there was background music playing while the changeovers happened, which was all by local artists, you still want to try and keep the changeover time to a minimum, and have some audience participation in between.
The tempo was raised when the next band took to the iconic Rock City main stage, from the more smooth and chilled out tones of Jacob Fowler, to the hard hitting sounds of Don’t Forget Rupert. The band never stood still for a second, making the most of the stage size, they were made for these type of stages. They performed 4 songs, with crowd interaction in between the songs, you really can tell when a band knows what they’re doing on a big stage, and you even had the guitarist going into the pit and towards the crowd during one of the songs. A band to keep an eye on, they definitely have the potential to go far.
We were back to a more chilled out vibe for the next act, Mollie Ralph. While a few of the acts on this event were just someones name, they all came with a full band behind them and I think Mollie had the most. I’m sure I counted 8 people on stage before Mollie came out from backstage to a loud cheer from the audience. Mollie mostly stayed centre stage, but it wasn’t the type of music for running around, and she performed her tracks flawlessly. Mollie is one of the names I’d heard of before this event, but again, I didn’t specifically know what type of music she sang, which I guess you could describe it as Soul-pop, but I’m definitely a fan, whatever genre you’d call it. I’ll be checking out some of her music and keeping an eye out for any more of her gigs, that’s for sure.
Another slick changeover, as soon as one act has finished, the equipment is being swapped out for the next act, and it’s all set up and ready to go for the start time. Throughout the night there were no people running late, as can happen quite regularly at some gigs, this was just seamless.
Exchecker were up next, and being the only hip-hop act on the bill was a tough task. It probably wasn’t the best crowd for a hip-hop act, I’m sure if most people that were there were asked if they’d go along to a hip-hop night, they’d probably say ‘no’, but they did a good job and I’m sure they won over a few new fans. I did notice that there was a section of Exchecker fans right at the front next to the barrier, who were cheering through their set and while it was different from the rest of the event, it was good to have variety. A very energetic set, again, covering the whole of the stage and even one time going off the stage to sit by some of the speakers, performing 4 tracks and even incorporating a blow up guitar, what’s not to like about this act.
At this point there was another crowd vote for them to cheer for their favorite, and I think Desensitised, who were up next, sounded the loudest to me, but I was at the side of the stage and not standing somewhere central with a decibel-o-meter.
This trio from Nottingham received a huge cheer as they took to the stage, and they even commented that it was nice to see so many Desensitised t-shirts in the front row. The 4 songs that they performed I think were from their latest album, which they mentioned during their time on stage. They have a punk rock sound and also used the stage to its full potential, moving all around, especially the guitarist who was constantly on the move. This is certainly a band to watch out for, good sounding original material and an energy on stage which shows why they belong there.
There was a bit more talking during the set changeovers, with mentioning that these are new bands, and while it may be the first time they have performed on the iconic Rock City main stage, it certainly won’t be the last. With 5 acts done, I could agree with that statement. I would not be surprised in the slightest if I saw any of these acts names on a poster for an event at Rock City in the next few years, they had all been amazing so far, and that would continue for the final two acts.
Penultimate act now, and as it was announced that Near Mrs were coming on to the stage there was a massive cheer. This band only performed three songs, but that included their last and next single releases. These were a very good indie rock sounding band, also moving around a lot and coming into the pit towards their fans, of which there were many if the screaming and cheering is anything to go by, they looked natural on that stage.
It had come to the final act of the night, and in other years this is where the competition would have stopped, as there would have been only 6 acts in the final with a ‘special guest’ set at the end. However, due to a tie in the public vote, there were seven finalists instead of six.
Remy was up next to finish the show. Performing two songs with a band behind him and then one with just him and his guitar, either way suits him and he sounded fantastic throughout his set. A more up tempo style when with the full band and bringing it down to a slower pace when it’s just him. Interacting with the crowd during the time from one song to the next, explaining the meaning behind some of his songs and why he wrote them, an act which I need to hear more than 15 minutes from, so I’ll be sure to keep updated.
And that was that. The seven finalists had all done as much as they could. One final audience vote and then the decision would be made as to who would be going on to perform at Splendour Festival by combining the audience votes and industry professional votes.
Everyone had gathered in front of the stage for the reveal, all of the acts were welcomed back to the stage and Remy was announced as the winner. Thoroughly deserved, but you could say that about just about anyone on that stage this evening. They even mentioned that the result was very tight, with only a small amount of votes between most of the acts.
Congratulations Remy, go on and smash it at Nottingham Splendour Festival!