Remember when we used to go to gigs? Back in March 2020, LDN was at BIMM’s End Of Term Showcase. We didn’t know this might be the last live gig we might see for quite some time. Luckily it showed that BIMM’s got talent, which we’re celebrating ahead of tonight’s BIMM’s End Of Year Showcase online…
Words: Doug Phillips Images: BIMM London
Mosh pits, mid performance costume changes, Billie Eilish covers and more all are contained at 229, Great Portland Street for BIMM’s end of Term Two showcase. The venue is a long subterranean space with a five-foot-tall stage. This stage is perfect for displaying the plethora of talent that BIMM has to offer. There are 24 acts in total and none of them disappoint, in performance, stage presence, personality, sound quality, they display what BIMM is all about, a passion in the craft of music.
The showcase opens with the epic and leisurely-paced indie act, C.Z.G. Emma Ait Abdelmalek’s band bring a raw power to the first part of the evening with their neo-soul-infused RnB. Lady Sybil then shifts the vibe to a tranquil, reflective setting with an emotional acoustic love ballad. Considering this act’s instrumental simplicity of one acoustic guitar and one voice, a great deal of tone is conveyed from Lady Sybil’s performance. Her voice glides effortlessly, reminiscent of the late Dolores O’Riordan from The Cranberries.
The solo acts do really well to capture the attention and hearts of the noisy audience yet due to their more delicate contrast of style from the more energetic, group-based acts, they do occasionally struggle to be heard. This included Margo Raats’ solo performance of her song ‘It Is What It Is’. She displays a huge vocal range, in tone, dynamic and pitch. The powerful choruses made for a great contrast to the soft and understated verses. Towards the end, Margo leaves occasional passages unaccompanied by guitar, filling the venue with emotion and emphasising her talent for song writing
The final solo performance is by Skaly. Skaly’s vocal style seems inspired by art pop royalty Björk, mainly due to her a huge range of pitch but also in her deep, emotional deliverance. Her voice compliments her moody, melancholic piano playing.
The heavier acts in the first half of the showcase brings so much power and punch to their performances. The third act, Bethany Nelson, delivers an angsty, angry and confrontational heartbreak rock song. Bethany’s powerful and commanding voice is met with an equally moody instrumental that builds up to guitarist Liam Cleaves delivering an impressively intricate, wailing guitar solo.
Right after Bethany is the rock three-piece HBBRD. HBBRD revives early 2000s American pop/punk, using two lead guitars, one for the drudging low-end and the other for high-end highlights. Jake Thomas provides the appropriate amount of angst and power in his drumming.
D’haze follows with a very interestingly structured song. After an ethereal introduction of dreamy, psychedelic guitar, the piece begins to creep along and soon develops into a grungy, Wolf Alice-esque rock piece. Kevin Siou’s guitar performance is a high point. Researching D’haze, I realised that I’ve had their incredible promo card for an event called ‘Hella Mega Fresh’ in my wallet for several months. The card features a kitten with lazer eyes, Papa John, spaghetti and a helicopter.
Closing off the first half of the showcase is thrash metal group Terroriserz. Frontman Ethan Tamang stands in silence, with his back to the audience as the stage crew are setting up. Once they’re ready, the band members begin riling up the audience with warm up thrashes to their instruments. “What the fuck is up London!?” roars Ethan, now leaning into the crowd from the stage, the band thrashes a few times more. Ethan then demands that the whole venue be split down the middle and makes sure no one moved until they had reached maximum thrash. As soon as they do, BIMM students fling themselves at each other in the name of metal. Terroriserz’s stage presence is absolutely brutal, they easily get the largest response from the crowd, so much so that Ethan even manages a cheeky crowd surf. Headbanging madness.
Experimental, genre-fusing collective Ace Bermuda open the second half of the event and are a clear highlight of the night. Although ‘Ace’ (the band’s retired, Bermuda-shirt wearing mentor) couldn’t make it, the legendary producer sends his minions to do his bidding. The members enter with colourful face masks, their energy creating excitement in the room. This particular configuration of Ace combines expertly performed live instrument performances and sampled-based antics to create a uniquely enticing groove. This acts as an irresistibly fun instrumental for the guest appearances from three enigmatic rappers Mezzo, Civil and Nics.
Lucas Van Roekel’s incredibly passionate and powerful vocal performance is matched with an equally soulful band. His stage presence is flamboyant and wildly entertaining, exactly what you want for a pop/rock epic. Lucas even had a costume change to an all-white outfit mid performance. Outstanding.
Standing out in style, Caitlin Macklon’s act is a sweetly written country/pop ballad, reminiscent of Kacey Musgraves. Calum Lockie’s guitar solo feels so refined and especially designed for this piece.
Another peak of the showcase, Kaia Viera’s band are masters of groove and atmosphere. Their song transforms from a seemingly standard electronic R’n’B track to a huge epic of musical talent. The structure goes out the window as you lose track of the parts and just enjoy whatever Kaia decides to convey to you. The band members are incredibly skilled, from Tomas Parada’s flurrying drum solos, shimmering keyboard passages from Clemence Faurere to tapping bass parts from Dan Collin, their synergy translates so well to the audience.
The last three acts of the night are from the dynamic and tireless world of rock. Beginning with Pink Mirrors, performing a hectically-paced punk banger, garnished with animated, headbanging stage presence, particularly from guitarist Oliver Harvey.
The penultimate act is This Sleep who brings a Catfish and the Bottlemen-styled act, powered by emotional song writing and a strained yet strong vocal performance from Josh Rowell.
A stroke of genius leads to the idea of finishing the night with an iconic and relevant cover, redesigned in a fun and creative way. Kansas City Theatre rearranges ‘Bad Guy’ by Billie Ellish in an almost glam rock homage. Considering the gentleman in front me stepped on people’s feet several times and knocked drinks out of audience member’s hands (liquid gold for a student) from grooving to this act, I suppose you could say that Kansas City Theatre did a fantastic job at closing the event on a total high for the BIMM audience.
Although all 24 acts have strummed, smacked, sung and screamed their hearts out at this point, the night’s not quite over as the B02 team hijack the venue for the after party.
The showcase ends up being exactly that, a demonstration of talent, the best of the best from a specialist university of musicians who love making what they love – music.
Tune into tonight’s showcase (May 20) at 7pm via BIMM London’s FB page.