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By Ed Atkins on 5.6.2023

Keynestock 2010

I am going to start this review of Keynestock 2010 with an admission: I was not supposed to be writing this article. The writer arranged for the event failed to appear and I only discovered this towards the end of the evening, when I had consumed far too much for me to even think about writing this article. My main memories of the evening consist of snakebite smiles, dancing on tree stumps and licking the face of an unnamed Sabbatical officer. However, with my consciousness and spatial awareness, my memory of the evening appears to have returned.

The 29th May saw student musicians take to the stage and perform in front of their peers, with the winner of the competition, decided by a new text vote system and a panel of judges, guaranteed a slot at Kent Unions 2010 Summerball. The event aims to showcase the best of musical talent at the University of Kent, with previous winners including the latest pop sensation Ellie Goulding. However, although this year showcased acts with musical and lyrical talent and showmanship, the day failed to create only one thing, a stand out winner.

I do not mean to take anything away from the organisers of this widely enjoyed event. I, personally, loved every moment of it and having nothing but praise for the team, led by Lauren Crowley. The hard work that they all put in was clear, with the event being competently run and all present seeming to enjoy themselves. This is one of the best events of the student calendar, continuing to attract crowds despite the poor weather. Nevertheless, this was a music festival and a competition, and should be reviewed as one.

The acts were as follows:

Sam Miller
Starting of the day was the singer-songwriter Sam Miller. Sporting a pair of incredibly interesting trousers, Miller played songs in the mould of John Mayer and The Fray however his set lacked the inspiration and emotion that separates the best songwriters from the pack. Although Miller, enjoyed by those present, brought nothing different to the day, it was not unbearable to behold.

4/10.

Lavender Town
A set marred by sound problems, with the feedback screeches proving a deterrent to many., Lavender Town showed a variety of influences, from the country sentimentality of Wilco to mainstream Nu-Metal. The band provided a set that, although technically weak, galvanised the audience into standing still, staying silent and enjoying the performance.

5/10

Bardo Thodol
My personal highlight. The winners of Keynestock 2009 took the stage under a cloud of smoke, possibly created by a smoke-happy member of Kent Tech. It is hard to pigeon-hole Bardo Thodol and it is this that makes them so revered by both their peers and members of the audience, nevertheless, like a moth to the flame, I will try to (apologies to the band if I get this massively wrong). The layered dual guitars of Foals are gloriously mixed with the epic-ness of Sigur Ros and the ability to convey intense emotions, without the need the vocal soundscapes, that inhabit the finest work of Explosions in the Sky. A band that refuses to conform to the regular four piece layout, instead possessing a three piece brass section beside drums, guitars and a bass, it is this musical adventurousness that makes this band the highlight of, not only the evening but, the musical scene at the university.

9/10

Katerina Georgiou
A lyricist in the mould of Regina Spektor who possesses a stage presence that many other acts present struggled to match. Katerina commanded the audience in such a way that all present appeared to be struck by the beauty of her voice. Although the backing instrumentation was poor at times and a cover of Kids by MGMT was both musically and lyrically weak, Katerina has a solid foundation for reasonable success, post-Keynestock. I wish her the best of luck.

7/10

Hot Balloons
Regretfully, I was absent for this set, all I can do is apologise. Nevertheless, I have done my research and asked those present for the views of this band, with opinion being split. Some stated that the set appeared to have been a success, with the band providing a well-received burst of indie-pop. The immense energy that Hot Balloons possessed kept the audiences’ attention throughout the set, with several of those present stating the belief that the band were one of the best acts of the event. However, as always, the band had their detractors, with several audience members stating that the band were uninspired and subscribing to the the paint-by-numbers-indie template.

6/10

The Dutch
A band that possess the attitude, energy and musical competency of The Vines, The Dutch quickly won the audience over with their tight basslines and, hopefully feigned, swagger. However their behaviour off-stage has tarnished my opinion of them, with the band being consistently rude to the judges and organisers of the competition, as well as several audience members. I was happy to have seen The Dutch, however I was appalled by stories of their behaviour. To put it simply, and with no disrespect to the festival, The Dutch are not headlining Glastonbury and, with such behaviour, I doubt that they will be anytime soon. If they learn some manners in the next year, their score will be very different.

3/10

Alex Quaye
A man who showed the other sing-songwriters present exactly how it should be done. Expressive, thought provoking lyrics combined with an endearing stage persona made Alex Quaye one of the stand-out acts of the evening. Quaye’s lyrical skill and showmanship exposed him as one of the diamonds in of Keynestock 2010. However, due to sound problems, his performance appeared to go unnoticed in its early stages, with the crowd talking throughout the beginning of his set. Nevertheless, Alex won the crowd over, proved by his coming in, a well deserved, second place.

8/10

Harvey Hyde and the Hecklers
A band I have had the pleasure of seeing many times in the past year. Harvey Hyde and the Hecklers ska is always a crowd pleaser, and today was no exception. Strong vocals from Alexandra Meinke appeared to stun the majority of the audience into submission, providing one of the great sets of the evening. A good band formed by lovely people, I have nothing but praise for them.
7/10

Black Sun Down
The impressive instrumentation of the rock sound of Black Sun Down proved that they were real crowd pleasers at Keynestock 2010, illustrated in the amount of text votes that they received. The impressive showmanship of the band had a massive influence upon the audience, with all the rocks clichés being fulfilled. The girl on her boyfriends shoulders exposing herself? Check. People at the front making that hand signal? Check. Swearing on the radio? Check. The list goes on, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. Black Sun Down know exactly how to please the crowd and show it. However their rock-by-numbers is lacking that riff that is what makes a great rock song. As soon as they find that, they will be a force to be reckoned with.

7/10

Half a Crown
Another band I missed. Once again, all I can do is apologise. Half a Crown play a hybrid of grunge and college rock, which works reasonably well, pleasing the majority of the crowd. However, as one audience members stated, they appear to have committed the cardinal sin of putting too much energy into playing covers. At this stage in the competition, it is imperative that the majority of the set is written by the band itself.
Nevertheless I have seen Half a Crown before and thoroughly enjoyed it. The band possesses an infectious energy that holds the audience’s attention, an energy that many of the bands on show today lacked.

6/10

History of the Trade
Possessing a huge following, History of the Trade were the favourites to win the competition this year, coming across as the headliners of the night and, judging by the crowd’s reaction to their victory, are very welcome at the 2010 Summerball. Their set was dominated by intense showmanship, with the band commanding the stage, audience and the carefully crafted songs that they played.
History of the Trade’s music incorporates a variety of genres, with snippets of indie, rock and pop punk all carefully packaged into a sound that will always appeal to the audience of events such as Keynestock.
Although, I like History of the Trade, I do not believe that, creatively, they are worthy winners however when it comes to the popularity that they command, I have no issue with their crowning or seeing them again at the Summerball.

8/10

While the votes were being counted, a DJ took the stage. The only way I can describe this man’s set is amazing, with many people I’ve spoken to stating the belief that the Venue that night could not compare.
A Quick note to Kent Union: If you have not given this man a job yet, hire him. Please.

So I have come to an end of putting my disjointed memories into words. To summarise, Keynestock is one of the events of the student calendar and I have nothing but praise for it and its organisers. All I can really say is thank you, it was one of the best days I have had at the university in recent months and long may it continue.

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