There is no doubt that Abe Juggins drummed up a storm with this year’s Showcase, free as part of the Devizes Festival Fringe.
Three floors of the Corn Exchange were taken over on Friday by young and talented artists whose music covered a variety of genres. From the first throb of heavy guitar from the Merchant’s Suite to the last sweet tone from the Wessex Room the night delivered excitement and quality.
On the main stage we watched the final of the Battle of the Bands. The worthy competitors were Barney Goodall with his keyboard and enigmatic intelligence, the confident and competent Year of The Thief, Alatus with their poignant punk and Larynxed, a stoner rock two-piece who proved that heavy things come in small packages and won the prize, £200 of studio time.
The headline act, The Vooz, showed energy, skill and controlled defiance, indicating that there is a lot more to them than Getting Wasted in Swindon.
The Wessex Room provided the perfect intimate atmosphere for the acoustic artists, drawn from previous popular local acts who have impressed at The Lamb and elsewhere in Wiltshire.
Mike Barham bantered, Kirsty Clinch did melodic and sweet, Leander Morales mixed and charmed and Jimmy Moore’s clever fingers delighted.
Of all the artists it was Jet Luckhurst who created the most audible buzz amongst the audience with his rich tones, pleasing appearance and dextrous guitar although his vocal style was not to all tastes.
Deep in the Merchant’s Suite something large and noisy stirred. The Dead Note Attire was the most popular stage. Tiny children (suitably equipped with decibel filtering headgear) enjoyed the rhythm and took to the dancefloor in the early evening, later there was moderate moshing and formation headbanging from persons of varying age and size.
Zero Return delivered vintage rock 'n' roll and did Pearl Jam justice, Audio Puppy thrilled with their shunting crescendos, Morose set teenage angst against a throbbing block of sound and In The Absence of Light combined superb musicianship with choreography.
The organisers were interested to see whether audience numbers would be higher as a result of making Showcase a free event and using the whole of the Corn Exchange.
Whilst 100 people came, enjoyed and went off in to the night raving about the talent we were left slightly mystified as to why this event was not even more popular. Suggestions include festivals, football, Facebook and free events in other venues, and questions arise about demand and publicity.
An uncomfortable thought is that perhaps young people may simply no longer be cultured to going out in the evening or maybe are more interested in listening to music online than feeling and enjoying it with others in a social setting. The committee welcomes comments about how publicity might effectively be directed for this event in future.
As the bands and audience left the Corn Exchange on Friday night a huge thunder clap deafened and lightening flew around the Market Place.
Showcase 2014 was indeed a significant and successful event but further inspiration is required for it to mature and evolve in to a meaningful and exciting adulthood.