The Punt has long been the must see showcase of local talent. Last year it introduced the county to some of the hottest new acts, bands that are now firmly established on the local scene like Fell City Girl who packed out the tiny City Tavern and a year on are headlining The Zodiac.
One night, six venues, nineteen acts. Let the adventure begin…
First stop as always is Borders bookshop. I muscle my way through the racks of ‘The Dummie’s Guide to Astro-Physics’ and take photos from the front.
“Oh it’s Mr Bearder,” announces Ally Craig across the PA. “The local BBC has arrived,” he says with a dry quip.
He is an exceptional talent, as any proud owner of The Download Sessions CD will know. He plays the guitar flat across his lap, creating chords by pressing the strings vertically down (see the gallery).
Songs like ‘A Train, Then A Train, Then a Train’ talk of tours he’s yet to undertake while ‘Your Friends Lack Morals’ show a witty lyrical writing talent.
Rebecca Mosley was next, the two acts bridged seamlessly as Ally covered one of her tracks before she took to the stage. He then stayed on during her set, lending his guitar to her powerful vocal delivery of bluesy-folk tunes.
Next stop for me was Witches at Jongleurs. The band have recently played on a Download live bill and they replicated the set here. I’m glad they did because it enabled be to recognise the tracks and hear a few more of the many subtle intricacies they infuse their songs with. I didn’t see a fraction of the bands playing tonight but of the ones I saw they were my pick of the night.
From there I headed to The City Tavern via a quick stop at The Purple Turtle to see Mark Crozer. I know from hearing some of his tunes beforehand that when he’s studio produced he has obvious talent. Stripped back as a solo artist on stage the songs are weedier but the more recognisable songs still hit a certain resonance.
Up the stairs of The City Tavern I was pinned forcibly to the back wall by the aural charge of Sow. The ears are the first to give out, crumpling like tracing paper against the unstoppable momentum of a bull elephant. After that my olfactory organs ceased functioning until my eyes bulged and my nose bled, and I escaped by hurling myself from the second floor window. Sow are a very heavy band.
Traditionally The Punt finishes at The Cellar and so this is where I crawled to in order to recover. The synth-rock of 100 Bullets Back had a calming effect. Again former Download Live night veterans they’ve changed little since I’d last seen them - quality retro pop rock.
Jaberwok were disappointing without their vocalist. I’d enjoyed some of their more recent material with singer intact but without it they sounded like something approaching lift music. Penthouse please! However, the conclusion of their set did hit a satisfying crescendo as more of their dance music leanings showed through.
And to conclude is the electro madness of the Nailbomb Cults. Just one man behind a keyboard doing the electronic equivalent of Sow. Quality stuff and one of those hot new acts that seem to have come from nowhere and this time next year could be doing wondrous things.