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National Student Music Awards final 260407 - The Village, Dublin

Venue: The Village, Wexford St.
Date: Thursday, 26th April 2006
Artists: NSMA Finalists & the Blizzards

The National Student Music Awards have been searching for Ireland's hottest new band (with the obvious requirement that one of them has to be a full time student), offering them time in a recording studio, a consultation with those in the know, as well as duplicating their single. All in all, this is not a prize to be sneered at.

The initial entries were eventually filtered to find the best 12 and the three regional heats then whittled these 12 down to six. These six top notch Irish bands competed for the grand prize in the Village on Thursday. Each band was allowed to play three original tracks, I was fortunate enough to be there (after very persuasively convincing the bouncers -3 of them- to let me in). Unfortunately, I was one of only about 200 people there. Next door, in Whelans, Delorentos launched their new album, 'In Love with Detail' and stole most of our crowd. But that didn't stop the bands from rocking and the crowds from loving it.

Besides, Delorentos won the National student Music Awards in 2005 so it was fitting that they were launching their album next door on the same night as the 2007 Final.

The Winners of this grand prize you may ask? Why, the Saviours of Space of course! It was a close run between them and the Kinetics, but the judges, using stunning state of the art technology, i.e. their ears and amazing observation techniques decided that Saviours of Space possessed that 'je ne se qui', that indefinable quality that makes a band great, that creates a symmetry between the music and the lyrics, the delivery and the reception.

Vamos kicked off the night with "What's the Craic", an Offspring-esque song with almost painful 'oohs' and 'aahhhs'. As a general rule of thumb, the first track seemed to become inconsequential, it was the second and third tracks which the bands excelled in, seemingly saving the best for last.

However, it was a lack lustre crowd that they played so earnestly to. The unusual choice of the harmonica in the opening bars of their second track gave them a more homespun, familiar feel to the music. Sadly it didn't make up for the screaming lyrics and noise that blasted from the speakers.

The next act however more than made up for it. The Kinetiks (not a Q.A.F reference) followed and blasted the crowd awake. 'Run Run Run' their opening track was an eighties reverb track using rhyming schemes and repetition with the eerie keyboard and great guitar riffs overlaying it all. But most of all, they got the crowd moving, and they had fun doing it. The lead singer looked like he was playing paint ball with his guitar ready to lock and load. Their new EP/single, High Horse Olympics (available in stores everywhere) is a really good track, well worth a few quid/. These boys are worth looking out for.

Despite the high standard set by the Kinetiks, Saviours of Space blew everyone away. This six-piece band pulled out everything they had and they came out top for it. The lead singer was utterly engrossed in the music, almost oblivious to the goings on around him, he just kept pelting out in a husky voice while even a trumpet wailed, the guitars went Pink Floyd and strange sound bites pierced the curtain of music. I could easily picture these boys as a smoky nightclub situation. A sense of pervading darkness seemed to sweep through their music forming a discordant harmony that's wonderful to listen to.

These lads were more Jon & Vangelis than the Arctic Monkeys, but they share the Monkeys mass appeal and certainly know how to rock like one. These boys took away that wonderful prize and they did so for one simple reason, they were the best.

After the winner was announced and belatedly made their way to the stage, a gift was offered to the tireless crowd: The Blizzards. Having seen them perform before, I knew to expect the army-like vocals, the thoughtful yet amusing lyrics, the perfect drum beats and the wailing guitar. They were just as I remembered, better in fact, for now I was more familiar with their music and could scream along with the rest of their fans. They took the opportunity to play not only their new track, the truly fantastic 'Violence of Silence', they also debuted their new song, 'See the World'.

There is now doubt that these Mullingar rockers are in for the long haul. While 'See the World' was a very good track, for me it was 'Violence of Silence' that really stood out. The heartfelt lyrics follow a man fighting with his wife and met with silence, according to lead man Niall Breslin, it's the worst thing a woman can do to a man. The usual catchy tune underlies the intensity of the lyrics. Itís definitely a track to look out for!

Overall the six NSMA bands put on a great night for their listeners making it well worth the price of a ticket and a pint. To make it that far in this type of awards is an extraordinary thing and they should all be very proud of themselves, so if any of you are reading this, Congratulations!

Review written by: Grace larkin --

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