Underway and Upping the Ante

The Red Stripe Music Awards 08

The second annual Red Stripe Music Award – dedicated to rooting out the best underground UK music talent – is in full swing, having already visited over 30 local venues and bars the length and breadth of the UK.

Who of us haven’t ended up delirious, beer in hand at the front of a moshpit, wedged in between two fat, shirtless, sweating, leather-clad biker types, madly pogo-ing with feet scarcely touching the floor, a boot-print impression on your face and an empty Red Stripe can wrapped painfully around one foot, scraping on the floor like Robocop’s baseball boots?

The chance to be heard and seen by the right people

It is because Red Stripe are so entrenched in Rock’n’Roll’s sweating underbelly and have been such an intrinsic part of this sneering, lip-curled revelry over the years, that they launched the Red Stripe Music Award 08: to give something back to young bands by giving them the chance to be heard and seen by the right people, and to ignite local music scenes.

For the uninitiated, the award takes the form a comprehensive scouring of the UK, from top to bottom and delves into all the dirty nooks in between. There will be no waiting around in amongst droves of thousands of simpleton glory-seekers outside some corporate edifice in Canary Wharf, for this talent search’s competitors. No lugging a JCM900 and a nine-piece drum-kit up the pristine front steps and into the glass fronted-elevators of some multinational conglomerate’s entertainment division to perform in a carpeted board-room for some Botox-frozen media-puppets and a couple of corporate fat-cats. No, This award isn’t about quaffing canapés and spritzers whilst bringing the clamouring masses – in amongst which are hidden the true talent – before a panel to sing for their supper; it’s about getting out on the road and searching Britain, high and low, from Aberdeen to Accrington, Sheffield to Shoreditch, and Warrington to Wakefield, and unearthing the treasures of the grass-roots music scene.

The best talents from this nationwide musical mine-sweep of over 50 gigs will then be selected to duke it out in front of fans and industry big-shots at the massive UK RSMA 08 Grand Final in London to determine the ultimate victor.

What fabulous prize awaits the bearer of this esteemed crown, you ask? Are they presented with an oversized cheque and abandoned to fall into obscurity? Will they record an album of covers of pop-classics from a bygone era that will fester, forgotten, in a bargain-basement bin whilst they, themselves, stack shelves, unable to even get arrested? No, the Red Stripe Music Award as an institution is resolute in it’s commitment to nurturing new music in its infancy, and therefore the winning band immediately receive slots at the esteemed Great Escape festival in Brighton and another major UK festival to be announced, as well as a fully functioning tour bus to keep! Red Stripe also follow this up with continuous support in the form of consumer press advertising and, of course, some back-stage Jamaican-courage for the hectic live schedule that surely awaits.

As a magazine that strives to find and champion underground music, we at Clash have been thrilled to support this initiative, which holds a mirror up to our own ideals, and put our clout behind the talented unsigned bands of the contemporary scene.

This years competition, which is double the scale of last year’s, is well underway and, by now, over 30 venues have hosted nights of frenzied rock mayhem and the majority of the 150+ bands have kicked out the jams in the quest to be recognised as one of the best new bands of 2008. Established venues like The Brixton Windmill and The Sheffield Leadmill have rocked to explosive sets from emergent talent like Nazca Lines, The Vibrants, The Headliners and The Situationists, and whilst painting these recognised towns red ( of course ), Red Stripe have not forgotten the lesser known venues, rock and roll bars and student unions of the UK’s more remote musical outposts, with hot spots like The Underground in Southport, The Cornwall Blue Bar and The Horn in St Albans heaving to hopefuls like The Last Stands, The Glides, Magna Saga and The Raid.

“Thanks for giving us the opportunity to play! It’s a great chance for new bands like us to show what we can do.”

This year’s bands are already commenting on the experience positively: “It was a pleasure to play the gig, everything was smoothly organized and the advertising helped make it a near capacity crowd which is always great to play to.” said Sheeva, who played the third live show of the tour at The Providence, in Brighton. Nervosa, who played the MI Bar in Falmouth were equally buoyed: “Thanks for giving us the opportunity to play! It’s a great chance for new bands like us to show what we can do.”

And lets not forget that it’s also a great opportunity for us, new music fans, to find the next big thing right under our very noses. You don’t need to be from a sprawling metropolis to have the chance to do this. It’s practically on your doorstep.

More than halfway through this gargantuan search for the next generation to emerge from garage band practise sessions out into the daunting wilderness that is today’s ultra-competitive and ever changing music industry, the Red Stripe Music Award 08 looks like it is gaining true momentum and is well on its way to achieving its aim of earning the status as a true champion of the best in UK music talent which actually sticks to it’s promise of offering a genuine leg-up to a quality band waiting for their break to come along.

Full details on how you can enter your band as a local hopeful, as well as a rake of past reviews and gig photos and up coming gig listings for fans interested in attending these blistering shows can all be found on www.redstripe.net

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