Surprise win for Marie White at Glastonbury's Emerging Talent Contest
It has been ten years now since the first Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition (in this format) and eFestivals was back in front of the Pilton Stage to watch the lucky eight finalists chosen to compete to appear on one of Glastonbury's Main Stages in this year's Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition. Eight acts had been selected from thousands of entries, by a judging panel made up of 30 of the UK’s online music writers, and each had just 1 or 2 songs each to try and win themselves a place on the Festival's line-up.
As is usual the competition partnered with the PRS for Music Foundation to offer prizes for three acts this year. As well as being given a slot on the Festival's main Pyramid stage this year, the winner would also be awarded a £5,000 PRS for Music Foundation Talent Development prize, with two runners-up also each being awarded a £2,500 Talent Development prize.
Opening this year's competition was Marie White, the distinct looking Hastings based singer/songwriter was dressed in a shell suit top, with mop top hair and odd socks, and accompanied by Sam Woods on guitar/piano. The two musicians produced a gentle acoustic sound and Marie's distinct voice sounded lovely as the whole audience remained silent for both 'Blue Jumper' and 'Out Of Time'. Well crafted songs, from a talented singer got the evening off to a captivating start. It was clear Festival Organiser and chief judge Michael Eavis had enjoyed her performance as he bounded on stage to congratulate her on opening the show.
The mellow start to the evening continued with iiola, a duo spilling woozy alt-pop like an artisan gin and tonic. The blonde frontwoman's vocals and lyrical content remind me of and others a lot of Lana Del Rey here with a bass heavy backing of rather blissful sounding beats. It's a little too much sugary infusions for me, but I do like the backing mixer a lot and they're another well received act.
Swimming Girls are up next and the four piece are fronted by our third female vocalist of the night. In a departure from previous years I'd heard the snippets of the acts Glastonbury Festival provided when the short list was announced, and I expected this band to do well. The classic indie set up of drums, guitar, and keyboards, with the lead singer Vanessa also on bass duties. I'd like to have seen Vanessa deliver a little more bass chops tonight. At times their music sounds like it needs a Simon Gallup (The Cure) bass riff, but Vanessa's clearly concentrating more on her vocal in the pressure of a competition such as this. Her voice is very Cyndi Lauper to me, and that means it's a little like marmite, a case of love it or hate it around me in the audience. The band's sultry pop connects well over all, and final track 'Tastes Like Money' is a pleasantly accomplished slice of gentle pop that sounds very much the kind of tune that has mainstream commercial appeal. Having seen them live I'm pretty certain they'll do well in the future.
Time restraints mean Yamaya (my favourite on pre-listen) don't have more than one song tonight. The eleven piece bring a world music groove to the party led by Senegalese vocalist Khadim Sarr. It's a tight melting pot of horns and percussion overlaid with gangly guitars. It's really not long enough for them to showcase their musicality - I would have loved a second number to really hear what they can do, and I'm left wanting more. It's a fantastic mix of music from the Brighton collective featuring a mix of musicians from members of Voodoo Love Orchestra, Lakuta, and Gentle Mystics. They were my favourites on the night and I would love to see them in the sunshine at West Holts or the Gully at Glastonbury this summer, and finally hear more of that Afrobeat inspired groove. Great stuff!
Brighton three piece Roma Palace take to the stage and deliver a slice of bluesy pop, that sounds like they would fit straight into a radio friendly new bands stage line-up with their brand of listener friendly indie music. To me they sound like a more stripped down Vampire Weekend. A few good hooks, it's an assured performance of a band you're sure to hear more from this summer on new bands showcases.
They are followed by my absolute favourite act of the night Shunaji. The songwriter, producer and MC is backed tonight by a four piece who serve up a challenging mix of jazz basslines and groove around a vocal that slips from sultry jazz singer to rap and back so wonderfully smoothly. It's terrific stuff. I love this jazz meets rap combo and the basslines are amazing. It turns out it's the first time they have all played together in public, and yes it was clearly a bit nervous and a bit disorganised but the music and melody sang through. I concede they were unlikely to be winners on the night, but I believe this could well be an act to watch in the future, one that legend has it came together for the first time live on the Pilton Stage.
LIINES are just fantastic to these post punk loving ears! The 3 piece girl alt post-punk rockers smash out a set that demonstrates a band very match fit from their current tour supporting Sleaford Mods. A big sound, and massive vocals these three have bags of energy. Driving drums propel punk melodies, and you just know they're gonna get crowds bouncing happily in pits across the festival circuit. Tonight it's definitely been the women who have really been delivering our new music. This is the stuff Kim Deal would fully endorse.
Before the final act, there's just time for me to try a drop of the new cider the Festival will be selling across its bars this summer. Mallets is a local drop from the team that brought Brothers to West Holts. The fizzy pop, smells great but really doesn't deliver for me, sure to be a hit with those young tykes who like their cider in tins, much less popular with the old school scrumpy fans I suspect.
A contrast to tonight's final act, the boisterous grime star in the making, MC Che Lingo, brings hip-hop, rap and jazz backed by a DJ on decks to the Pilton massive. He has by far the best interaction with the crowd, and spills lyrics, like those throwing their hands in the air spill their Mallets - to great effect! It's a strong showcase with good banter, and Che successfully orders the crowd to respond in call back sing-alongs, a big accomplishment in such a small space of time. Many are thinking he's a strong contender for the title tonight.
As the judges deliberate, most people I speak to would put their money on Che Lingo or Liines to win it, I'm hoping it'll be Shunaji or Yamaya, but it's a surprise winner this year as the memorable tender vocals of Marie White are declared top honours - together with the prize of a slot on the iconic Pyramid Stage.
It came as no surprise to hear farmer Michael Eavis tell everyone that all the acts had secured a place in front of the Festival audience this summer. Eavis, also revealed Che Lingo and Swimming Girls had won the runners up prizes.
Che Lingo displayed his formidable skills with a great beat infused freestyle rap during the acceptance of his prize, and that wound up another great showcase of talent.
If you're lucky enough to have a ticket to the greatest show on earth try and take the time to catch some new music whilst you're there. I'd recommend any one of the variety of music acts, we were treated to a showcase of various musical styles tonight, all of which you'll now be able to find on this year's line-up.
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