Battle of the band competitions are a bit of a taboo subject in the DIY punk community. I, like the vast majority of people I know, go along with the thought process that music is not a competition and should not be treated as such. That said, I can completely understand why bands would enter them when they have the chance to earn an opportunity to play a show with legendary bands such as Flogging Molly, The Bronx and Face To Face. Those three bands are taking part in this year's Fireball tour and a handful of other bands from all over the UK. In London, bands from Bournemouth, Bristol and London were vying for the chance to open the show in their towns. When the show was first announced my initial thoughts were "Urgh, a battle of the bands. Boo. Bad." but after inspecting the line-up I decided to pop along, not to support the competition but to support some of the great up and coming bands in the UK.
To encourage people to get to the Islington Academy to see all the bands playing the show, the set times were drawn at random and announced an hour before doors. The band tasked with opening the show were local pop punks The Famous Class. Each band were allowed to play just three songs. This meant that The Famous Class tried to pull out all the stops with a hugely energetic set as the members bounced around the stage. At some point two massive balloons were thrown into the crowd by two gentleman dressed as beer bottles and during the final track a chap dressed in a wedding dress came on stage and downed some beer. It was all a bit random but it was good fun.
Sinful Maggie were up next representing Bournemouth. I knew absolutely nothing about Sinful Maggie before this gig and kind of assumed they would be a folk punk band. I was kind of right as there were traces of folk music but it was intertwined with some fantastic street punk music. Three songs wasn't quite enough for me as I found myself wanting more when the band finished their set. They played hard and fast and had some great music to sing along and get "shitfaced" too. Not me, obviously, but if you're into that kind of thing then you'll love Sinful Maggie.
This review was written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew.