By Christopher Cope
TO PUT on a gig heralded as the launch of a new compilation CD of alternative Shetland music and have a tribute band headline sounds a tad odd. But this was the case at the Boxing Day bonanza at the Norscot Angling Club, with the release of So What, an album featuring an array of Shetland acts, many of whom played at the gig. It was meant to be a festive celebration of the isles rock scene, but in the end it was covers that ruled the day.
Opening were Poison Popcorn, a progressive twosome who triumphantly powered through instrumental soundscapes and everything else in between. A bit like reading a child some maths theorem for bed time reading, trance-inducing jamming like this has a time and a place and they didn’t really fit in, leaving the crowd a little befuddled. El Pedro followed, whose jaunty pop punk sounds went down well but ultimately failed to get pulses racing.
Next up were The Dogs, a self proclaimed rock and roll band whose meaty guitar work went down a treat with the air guitarists in the room. Heavily indebted to the likes of AC/DC, this is music best listened with a pint of beer in one hand. They are young, slightly bashful on stage (except the typically flamboyant lead guitarist) but despite being teenagers, they seem like toddlers compared to the next band on the bill, Ten Tonne Dozer.
A fearsome foursome with some serious bone breaking potential, they took to the stage with aplomb and didn’t stop once for breath. Vocalist Dave Kok dominated the airwaves with his preacher-esque beltings, and by foraying out onto the floor he tried to bridge the gap between band and audience that was so prevalent with the first few acts.
The experienced metallers have made a sizeable impact outwith Shetland and you can see why, with their enterprising know-how and blatant ability to pen a tune. However, for many the highlight of the night will not be the musings of Ten Tonne Dozer, but of one of Shetland’s most powerful tribute acts.
Three cheers then for Rage Against The Washing Machine, who took to the small stage as the headliners. Led by the nonchalant Jack Sandison – or should we say, for one night only, Jack De La Rocha – the foursome tore though a set of dynamite infused songs made famous by the American rap metal band.
Songs like Bulls On Parade rang true throughout the room, while the conclusion of the anti-establishment Killing in The Name Of typically reduced the crowd to beacons of discontent, middle fingers in the air. The trademark outlandish guitar effects were faithfully reproduced and with the rhythm section keeping the groove, the crowd were reduced to a pogoing mass of limbs, hair and sweat.
After an explosive set, the lights were turned up, but in true Rage Against The Machine fashion, it was made clear that they were not done yet. With the lights turned back on, they concluded the set with Freedom, a barnstorming number that snaked through a myriad of instrumental passages, spattered with angst ridden vocals.