Review of Penguin live at The Hop, Wakefield October 10, 2009.
Whilst a gig by unsigned acts might not appeal to everyone, every band has to start somewhere and with this in mind tonight we have two upcoming Yorkshire bands competing in the final of a Battle of the Bands competition. Wakefield may not have a reputation for a lively music scene, but the packed venue suggests there's plenty of local interest.
First up are the young quartet that comprises Dirty Jeans, a band that features the dual vocal talents of Gareth and Katie Barnes. Throughout their set they display blues and ska influences but mainly they return to an anthemic sound that Kings Of Leon have recently found so successful. There's a commercial edge to the likes of 'To Go' and 'She's Got' (which allows Gareth to show off some fancy and impressive guitar play), while Katie regularly displays a decent vocal range and the band certainly aren't short of confidence in interacting with the audience. Bassist Stephen Clint regularly encourages handclapping, while some light heckling is brushed aside, and by the end of the showcase there's even a crowd surfer to be found.
Having had the bar set pretty high for them, Penguin attack the stage with an enthusiasm and huge sound that defies their tender years and status as a three-piece. Their songs, such as 'Highlights And Lowlights', are firmly in an alternative-rock style reminiscent of Biffy Clyro and there are plenty of dynamic guitar parts and drum fills to get the audience to return the band's energy. An act also confident in engaging audience participation, where Penguin really excel is in their actual playing. Armed with very solid material, they perform as a tight unit and are very obviously talented musicians who have put a lot of time into developing their abilities. It comes as no surprise when they get the judges vote as the winners of the competition but the night has seen two very promising bands who could both make an impact on the national music scene if they continue to develop.