In The City 2004 - Various Venues - 18.9.04

Although we've consciously avoided the panels and discussion at the In The City base before the addition of the Urban Music Summit at this years conference proved too much of a draw to keep us away. With the first discussion of the day the topic was "The Dream Vs The Reality" chaired by Jonathan Chalet (Ex-manager of Charlotte Church / Current manager of Big Brovaz) and featured artists JD, Terri Walker, Kelle Le Roc and the aforementioned Big Brovaz. The general consensus was that although the reality didn't match the dream and often saw them working from 3am to 11pm each day they wouldn't have it anyway. What was perhaps more interesting was that in the first conference of the day it was decided that the term "Urban Music" was the media way of saying black music as it was more palatable to white listeners, the artists themselves would prefer their music was described as it was i.e. soul, hip hop, r&b.

The Gods Of Good Living are a breathe of fresh air to kick off the day. A band which don't take themselves too seriously, the energy is infectious and although there's only a small group of people at this time in the afternoon those present find them hard to ignore. The bands frontman bounds around the stage like Shed 7's Rick Witter on a pogo stick, while the bands melodies pilfer from the best in guitar pop. Small Faces mod stomps along with Johnny Marrs lightly picked melodies complete with guitar solos in each and every song. With everyone so serious we need a few bands around about Pretty Girls and Tits. There's definitely an audience out there waiting for a band like the God Of Good Living.

Seven Hours mix of forty a day gravelly vocals and blues rifferama might be out of step with short sharp fashionista's, but this is the sound of a band who just want to hear primal real music. The band are anti-thesis to the IPC sponsored crap that masquerades as music and although London probably won't get a band like Seven Hours they'll find trouble ignoring them when the rest of the country get on board. While the White Stripes play their novelty blues these guys are the real deal.

Back to the Urban Summit for an interview with Public Enemy producer Hank Shockley who talked about the marketing of the band which changed the face of hip hip and how they actually changed DJ Chuckie D to Chuck D because it sounded more forceful and in fitting with the music. The Keynote address by Matthew Knowles, father and manager of Beyonce and Destiny's Child, saw him encouraging UK Urban artists to look at their own country and Europe before trying to break the US, adding that Destiny's Child sell far less inside America than outside it. Two inspiring talks from two very different people in the music industry and a highlight of what will hopefully become a regular part of ITC.

Since backing 28 Costumes at last year's ITC Unsigned the band have gone on to release a single on Spank Records. Strange things have happened though in the sense that they now sound like a different band. Gone are the scouse pop elements that saw us compare them to the likes of the Coral and The Zutons an in it's place are wiry art rock songs reminiscent of Franz Ferdinand. Dressed in suits playing their "pop songs" the band are affable, but have still to write that killer song with the killer hook.

Lord Bishop Rocks has everything down to a fine art. Walking on-stage with the announcement that "George Bush can suck by my black dick" it's time to inject a little politics to In The City. With bands pandering to the record industry its refreshing to see a band that just doesn't give a f**k. Upstairs at the Dry Bar, the bishop has posters, CDs and T-shirts on sale and he's working his own cottage industry with the image of George Clinton as a clear inspiration. Playing a selection of songs from his album "American Lies" the likes of "Stop The War" sound like AC/DC f**king with Fugazi in a rock n soul fusion. For those few people that saw the Bishop they won't forget him in a long time.

Suzuki are a guilty pleasure where despair meets wide boy Manc arrogance. Reminiscent of Joy Division's Ian Curtis the Suzuki's frontman jerks to proto-punk riffs ala The Buzzcocks. A volatile force that will shake the music industry rather than pander to it. A primal rock and roll band that have the songs to linger around long after the live shows have gone. The real sound of the streets.

Kentucky AFC are a cute inoffensive stab at Welsh Pop. The problem is they don't really have enough going on to appeal outside the cult of Lamacq circa 1993. There is still something appealing about this band which we can't quite place. The songs, although at times forgettable, do have a quaint quality about them and although they try to rawk out they never quite reach what they want to achieve. If Kentucky AFC were the band they wanted to be they'd be a great band, until that point we'll have to deal with the proposition that they could go either way. Still they're much better than International 1 from Stockport whose Gallagher aping songwriting style is the sort of thing that should be resigned to the bargain basement tribute act Nowaysis.

It takes a lot of guile but when you've blagged yourself a chance to perform in front of Matthew Knowles you better make sure you're the best. Nayla sadly isn't. She has the confidence and the voice, but is lacking in personality and doesn't have the songs to stand out from other aspiring soul singers. Saying that though with the right songwriter she could be a tremendous talent and if you look at the careers of David McCalmont and Beverly Knight once the songs are in place they branch out from being a great singer to a great artist.

Running across the city to Po Na Na’s for a Break In The City Urban event with a difference. We walk in halfway through Dirtburgs set to see the audience blowing up. It's too obvious to compare them to Red Hot Chilli Peppers, but similar influences are in place with funk, rock and hip hop combining alongside a myriad of influences from jazz to gypsy folk. It's about time we had some good time hip hop. Ivory is playing the first of two gigs during ITC, the second being the Next Big Thing event as part of the Official Urban ITC events. Coming on stage dressed in low hung jeans and  a harlequin waistcoat that makes him look the camp hip hop version of Jake Scissor Sisters or a white Andre 3000. You can call it indie flavoured rap if you want, but at the end of the day it's just feel good hip hop. “Blaze A Trail” has a riff that sounds like a lo-fi version of Rage’s “Killing In The Name Of” complete with female backing vocals that could come straight out of a Misteeq track. Add in the funniest guy in UK hip-hop right now and you got an infectious combination.

Is UK hip-hop finally delivering with the likes of Ivory?
Are International 1 and The Pioneers stunting Manchester Music?
Did the fringe events surpass the expectations of the main Unsigned gigs?
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