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This annual event showcases the best new local unsigned acts at various venues around the city of Oxford. This year?s highlights are set to include the much-touted Young Knives at the Cellar, South Sea Company Prospectus at Jongleurs, punk-noise duo Winne

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      28.05.2002 03:04
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      When you say ‘punt’ in Oxford, people normally think of messing around on (in) the river, with strawberries and Pimms. The Punt, however, is an annual music festival showcasing local acts in a variety of venues around the city. 22/05/2002 was the fifth Punt, and the first I’d seen. Organised by the local free music newspaper Nightshift (available in HMV and Virgin) and sponsored by Borders, the punt gives you a chance to try a wide variety of music, and stagger from venue to venue to see as many bands as you can. Highlights last year were Meanwhile Back In Communist Russia and Shouting Myke. Not being heavily into the local scene, I hadn’t heard of many of the bands playing this year. The full line up, for your benefit (in case you want to laugh at the names Emily), was: ** Borders – Free ** Varjak (6:15) Hieronymus (7) ** Jongleurs - £3 ** Malkovich (7:30) South Sea Company Prospectus (8:30) Mindsurfer (9:30) ** The Wheatsheaf - £3 ** Kaowin (8) Winnebago Deal (8:45) Miazma (9:30) Mook (10:30) ** Genesis - £3 ** Mr Duck (9) Hardcoresmen of the Technopalypse (10) Neustar (11) ** Kiss Bar – Free ** Sharon Krauss (9) Mark Bosley (10) ** The Cellar - £3 ** Sunnyvale Noise Sub-Element (9:30) The Young Knives (10:30) Sexy Breakfast (11:30) DJs (12-2) ** Po Na Na - £3 b4 10/£4 after ** Chamfer (11) Harambe (12) That’s 19 bands playing seven venues. If you intend to make the most of it, rather than paying on the door or buying tickets in advance; there are 100 all-venue ‘Punt Passes’ available for £6 from Polar Bear Records (Cowley Rd) or Nightshift HQ (George St). The May issue of Nightshift had full line up details (including a brief bit about each band and pull out map); otherwise the event’s not well publicis
      ed, so you have to watch out for it around May time (unfortunately this year the day it took place was the day PPE finals started – so I probably won’t be taking part next year...) Obviously, I didn’t get to see anywhere near everything, but I’ll tell you what I did see: Jongleurs – Arrived at 7:30 only to find we couldn’t get in on time and when we did I got short-changed the **** on the door muttering something about ‘£4 on the door mate’. First band we see are MALKOVICH. I saw them the previous Saturday, supporting Onedice at the Zodiac, but singer Rob and guitarist Paddy also write for the Ox Stu so they’re bound to get good press support ;) Last year, they won a prestigious battle of the bands contest (beating Meanwhile... in the final!) but were dubbed something of a ‘novelty band’ for covering System Of A Down’s ‘Sugar’ in their set. Tonight they play all their own material from an upcoming demo. Despite the fact their bassist Julie was rushed to hospital with suspected appendicitis that morning, they put on a good show. They’re not as heavy as some of the references suggest, more like Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins etc. And they’re much better than they were at the Zodiac, helped by the fact we can actually hear Rob’s vocals. Paddy leaps energetically about the tiny stage, though last minute stand-in bassist Ben (understandably) spends most of his time concentrating on songs he only learned that afternoon! 7.5/10 Staying put, next up we have SOUTH SEA COMPANY PROSPECTUS. Lots of people say they’re really good, although there’re always a few dissenters saying they can’t see what’s in it and they’re over-hyped. I can see where both schools are coming from. The band have no vocalist; the front of the stage dominated by a keyboardist in a world of his own and statue-esque guitarist and the ba
      nd completed by a drummer and second (bass?) guitarist with his back to us. There’s is a set with no traditional crowd interaction, or for that matter songs! To get the full effect, perhaps you had to pay attention to the words and images that appeared on the picture screen behind the band, so it’s a shame it’s not very visible! Perhaps they’d have done better to put it in front... While the band stand around on stage, seemingly oblivious to the crowd, they don’t need pictures to entertain the crowd. The music’s a hard, fast and rather dark blend of dance/industrial soundscapes, a bit like Death In Vegas. Strange vocal samples (either tribal chanting or mashed up to the point of indecipherability) are employed in most songs. I can understand why some people love them and others don’t, I’m closer to the first camp. 8/10 Moving on to The Cellar (via a quick (cheap) drink in the Union cos everywhere else was £2.50-£3 a pint) we find it already packed. The band play on the floor (no stage) and the audience are very closely packed, adding to the hot and humid atmosphere throughout the night. The SUNNYVALE NOISE SUB-ELEMENT are starting us off. Unfortunately they’re a good ten minutes late beginning, due to problems with the 2 PCs they use for samples/drums. Once things get going, however, they’re quite impressive in an arty, pretentious way. Another singerless group, they dabble in experimental electronic post-rock. Not exactly my thing, but Ria’s really impressed (and “pretentious” is her phrase!). They do have some good samples though; including the spoken intro used in Killing Miranda’s ‘Burn Sinister’ (“98% of so called Satanists are nothing but pathetic weirdoes who use the devil as an excuse for getting some sex. Then there’s that other 2%. They scare me...”). One of those things you probably have to be in to to really appr
      eciate, but still pretty good. Unfortunately because of the hold up at the start, they go on until 10:10, scuppering any plans to move on to Genesis (some people were crazy enough to plan on running backwards and forwards between the Cellar and Genesis, I was staying put). 7/10 At least since we were staying, we didn’t have to wait long for THE YOUNG KNIVES. A band that seem very highly regarded, having just signed with local ‘Shifty Disco’ label. A three piece from Kirtlington, whose guitarist and bassist (both in suits) share vocal duties, they’re described as ‘New Wave pop’, and compared (by Nightshift) to The Pixies and Supergrass. I can see the latter influence, as much in the appearance (slightly chubby and dressed in a slightly unfashionable/retro kind of way, best not even mention the hair...). They sing simple, good time slightly poppy, rock(abilly) songs about roller skating girls, eating pie and a fairly random collection of other things. I don’t see much attraction really, but numerous calls for an encore suggest I may be the only one missing out. 6/10 Last up are another intriguingly named band, SEXY BREAKFAST. The sound’s pretty unusual too, mixing anything from synth-pop to overblown 80s style rock pomposity (and throw in the kitchen sink too). Topped off by Brian (Placebo) Molko-like vocals. It takes me a while to get into it, but plenty of the crowd are bouncing along. Perhaps as I get used to the music, it grows on me, and the last song is undoubtedly a highlight – a twinkly intro reminding me of the Snowman (you know, that high-pitched ‘I’m walking in the air...’), lengthy instrumental sections interspersed with heartfelt choruses along the lines of ‘We could be happy in love again’. A great way to end the set only, unlike the previous band, SB come back and treat us to an encore. Top class. 8/10 And after that, we stagger hom
      e (surprised it’s only midnight and too tired to stay for the DJs). I can’t really say the Punt’s likely to provide the greatest music show ever. You may just come across an unknown gem of a band. It’s not just about that though; it’s an event and one I recommend if you get the chance :)

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