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Live Review: Army Of Freshman, Promise Me Tomorrow, Call Off The Search and Lost? - The Quarterhouse, Folkestone - 16/04/11

The Quarterhouse is slowly starting to rise in prominence, as the venue regularly features on touring bands’ schedules. The building itself is modern, well-designed, fresh and exciting, which is in stark contrast to the town it calls home. Nevertheless, the need for a venue of this size and stature in East Kent is dire, so plaudits must be laid at the feet of its owners. Normally able to guarantee sizeable crowds, tonight’s crowd is well below capacity, but for the headliners at least, no-less rabid.

The venue is hot and stuffy by the time Norwich pop-rockers Lost? take the stage. This makes frontman Pete Bilton’s decision to wear a hoody and a jacket throughout the band’s energetic set (and the majority of the evening!) even more baffling. Fashion choices aside, the young bands onstage energy is unbridled and Guitarist Nathan Stimpson clearly has stadium ambitions judging by his posturing and stage moves. It’s the guitarist’s ambitious stage presence which gives the first hints of the band’s fundamental flaw. While they are clearly capable of writing the odd reasonably catchy tune, things like the use of an iPod backing track, and wireless guitars (responsible for the band’s shoddy sound throughout) reek of a band that has attempted to run before it can walk.

Thankfully, Margate’s Call Off The Search are a much more interesting prospect. Admittedly the band have a more partisan audience, something they clearly feed off, but the band’s earnest approach to their show and interesting take on the pop punk sound makes their appeal much wider. Their set of robust early Saves The Day meets The Get Up Kids tunes sound genuinely impassioned and relevant. That said frontman Ian Sadler’s vocals are weak at times, and the bands tendency to drop in the odd unnecessary beat-down, means that everything isn’t perfect. The band’s cover of Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’ is arranged in a way that almost makes it sound like it’s their own, and there is certainly enough on show tonight to win over a few more fans.

Deal is home to a blossoming music scene, and pop-rockers Promise Me Tomorrow are at the forefront of that. They also benefit from a large support tonight, with a big percentage of the crowd lapping up every word sung, and note played. Sounding like a mixture of pop-rock heavyweights Kids In Glass Houses and You Me At Six, the band certainly know how to pen a decent tune, tracks like ‘How You Play The Game’ and new single ‘You Haven’t Seen The Best Of Me’, soon have even the casual observer singing along. Each member of Promise Me Tomorrow knows how to play their instruments to a high standard, and watching drummer Josh Austin play is a sight to behold. The band are as good musically as the aforementioned heavyweights, and with the right break, and a bit of work on singer Craig Lawrence’s stage presence, they could reach the same heights. On the weight of tonight’s performance, Promise Me Tomorrow are definitely an act to watch out for.

Despite this being Army Of Freshmen’s first time in Folkestone, there are a number of die-hard fans in the audience, even though the crowd is relatively small. This core of fans takes literally seconds to revert into a frenzy of fists and shuffled dance moves. Though it is clear from the off that the majority of Army Of Freshmen are seemingly too old to be playing this type of pop rock, that doesn’t stop them tearing the stage to pieces. The dual harmonies of keyboardist Owen Bucey and Guitarist Aaron Goldberg are sensational, and along with the keys themselves add a level of sophistication to their brand of pop rock.

After playing a few set staples, frontman Chris Jay decides to turn the set into a requests show, which sees him picking two uber-fans and getting them up onstage to promote their song requests. ‘Get ‘Em Up, Get ‘Em Up’ is preferred over ‘Some Happy Ending’, but both tracks end up being played in succession. Old favourite ‘Gang Sign’ is rolled out, albeit in an abbreviated form, as Bucey and Goldberg struggle to remember exactly how it goes. Chris Jay is on superb form tonight, and his crowd interaction coupled with his questionable comedy ensures that everyone is paying attention, none more than security as he deftly scales a balcony and launches himself off into the tightly packed, but worryingly under-sized crowd. He manages it unscathed and it forms the perfect end to a set that won over many, while re-affirming to their die hard support that an Army Of Freshmen show is all about fun.

Words by Dan Issitt