Nearly two weeks has passed since the local Island leg of the Isle of Wight Festival Live & Unsigned competition from which Xocha went through to compete in the final at The Half Moon in Putney. The Half Moon is well known for it’s live music, being one of London’s longest running venues. In the past acts such as The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Pretty Things and The Small Faces have performed on it’s stage, so it’s seems very apt that a competition of such grandeur should take place in the same spot.

Crash Club, Photography by Hannah Nash

Crash Club, Photography by Hannah Nash

I arrived while Silent Party were performing, playing original Indie tunes, they were tight and well rehearsed, a good strong start to the night. Following on, the band voted ‘Best electronic act at the Scottish Alternative Music Awards’. Soon as they started I  could see why they were given that title. Crash Club are a four piece electronic rock band hailing from Kilwinning/Glasgow. Their set began with an intense intro, their energy was outstanding and timing perfect, a really good mixture of instruments and electronic sounds with rib rattling bass.


The pace was changed with two solo artists both very different. Jack Francis had the whole room in silence as he performed. He had a lovely soothing tone to his voice and the lyrics were clear and easy to follow. His music was calming with nice swells and dips on the guitar. Polly Money took over from Jack. She had a nice soft but also powerful tone to her voice and fantastic breath control. Her song ‘Hear Me Now’ had some wonderful intricate, bluesy guitar parts with great chords and some fanciful picking. She used a loop pedal to create lovely harmonies, performing at all times with a smile her stage presence was great!

Jack Francis, Photography by Hannah Nash

Jack Francis, Photography by Hannah Nash

The volume was raised for the next two acts, with Stormwater playing some classic rock sounds with added bongos. They were very together performing two original songs ‘Get Away’ and ‘One More Day’. The guitar had a real 70’s psych rock sound to it with it screaming with delight. Grunge band Hands Off Gretel took to the stage next. The band had lots of ‘oomph’ to it and so much energy! The lead singer Lauren Tate had a beautiful attitude, a real punk princess with an extremely powerful set of lungs. Lead guitarist Sean McAvinue looked like he was loving it on stage and really went for it. A very strong act.

Hands Off Gretel, Photography by Hannah Nash

Hands Off Gretel, Photography by Hannah Nash

It was over to Island born band Xocha. They represented the Isle of Wight’s music scene well. They were the youngest band to have made it through to the final and they performed comfortably on stage. Their sound is interesting and different from your bog standard Indie band, they were a real pleasure to watch again and were received well by the audience. Last act of the night, 5 piece London alternative band Nova Neon. It was a good rounded performance, lead singer  Biancajay Lewis had great depth and range to her voice and really filled the room. Elements of their music reminded slightly of the band Daughter (which is never a bad thing), I was particularly impressed by the guitarist / keyboardist who swapped between instruments during both songs.


The judges took their time to deliberate before Molly and Jack of The Midnight Bakery stepped onto stage to deliver the results. John Giddings, the main man behind the Isle of Wight Festival stood alongside them. It was again a close call all the acts were very talented, having made it through to the final 8 from an original 3,000 applicants! In fourth place and also playing at the festival on one of the boutique stages was the marvelous Jack Francis, in third and set to play on the Hey Joe Stage was Hands Off Gretel a well deserved space for them. Coming in second, Crash Club will be playing getting the party going on a boutique stage. And finally the winner of the night, the ever so talented Polly Money, she had fantastic charism and created incredible sounds as just one person. Polly will playing on the mainstage at the Isle of Wight Festival, at seaclose park, Newport this June alongside The Who, Faithless and Queen. A well deserved winner.

Competition Winner - Polly Money, Photography by Hannah Nash

Competition Winner – Polly Money, Photography by Hannah Nash

ULX Music would like to congratulate all the musicians that performed on the night and we are very much looking forward to watching the 4 podium placed acts at this years festival.

Written by Hannah Nash

(Full photo gallery coming soon)


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