It was my first trip to the Studio Bar in Penzance and in the darkness it took a little finding but once inside I could see the reason for it’s popularity. It’s what you could describe as intimate with room for about 100 people but only if you stood on each other’s toes. Next to the entrance/exit is the stage that faces a long room with a bar in the far corner. Above the bar is a seated area reached by a set of stairs that you pass on the way to the bar. The venue has a great feel that must be something to do with it’s size and the fact that if you are in the front row you are toe to toe with the band members.
The lineup had a last minute addition in the form of local band F.Emasculate who surprised everyone with their raw sound. With a female vocalist, their sound could be described as a mix of punk metal mixed with Napalm Death. The setlist looked massive for a fifteen minute slot but all became clear after the first couple of songs. With a brutal and aggressive sound, most songs lasted less than two minutes but they seemed to impress those who had arrived in time to see them.
Next up were a punk band called The Dead Betas and after the opening band they had a lot to do to impress the crowd. With a somewhat eclectic blend of musicians on the stage that included a stand in guitarist, I didn’t expect much. But the band’s frontman Tobias Monsters was the focus, as all eyes were fixed on him. His antics meant the opening band were soon forgotten and it was Tobias that everyone was now talking about, but I can’t help feel that his energy is wasted with the band’s current lineup and that he could do better auditioning new members. With that said, in a bigger venue, the other members may also have room to express themselves, and then I feel the band would be a force to be reckoned with.
Next up were Oh Captive, whose guitarist had been on loan to the previous band The Dead Betas, and he was now ready and raring to go again. He was joined onstage by the other three members of the band, and I watched the first few songs of their set from the comfort of the upstairs seated area before venturing downstairs for a closer look. I think the mix was a little out for these guys. It was hard to make out the vocals, a shame as their punk pop sound was missing the band’s usual full on in-your-face experience. With the band’s influences including the likes of Biffy Clyro, Twin Atlantic, and Coheed And Cambria, their sound was a mix of all three with some other well known bands mixed in. I would’ve liked to hear some of the vocals to gauge just how good these youngsters are.
The main event was next and after a short break in which the band set up their equipment, it was time to rock. Scholars are a band from Hemel Hempstead who have been making waves whilst honing their skills touring with the likes of Pure Love and Hell Is For Heroes. Their sound could be described as a mix of At The Drive In, Fall Out Boy, The Vaccines, and My Chemical Romance. With several very catchy tracks in their set, it is only a matter of time before they become as big or even bigger than the bands mentioned above.
With their debut album “Always Lead, Never Follow,” due for release on the 8th of April, the band are touring the country and revisiting the areas where the fans want them to play. Scholars are a band with so much energy. Even playing in a small venue like this, they still gave it everything with vocalist Sam Nicholls entering the crowd to sing where he was also joined on several occasions by bass player Chris Aylett. The stand out songs in their set are also firm fan favourites. “Bad For Business,” “Blinda Data,” and the new single “Black And Blue,” give you a glimpse into where the band are headed musically. There seems to be a good chemistry between the members and this is clear to see when watching them live. Let’s hope when they have made a name for themselves they will still tour the whole of the UK and not just the big cities like many others now do.
To sum up the night, I would say heads up to the venue. Although small, it was perfect for showcasing the bands. Thanks to Scholars for traveling so far to play for the people of Penzance and for bringing Oh Captive and Dead Betas with you. As for F.Emasculata, I am sure I will come across you again one day and I look forward to that day. Let’s hope that Scholars debut album gives them the foot on the ladder that they deserve and that it is not too long before they are back in Cornwall to entertain us. Be sure to check them out. Give them some love and tell them who sent you.