Blog: Inside The Institute (part 5)

Our blogger, live onstage
Our blogger, live onstage

I write to you now in a short respite from the madness that is being a musician. I've just come off an exchange program where students from the University of Southern California came to the ICMP to foster and celebrate the historic Anglo-American partnership in popular music.

A noble-ish cause, I think, and I graciously accepted my invitation to be involved. Thinking it would be a casual affair, a few odd rehearsals here and there amongst light-hearted banter, I was definitely thrown wayward when I quickly realised how intense it would be.

Packing daily rehearsals, obligatory attendance and more than a few gigs on top of my already busy schedule was a lesson itself in time management. Definitely worth it though. Those guys really have a slick sensibility in everything they do musically, probably due to the darwinistic jungle that is the LA session scene. We had a few R&B/Motown numbers in the set, and the general tonality of the sound (groove, funk, cadence) just sounded so much better than I've heard from equivalent students here in the UK.

I played a gig at Underbelly in Hoxton Square last night. Standard affair for the most part. Some screaming guitar solos, dubious sound engineering, post-gig drinks and subsequent shame this morning. Amongst the arguably too eclectic night, there was a gem to be found in the band Nife. It was genuinely refreshing to hear a set far from the self-absorption and contrived avant-garde of a lot of modern bands.

All the more interesting given the Austrian/Indian female lead singer and guitarist who delivered FX-saturated feedbacking solos Hendrix himself would have been proud of. They even did a surprising cover of Waterfalls by TLC, a fantastic song anyway but one that really lends itself to be rocked up with appropriate Hendrix-inversions. One to watch!