Sometimes interesting things just fall into your lap, and Digital Soup was one of those things: Thames Valley University’s degree show exhibition; photography and design, featuring performances from the bands of students from the graduating year.

Wandering aimlessly around East London, we were encouraged to go inside The Atlantis Gallery of the Old Truman Brewery, an understated but excellent space, and given a token for a free beer – in London, would you believe it?! The first band we watched told me, when asked, that they don’t have a name and didn’t look in the least remorseful about it. Given that, I don’t see how I can possibly review them.

Rheya were quite surprising for a student band and definitely worthy of a review. Their maturity was a little out of kilter with my ( possibly stereotyped) view of art students. It’s been some time since I saw a band with two backing singers side-stepping in unison ( with impressive synchrony). The lead singer was an amalgamation of Nina Persson and Sophie Dahl, unmistakably Scandinavian in origin. She commanded the stage with beauty and grace, although I have to say removing her boots during the set lost her edge a little. I would put money on the band’s name being the girl’s first.

Rheya were well put together but I wondered where they thought they were going with their style. A decade ago, they could have been flavour of the moment. (Their fans would also have been responsible for The Rembrandt’s ‘I’ll be there for you’ reaching number one.) These days the kids just aren’t into that sort of thing. It’s all Arctic Monkeys grunge, Franz Ferdinand trendy or Hot Chip techno geek. Anything you could imagine on the soundtrack to Dawson’s Creek hasn’t got much of a future this side of the pond and side-stepping backing singers are a big no-no. I imagine Rheya would be more popular with their fellow graduate’s parents than with them.

They were decent though, I have to give them that. Rheya herself (I assume) had a lovely voice – albeit a bit too Alanis Morrisette for me – and the collective were a talented and pleasant-looking bunch of musicians. However, I can’t see them gigging with much success outside of this safe environment, except weddings, perhaps (of their classmates).

Towards the end of the set, the singer and the guitarist performed a track called ‘Come on come out’, which was declared as under-rehearsed due to being newly added to the repertoire that week. This was definitely the best they offered. The raw, natural edge beat the over-perfected, side-steppability of the majority of the set hands down.

If Rheya could be a little more rough round the edges, a little more apt to their age group and sector, I might be prouder to use the nice free key ring I got given at the gig. But many thanks for the free beer.

Written by Guest Writers on

Between 2003 and 2009, [the-mag] had regular contributors from music correspondents covering their local scene. You'll find them all in the guest writers section. The specific writer is mentioned at the bottom of each article.

Discover More Music