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5M2M looks to South by Southwest

Published: 
Sunday, January 17, 2016
The band 5M2M in concert. Photos courtesy Thion Lord

A review by 
Janine Charles-Farray

When musical acts make it on an international stage, diehard fans always go back into the history of the band “before they were famous” to dig for buried treasure to unearth the secret of their success. 

Part of a band’s history might include the first musical festival they ever played. For Caribbean Rockers 5 Miles to Midnight, one of the defining moments of their musical journey may be on the horizon as they prepare to raise funds to showcase at the prestigious South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival in Texas, USA. The festival is in March. The band hosted a fund-raiser on December 18 in its first performance at the Little Carib Theatre, with the show titled 5 Miles to Midnight before Christmas. 

The band, with members Rhys Thompson on drums, Alex Ou Young on rhythm guitar, with Dale Dolly on keyboards, Shallun Sammy on lead guitar, Mark Wallace on bass, and Liam King on lead vocals, presented a selection of songs from its 2014 EP OMG it’s 5 Miles to Midnight’s first EP. 

It also shared three brand new songs, Tragedies, Decisions and Demons. The songs were written by King with music done collectively by the band. They were delivered with 5M2M’s usual precision and tightness, and their whimsical flair for unexpected and entertaining arrangements. 

That being said, there was definitely a need for clearer diction on the lead vocals. The chance to form a connection with the new songs previewed at the show was lost due to sloppy words wrapped up in excessive performance affectations, riffs and slurs. 

While appropriate for that rock star flair, should they have the opportunity to go to SXSW 2016, introducing the band’s repertoire to a whole new audience will require them to be on point in ensuring that people can understand the lyrics. 

The show lasted about an hour-and-a-half and other highlights included a cameo verse on Adele's Hello by hip hop freshman Inzey, and a soca segment by guest performer 5Star Akil. 
Yung Rudd and Mr Mark Hardy also joined the cast for a thoroughly enjoyable punk rock thrash out of Susan Maicoo’s classic 90s soca parang, Trini Christmas is the Best, along with their hip-hop hits Sunday Lunch and Nah Boy.

Overall the sound of 5 Miles to Midnight was amazing. There was a very enjoyable charisma about this band. It is clear that in ten years spent playing together they have managed to develop a cohesive chemistry in their performances with a focus on the music rather than individual personalities. 

Their hard rock sound, cleverly peppered with multi-cultural influences from the Caribbean, is unique—aptly branded Island Rock (iRock for short). The band explained more in a post-performance interview at the Little Carib Theatre.

“When we say ‘island rock’ we really reflect that combination of island and rock, which we love,” explained Sammy. 

"We're looking forward to getting the band out there, so people could actually get to hear us outside of Trinidad, and not just having to pay for advertising outside of Trinidad... actually being there so they could feel the vibe of the band," added King.

The band intends to carry all original songs to the SXSW stage and they feel like their latest offering, Tragedies will be the tune to give the band its breakthrough. Bassist Mark Wallace has high hopes for the new music.

"I think the plan when we go to South by Southwest is to push the band to every- and anybody who is there. It’s like a big networking thing. We want to go and meet as many people as possible,” said Wallace.

“We’re also trying to plan a showcase in New York after, probably in the fall. So we have to build funds and make connections and get to networking.”

The band is hoping to raise TT$140,000 to cover the cost of the trip to SXSW 2016.