Material: Blackwater is a London power-trio whose material is a blend of radio-friendly alt-rock with a flair for melodic, pop-oriented vocals. Many of their songs have a ballad feel, while others are extremely riff-based. Both types exhibit strong vocal harmony. “Without You,” a track off their upcoming album, is a ballad featuring simple guitar parts and catchy, sing-along lyrics. “Unsung Heroes” is a faster, more upbeat song with chunky, palm-muted guitar riffs driven by a stable beat.
Musicianship: The band benefits from a strong foundation, with tight and clean transitions, and collective tempo that is near flawless. Bassist Uven and drummer Karlsson provide a strong rhythmic structure for frontman Bartlett’s and Uven’s dynamic vocal harmonies. Basic instrumental groundwork is where Blackwater thrives, though Bartlett’s vocals are significantly monotone and could improve with more pitch variations.
Performance: Stage presence is Blackwater’s shortcoming. They not only experienced multiple technical issues with their equipment, but the band’s intensity and audience interaction could use some work.
They made few attempts to interact with their listeners, many of whom responded by engaging in casual conversation among themselves during the set. Uven and Bartlett remained stationary at their microphones through a majority of the show. Bartlett often displayed little expression, while Uven seemed to enjoy playing. The set ended anti- climactically to a dwindling crowd.
Summary: Blackwater is a solid rock ensemble with effective vocal harmonies. Their material is mainstream and likely to appeal to any music fan. While minimal and elementary, their musicianship is firm. Polished stage presence and more variety in vocals could help the band gain an edge in a crowded alt-rock field.
The Players: Jay Bartlett, guitar, vocals; Per Karlsson, drums; Peter Uven, bass.
Venue: The Whisky a Go-Go
City: West Hollywood, CA