News From The North 102

31 05 2012

Here’s a reprint of my NI music news column that runs in Hot Press every fortnight.

News

Words: Edwin McFee

A few months ago, you may recall we informed you about a new initiative called Untapped that was master-minded by the head honchos behind the upcoming Tennent’s Vital festival which aimed to promote the local music scene by offering four lucky acts the chance to open the main stage at this year’s shin-dig in Belfast. Well, this fortnight, the organisers have revealed the names of the final 16 turns who will be fighting it out for a much coveted slot alongside the likes of the Stone Roses, the Foo Fighters and more on August 21-22 and they’ve also confirmed that they will perform at four showcase gigs in both NI’s capital and Derry in May.

 

Kicking off in the Limelight, Belfast on May 16, Master and Dog, Gerard i2, Havana House Party and Jepettos all duke it out for a spot on the bill, then the following night in the same venue Trucker Diablo, City of Stars, Peter McVeigh and Futurescope all lay the (sonic) smack down. After that, the Tennent’s Untapped competition takes itself off to the Bound for Boston in Derry on May 23 and features Best Boy Grip, A Northern Light, Rachel Austin and Mojo Gogo battling it out, while the next night features Droids, Morning Claws, Pretty Child Backfire and Two Glass Eyes. I think you’ll all agree that the final 16 are a pleasingly diverse mix of acts from different genres and sub cultures and I’d like to wish everyone the best of luck.

 

Next up, keeping proceedings on a festival tip, the brand spanking new Link Fest in Derry have just revealed details of their line-up and the bill is as solid as the Incredible Hulk’s armchair if we do say so ourselves. Taking place on July 13-14 and at multiple venues (which include Mason’s, the Playhouse, the Castle, Bound for Boston and Gweedor) some of the acts include Our Krypton Son, By Any Means, Furlo, Wyldling, Triggerman and Making Monsters and for more details check out facebook.com/linkfest.

 

Finally this fortnight, I’ve just enough room to remind you all about ska punk deities Pocket Billiards tenth anniversary gig at the Mandela Hall, Belfast on May 12. Doubling as a release party for their second album Last Chance To Dance the show is set to be a doozy (yes, doozy) and Axis Of, Bomb City 7 and Chewing on Tinfoil are the support acts. The band have also uploaded new track ‘So Many People, So Little Time’ onto pocketbilliards.bandcamp.com and it sounds awesome, so check it out.

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News From The North 101

25 05 2012

Here’s a reprint of a recent NI music column that runs in Hot Press every fortnight.

News

Words: Edwin McFee

While at the time of writing it may indeed be colder than a witch’s naughty bits, I’ve been reliably informed that Spring has most definitely, um, sprung, and with the news that summer is on the way it’s perhaps not surprising that many of NI’s festivals have started making some interesting rumblings recently. One of this year’s heavy hitters is most certainly the Sunflower Fest and their bill for 2012 helps make the bash one of the north’s potential best in the country. Taking place at Tubby’s Farm (just outside Hillsborough and about 20 minutes from Belfast) the three day event runs from August 17-19 inclusive and will feature four stages (the Finn McCool main stage, the Campfire Stage, the Barn and the brand new addition to the shin-dig that is the intriguingly titled Electric Disco Shed) a family area, a cinema tent and various other exciting spectacles too.

 

However, while the booking of the likes of the well regarded wordsmith that is Scroobius Pip and popular Free Staters Republic of Loose are undoubted aces up the organiser’s sleeve, it’s the NI acts that interest us the most and Sunflower Fest has assembled a great mix of artists from all walks of life. Some of the must see turns include Ben Glover, Fighting with Wire, Duke Special, Nasa Assassin, Lanterns on the Lake, the Bonnevilles, Boss Sound Manifesto and many, many more and the full list can be viewed at sunflowerfest.co.uk. Weekend camping tickets are now onsale for £49 via the Belfast Welcome Centre (as well as other approved outlets) and for a full list check out their official site.

 

Next up, it looks like Stendhal Festival are putting together a pretty stellar bill too. Taking place on Aug 17-18 at the Ballymully Cottage Farm in Limavady, the initial announcement includes Silhouette, the Gorgeous Colours, Axis Of, Furlo, Paddy Nash and the Happy Enchiladas, the Innisowen Gospel Choir and Wookalily and more will be confirmed as the months progress. For further details on the event, including tickets details, check out stendhalfestival.com.

 

Finally this fortnight, by the time you get your grubby mitts on this latest issue, Belfast-based singer/songwriter Michael Kerr will have unleashed his new EP The Australia Fund out into the wild. Influenced by classic tunesmiths such as Tom Petty, Cat Stevens and Van Morrison, the talented troubadour has been making all the right tongues wag of late and you can find out more info on him via his website michaelkerrmusic.com.





Hot Summer, What A Bummer Part 3

16 11 2009

The final festival I was at this summer was the much talked about Glasgowbury in County Derry. According to the ramblings of some internet user names, this bash is the best thing to happen since Fonzie stuck his boot up the jukebox in Arnolds’ hole and while I appreciate the spirit of the event, I wasn’t quite as spell bound as others.

Still, a fun day was had and here’s the reprint of my review that ran in Hot Press.

Glasgowbury

Eagles Rock, Co. Derry

Nestled in between some mountains, Glasgowbury might be a bit scarce on bogs and burger vans, but it more than makes up for the lack of facilities with the amount of talent on offer. Featuring a veritable truck-load of NI acts plus one Free State interloper the Mighty Stef (more on them later) the festival is more of a statement than anything else-telling the major labels and mainstream bands to get screwed, in the nicest possible way of course. With literally dozens of performers filling up four tents, it’s impossible to see everyone, so here’s a brief taster of the cream of the crop.

New kids on the block We Are Resistance put in an encouraging performance during the afternoon as did Furlo, who packed their tent out, but things really kicked off once the Black Bear Saloon arrive onstage a little bit later on. Despite a shaky start (and by “shaky” we don’t mean they played a cover of ‘Green Door’) the four-piece find their groove three songs in with the phenomenal ‘Face The Future.’ Frontman Aaron is clearly relishing the chance to perform outside of Belfast for a change, promising free blowjobs for all and bigging up guitarist Peter’s, er, unique skills. By the end of their hook-laden, groove-fuelled set the tent fills up just in time for the singer to successfully encourage everyone to push themselves against the barrier so he can “have a Joe Dolan moment and touch everyone’s hands” during ‘First Against the Wall.’ Classic stuff.  Hopefully this show will mark the rise in the ranks of the Black Bear Saloon, as frankly they’re getting far too good to be ignored for much longer.

Dutch Schultz put on a tight as hell performance too with Willy clearly in his element, shaking a bottle of Buckfast at the crowd, bemoaning the fact that they don’t make good porn anymore and generally blowing the heads off the front row with ‘LA Cumfucker.’ Sadly the usually impressive Mojo Fury don’t quite click today though. We’re not sure whether it’s the newer material or their lack of life onstage that’s hampering the set, but by the time we see frontman Mike in his other incarnation as singer of the weird and wonderful Clown Parlour, he seems much more at home playing odd, vaudeville-inspired songs than with his day job so maybe he just needs a break.

The Beat Poets on the other hand just seem to get better with every show. New song ‘One By One’ gives us an excellent teaser for the long awaited new album, ‘Ghosts’ has a nasty bassline and a filthy chorus and final song ‘Bloodline’ is now a bona fide fist in the air anthem. The great acts just keep coming too, with The Mighty Stef’s brand of booze-inspired shanties making a believer out of this writer, Here Comes the Landed Gentry charming everyone with their mash-up of blues and rockabilly and sounding like Satan’s house band (they even play an encore) and LaFaro bludgeon the crowd with their utter sonic violence.

 Local indie pin-ups General Fiasco also put on a hell of a show with the normally soft-spoken Owen maturing into the consummate frontman. There are definitely a few songs you could describe as filler in their set (‘First Impressions’) but the sheer pop suss of ‘Rebel Get By’ and ‘Ever So Shy’ mark the boys out to be next year’s potential headliners. Finally it’s left up to And So I Watch You From Afar to close things in style. Their take on instrumental punk rock has made them one of the most exciting Irish bands on the scene right now and ‘Clench Fists, Grit Teeth, Go!’ and ‘Set Guitars To Kill’ are fast becoming as essential as oxygen. In a perfect world ‘A Little Solidarity Goes A Long Way’ would be the NI national anthem, but for now, we’ll settle for it being the unofficial soundtrack to Glasgowbury ’09. See you all next year.

Edwin McFee