Belfest Christmas Special – December 19th 2018
Sugarwolf, Zool Hive & Don Maple
“It tastes different.”
“What, what do you mean, how can it taste different?”
“Literally just taste it, it’s different.”
“Lad it’s literally the same.”
“You’re having a laugh like.”
While the committee to my right debated how the new taps had affected the beer quality, I took the time to scan the crowd that had gathered in the upstairs room of The Speakeasy. A venue that’s been put through its paces as of late, it now has its biggest test yet. The temporary home for the winter segment of local festival Belfest. A commotion begins at the front of the stage. As I make my way over, a familiar shaggy head of hair picks up his guitar on stage.
Local favourite Don Maple, who is as popular as Tim Hortons as of late, continued his recent trend of impressive gigs, powered by a combination of sunny licks, soothing vocals and psychedelic keys. Maple spins genres together like few others can, with newest release ‘Magnets’ and fan favourite ‘Bluebird’ getting audible cheers. I did find it hard to ignore how low Maple’s vocals remained throughout the show, as they were often drowned out by his guitar, and yet the personable charm and trippy funk bite ensured that the show opened with a bang.
To call the second act a band would be disingenuous seeing as Zool Hive are more of a freakish amalgamation, a homunculus made up of a number of different Zool artists covering each other’s songs. Guitarist Nolan Donnelly announces to the crowd that they had practised together but once, indicating that the gig could go any number of ways. Thankfully, ‘bad’ was not one of them. Opening with a cover of Rammstein’s ‘Du Hast’ and going from a number of Alpha Twin songs, to ‘California Dreaming’, to ‘George Snorewell’, to ‘Living La Vida Loca’, Zool Hive was the best that the collective had to offer, and they performed as such.
Headliners Sugarwolf are last to take the stage, which they do to riotous applause. Having formed from a number of local veterans, they have a sizeable enough following given that this is their first show under the moniker SW. Having a similar vibe to Wolf Alice, their brand of heavy melodic riffs and gattling gun percussions has the entire crowd jumping. Their alt-rock enmity has an intimidating attraction that demands attention and fully demonstrates why they are some of the best musicians about. With all the hallmarks of a great modern band, you’d be a fool to miss them if given the chance.
A victorious night of local music for all those involved, the bands served as a taster for things to come from next years installation of Belfest.