Gascan Ruckus Summer BBQ
Saturday 19th August 2017 – QUB Speakeasy, Belfast
Cover photo by Betsy Baillie
The Gascan Ruckus BBQ returns for its second consecutive year. Last year, the event saw huge success through being both a showcase of creative talent and a musical highlight of the summer, not forgetting a plentiful supply of great food. This year, it’s a collaborative effort from 18 acts from across the UK and Ireland, again at the QUB Students Union Speakeasy, and we knew this wouldn’t be one to miss.
The first act of the day is Tuskany. On the main stage, the indie-pop outfit give Fenech Soler-styled rhythms on tracks ‘Gregory’ and latest single ‘Thursday’, and, seriously, vocals on tracks like ‘Shapes’ that would give golden-era Kenny Loggins a run for his money. This is a band that isn’t kidding when they describe themselves as “something like Two Door Cinema Club, meets Earth, Wind and Fire, meets M83.”
Despite the middle-of-the-month blues, Tuskany’s high-spirited funk draws an eager crowd to the main stage. Debuting the second stage is an intimate, acoustic performance from Chris Leckey of Via: Barvikha. Leckey’ tracks are candid, anecdotal, and are reminiscent of impassioned singer-songwriters like Sun Kil Moon, albeit with a distinct sense of humor. In ‘Willie Woods’, the singer describes being a stranger in a foreign country and, while there, receiving a headbutt to a region of the body that’s maybe best left out of print.
With laughter and all-round good vibes in the room, Life Goals are next on the main stage, and the three-piece never fails to deliver a high-energy performance of their unique blend of indie pop-punk. Fiona O’Kane of LARKS vocals are quick to draw the crowd back to the second stage, eager to listen to the outfit’s celebrated passion for performance.
Franklyn and Anna’s Anchor keep spirits high while the BBQ gets under way and those acts that have finished dive headfirst into a cheeseburger, myself included. Pillow Queens make their hugely successful Belfast debut on the main stage and, before too long, Dan and Paul of The Wood Burning Savages draw listeners back to the second stage with a stripped-back, intimate acoustic performance, nonetheless with the same powder-keg rhythms that have given the Derry alt-rockers cult status amongst fans.
Susie Blue and Empty Lungs take their anthemic punk rock sound to the main and second stages respectively before Fox Jaw make their return to the BBQ’s main stage, bringing the same unflinching, kiss-the-ground rock back that saw their performance become a highlight BBQ-goers last year.
Goldie Fawn and Beauty Sleep are the second stage’s final acts of the evening, rounding off the intimate performance space with the overwhelming passion and vocal dexterity that has seen the two acts acclaimed on this year’s summer festival circuit. Beauty Sleep’s growing maturity as performers is clear to see. Their sound, borne out of a happenstance, blurry house-party encounter just last year, has grown into a mature, arena-worthy pop sound that is both captivating and undeniably catchy. This is clear to see as the band embarks on a three-date tour of Germany in September.
No Oil Paintings keep spirits high on the main stage in-between the evening’s final performances on the second stage, while more post-work, post-resit arrivals come to enjoy some of the finest musical talent from across the region. While the crowd packs out, No Oil Paintings deliver a gripping, emotionally-charged performance and, as always, their friendly jokes and the mutual raising of pints tease out a strong rapport between the audience and artists.
Leeds/London based Kamikaze Girls take to the stage next. A captivating blend of fuzzed-out DIY punk and Lucinda Livingstone’s earnest lyrics, the band speak to contemporary issues of mental health and public attitudes to the subject, while also giving a clear platform to the issue in solidarity with those who face it. A deeply resonating performance, nonetheless full of craic, Kamikaze Girls came through as a highlight of the evening and we’re truly looking forward to their next NI show.
Joshua Burnside and the Emerald Armada make their emotionally powerful and electrically-charged performances on the main stage – and the two acts waste no time in giving the packed-out Speakeasy a gig to remember. The final midnight performance comes from Gascan Ruckus. The unflinching rockers from Middletown, Co. Armagh hijack the stage with catchy pop-rock hooks and the subtle alt-rock edge from ‘Narrow Defeats & Bitter Victories’ to bring the second annual Gascan Ruckus BBQ to its close, while not forgetting to make a point to give credit to the collaborative efforts that have seen the BBQ become such a successful event:
“To all the bands, artists, volunteers, family and friends who helped us put this together, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Belfast, you should be proud of yourself, that was a day and night to remember.”
Between the good food and plentiful supply of new music for our playlists, the Gascan Ruckus BBQ has officially become a staple part of all our summer diaries, and we can’t wait for next year.