Shizznigh Promotions 4th Birthday
Pocket Billiards w/ BeeMickSee, The Greased Palm, Concrete Circus, We Build Mountains
Friday, 25th April 2014 – Stiff Kitten, Belfast
Marking four years in the music promoting biz, gig goers of Belfast would have a lot less live music in their lives if it wasn’t for the assiduous Shizznigh Promotions. So what better way to celebrate another twelve months of booking bands and virtual fly-postering than to put on a bumper show to celebrate with?
Hailing from the North-Coast and customarily noisy, We Build Mountains are a four-piece whose sound is as jagged as a cliff face. Opening with numerous short, stop-start blasts, they dip into screamo and math rock whilst feverously shredding at breakneck speed. It’s a ferocious affair which continuously turns on its head in a blink of an eye. Playing as hard and as fast as you can has its credentials but until a penultimate old school chugger the set is a frenetic jumble. They proceeded to finish on a high however with a Coheed & Cambria inspired, emo fuelled number zipping along a tantalising melody.
For an evening headlined by Belfast ska royalty the grooving starts early, with the female fronted Concrete Circus providing the reggae rhythms to get the place to their feet. Lauren Crudden’s soulful vocals seduces the crowd into communal jigs and frolics, their up-tempo punk spirt cloaked by a laid back bohemian aesthetic. Peppy funk with a fiery cause, ‘Money’s Made’ is the collective’s most prominent fist-raiser.
More well known for mammoth multiple-hour sets, The Greased Palm packed a mighty punch as their comparably briefer run out was a suitably fast paced whirlwind of bluesy rock ‘n’ roll. Frontman Junior Johnson is no stranger to the local scene and his experience showed as he bounded across the stage with the boisterous crowd at his mercy.
The quartet coasted through the gears, providing a mix of retro infused originals and often times obscure covers. It’s similar in formula to what The Strypes have toured the world with, however The Greased Palm’s selection of old time favourites tip the scales as far more soul heavy. The question will be how much the band harbours ambitions to put out original material and if it transfers into a contemporary release. Regardless, as a live act they brought the house down.
Filling the stage with five members rather than his customary two, BeeMickSee has finally delivered on the live band his fans have been craving. Adding an extra spark to proceeding the pack of musicians backing up the Belfast rapper work wonders, providing tangible energy in spades and a platform for the project’s hook heavy instrumentals to shine.
BeeMickSee’s flow is smoother than ever, portraying the lustrous poise of a performer with evident conviction in the new direction his music is taking. Latest track ‘Awkward’ ricochets with punk vigour and after only two songs a rowdy crowd pulls Bee into a prolonged crowd surf. The story of the Oregon native’s rocky adjustment to life in Belfast, ‘We Took a Dive’, finally clicks. A live kit adding the teeth-grinding intensity needed to match the aggro-driven vocals.
His usual comedy antics were less prominent throughout the night, although there was time for some crowd interaction with predictable high jinks – this included massive countdown style letters and a group of volunteers playing the role of cheerleaders for ‘Single”s chorus. New tracks include a song detailing the meaning of various bits and pieces of Belfast slang. Typically tongue in cheek with the charm of a Rubberbandit’s jest, it’s a tune which could become a future cult classic. Finishing with ‘Who Like’s Laughing?’ the live band is another big step forward for BeeMickSee and it’ll be interesting to watch how it influences future material.
With atmosphere in the venue set to fever pitch Pocket Billiards ascended to the stage cooly as you like, ready to do battle. For a band who haven’t played a gig in guts of half a year it didn’t take long for the Belfast the troupe to get into the swing of things. They slip into ‘Last Chance To Dance’ with ease, a deftly executed assault on your aural senses. The pit finds it’s feet in seconds, the chorus enticing you to evolve that head nod into full blown skanking mayhem.
Local festival royalty, Pocket Billiard’s exploits at wild weekenders has earned them legendary status as a live band, and they bring similar results to a closed environment. Their ability to feed off the crowd is key to maintaining such consistent engagement, albeit a turbulent hit parade does help. The crowd rise to every challenge from ‘Panic’ to ‘Tetrisaurus Rex’, each serving to ramp up the pandemonium with the number of people wearing t-shirts dwindling after every song.
Palpable drama surges from the frequently spunky bass section, ‘Dirty Money’ and ‘So Many People So Little Time’ providing moody jaunts with a mule-like kick. Far from their first rodeo Pocket Billiards fly through various riotous throw backs, elements of late 90’s punk-pop shinning through the simple yet effective ‘Drinkin’.
The whole night is one big endurance test, if Pocket Billiards played this set every week half of the city could cancel their gym memberships. The floor continues to bounce as the dancing pit swells to even greater numbers with some band members even getting in on the action.
Brash favourites ‘Spide’ and ‘Belfast Town’ bring us to a close, the industrious crowd partying until the very end. Even under the disapproving glare of the venue’s house lights the band cheekily find time to squeeze in ‘one more tune’ with the outing of a brand new track.
With whispers of a possible new release and festival season looming round the corner, the power-punk collective could soon be making a more regular return to our live music schedule. There aren’t many bands who can rival the thrill ride Pocket Billiards take you on, without a doubt one of the most essential live bands Northern Ireland has ever produced.