Urban Avenue with support from Moscow Times, Until This Day and Not Stanley
Tuesday 19th February 2013 – Auntie Annies, Belfast
Anybody concerned with the state of pop-punk music should relax; tonight’s gig in Auntie Annie’s proves that the genre is in rude health here in Northern Ireland.
Openers Not Stanley take to the stage and immediately set off hideous feedback from the lead guitar. Their awkward gazes and mumbled stage banter shows their lack of experience; however their talent and sharply humorous song titles (‘Another Slut Like You’; ‘Sorry Girls, I Only Date Ladies’) hint at real potential and intelligence beyond their tender years.
Their music is pure three-chord pop-punk, sounding like a cross between early Green Day and Weezer (indeed, vocalist Rory Day is rather reminiscent of Rivers Cuomo). Their first recorded single, ‘Fill Me Up’, is also similar to Blink-182’s ‘Dammit’. In all, an entertaining set.
Next to step up is Belfast’s Until This Day, a five-piece band with that rarest of rock attributes: a female lead singer. Playing poppy, punky, rocky, melodic kinda stuff (think Paramore meets Garbage), they have been making quite a name for themselves of late.
Sadly for the small but enthusiastic crowd, singer Lisha Fitzpatrick’s vocals are all but drowned out by a too-quiet mike and a too-loud lead guitar,and the backing vocals are completely inaudible. This is a terrible shame as a quick listen on Spotify reveals Lisha’s lovely, clear, Hayley Williams-style voice. Soundcheck people, soundcheck! What can be heard tonight is best highlighted on the terrific ‘Don’t Cherish’.
There aren’t many female-fronted bands playing proper, ballsy rock in Northern Ireland. If UTD get their technical issues sorted at future gigs, they will really soar.
Third band Moscow Times, a sharp-dressed bunch, are something of an anomaly tonight. Eschewing the pop-punk theme of the evening, MT instead play quirky, ska-tinged rock. . Vocalist Hooley has a rich, warm voice, similar to Incubus’ Brandon Boyd, which harmonises beautifully with rhythm guitarist Josh Deery’s. They play a mix of old and new songs, including their upcoming EP’s title track ‘Marco Polo’, as well as a lush cover of Alex Clare’s ‘Too Close’ (yes, the Internet Explorer advert song).
This was a thoroughly enjoyable set to watch, with great songs and effortless crowd interaction. This band is definitely an exciting prospect!
Watching the last act of the evening set up is a slightly more disconcerting affair, with a brace of low-slung trousers displaying several boxer-shorted bottoms! Belfast’s Urban Avenue definitely have the pop-punk look down pat. All aged sixteen and seventeen and together since 2011, they quickly demonstrate that they are accomplished musicians.
They pin their colours to the mast early on by covering Blink-182’s ‘All the Small Things’, as well as a spirited cover of The Undertones ‘Teenage Kicks’; a risky song to choose but they do it justice in spades. Their original numbers are pure pop-punk gold which clearly show their influences (‘Mrs Eileen’ is Busted’s ‘Year 3000’ and ‘That’s What I Go To School For’ combined, while ‘Bottoms Up’ has a touch of Jimmy Eat World to it). Only ballad ‘Going Down’ hints at a maturation and branching out of their song-writing.
This was a thoroughly fun, toe-tapping night. Rest easy folks: pop-punk is safe in the hands of the dudes (and dudettes) on tonight’s bill. Hoorah!