Abandcalledboy, Lost Avenue, Shoot The Messenger, Riot Upstairs, Foreign Affairs, Jason Flynn & Rebecca Mulhern
Friday 10th April 2015 – The Oh Yeah Centre, Belfast
The Oh Yeah Centre hosted the first night of the Volume Control and Set the Stage tour. The two groups give the country’s brightest and most musically invested young people the opportunity to learn all aspects of event management as well as give the young people of their respective cities, Belfast and Derry, the opportunity to listen to and perform live music. These talented young people decided to bridge the distance and make a friendship by collaborating to create two gigs, each showcasing the musical talent the other city has to offer.
Set the Stage’s very own Rebecca Mulhern opened the night and impressively captured the attention of the crowd with her beautifully clear alto voice. Despite initial nervousness, most likely due to performing without her band, the Derry singer came into her own quickly as she performed several beautiful acoustic folk songs. Her original song ‘Blue Eyes’ struck a chord with the audience as her musical ability and personal song style created an intimate atmosphere. The young singer song writer can surely only perfect her quiet folk style over time to become a household voice.
Jason Flynn needed a little bit of time to warm up initially through his Ed Sheeran inspired cover of ‘1,000 Miles’ by Vanessa Carlton, however, once his confidence was in full swing original songs such as ‘Photograph’ showcased his impressive, rustic and rich voice as well as his guitar abilities. Despite lacking a strong falsetto in comparison to his rich belt he treated the audience with his amazing rock voice through a fantastic rendition of ‘How to Save a Life’ by The Fray. Much of his set included filler cover songs however this original work showed great promise in various genres.
Third on the bill was a return of the 2014 Clash of the Newbreeds winners Foreign Affairs. Since their last performance at the annual Volume Control competition they have come a long way and have recently finished recording for their new E.P. and despite limited rehearsal with a stand-in bass player, the band’s chemistry onstage produced a fantastic set further proving their victory. The audience were especially willing to get on par with the band’s energy with the incentive of being involved in the recording of their music video during their song ‘Houston’ which is featured on the E.P Prologue. The audience clapped and danced along to the sneak peek from the new E.P of the song ‘Joke’s On You’. One audience member dubbed the band as “one of the best pop-punk bands in Northern Ireland right now” and this performance certainly proved it as it featured jumps and leaps from the guitarists and a perfected unique harmonic blend from the rough voice of the lead singer and clear belt from the lead guitarist. The band certainly oozes cool and has made a lot of promises for the quality of their up
Shoot the Messenger, yet another band of the indie rock persuasion introduced by Set the Stage graced the stage with style. Many of their songs such as ‘Go’ and ‘Voices’ felt a slight blues influence as well as driving rhythms and an impressive vocal range from the front woman whose unique voice could be likened to Duffy. The fledgling band still has a journey to embark upon before they can live up to the glory of the other bands from Derry seen on the night but their fantastic personality on stage and display of musical promise ensures that they are well on their way.
Set the Stage introduced the Volume Control team to a fantastic Derry based band, Riot Upstairs. Commandeered by the multi-talented young woman, Hannah Richardson, the band made a lasting impression on the audience. Their unique stage presence drew the crowd towards the front of the room to listen to the remarkable music made by such a young group of people. Songs such as ‘Other Things’ featured a tambourine which proved to be the instrument we never knew rock was missing. Later in the evening the tambourine was cast aside as lead singer Hannah took up the electric guitar to perform the striking ballad ‘Lost At Sea’ which was littered with drum rolls and simple chords to accompany the guitar melody slowly growing into a classic rock chorus. The band produced copious teenage rock anthems such as ‘Third Round’ and ‘Balderdash’ which had everyone dancing and wishing they knew the words. Riot Upstairs showed a diversity and uniqueness to their songs, showcasing innate musical talent which can only be expected to grow through the coming years.
Unfortunately the crowd was distracted as Lost Avenue burst onto the stage and the alternative punk rock band struggled to regain the audience’s attention but when they did many crowd members got involved with their punk scream style by dancing and clapping along to track such as ‘Me and You’. The well established band has gone through a progression of changes and the trio as it currently stands is the best it has been as their chemistry onstage and ability to make music is fantastic. Ultimately, their performance was energised and fun for the carefree rockers in the audience whilst demonstrating a passionate drive and love for punk music.
The long awaited headline act, ‘Abandcalledboy’, did not disappoint. The band’s light hearted conversation with the crowd made the last set of the night a rock party to behold. Performing recently released songs as well as old such as ‘Detol’ and ‘Nostalgia’ the band closed the night with their own personal regeneration of alternative rock in Belfast. Even though the band’s songs are driven by passion and rage their live performances create an atmosphere of release and fun which is a strange compliment to the mood of the music. Abandcalledboy proved themselves once again to be worthy of headlining such an incredible showcase of Northern Irish talent and left us all wondering when the boys will finally get the success they are due.
All in all the night was a success for both Set the Stage and Volume Control. The new Volume Control team debuted their talents while the 2014 Volume Control team could be seen enjoying the gig and on call for mentoring. Despite the small audience the two teams pulled off a great night and we now wait in anticipation for what this Volume Control team will accomplish.