I arrived a little early in an attempt to act like a professional for the Young Blood Future Sounds music festival. At seven o’clock, half an hour before the doors were set to open, I found myself eating council pizza and drinking council coke with Happy Out. It was a very relaxed environment, and no one found sitting around with a journalist awkward (which was reassuring). After we cleared out the pizza that definitely wasn’t bought for the journalistic debutant, we headed into the small room across the hall, where the first band of the night were getting ready to start.
The doors had only opened, but already there was a surge of young people all coming up the stairs and into the room. In a matter of minutes, the room was full. There was still a little bit of space to squeeze through the crowd, and I made my way to the front of the stage for the start of Vanilla Days’ set.
The guys started off very well with ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, which had the crowd singing and head bobbing to the beat. It was very tight technically, and with Matthew Lynch playing that guiding riff on lead guitar, I felt a weird sense of pride in the band that I was talking to for less than fifteen minutes beforehand. The rhythm section held the whole thing down very well throughout. It’s never easy playing rhythm guitar on stage, as you could easily be overlooked, but Nino Morelli did the underappreciated stuff very well.
The band played their original song,‘Now That I’m Singing’, and it was well received by everyone in the crowd. I think the song was written about the girl standing beside me. She knew every word. Singer Nathan Beattie resembles someone from the Strypes and everything had a very retro feel to it. The set ended with Freebird, and Matthew Lynch proved to everyone in the room that he is one of the top (if not the most) underappreciated guitarists in Northern Ireland. It was a cracking way to end a very lively set.
Following Vanilla Days’ departure from the stage, I ‘helped’ Malcolm and Ciaran with their setups (“We always need roadies, we are weak as f***.”)
With the stage times all running behind schedule, I wasn’t really sure of what time Happy Out took to the stage, but when they took to the stage, they TOOK to the stage!
The set started with Ciaran playing solo on his Squier Tele as Malcolm and Lee danced around on stage and rolled around on the floor. When they find their Harley Benton Jazzbass copy and the Arena 7-provided drum kit respectively, they exploded into a wall of sound that I couldn’t have possibly prepared myself for. A look of pure focus is on the face of Lee Russell as his mercilessly smashes his ride cymbal. The song takes a Welcome To Paradise style breakdown, and Lee abandons his position at the back to run into the audience and dance around at the back of the room to Ciarans solo guitar playing. It was as if the music came second priority to Lee, but everyone loved it.
The gig was cut short, much to the disapproval of the audience. Happy Out were willing to look on the bright side. “At least now we can go next door for Foreign Owl” I hear. The thing about Happy Outs set was that it became much more than just the music. It is clear that for those three guys, it is all about getting stuck in with like-minded freaks and weirdos who just want to let themselves go and have a bit of fun.
After the craziness of the Happy Out set, we got in to see Foreign Owl on the main stage. Unfortunately, I had missed ‘Like A Beast’ (my favourite) but thankfully was just in time for ‘Flawed’. It was incredible. Eoin’s haunting vocal with Michael McCay providing the backing vocals and Ciaran pounding the huge kit at the back. One thing I noticed about the stage was that it was very small in terms of room at the front, however, Foreign Owl made that stage seem huge. I had to question my thinking from a few hours before. It was a shame that I missed most of these guys sets.
Cherym ended the night. This was the big one. You have no idea how excited I was for these girls. ‘Take It Back’ is an incredible song, and we (myself, my brother Sean, some other mad man) were all moshing away at the front, bouncing off the metal barrier and each other. We were right in front of Nyree, the bass player, and you could see how much it meant to her that we all knew the words to the incredibly catchy pop-punk song. ‘Pretty Boys’ had us all bouncing as well. What I noticed about the set was that sound quality was incredible. Their set was cut short as well. It was musically the best set I saw that night.
The Youth19 Future Sounds Music Festival opened up a door to the incredible scene that was shooting right over people’s heads in Derry. Only in the Derry rock scene can a man sit playing the drums in a pair of rubber duck swim shorts. Only in the Derry scene will a bassist start with all his clothes on and end up standing on top of his amp in a pair of boxer shorts. Only in the Derry scene 10 men can bomb the stage and continue to mosh inches away from the band providing the soundtrack of their youth. Only in Derry. The thing is, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, who you pray to (if you pray at all), who you vote for, what you eat for breakfast in the morning. If you like good music, you like good music.