Gascan Ruckus summer BBQ
Saturday 20th August 2016 – QUBSU Speakeasy, Belfast
The first annual Gascan Ruckus BBQ has been steadily building excitement throughout the Summer with the promise of good food and a huge range of local musical talent across two stages in the students’ union Speakeasy. We take down to the venue for the mid-year celebration of the creative scene.
Immediately through the doors we see the acoustic stage, beside the bar and window so it can be observed from inside and outside. Further towards the back of the room the main stage is set up. Ciara McMullan’s photo exhibition of local musicians, traced by fairy lights, is installed on the opposite side of the venue. With creativity on all sides, the room goes silent for the first music of the day.
Ryan Mills, now under pseudonym Brown Dog Black Rake, introduces the acoustic stage. Calling to mind Alex G and King Krule, Ryan Mills’ BDBR channels his message through singer-songwriter heart and effects-driven flair. A low-key guitar and vocal contribution on the acoustic stage, BDBR is due a breakout, and definitely one to watch. Following suit with the singer-songwriter dynamic, Anna’s Anchor and Brash Isaac deliver our acoustic fix before the barbecue gets under way. With a selection of burgers, hot dogs and skewers, and an appropriate vegetarian option, the barbecue doesn’t hold back. You take said food and cover it – all of it, maybe even yourself a little bit, in Jack Daniels barbecue sauce before heading back to the music.
The acoustic stage’s penultimate performance comes from No Oil Paintings. With impassioned vocals and soul-driven rhythms the band maintain a strong atmosphere. That, and something about Sean Doone’s simmering banjo playing and the omnipresence of Jack Daniels sauce gives the start of the evening a strong festival vibe. With the mood well-established the excitement mounts just in time for Goldie Fawn to round off the acoustic stage. Always striking in confident musicianship and their captivating performance, the act closes the acoustic stage on a high.
Before long, M Y L K introduce the main stage. Their first show, the band takes firm hold of the modern punk rock format and introduces pop rhythmic sensibilities that makes for an interesting mix. Following up, Life Goals take the stage with their own brand of alt-rock. Showcasing material from first release ‘Wreck Less Nature/Between the Lines’ the young band draws a healthy crowd and delivers a confident performance. The atmosphere stays electrically-charged with brand new friend’s uniquely lo-fi power-pop maintaining a strong crowd in front of the main stage.
In the Speakeasy’s subdued lighting, and from the stage’s thick smoke-machine clouds, bands appear and disappear almost seamlessly. Lending itself to an interesting juxtaposition of genres, the stage runs Derry alt-rockers The Wood Burning Savages, with their superfuzzed guitar lines and powder keg rhythms, into Beauty Sleep’s characteristic analogue bubblebath. Effortlessly cool soaring guitar lines and rhythms mark a break from the heavier alternative before the dreamscape melts back into unflinching, kiss-the-ground rock as Fox Jaw hijack the main stage for their performance.
Next on stage, three-piece outfit Hot Cops maintain energy, introducing themselves with fast-paced ‘Kenzie’s Farmhouse’, a track from 2014’s ‘Another Teen Age’. The set balances out between old and new, teasing new song ‘Shiver’ and recent single ‘Dumbbo’. As the band leaves the stage we’re given a brief intermission, a pause to take a deep breath, before the final acts of the night. Empty Lungs play out their performance in blaze of glory, recalling early US punk in the anthemic, impassioned delivery of the music and undeniable stage presence. Gascan Ruckus take the stage at midnight, bringing catchy pop-rock hooks and the subtle alt-rock edge from material of this year’s album release ‘Narrow Defeats & Bitter Victories’ to bring the first annual Gascan Ruckus BBQ’s live performances to a close. A strong showcase from a band on route to make waves. Afterwards, Go Girl DJs take control of the post-band jams as the small hours roll around.
I caught up with Mark McDaid, drummer of Life Goals and Gascan Ruckus, after his double performance to see how the event went down from eyes on the stage:
“When we first planned and booked the Summer BBQ, the idea was to showcase bands and artists that we feel excited about, all under one roof. As excited as we were, we were also worried about how a show with this amount of bands across two stages might be received.
However, we couldn’t have been more pleased with the result. It was amazing to see so many people engaged with every band and artist playing, showing real support for the fantastic acts we have in our scene.”
Here’s to next year. A true showcase of creative talent and a musical highlight of the summer. With collaborative performances coming into their element, I’m eager to see how our creative scene blossoms from here.