Hand Models ‘TV Kids’ single launch with support from LetGo Dive & BDBR
Wednesday 26th April 2017 – McHugh’s, Belfast
Wednesday night saw Belfast’s Hand Models launch their debut single ‘TV Kids’ in McHugh’s basement. With static TVs adorning the stage and a crowd of gig goers slowly adoring the rest of the room, a three act line-up provided the entertainment.
Unassumingly taking his position behind the mic, first act BDBR sets off into a surprising cover of The Beatles’ ‘Here Comes The Sun’. The project of Belfast’s Ryan Mills, BDBR isn’t exactly out to make music for the masses. The warped and sufficiently low-key cover version sets the tone for a set of dreamy bedroom music, with every song drowned in twisted reverb. Track by track Mills seems almost unconcerned by the gathered audience, playing along at his own pace and bringing to mind a down-tempo throwback to Syd Barrett’s more stripped back affairs. Last song ‘Two Foot Tackle’ is a jolt of an ending, a short, beat-backed rap. Humorous, ridiculous and completely Belfast.
Four-piece LetGo Dive is a complete different beast. Fronted by vocalist Amy Ryan, the band open with the punchy guitar riff and heavy chorus of ‘Flux’. Ryan’s vocals are distinctive throughout, front and centre on ‘Quarry’, described as a ‘pre-band track’, written by Ryan before the band fully formed. The stripped back intro of acoustic guitar and vocals soon builds into more of a rocker. A ‘risky’ cover of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ is a highlight. Tracks such as ‘In My Bed’ and ‘Nostalgia’ showcase the band’s guitar and bass credentials best, with Darren Scott-Murphy’s guitar work particularly noteworthy in a well-worked set.
With the TV static still going strong (countdown timers aside), Hand Models walk on stage to a busy crowd. Playing one of their very first shows, you’d be forgiven for expecting a slow or nervy start but a one-two track opening puts any doubts to bed. Moving from straightforward indie to a slacker vibe with a heavier edge, the band waste no time in pulling out first single ‘TV Kids’. It’s a catchy two and half minutes of pop rock, filled with handy guitar breaks and introducing frontman Gareth Murray’s fondness for a ‘oo-oo’ refrain. The slower holiday jaunt of ‘Wednesday’ points to a Mac DeMarco influence.
Hand Models are tight throughout, pulling out plenty of great moments from punk tempos to shouty choruses and imitating guitar lines. Murray’s introduction to a ‘fun song about fun times’ is fitting, even if they bookend that track with their more morose numbers. One of those is ‘Autumn’, the band’s most emotional effort with Murray’s vocals bordering on strained and screamed, it stands out from the more upbeat tracks but it’s a definite highlight. The slacker spirt comes out again on penultimate track ‘Banana’ with its repeated refrain of “I did nothing”. Playing with dynamics, its dual guitar parts lead to a rocking outro before the band end on another energetic, upbeat number.
It’s a confident early performance from the Belfast four-piece, playing to a lively, sweaty McHugh’s. There’s plenty in Hand Models set to suggest there’s more catchy indie rock to come.