Halloween Showcase – Zombified and Little Miss Stakes
Thursday 31st October 2013 – HMV, Belfast
Things you expect to see and in an HMV store: games, CD’s, nauseating pop tunes. Things you DON’T expect to see and hear: head banging, corpse-paint and snarly growly singing. The latter is exactly what was on show for a curious and excitable crowd in Belfast’s flagship HMV store this past Halloween night.
Ostensibly to promote Sunflowerfest 2014 (with discounted tickets available on the night), the gig reunited two of this year’s SF, horror-punk rockers Little Miss Stakes and old school death metallers Zombified; a suitably spooky-sounding line-up for this most spooky of nights. Taking to the “stage” (corner of the store) first, in appropriately ghoulish make-up and skeletal apparel (ie. Their standard stage ensemble) is Little Miss Stakes. After the startling intro to ‘Play With The Dead’ (“what are you fucking nuts?!”) they leap into a spirited and thrilling set that has the warmly enthusiastic crowd whooping and clapping in no time.
Their short turn covers many of their horror-themed tunes such as ‘Samara’ (aka the scary chick in ‘The Ring’), ‘Mina’ and the hornswogglingly-named ‘Killer Klowns From Outer Space’, as well as a vigorous cover of the Misfits’ ‘Scream’. Vocalist Mick Van Dyke is in fine voice tonight: snarling, laconic and creepy. He keeps the chit-chat to a minimum save for a few song intro’s and, of course, a plug for the Sunflowerfest ticket offer (and their new EP. Natch!). “This one’s for all you Twilight fans out there”, he deadpans before the band bust out ‘Drag Queen Dracula’.
They wrap up their bold and vivacious set with the frenetic, punktastic ‘Spastic Zombie’ and ‘Dr. Frankenstein’, with its schlocky horror movie feel and nifty guitar solo (and a spontaneous crowd clapalong). In short, LMS are the perfect choice for this most oddly-located but strangely endearing performance: they sing about scary movies, dress like horror-obsessed Goths and sound menacing and fiery – exactly as a Halloween-themed gig should.
As the saying goes, “and now for something completely different”…Zombified are less obviously Halloween-y (no corpse-paint and not even a whiff of a costume) but by Hell do they sound scary! Although their name is VERY Halloween-y…anyway. If ever they wish to change their name, one respectfully submits ‘Ominous as F**k’ as a suggestion. Vocalist Pete has a true death metal voice: he growls, roars and bellows like he’s channelling Hell through his body and out of his mouth.
The crowd respond by becoming a flailing-haired, headbanging, fist-pumping entity (including one air-guitaring showpony at the front). The scaredy-cats amongst them flee and join the goggle-eyed passers-by and their (hilarious) ‘WTF’ double takes. They immediately launch into ‘Limb From Limb’ followed by the title track from their first CD ‘Outbreak’. “Still feels really fucking weird playing at HMV” Pete confesses, between tracks that are sonically deep enough to make the ground (and surrounding stock) tremble. This is rousing, visceral stuff; the kind of music that Satan sticks on to prepare for apocalyptic battles.
They play a selection of old and new numbers from their catalogue, including sludge-tinged newbie ‘The Crawling’, with its thunderous, chugging riff, and oldie ‘Insidious Tragedy’, which sounds like an out of control freight train live. Finally, just before their last song ‘Morgue Angel’, the wild-eyed, wild-haired singer gazes around the room before declaring “heavy metal is alive and well in Belfast. Fantastic!” Indeed, Mr. gut-trembling, scary-sounding Pete. Indeed.
As a marketing strategy, tonight’s gig is a stroke of genius. As well as showcasing the varied and incredible talent in the local rock and metal scene, it will also undoubtedly convince fans of said music that Sunflowerfest is not just some ‘hippy festival’ with reiki healing, kiddie face painting and floaty music (not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course). Kudos to organiser Michael, and to HMV for hosting tonight (and future SF showcase events). So, hopefully tonight will have successfully garnered new visitors to Tubby’s Farm for Sunflowerfest 2014. NI rockers, assemble: head to HMV (or the SF website, Ticketmaster or the Belfast Welcome Centre) and grab yourself a ticket. The vacuous in-store chart music won’t kill you!