Redbeard: Making Monsters with support from By Conquest or Consent, Death of a a Salesman NI and Dream Awake
Friday 9th October 2015 – Bar Sub, Belfast
Question: what are the key ingredients for a successful gig? Quality bands, obviously. A good atmosphere/supportive crowd. How about a sound guy who knows what the hell he’s doing (can you see where this is going yet)?
Last Friday the local press corps and – well, hardly anybody else, frankly – assembled for a night of some of the finest acts the local scene has to offer in QUB’s Bar Sub! It was a night of mixed results, you could say…
Starting the night off twenty minutes late were ‘melodic post-hardcore’ youngsters Dream Awake, who hit the stage and immediately underwhelmed everyone with their sloppy syncopated beats and rather same-y Kerrang!-friendly fare. ‘Post-hardcore’ this was not, despite the presence of a roaring backing vocalist/guitarist who looked like he’d been plonked into the wrong band. With zero interaction between members and the emergence of sound troubles that would plague all four bands (drums too loud, vocals too quiet, feedback squeals galore) their set was unengaging, to say the least. Next!
Bursting onstage seemingly to show the openers exactly how to do it, Death of a Salesman NI proceeded to do precisely that with their schizo brand of heavy metal. Vocalist Aiden Thompson’s belligerent and impassioned scream perfectly complemented the waves of intensity emanating from the stage – the man is simply a metal version of the Duracell bunny. The band’s twisty-turny beats and clever mix of metal, hardcore and mathcore create a sound unique to our local scene. They don’t hold back one iota despite the paucity of the crowd, with Thompson in particular whirling around like a headbanging Tasmanian Devil. They finished their set breathless, sweaty and spent, having handed the previous band their arses. Top notch stuff.
Time, now, for some groove metal in the form of By Conquest or Consent. With the whole evening running behind, their set was cut from 45 minutes to 30, but they certainly managed to pack in a lot of energy into that short space of time. As ever, they poured their guts into their performance; sadly it was all for nowt as the curse of ‘the sound guy who’s more interested in his phone and his girlfriend’ struck hard. Guitars far too loud, vocals almost entirely inaudible, harmonising lost as the backing vocal volume level far outstripped frontman Pete’s. BCOR are a tight band who are simply a joy to watch, all classy riffs, serious grooves and nifty drumwork, whilst Pete switches between screamed and clean vocals effortlessly – all lost tonight to the utterly distracting sound mix. Such a shame.
At 11.50pm, perilously close to curfew, Derry alt-rockers Making Monsters finally appeared onstage, immediately hitting the ground running. Vocalist Emma Gallagher proves to have a superb voice, somewhere between Marmozets’ Becca McIntyre and Rolo Tomassi’s Eva Spence. She capably reaches soaring heights and growling lows, and simply blows the small crowd away. Their sound is alt-rock with a scything metal edge, and her vocal range matches perfectly as she goes from roars to shrieks, from sweet to snarling.
They played a few new tracks from their upcoming release as well as favourites such as ‘No Limits’ and ‘Tired Eyes’, as well as recent single ‘Nosebleed’. The small crowd, many of whom evidently travelled from Derry to watch the band, respond with delight and noisy singalongs – always a good sign for an up-and-coming band.
Of course, there were the inevitable sound issues, with the guitars and Gallagher’s vocals occasionally sounding too harsh and high-ended. That aside, their set showed a brash and exciting young band on the rise, as well as a singer with a really quite astonishingly versatile voice. Explosive.
If rock and metal shows are to be hosted in this venue they must ensure they can do the music justice, with a sound person who can do their job well (and doesn’t blame the bands for their poor sound). Rock and metal music are demanding masters, and for a gig to be truly successful all the vital ingredients must be present.