Sister Ghost, Alpha Twin, Surf Green, Romeo Indigo Romeo
Thursday 24 May 2018 – 39 Gordon Street, Belfast
On the typical Thursday night, 39 Gordon Street is just another of Belfast many trendy bars present in the bustling Cathedral Quarter. On the night of 24th May, however, the bar transformed into a venue housing four of Belfast’s premier young talents. Working in tandem with the BBC Fringe Weekend and the BBC Big Weekend, these four bands represent some of the best bands on the local scene.
First on the bill was Romeo Indigo Romeo (R.I.R.), who I managed to chat with before the show. As charming and entertaining off the stage as they are on, we talked about a number of things: their upcoming involvement with Belfest (local festival on the 8th of June), future gigs (“We’re opening for ‘Surf Green’ at their EP launch in Foundry, which is great”) and their upcoming EP, hopefully to be recorded this July. Regarding the new EP, guitarist Simon Harte told me that “Everything we play tonight will be on the EP. Three of the songs, in particular, to listen out for are ‘HSD,’ ‘Whiskey’ and ‘The Wolf.’ ‘The Wolf’ used to be called ‘The One’ but our singer misheard the lyrics and now it’s ‘The Wolf.’ And ‘Whiskey’ is on Youtube… I think… I don’t know.” (Spotify is close enough right? – editor)
Regardless of their knowledge concerning their own social media presence, I went into the gig with high expectations and was greatly rewarded. Conducting themselves like veterans, R.I.R. launched into a good ol’ fashioned, riff-heavy groove fest. Their tight set kept a noticeably sober crowd glued to them from start to finish. The band clearly fed off the energy in the room and vice versa, as playful back-and-forths and a completely unexpected Backstreet Boys cover ensured a high octane set that started the night of correctly. That is to say: LOUD.
Immediately following came local upstarts Surf Green who delivered their signature brand of distorted, punky, in-your-face live music that they have become known for. Fresh from their Battle of The Bands victory some months ago, the swagger hasn’t seemed to have worn off as they had their full repertoire of headbangers on display this evening. An inescapable ‘Outcasts’ vibe emirates from the immense racket created by this 3 piece. In fact, the climax of their final song nearly knocked my drink off of my table. I caught it just as the last lyrics was screeched out, theatrics finished for the night. No harm done, thanks for the great set guys.
Third on the bill comes forth the Mongol horde that is Alpha Twin. Battle-scarred and tested at this point, Alpha Twin have transformed from bluesy, funk and riff-oriented ragamuffins into bonafide notorious live acts amongst the local scene. Guaranteed to deliver an onslaught of sound every live set, this night was no different. New, as of yet unnamed songs were interspersed between the normal live staples: from the riff-centric distortion hurricane of ‘Rhythm Meth’, the psychedelic funk of their mid-set instrumentals and the subtle, relentless fury of ‘Let’s Stay Home (And Get High)‘, Alpha Twin proved once again why they are arguably the best live act on the scene.
Headliners Sister Ghost, keen to not be outdone, also delivered a fantastic set. Gritty rock and roll vocals were the highlights of their grungy, boho, guitar-heavy setlist, while I was further bombarded by percussion that I could feel in my chest. Continuing the theme of the gig, there was much crowd interaction, as the inspired play of the headliners drew some of the biggest cheers of the night. A rousing set that closed a stellar night of local music.