The revamp and repurposing of Bangor’s Court House has been quite the journey for the Open House team. After seven years and a few ups and downs, the moment had arrived to throw open the doors to the public.
For a new music venue, there is always that question of who will christen that stage for the first time. The Court House team opted for youth over big names in Lemonade Shoelace and The Florentinas.
It turned out to be a popular choice as tickets for the show sold out weeks in advance. Both artists are still early in their careers but are already garnering critical acclaim and being tipped for success.
After a sneak peak at the rest of the venue, it was back downstairs as Lemonade Shoelace took to the stage. Clad in his trademark bucket hat and sunglasses Ruairí Richman and his band offer up a platter of psychedelic indie. Having supported some big names in the form of Yungblud, Sports Team and The Night Cafe, their set is tight and well-honed.
With only one single released to date, it is no surprise that this turns out to be the highlight of the set. Even 18 months on from its release ‘Autopilot Paradise‘ is still the tantalizing gem it was when we first heard it and the sold-out crowd agree.
New music is promised and of the runners and riders, ‘Violet’, a song about a kitten surprisingly offers up slightly heavier undertones. While set closer ‘Do Whatever Makes You Up‘ offers up perhaps an eerie feel to proceedings with a theremin style effect at play amongst some chunky riffs.
Lemonade Shoelace leave the stage to acclaim and full of thanks for the privilege of being the first artist to grace the stage. It is clear we are going to be seeing this outfit on bigger stages very soon.
With home advantage, the Florentinas burst onto the stage in a wave of verve and energy. ‘Party People’ is an appropriate opener as the crowd swells towards the edge of the stage. The early momentum is maintained as their growing legion of fans relish in hearing the driving anthem, ‘Sandcastles‘.
Similar to Lemonade Shoelace, the young Bangor band have only released a handful of singles so again it is a night for road testing material. ‘Silhouettes’ could be the next hit while ‘Sink With Me’ also sticks in the memory. Their brand of emotional alt rock is infectious, and they already have a few stadium sized anthems in their growing locker.
The energy and passion continues through their set, and they leave everything out on the stage. Amid a brief water break, the band pay tribute to the Open House team for their support and highlight that quite a few of their songs have been written in this room. A nice moment to reflect that their journey has come full circle.
With only one song to go, there is only one suitable single, ‘It’s Not In Vain’. The crowd has engaged with them all evening, but this is the moment when it all come together. There are more than a few people singing the words back at Paddy and there are few in the room not enthralled by this performance.
The Court House took a small risk by going for prospects over established starts for their opening night but a sold-out venue and an engaged and satisfied crowd leaving by curfew proved it was the right decision. Both Lemonade Shoelace and the Florentinas delivered on their promise and provided electric sets that cement their reputations as breakout artists.
This is of course only the beginning, and we look forward to seeing the Court House flourish as an important venue for the music scene in Bangor and beyond.