Steering Fail / Comply or Die / Sinner Fails / BEW
Kicking things off in decidedly unconventional fashion, BEW (Barry’s Electric Workshop) AKA Barry Cullen, is a forward-thinking noisenik whose shifting walls of analogue noise border on sought-after attacks. On a one-man experimental crusade via an array of homemade pedals, his partiality to droning waves and caustic racket, though no means mind-expandingly innovative in scope or vision, reveals a commendable and brazen take on improvisational live sound. We were promised noise and, for all intents and purposes, we’ve readily received it from the fore.
Hats donned, self-professed alt-rock three-piece Sinner Falls take things intro more structured territory with their impassioned and alchemical force. With frontman Lorcan Falls’ ad hoc soliloquies and wah-wah infested guitar solos, it’s a raging set marked by the likes of ‘Silence’ (a track melding ‘War Pigs’ and ‘Orion’), “a song about our horrible future”, ‘Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy’, and the frantic riffdom of ‘Kill Me First’, a highlight that sees drummer David Donnelly’s drive come to the fore. A rare triad of talent and decency, Sinner Falls keep growing in leaps and bounds.
Easily the most established band on the bill, Comply Or Die and their progressive post-punk shtick is comfortably cushioned between predecessors in Black Flag, Bad Brains and Nirvana. But despite the fact their latest album, Depths, embodies real crushing conviction and weight, it all feels a bit riff-by-numbers from their three-piece tonight, ultimately contributing to a pervading sense of apathy from both band and crowd alike. Make no mistake: CoD are capable of great things, and while their snappy set of menacing dirgedom pricks a few ears, it sadly feels a bit flat throughout.
Of the seemingly countless Belfast-based “alt-rock three-pieces” making the rounds at the minute, Steering Fail stand firm aside the likes of Chocolate Love Factory and Abandcalledboy in being endearing conjurers of unpredictable and maligned riffage. ‘Good Luck’ is by far the song of the night, with hints of early Deftones and a bridge evoking Mastodon circa Leviathan and Fugazi’s chanting might, it best defines this three-piece’s musical modus operandi: thick, frantic and really loud. At the end, with Guy and Chris descending onto the floor for an explosive finale, Lorcan Falls’ spontaneously topless re-emergence to proverbially wreck the gaff rounds off an underattended but thoroughly entertaining night.