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Radar: Not Squares - Speakeasy, Belfast

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ATL | 15:22 UK time, Friday, 13 April 2012

Not Squares Radar Poster


Radar: Not Squares, Blue Whale, White Collar Boy
Speakeasy, Belfast
Thursday 12th April 2012

Tonight in Radar we have Not Squares making a long awaited return to the Speakeasy, headlining a night full of electronica, thumping beats, throbbing bass and experimental instrumentalism.

White Collar Boy are up first. The musical project of Gavin White and Mark Cummins, two lads from Dublin who have supported electronic royalty such as Com Truise and Factory Floor. They have crafted a sound that melts from ambient grooves to heavy thumping synth and room shaking bass that echoes Crystal Castles.The way in which their songs gather momentum and change complexion highlights real technical ability.

Their songs take on a new dimension when Gemma Dunleavy takes to the stage, ‘Caps Lock’ being a perfect example with sprawling dreamy sections throughout. The only real criticism of their performance is the gap between songs. This interrupts the rhythm and we need a seamless transition to keep its momentum.

Blue Whale are next to grace the stage, with the more conventional set up of a couple of guitars, drums and bass. Their music however is anything but conventional, straying into Mars Volta territory. Their strength is their ability to improvise and they do it well and with confidence. ‘Baby Lost at Sea’ proves that you don’t need a rigid structure to create a meaningful sound.

They are mainly instrumental but with their last track vocals are introduced which adds a new dynamic to their music. It is a breath of fresh air as sometimes with instrumentalism there is the danger of losing the crowd with overly similar songs. Musically, they are quite a departure from White Collar, with some great musical variety tonight but the audio setup wasn’t quite right and at times the music was too loud, leading to some unnecessary distortion.

Now, the main event - Not Squares. They begin with a new track, ‘Can Opener’ and it is a perfect blend of thumping drums and heavy, unrelenting synths. We don’t hear much of the old album which is a small shame but the new stuff is equal to and at times greater than the debut. There are vast numbers of new sounds exhibited and nice traces of Justice, Animal Collective and Soulwax throughout.

The energy of the performance is exhausting but Keith, Ricki and Michael keep going and going with the crowd being worked into a frenzy. The electricity in the room is palpable and when Ricki hits one note we know what track is coming next, ‘Asylum’. If the crowd was in a frenzy before this, they are hysterical now as it segues right into an extended rendition of ‘Release The Bees’.

The only shame is that they have to stop. A perfect performance. Finishing with a couple of classic tracks rewards Not Squares older fans but the real treat is the promise that the new songs deliver. Album number two can’t come soon enough. They are in the big leagues now. Was it ever in doubt?

David Smith


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