And So 700 People Watch You From The Mandela Hall
Hopefully some of you will have read Emma's review of ASIWYFA's album launch last weekend.
Myself and Paul have been buzzing about Saturday night, absolutely blown away that a band who make what is essentially niche music (in this case, instrumental post-rock) can attract the type of crowd you'd expect for, say, multi-platinum selling, commercial sounding, indie-pop international superstars Maximo Park (who will prove my point by getting the same amount of people through the doors of the same venue this evening).
Why were people filming the stage with their mobile phones BEFORE the band had even come on? Why was EVERY SINGLE SONG greeted with absolute adulation, like this was a greatest hits set from..., I dunno, Blur?! And not tracks from an album you couldn't even buy before tonight performed by a band without a singer?
Yes, they're absolute legends to the point it is literally impossible to dislike any of them even a tiny bit. They live for what they do and such raw enthusiasm is totally infectious and inspiring - it's a pleasure being in these guys' company. They have also done everything they can to bolster the music scene in Northern Ireland - last year's A Little Solidarity being the single most notable event for local music in the last ten years.
But does being so damn well dead on allow you to sell out one of the finest venues in the country?
Well it probably does help, a wee bit anyway.
Apart from the actual music, which I am now personally in love with despite "not usually being into that type of thing", here's some reasons why ASIWYFA have a reputation for greatness.
First of all, they care about their fans. They speak to them, reference them onstage, look out for them when scuffles and heavy handed security make things a little hairy down front. "Please look after each other down their. Security, be cool. Don't be fighting. This next song is called 'Tip of the Hat, Punch in the Face'".
The attention to detail is notable. The screens that adorned the balcony gave the gig an arena feel it actually deserved. Ditto the choir for 'Don't Waste Time Doing things You Hate' being on the same balcony, beautifully lit up, appearing as if by magic.
And that lighting. A lot of planning had gone in, resulting in zig zags of power-cans blasting blinding white light across the crowd. It looked amazing. Painfully so.
The merch-stand between the Mandela and the bar - full of beautifully designed T-shirts (picked up a nice white number meself, with a weird bug thing on it, I think, it's lying on my bedroom floor somewhere) and albums - it all adds to the sense of occasion.
There are loads more reasons, but this is already too long. If you haven't seen them perform live yet, don't worry. You will soon. And then you'll understand.