Ally McCrae in Carlisle - Day 2
Hi, thanks for clicking through to my little blog. I’m Ally McCrae, presenter of BBC Introducing in Scotland (Radio 1 every Sunday night 12-2 - check it!) and I’m here in Carlisle to host the BBC Introducing stage at Radio 1’s Big Weekend on Saturday and Sunday. Before that, BBC Introducing has invaded Carlisle’s favourite venues to host three fringe gigs with some of the best unsigned and undiscovered talent from this neck of the woods.
Wednesday night saw our second gig here (read my report on Tuesday night’s opening acoustic night, which turned into a bit of a rammy) so it was time to crank things a bit louder and show off some of best in Carlisle’s rock, indie and pop acts.
The venue for tonight’s show was the brilliant Brickyard in the centre of Carlisle, which in my mind is a proper gig venue: it's dark, it reeks of beer, the bar staff are all well cooler than me and oh yeah, the sound system is huge.
So, for the second night running we already had an amazing crowd queuing up way before the doors opened (it’s just how we roll... haha!). First up, four lads from Barrow-in-Furnace called Audio Conspiracy took to the stage and were a brilliant way to get things started. Sounding like the rockier side of the Editors and with lead singer Phil Hampson sharing the kind of intensity, persona and charisma you would expect of someone who’d been gigging for decades, I think they made a lot of new fans tonight. Big up.
Next onstage was a power of pop-punk from The Alleys. Turning up for sound check still in their school uniforms, you’d be forgiven for wondering what was coming up, but from the minute they struck the first riff they had the Carlisle crowd with their arms in the air and had me wanting to get back into crowd-surfing. I definitely heard girls screaming for the drummer.
Speaking of the Carlisle crowd, I hope the rest of Radio 1 realise what is in store at the weekend for them; I get the feeling the Cumbrians are a wee bit excited about it. Everyone is so damn friendly, coming up and saying hey, screaming and generally going nuts for the acts - there was even a brilliant lady who dressed up, wrapped in a set of fairy lights. Need I say more?
Defiantly not at school anymore were our third band for the night. In fact, one of them said to me before going onstage “I don’t think these kids will have even heard of dance music”. True, some of the crowd were still in nappies during the mid 90s but that didn’t stop them loving Vanya. They had a really interesting sound, fusing an obvious rave culture influence from a bank of keyboards, synths and computers with distorted guitars, driving bass and a pounding live drummer; it was a awesome to watch them make the already roasting, packed venue a little bit sweatier.
Finishing off the night was (for the second night running, Carlisle) an act and a crowd reaction I will not forget quickly. Looking into our headliners Promo Girl before the gig, I noticed they were proudly a pop band, they had supported The Wanted and had been on Britain’s Got Talent. Now I love music from across the board but it has been a while since I kept my finger on the pulse of TV talent shows and the Top 40, but Promo Girl actually blew my mind.
I could barely be heard when I went onstage to introduce them, over screams from a crush of young girls down the front (all in homemade Promo Girl tees!), and once I welcomed them onstage from there on in the stage was theirs.
Dressed immaculately, with a fine array of haircuts and glittered face-paint, the five young lads were so comfortable in the image and music they were portraying that there’s no reason they couldn’t become (as I fairly excitedly tweeted) the new pop kings and give JLS a run for their money.
What a night - Carlisle, you are a dark new musical horse and I like you.See you tonight at Conrete on Lowther Street!
Follow Ally on Twitter @allymccrae
Find out more about our Fringe gigs in Carlisle this week