And So I Watch You From Afar
These four destroyers from the Causeway coast sure know how to create an event. Following on from their 'Tonight The City Burns' collaborative gig and EP late last year, they're curating four more major Belfast shows in 2008. This, the first, sees them joined by Frenchmen Papier Tigre, north coast hombres Panama Kings and Derry's finest, Fighting With Wire. All are excellent, and the excitement is palpable as the lights go down for ASIWYFA's headline set. They've come a long way in the last couple of years. When they first appeared, their four-piece post rock drew just a little too heavily from Mogwai and Explosions in The Sky. Fine influences of course, but ASIWYFA lacked a little in individuality and the art of putting on a show. That's all history now though, as the last few shows the band has done have been nothing short of breathtaking in their power and showmanship.
Strangely enough the gig starts a little flat, almost as if the band is too willing to impress. 'Clench Fists, Grit Teeth... Go!', sounds frantic and ragged and a new song doesn't quite hit the mark. As they head towards the meat of the set though, it all starts to fall into place. Another new song sees the band head further into the math rock direction indicated by 'Clench Fists...'. Beginning with guitarist Rory Friers tapping out a melody, the rhythms and guitar work recall Belfast's We Are Knives. All neck-snapping, clean riffs and Chris Wee's virtuoso drumming, it's another step forward for the band. Thereafter, ASIWYFA launch into a triple whammy the like of which no other band in Northern Ireland can match. 'I Capture Castles' - the first track on the mini-album - is monumental, and it's followed up by the equally seismic 'The Machine'. And then to round things off, the glorious 'The Voiceless' slays with Tony Wright's beautiful picking holding the whole thing together.
The band shuffle offstage and the still-large crowd (at 12.45am) bay for more. As they return, Rory sheepishly says that they hadn't planned an encore, but would play a song again so we can all "fucking rock out". It's 'Clench Fists...' and this time they absolutely nail it. With grins as wide as Bann, Rory, Tony and man mountain bassist Jonny thrash around the stage to the crushing riffs and time changes, sounding for all the world like they won't be long for this scene. This band is already massive in sound and presence. Trust us, this is only the beginning.
Pictures by Graham Smith