Driving By Night, Rivals, The Black Tokens, more...
Blind Friday burst onto the Spring and Airbrake stage with wholesome, US inspired angry-young-man vigour. With macho metal riffs and more than just the occasional sprinkle of enthusiastic manly guitar love, these guys were here to rock, and gosh, didn't they just like to let you know about it. This is very much a contrast to the country-tinged soft rock of God Talking Soul, who gently and determinedly crooned their way through their set. Taking a typically deep and meaningful approach to lyricism ("You break my heart, I'll break your legs" was strained through the microphone at a more dramatic moment), it's enough to say that they were hardly taxing.
All this became irrelevant, however, when The Black Tokens, Rivals and Driving by Night each took the stage, bulking the standard of the night up by more than just a notch.
The Black Tokens, a thrilling, indie hipster's choice, swaggered on next, bringing a cool rock 'n' roll aesthetic along with them. 'How Does It Feel?' is a testament to their capabilities, and by the time vocalist Niall Graham danced his way around the stage with his tambourine and twangy vocals, proved that their hard-edged, indie dance was a treat and highlight of the night.
The same could apply to Rivals, another rising star of the Belfast scene. Easy though it could be to be to make those oft-cited Snow Patrol comparisons, Rivals bring an involved, self assured performance, with an engaging depth and electricity to their sound that defines them on their own terms. 'Collisions', with its enthralling hooks and dark brilliance, encapsulates a band capable of much more than they seem.
Last off are alt-rockers Driving By Night, whose extravagant air and steak of eccentricity prove to be a crowd pleaser. A charismatic, fiery performance and melancholic, crooning vocals match perfectly their lively dynamics, while the acoustic 'Weakness' brings a few wistful, mournfully laid back moments to a set ending a night showcasing just a few of the best acts the local scene has to offer.
Aoife Mc Keown
(Photos by Keith Wilson)