Dan Sartain and Two Tears
It's a gloriously sunny evening in Belfast but we're leaving that behind to climb down into the darkness that is McHugh's basement. Going down the stairs is a bit like stepping back in time. The dimly lit room which awaits us already full of rockabilly types, all fifties hair and sailor tattoos. To say Dan Sartain draws a colourful crowd would be an epic understatement.
The Two Tears make their way to the front and dedicate 'Eat you' to all the cannibals in the room. Kerry Davis makes for a striking front woman; attitude and charm drip from her Steve Tyler-esque lips as she sings songs about hating life and the world with an unnerving amount of glee. Their songs are short, filled with a mix of DIY punk and grunge infused rock 'n' roll - think the Pixies meets Hole, and throw in a bit of the Rolling Stones for good measure. They finish the set and flee the stage, leaving the crowd well and truly wanting more.
When Dan Sartain takes to the stage, he does so in his usual awkward style - like he's arrived there by accident rather than intent. He never seems comfortable onstage, or even in his own skin, until he starts pouring his heart out to the audience. He thanks them for coming to see him and not choosing Gang of Four instead, as that's where he would be if he didn't have to be onstage. Insecure and quirky as he appears, it doesn't take long for his charisma to kick in and his southern drawl to persuade the audience out of their seats. Its hard to describe Dan and his music - he's rockabilly but also punk, surf rock and even a bit Latino at times, all filled with heart ache tinged blues. When Dan sings, you're a voyeur, not just listening to a song but getting a glimpse into his broken heart. A setlist lies beside the mic stand but he pays it no heed, playing what he feels suits the moment rather than what's written on paper.
The second half of the set sees the male contingent of The Two Tears join Dan onstage, and we are treated to a flurry of new songs. As punk as the Ramones and as effortlessly cool, the new tracks are a perfect end to the evening. Finishing the flawless set with 'Friday' (even though its Thursday) he disappears off stage. No encores - he's too cool for that. In fact Dan Sartain is just too cool in general.