Dinosaur Pile-Up, More Than Conquerors, Gascan Ruckus
The advent of a buzz band's first trip to Belfast for an over fourteens gig presents the Speakeasy with perhaps the most awkward collection of gig-goers ever to assemble, as stalwart scenesters stand alongside youngsters, many of whom look to be at their very first rock show. Heart-warming stuff, but the chances of the kind of carnage this line-up deserves erupting are looking slim.
Not least because there are about eight people here by the early kick off. Punk ruffians Gascan Ruckus give it their all though, joking about the literally sobering experience of playing a non-alcohol event. Unsurprisingly their reckless ploughing of simple chord thrashes struggles to captivate an empty floor, but box fresh shout-alongs like 'Don't Fret' still sound infinitely better several feet from your face, making this as enjoyable as warm-ups get.
After a speedy set-up, More Than Conquerors gaze out to the lack of audience they're dealing with, dragging themselves into an unfamiliar opening number. With a sense of futility apparent, the Lisburn lads don't appear to have much difficulty containing their lack of excitement towards what they have to work with, resulting in dead air between songs. It's not until 'I've Done Nothing/ I've Done It All' that any level of feeling exists either side of the stage.
Only on 'Bare Knuckle Fight' - a high octane scrap of volume shifts - do More Than Conquerors settle into what looks like a comfort zone, which is a problem when it's the last song. They need to work on grabbing us from the get-go.
An unexplainable crowd suddenly materialises, almost stealthily, in time for the headliners Dinosaur Pile-Up, who roar right in with distortion pedals to the metal. The Leeds trio let their bubblegum grunge do most of the talking, and it leaves little unsaid.
They display the sincerity of their Seattle forefathers, minus much of the despair, each song boasting huge college rock choruses slung between deafening bridges. The minimal, 'melody above all' pop ethos of Nevermind is clearly a standard to which DPU live by, evident on a chaotic 'Birds & Planes'.
Infectiously drowsy chuggers like 'My Rock'n'Roll' and 'Opposites Attract' however, peel back the band's throwback aesthetic and reveal an honesty that isn't born out of a need for a rawk revival; these guys couldn't care less who they're compared to or lumped in with.
Even if frontman Matt Bigland appears a tad unsure on occasion, it's all part of Dinosaur Pile-Up's hopelessly lovable character, naively oblivious to their geeky power-pop stength. Ending with 'Traynor' every night, it's anyone's guess as to how they've resisted the temptation to smash their instruments into oblivion before now, but they over-compensate tonight in theatrics.
Ludicrously after all this, it's somehow still daylight outside but that's what you get with an all ages gig at the height of summer. We'd like to hope their next visit is twice as long with more mayhem for good measure, but for their first time in Belfast, DPU played their little flannel socks off.