And So I Watch You From Afar
Tonight sees the launch of And So I Watch You From Afar's new EP, This Is Our Machine And Nothing Can Stop It, in the always cosy surrounds of Aunty Annie's. This experimental post-rock quartet have been going for some time now, but ever-modest frontman Tony Wright seems genuinely surprised with the numbers at tonight's gig. "We expected a better turn out", he jests. The place is bunged.
But before the headliners had a chance to party with the punters' auditory canals, this evening's support acts do more than just warm up. First on the bill was Pixie Saytar, and if there is one example of why immigration to our little corner of the earth should be welcomed instead of opposed, Saytar is it. Hailing from New York, this ATL favourite moved to Belfast, bringing with her a great voice and some great tunes. Tonight's set is all electrified, with her backing band, the Sunshine Three, providing some depth to Saytar's guitar and lone vocals. There's a feeling that tonight's crowd are really digging what she does. Interlude and These Dead Hands are stand out tracks. It's not Jeff Buckley, but it's not far off. Watch this space.
With Saytar finished and packed up, it's time for tonight's headliners. Or so we are led to believe. The sound guy takes to the stage and starts tuning guitars. At least that is what appears to happen. About five minutes on and people are beginning to realise that this isn't a sound technician. This is another support act. With no formal introduction or fuss caused, Cruz (who has until tonight gone under the name Foamboy), is single-handedly creating soundscapes and walls of noise as effectively as the likes of Mogwai or Sigur Ros. He is a modern day one-man-band, but instead of a kick drum on his back and a cymbal on his head, he employs a plethora of guitar pedals and a drum machine. Looping one riff over another to the programmed rhythms on his synthetic drums, Cruz (a.k.a. Geoff Topley) is pioneering a new form of music in Northern Ireland. This is pretty groundbreaking stuff if you ask me. He even gets a violin out every so often to decorate the end of his tracks. There's no banter; there's no smalltalk. But there doesn't need to be. This is absolutely whoppin'.
So with some minds already blown but the supports acts, the headliners are going to have to really tear things up. Thankfully, that's exactly what they do. Taking to the stage one by one, And So I Watch You From Afar begin to furiously sculpt their audio masterpieces. There are no inhibitions onstage tonight. Friars and co jump around onstage as furiously as an early Rage Against The Machine, which couldn't be in more contrast to the sound they are creating. The music is all positive and beautiful. The Voiceless is like a jig; all bouncy and celebratory. The set only consists of six or seven tunes, and whilst there are shouts for more after the set closes, there is no sense of dissatisfaction.
If the apocalypse is televised, these guys will provide the soundtrack.