Tonight will be a night of novelties. Having only heard snippets of each of tonight’s TRANSMIT acts, it is with a sense of curiosity that this reviewer travels to Limelight 2 for his inaugural gig at the venue.
First up is County Down four-piece Audio Cavalry, taking to the stage to play to a small but interested crowd. Their influences and style are apparent from the offset: contemporary indie-rock with intricate, sharp guitars and contrasting neat chord progressions over drawled out vocals; these traits help set Audio Cavalry apart from others in a highly congested genre. The performance is highly energetic, with their fast- paced set really getting the crowds’ toes tapping – the only minor negative being the sporadic issue of sustained flat notes. Their set finishes on a high, with a cover of Lana Del Rey’s ‘Video Games’, which starts off visceral and slow before driving vocals and percussion stamp their sound on the track. The atmospheric ‘Rainbow Boy’ abounds with sophisticated, cascading guitars which suggest that while these lads are still very much developing a distinctive sound of their own, they are by no means short on talent.
It is at this point – with a slightly busier crowd than before – that the Belfast-based Before Machines step up amidst an anticipatory silence. As the Indie-rock four piece launch into their set it becomes clear that these guys have a real affinity with one another, delivering an upbeat set pervaded with a sense of urgency whilst at times appearing to play to no-one but themselves. Sensationally catchy, Before Machines barrage the crowd with striking, sharp vocals set amongst gritty guitar-play, creating a melodic sonic texture that grabs the attention of the entire room, shifting wallflowers from the periphery, creating a small crowd at centre stage. With a sound that is at once stylish and angular, Before Machines really give electricity to the night’s proceedings, setting the bar high for Derry’s finest.
As the bar starts to fill, Derry quartet Wonder Villains suddenly appear and bound into their distinctive pop-infused set. Chirpy -and at times cheesy- Wonder Villains are incredibly good at what they do. Their musicianship is clear to see, with some really nice harmonies and hooks adding to their cheerful, effectively synth-heavy sound that gets the ever-increasing crowd moving. To an extent they are refreshing, delivering an enthused performance of sunshine indie-jam-packed tracks such as ‘TV’, alongside onstage dancing diffusing an insatiable energy to the crowd. Eimear Coyle’s vocals are so distinctive and add an infectious tone, and harmonies with keyboard player Cheylene work well to produce an addictive, tongue- in- cheek sound which gets everybody moving.
Taken as a whole tonight’s acts have delivered a night of pleasing variety, with three diverse groups providing a truly enjoyable cocktail of dance-orientated, upbeat indie, showcasing why we should be proud of the emerging talents that Northern Ireland has to offer. Simon Worthington