Output Belfast 2020: Music Showcase Roundup (Part 2)

By on Friday, 21st February 2020 at 11:00 am

Missed part 1 of my Output Belfast showcase roundup? Head back here.

Back to life with something with a bit more meat and teeth, and only so many steps back upstairs. Like Trick Mist earlier, Silverbacks had to travel some distance to showcase at Output Belfast (and from Dublin), and I was very glad that they did. I did not get a chance to find out what exactly is their preoccupation with primates, but that isn’t important here.

Silverbacks Output Belfast 2020

What is: their delightfully cacophonous 2018 single ‘Just in the Band’ (live here on Instagram) and singer Daniel’s David Byrne-esque vocal delivery. 2019 single ‘Sirens’ seems like a psych band doing The Futureheads, while its official video looks like it got pilfered from Teleman. Even weirder, they told me that they are getting some songs mastered by a studio in Washington, DC, where I’m from, which means I suppose I might run into them randomly one day when I’m going about my usual business. Totally bonkers. By a mile, they were my favourite find at Output. Someone sign them already!

I wanted to check out the outdoor venue at The National, and even mates trying to dissuade me from seeing the next band on my list were not enough to deter me. You’ll be bored with Cloakroom Q, they said. They did a cover of Joy Division’s ‘She Lost Control’ a few years ago, so I was intrigued. I dunno. There is a strange hypnotic quality to ‘People With Energy’, and their assertion that their music is founded on “…abrasive instrumentation” and “jagged rhythms” isn’t wrong. I’m not sure there’s a full album in them, yet, but I wasn’t bored at all. To be honest, I wished I had arrived to the Chordblossom and Stendhal Festival showcase earlier.

Aside: I decided over a year ago that I was not going to continue TGTF the way that we had been going for the last 9 years under my guidance. I was going to do something different. Namely, I was going to eschew the very events that had become all too ‘comfortable’ to me and instead attend the events that I had never been to before, to give me the chance to interact with the kinds of crowds and people I would not have had the opportunity otherwise.

Having one of only two American accents in all of this festival made my identification to others much easier I suppose, ha. While at The National beer garden, I stopped to talk with several punters and hopeful musicians, all who appeared to be buoyed by the fact that someone like me had the wherewithal to travel overseas to an event like Output Belfast and that I had chosen their city to visit. Some were surprised that I had traveled to Belfast alone. This is a common statement I have received as a single woman over the years in my travels, for music or not. It always strikes me as odd because surely a man my age or younger never fields the same comment? I can laugh it off now with a smile and a swift “oh honey, if I waited for the right partner to find me and travel with, I would be sitting on my hands in Washington an awful lot.” I have to admit the first time I traveled to the UK, I was alone and experiencing a mixture of excitement and terror. That’s normal. But life is short, friends. Do the things you want before you are unable to. Because that time will come up faster than you think.

Back to the Duke of York to listen to a band that perhaps less devoted music fans might associate more with Ireland as a whole. No Oil Paintings starred a banjo and indeed, he was the only banjo I saw during my entire time in the Northern Irish capital. Was it the late hour of their set, some time after 11 at night, that explained the big crowd that gathered for them? Was the loud, drunken crowd watching them cheering for their harmonies and those banjo plucks or for the drinks in front of them? I don’t think I’ll ever know for sure. As those of you who have read TGTF’s reviews of SXSW know, Irish artists have been invited to perform at Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion event. I never really understood why there was this affinity between what I consider schlocky American country music with what feels to me like more sophisticated, more heartfelt folk coming out of Ireland. Weirdly to me, along with The Lost Brothers who are so beloved to me, No Oil Paintings seem like they could have been a bunch of guitar-toting bandaleros from the Bible belt instead of from Belfast.

I returned to Black Box to see Strange New Places. Led by their charismatic female singer, the themes in the band’s songs – insecurity, depression and heartbreak – are easily relatable to all. Conveying these themes through anthemic power pop or otherwise boisterous musical means, the infectiousness of their music got tail feathers and hands in the air.

Strange New Places Output Belfast 2020

Correction: This article was amended on 24 February 2020 to correct a gender issue.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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