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Live Gig Video: Robocobra Quartet share performance of ‘You’ll Shrug’ ahead of The Great Escape 2017

 
By on Wednesday, 17th May 2017 at 4:00 pm
 

Robocobra Quartet are a band that can perk up the ears of a wide-ranging audience. Their vast array of influences, including jazz, hardcore punk and classical music mixed with a no-holds-barred approach to music, has also gained them support slots with Melt Yourself Down, Girl Band, El Ten Eleven and Get the Blessing, as well as being featured on BBC 6 Music and Daniel P. Carter’s Radio 1 rock show. The band will be performing in Brighton twice this Friday the 19th during The Great Escape 2017: 3:30 PM at the Hope and Ruin, followed by 10:30 PM at the delegates’ home base for the weekend, the Queens Hotel.

The Belfast band released a live video of their track ‘You’ll Shrug’ 2 weeks ago, which excellently encapsulates their incredible live performance. The song is built primarily on a lengthy dynamic and textural build, both sonically and visually, lead by Ryan’s stirring performance on drums and vocals showcasing his immense control and fluidity within both roles to lead the band. Bassist Ryan Burrowes lays down a hypnotic, melodic chord based bass line matched by a swaying stage presence, acting like the physical representation of the music. Usually, a bass player carrying the melodic interest of the music is seen as uncommon, but when it comes to the Belfast quartet, uncommon is common. Together, Ryan and Burrowes lay a solid foundation with the odd shred of experimentation, allowing Tom Tabori and Thibault Barillion on soprano and tenor sax to coat the track in tastefully improvised lines, which fall in and out of sync with Ryan’s expressive vocal projection.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzeH6KcteKE[/youtube]

Despite the heavy use of improvisation, which can create a sense of uncertainty within the music in the wrong hands, Robocobra Quartet are an incredibly tight and solid band with a micro-analytic attention to detail. From their live performances, it’s easy to feel the immense amount of passion the band have for music while they demonstrate an astonishing level of dynamic control and musicality. In addition to their Great Escape appearances on Friday in Brighton, Robocobra Quartet so far have a small list of summer shows throughout the UK and Ireland, which you can find here. To read our past coverage here on TGTF on the Belfast group, including Carrie’s coverage of them at the Music from Ireland full Irish breakfast showcase at SXSW 2017, follow this link.

 

SXSW 2017: Thursday afternoon at Music From Ireland’s Full Irish Breakfast – 16th March 2017

 
By on Tuesday, 11th April 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

Thursday at SXSW 2017 was another full day, but my tired feet did get a bit of a reprieve after the lengths I walked on Wednesday night. I started the day at the Austin Convention Center for Zane Lowe’s keynote session, then spent the remainder of the afternoon at B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub, which hosted Music for Ireland’s day show, the Full Irish Breakfast. (Editor Mary caught the opening acts on the Irish Breakfast bill, New Portals and Ciaran Lavery while I was listening to Zane Lowe; you can read about them in her Thursday afternoon review.)

AS Fanning IB

I arrived at B.D. Riley’s with just enough time for a plate of breakfast before “dark folk” singer/songwriter A.S. Fanning began to play. I’d seen Fanning earlier in the week at the Convention Center Next Stage, but as I’ve noted in the past, B.D. Riley’s has a very different ambiance from other SXSW venues, especially the sterile Convention Center stages. Fanning’s sharp lyrics and dramatic rock-tinged musical style skillfully elicited a mood of brooding melancholy in both environments. I caught him later in the afternoon for this quick interview, where we talked about the different venue atmospheres and his upcoming album ‘Second Life’.

"Loah

One of the afternoon’s pleasant surprises was soulful singer/songwriter Loah, whose West African musical influences were delightfully unexpected in the context of the Irish showcase. Her silky vocals and exotic stage presence were nothing short of stunning, bringing the bustling pub to a momentary standstill. Take a listen to my interview with Loah right back here, and watch this video for her full band performance of ‘Cross’, courtesy of Press Record.

Cloud Castle Lake IB

Next on the bill were electronic act Cloud Castle Lake, whose cool detachment and distinct avant-garde tendency took a decidedly different tone. Brendan Jenkinson’s ethereal falsetto was almost lost in the shuffle of background noise at B.D. Riley’s, but the band’s heavily rhythmic musical arrangements made a strong impression nonetheless.

"JOB

Northern Irish alt-rocker Jealous of the Birds (aka Naomi Hamilton) played a full band show at B.D. Riley’s, as opposed to the stripped back set I saw her play on the Output Belfast boat earlier in the week. Her erudite lyrics and eclectic mix of musical styles took on a much more vibrant cast in the fully-arranged versions of her songs, especially the popular ‘Goji Berry Sunset’. Hamilton and her bandmates fully embraced their punk-rock undertones in this pub setting, exponentially raising the energy level on the stage as well as among the punters in the growing crowd.

That newly-generated energy was immediately picked up by fellow Northern Irish band Silences, (pictured in the header photo above) who took the B.D. Riley’s stage with a decided air of confidence, quite different from frontman Conchúr White’s demeanor in his solo appearance last year. White and his bandmates didn’t waste a lot of time on chatter, preferring instead to impress the crowd with their massive, soaring five-piece sound. I was literally stunned to silence (pun intended) by the goose bump-inducing arrangement of their single ‘Breathless’, and I bubbled over with excitement for the up-and-coming Silences in this post-set interview with White and guitarist Chris Harbinson.

Taking full advantage of the momentum built by their Northern Irish compatriots, avant/experimental group Robocobra Quartet brought a surprisingly brash punk attitude to their jazz-tinged classical aesthetic. Based on our Adam’s description of them in his preview of NI artists, I probably should have expected punk, but I didn’t realise the extent of that influence until I heard lead singer/drummer Chris Ryan do his frenetic routine. The jazz side of things came through in the unique combination of saxophone sounds provided by Tom Tabori and Thibault Barilon. It’s an odd but intriguing mélange of sounds, and my immediate post-set commentary probably sums it up best: “I’m not sure what I just listened to, but I think I liked it.”

Birds of Olympus IB

I was equally intrigued by Dublin psych-rock act Birds of Olympus, especially after their frontman Spud Murphy described their sound to me as “Talking Heads mixed with Ennio Morricone”. Their songs were broadly expansive and strangely hypnotic, with smooth vocal melodies and edgy rhythmic grooves evolving in vivid kaleidoscopic fashion. Check it out for yourself in this live video performance of ‘Cinder to the Sun’ on the band’s official Facebook.

The Academic IB

Mary and I had been waiting over a year to see young Dublin rockers The Academic, and they took the Irish showcase by storm at SXSW 2017, with a set that was by turns wildly energetic and broodingly sullen. Frontman Craig Fitzgerald has cultivated a certain bad-boy mystique that feeds into the band’s more introspective songs, like ‘Thought I Told You’ and ‘Small Town Lovers’, while the driving momentum of songs like ‘Different’ is clearly the band’s strongest suit.

Picture This IB

The final act on the Full Irish Breakfast was another up-and-coming mainstream pop band, the swaggering Dublin rock duo Picture This. I’d taken the opportunity to sit down with band members Jimmy Rainsford and Ryan Hennessy earlier in the week, and their unabashedly cocky demeanor in that Tuesday afternoon interview had piqued my interest for seeing them live. As it turned out, they had every reason to be confident. The anthemic rock-leaning pop of tracks like ‘You & I’ was enthusiastically received at B.D. Riley’s, ending the day on an ecstatic high. Also, for the record, Hennessy fulfilled his earlier promise to play topless, which I hadn’t taken seriously until he actually did it.

Picture This 2 IB

All in all, the Full Irish Breakfast once again lived up to its reputation as one of the best shows in town during SXSW, and the bands on the showcase fully exceeded even my high expectations. For more on the fine Irish acts at SXSW 2017, you can read back through Mary’s coverage of the official Music From Ireland showcase at the Velveeta Room on St. Patrick’s Day.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: Northern Irish artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Wednesday, 8th March 2017 at 11:00 am
 

The Emerald Isle may be a relatively small island, but there is no denying it is bursting with talent from top to bottom. Yesterday, we introduced you to the seven acts from below that pesky dotted line in the Republic of Ireland proper who will appear at SXSW 2017. Today, our focus is on the seven artists from Eire who carry British passports. The summaries below were written by the newest member of our team and our Northern Irish correspondent based in (London)Derry, Adam McCourt, except where noted. Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2017 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

Ciaran Lavery – singer/songwriter / Aghagallon
Ciaran Lavery is an Irish singer/songwriter from the small town of Aghagallon in County Antrim. Lavery soared to success after his singles ‘Left for America’ and ‘Shame’ racked up over 29 million plays on Spotify. With the release of his latest live album ‘Live at the Mac’ back in December (read my review here), Lavery has built quite an eclectic discography including 2 studio albums ‘Not Nearly Dark’ (2013) and ‘Let Bad In’ (2016), preceded by the album ‘Sea Legs’ in collaboration with fellow Northern Irish showcaser Ryan Vail (2016) and his debut EP, ‘Koesher’ (2014). FFO: Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Villagers

Read TGTF’s past coverage on Ciaran Lavery through here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhZRAkWxUF8[/youtube]

Jealous of the Birds – folk/rock / Portadown
Jealous of the Birds is the musical moniker of Naomi Hamilton. Hailing from the wet and windy coastal town of Portadown, Jealous of the Birds channels her surroundings with sweet and chirpy songs. Sticking to the lo-fi indie sound, Hamilton’s debut EP ‘Capricorn’ released in March 2015 gathered much attention from BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens and one of Ireland’s longest and most accredited radio stations Across The Line. Her debut album ‘Parma Violets’ was released in May 2016 and just recently, she collaborated with fellow SXSW attendee Ryan Vail on a track entitled ‘Love is a Crow’. FFO: PORTS, Foy Vance, Girls Names

Read TGTF’s past coverage on Jealous of the Birds through here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rED0XiO93c[/youtube]

New Portals – electronic/pop / Belfast
New Portals (pictured at top) are an electronic/pop duo from Belfast. Husband and wife Michael and Ruth Aicken began as the key members of an alt-folk group called The Jepettos before turning their attention to synth-laden pop tracks, while still keeping the angelic tonal quality of Ruth’s vocals. Since re-establishing as New Portals, the couple have made their mark by releasing a bombardment of seven singles (with five music videos) over their short career of a year. You can check out our holiday feature late last year for their seasonally appropriate single ‘Winter Skin’ through here. FFO: Imagine Dragons, Banks, EMBRZ

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ghog_fnSKI[/youtube]

Protex – punk / Belfast
Punk rockers Protex have been in existence as a band longer than many of their fellow Northern Irish acts have been alive. Still, their staying power in the industry is testament to the continued interest – a need – for guitar music that provides a kick in the arse. FFO: Sex Pistols, New York Dolls (Mary Chang)

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vj2I-Z0B-oQ[/youtube]

Robocobra Quartet – experimental / Belfast
Probably one of the more interesting Irish acts to head to SXSW is Robocobra Quartet. Formed whilst studying Music Technology at Queens University, Belfast, the band take influence from jazz, hardcore punk and classical music. Their debut album ‘Music for All Occasions’ was released in November lof ast year, and it’s packed with spoken word vocals, squealing saxophone and unexpected improvisation. The band is under the direction of drummer and vocalist Chris Ryan and with Tom Tabori (soprano saxophone), Thibault Barilon (tenor sax, alto saxophone, flute) and as of recently, Ryan Burrowes who replaced Nathan Rogers on bass. FFO: Melt Yourself Down, At The Drive-In, Fugazi

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-SfI3WC0iA[/youtube]

Ryan Vail – electronic / Derry
Ryan Vail is a solo electronic composer from Derry. He has been writing, composing and releasing music since 2012, with his debut album ‘For Every Silence’ being released last April. Vail is no stranger to experimentation and genre crossing. He’s known for bringing a whole new sonic picture to the world of electronic/dance music by incorporating elements of folk and classical music with unique recording and composition methods. See Jealous of the Birds’ profile above to read more about their recent single collaboration. FFO: Chet Faker, Ciaran Lavery (see above), Burial, James Blake

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_7Xyi9LAq4[/youtube]

Silences – singer/songwriter / alternative / Armagh
Silences began as a musical outlet for singer/songwriter Conchúr White back in 2013. With the addition of White’s cousin Breandán White, and close friends Christopher Harbinson, Michael Keyes and Jonathan Downing, Silences have released 3 critically acclaimed EPs: ‘Nevernames’ (March 2014), ‘Sister Snow’ (October 2014), and ‘Luna’ (April 2016). The Armagh-based five-piece have received considerable support from the likes of Huw Stephens, Annie Mac and Phil Taggart of BBC Radio 1 and Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol and have appeared at top festivals such as Latitude, The Great Escape and Electric Picnic. FFO: Bon Iver, Jeff Buckley, Death Cab for Cutie, alt-J

Read TGTF’s past coverage on Silences through here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mgCDoBn3Pg[/youtube]

 
 
 

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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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