It’s a chilly Friday night, so where would you rather be than in a darkened basement? And, that’s exactly where Team PM finds themselves, together with the rest of the assembled Belfast press corps: making our long overdue first foray into the refurbished Bar Sub, the smallest of the three venues in the city’s Students’ Union complex.
To say that openers Dream Awake are not quite up to par is perhaps being rather kind to them (but, hey, we’re kind folk at heart!). They are as uncoordinated as a certain Irish country singer’s footwork, with the rhythm section in particular sounding like they’re playing two different songs simultaneously, and their performance is further affected by wails of feedback. The quartet describe themselves as “post-hardcore” (in itself one of my pet hate phrases), but there certainly is nothing hardcore about them, and they most definitely fit the national radio description of that particular sub-genre. They’re young, raw and ragged – and definitely need a lot more practice (especially in regards to playing in time with each other).
This may be Team PM’s first time venturing into this particular venue, but it is also our first encounter with the new line-up of Death Of A Salesman, with former Gacys Threads bassist Ryan ‘Our Sea’ McGonagle [pictured left] having teamed up with the band earlier this year. Their dense, dramatic deathcore is built on a dark, rumbling foundation, and they play with a revived passion, which is passionate and furious in its intent. Underpinned by Rory Gould’s excellent double kick work and topped off with Aidan Thompson’s acerbic yet melodic vocals, they show their upstart predecessors how it should be done! Unfortunately, however, the extremely poor sound mix means that Ryan, in particular, is practically inaudible: but, what does filter through shows that he and Rory are so tight that they’re practically in each other’s hip pockets.
By Conquest Or Consent turn the intensity level up by more than several degrees with their blistering riff attack. Charismatic frontman Pete Crenshaw [pictured right] once again demonstrates that he is one of the very few vocalists on the NI scene who can switch seamlessly between clean and growled styles with effortless ease, while once again the rhythm section are tighter than a tightened nut, with Terry’s massive bass sound blending almost organically with Jonathan’s hard-hitting drums. But, again, we have to strain to hear such things, as the sound mix is absolutely diabolical: the vocals are too low, the guitars too high and the bass muddy; but, the engineer seems more interested in texting and Facebooking than actually trying to fix the problems – even after they are pointed out to him by the PM team (who are sitting right behind him and therefore in the supposedly optimum position to hear everything!)! Nevertheless, the band, and especially Pete, blitz through their foreshortened set with energy and passion, despite the paucity of the crowd.
Making Monsters is another “live debut” for Team PM as we have to date somehow kept missing their Belfast shows. The band have been making considerable waves both here and on the mainland, and it is immediately obvious to see why, as they combine Hole and Paramore styles in their mix of screaming sub-hardcore and powerful, pop-rock riffology. Emma certainly has plenty of passion and commitment, but again the performance suffers what passes for a “mix”: on this occasion, there is too much top end on the vocals, meaning that the depth of the recorded performances are lost, and both the bass and guitar are more turgid than a County Antrim peat bog. Maybe the band are conscious of what is happening out front, as the three musicians are somewhat nondescript, although practised and precise. At the end of the night, yes, they possess plenty of grunt and commitment, but that cutting edge could do with a little whetting.
Making Monsters play the following dates with Fightstar and Arcane Roots:
Saturday October 17 – London, Troxy
Sunday October 18 – Southampton, University
Monday October 19 – Exeter, Lemongrove
Wednesday October 21 – Wolverhampton, Wulfrun Hall
Thursday October 22 – Norwich, Waterfront
Saturday October 24 – Manchester, Ritz
Sunday October 25 – Newcastle, Northumbria University
Tuesday October 27 – Edinburgh, Liquid Rooms
Wednesday October 28 – Aberdeen, Garage
- Photographs by The Dark Queen. All content © PlanetMosh 2015.