Shizznigh Presents: Anto and the Echoes, Vokxen, Part-time Pilots, Les Pantalons and Darren Doherty and the Heathen Choir

As part of the continuing Sound of Belfast festivities, Shizznigh Promotions presented a showcase of up and coming local bands and acts on Friday in the Oh Yeah. A remarkably versatile and talented line up of performers, it was great to see so many fans arrive from early on to help enjoy and support the evening. Another wonderful Sound of Belfast gig it was refreshing to attend an event with acts that were not only new to myself but a few that I had been meaning to catch for a while.

23213396_1685058294893076_8315367698316272700_o

Arriving just on time to catch the last few minutes of Darren Doherty and the Heathen Choir there is an upbeat atmosphere as everyone seems excited for a night of good music. Despite what their name might suggest the heathen choir helps support Doherty’s extraordinarily melodic musical offering and I look forward to catching the band in full next time. Up next was ‘Les Pantalons’ who provided more of a jam style routine with the three of them remaining seated throughout. The very chilled and relaxed position from the band made for an easy and enjoyable performance.

23333927_1685058608226378_3782116540012583902_o

‘Part Time Pilot’s take to the Oh Yeah stage next as the audience starts to build. The bands energy and vivacious presence on stage helps to encourage audience members to gather at the front. Their great audience interaction ensures that fans are kept very interested and attentive for the whole set. Lead singer Enda Mc Crory has a very strong and alluring voice which along with their accessible rock sound has ensured that Part Time Pilots are a band worth keeping your ears open for. 

23270568_1685057971559775_9075201795614401652_o

Catchy, melodic girl group Vokxen are next to perform as they enchant the audience with their atmospheric pop sound. The group shimmers on stage with both their glittery outfits and seductive harmonies creating the perfect pop storm. The trios synth heavy sound accompanied with sweet melodies and electronic dance tunes makes Vokxen the most memorable act of the night.

23215611_1685058198226419_7164948068304236047_o

Headlining the evening was the incredibly talented Anto and the Echoes, the six-piece who have a distinct look certainly appear the part on stage. It can often be difficult waiting to go on all night especially after so many acts before them but Anto and the Echoes take it completely in their stride. Lead singer Antony Breen is certainly a confident and self-assured front man who knows how to work both a crowd and a stage. Moving effortlessly from catchy pop songs to heavier indie rock sounds serves only to highlight the bands versatility. The band carries a very positive upbeat vibe when they perform and was something that the audience certainly reacted to helping to end a very successful Sound of Belfast showcase. 

By Aine Cronin-McCartney
Photos by Carrie Davenport Photography

 

Gifted: Sister Ghost, Born Only Yesterday, The Sea, Close By and LetGo Dive- The Belfast Empire

For the second event of Sound of Belfast’s premier night, I made a quick dash over to the Empire where Gifted had put together an absolutely amazing line up. Unfortunately I missed alt rockers ‘Let Go Dive’ as I was making my way from one venue to the next but will be sure to catch them next time.

23213076_1683214751744097_2783970513568674904_o

Self described as polite rockers from Belfast ‘The Sea, Close by’ are up next and by this stage The Empire has started to fill out. Starting of their set with ‘Never Ever’ the band grow in confidence as they continue and become more relaxed throughout. After a few songs the drummer interrupts to tell the audience that bass player Kate and singer Alastair have just recently got married after originally meeting in the very venue we are standing in, ‘The Empire. Finishing off their set with ‘Humphrey’s Got a Heat Lamp’ they tease the audience briefly with the Friends theme tune before launching full force into their track and ending the set with their strongest song.

23213254_1683218155077090_7328118273286415260_o

North Coast post rock four piece ‘Born Only Yesterday’ are next to the stage. The boys who released their EP ‘The Eyes, The Heart, The Sin’ in September have been busy making their rounds on the local scene. Clearly having built up a burgeoning legion of fans there is a small crowd gathered at the front of the stage who are attentive throughout. Front man Danny McClelland is a commanding presence on stage and the band have an addictive energy with a great vibe between members. Above all Born Only Yesterday are enjoyable and fun to watch and they exude the kind of spirit that makes you want to join a band and I look forward to see what the next few months bring for them. 

23270557_1683212935077612_6052720134782356075_o

Finally finishing off the night is the ever confident Sister Ghost who assuredly take their position on stage. Lead singer Shannon O’Neil is an incredible force to be reckoned with as she navigates and leads the rest of the band with ease. Already entrenched in the NI rock scene it’s easy to see why they have become favourites with their ferocious rhythms, diverse textures and distinct delivery. With highly rhythmic, rapid paced songs and O’Neil’s vocal power and ability always make Sister Ghost a very entertaining act to watch.

23155059_1683216848410554_1977690288860130376_o

By Aine Cronin-McCartney
Photos-Bernie McAllister

Border Exhibition- Void Gallery, Derry

Exhibiting in Void Gallery, Derry on March 28th the Border exhibition is a unique artistic collaboration which will showcase a range of work by an array of female artists.  The project which initially began in February and centered on the theme of borders was an opportunity for women of all backgrounds to come together to make and create work. Over the 28 days each women created work independently with the group meeting at the end of the month to discuss and share their work with each other.

The project was originally created as a tribute to Helen Harris, who was a feminist, community activist and a writer mainly of short stories. Helen sadly passed away in 2011, at the age of 39 from cystic fibrosis, in her memory a donation was made for a workshop to take place in the arts and/or writing in her name. The donation was made by the mother of one of Helen’s closest friends, Sara and from there; the idea for the 28 day project was formed.

Leading the project is Sorcha Boyle who is a local practicing artist as well as a volunteer at Void Gallery. Working primarily as assistant producer on Void Artbits, which is a video review series that aims to widen social engagement with visual art. Growing up surrounded by art and attending exhibitions, Sorcha was accustomed with contemporary art from a young age. Inspired by the environment she grew up in, Sorcha went on to study art at Ulster University before graduating with a first class honours from Manchester School of Art in photography.

Explaining who she is influenced by now Sorcha says “The artists I am inspired by now are mostly video/installation artists and photographers. I am a big fan of video and installation artists Pipilotti Rist and Laure Prouvost and Patrick Bokanowski, and photographers Rinko Kauwachi and Nico Krijno. I like art that takes the everyday and makes it into something different and other-worldly, which is something I try to do in my own work.

The first meeting which took place in the Women’s Centre on the 1st of February had a great response with women of all ages attending. The significance of the project beginning on the 1st of February, it is that is the Feast of Brigid, the Celtic goddess of fertility, and the first day of spring in the Celtic calendar. Choosing this period for the project to begin helped add an extra element of meaning as not only does it symbolise new life and rebirth but also the lunar cycle in February.

Overwhelmed by the initial response to the event Sorcha explained The reaction to the project has been brilliant, we had a lot of interest from women of all ages and I was really overwhelmed to see as many as 20 women at the first meeting. I think the response to the project shows how necessary it is for projects like these to take place, for people to have a space to come together express themselves and share their ideas.”

With such a varied group of women from all different backgrounds, disciplines and talents the theme of ‘Borders’ was put in place to allow for a common goal.  The theme of ‘Borders’ which is a very relevant topic worldwide helped provoke a lot of thought and discussion despite whether the artists decided to approach their theme literally or not in the work.  With such a lack of creative opportunities for anyone in Northern Ireland wishing to pursue a career in the creative arts, the 28 Day project was welcomed by everyone involved.

The project has been a wonderful initiative that has helped bring women together to create dialogue on the issues that we face today. Creating a space for women to reflect and make work based on their own experience with emphasis on the process of making work rather than the finished piece.  Facilitator Sorcha explained that Derry is full of creative people, but the problem is that most of them need to move elsewhere to make a living. I would love to see more creative opportunities being created for young people in the city, because there is so much potential here.”

With such a straightforward concept the 28 day project certainly has potential to run as an annual event and hopefully grow in popularity. Passionate about involving people in the arts with such a positive outcome Sorcha explains how she hopes the project can continue.  “I want to continue to get involved in projects that widen engagement with the arts or that confront social issues through art, it’s something that I’m really passionate about and would love to do more of. Again it’s about creating the opportunity and space for a dialogue to take place.

The Border Exhibition opens on the 28th of March at Void Gallery, Derry and will continue until April 5th.