The fifth and final Pre-Xmas Drinking Extravaganza was hosted by Luke Burns and held at Charlie’s Bar in Enniskillen. This coveted night is being given up by Luke to allow for a younger generation of organisers to take over. With this said it is fair to call this night a changing of the guard; let’s hope that it ends with a tremendous bang and not a whimper.
Kicking a night off with a serious bang, local lads Self Stifled take the stage and perform their brand of Hardcore-inspired Pop Punk. The crowd was savouring every moment that this band was on the stage and although there were a few hiccups, this did nothing to detract from a solid set. With a mixture of original and cover material, the band proudly showed of their influences while also displaying the potential they have as songwriters. ‘Sick and Sober’ and ‘Sit and Ignore’ were standout performances, but their cover of Black Flag‘s ‘Fix Me’ was intensity personified.
The next band to take the stage is local Indie heroes, Dead Errands who although having Chris Flanagan and Luke Burns filling in on guitar and bass respectively, didn’t skip a beat and performed a solid set. Be it cover or original, their material is a joyful throwback to Alternative and Indie bands from the eighties and nineties. Standout performances included ‘Hideout’ and a superb cover of ‘This Charming Man’ by The Smiths.
Lisburn natives Sintasia take the stage next and play an extremely polished set of Metal with everything that you would expect. Even though they have a new rhythm section, the band has not skipped a beat since I saw them previously in Charlie’s Bar as Hindrance. Speaking of the rhythm section, drummer Michal Bugaski played back to back sets and never slowed down or skipped a beat. Although there are a multitude of talented musicians from the local area, Michal is a standout talent. Guitarists Ryan Belshaw and Neil Adams performed effortlessly, with Ryan really showing of his lead guitar chops throughout. Bassist Jackson Kenny was no slouch on his instrument either and gave a solid performance also. The crowd was also treated to the live debut of their latest single ‘Not Alone’ which is now available on Spotify.
The second to last act to take the stage is the Enniskillen band Black Chapels, who were formerly known as The DMs. Although the band have recently changed their name, this does not reflect a drastic change in their style of music, which successfully bridges eighties Metal and nineties Alternative Rock. This was perfectly represented in their original material, with ‘Sunday Streets’, ‘Broken Heroes’ and ‘Dying Breed’ being standout performances. Black Chapels have never disappointed, even in their earlier incarnation and fulfilled my own personal expectations. Even with Charles Knox taking over bass, the band never missed a step and performed a superb set.
The headline act for the night was the infamous Bunny and the Banned Its who were a band that I had not seen live or experienced with their music, but was familiar with their exploits. From the people that I had spoken to at the bar, they had a reputation, nothing serious, but there was a legend attached to their exploits. This was a band that I needed to experience and if I didn’t, I knew that I would miss something truly special.
From the outset, the band exuded uniqueness to them and it wasn’t just from their stage attire which brought to mind a demented version of The Avengers. Neither this type of band, nor this style of music regularly finds itself at Charlie’s Bar. Their set was solid throughout and it was simply fantastic to see a band perform at such a high level, but not take themselves too seriously at the same time. Luke Burns once again stepped up to the batting plate, filling in on bass under the guise of The Big Red Machine, Kane. He didn’t sound out of place and naturally slid into the role.
The atmosphere was electric and the crowd was vocal, especially when it came to their fantastic rendition of ‘Danger! High Voltage!’ with a saxophone solo included for good measure. The band’s original material was also impressive, with ‘Open Your Eyes’ and ‘Motherfuckers’ being standout tracks. I was also impressed with their rendition of ‘Forgot About Dre’ which had a vocal delivery that rivalled the original.
From start to finish, the band took control and commanded the stage with authority. They took the crowd for a rollercoaster ride which those in attendance didn’t want to end. This is a band that you need to experience live as they are equal parts talented and charismatic, which makes up the sum total of being awesome.
In conclusion, this was a night of that consisted of tremendous musical talent, along with immense craic and banter. As this was the last gig before the New Year, it was an excellent conclusion to an already solid year of gigs in Charlie’s Bar, which has become the de facto choice for local rock gigs. I have to tip my imaginary hat to Luke Burns as he organised a night that will truly be remembered.