Guitar riffs, drum beats and some high pitched notes of glee filled the air yesterday as mud covered converse and wellies collided in Moria Demesne. People of all ages, danced stomped feet and applauded brass, electronic and indie bands (to pigeon hole just a few) as Moira Calling made its return.
The independent Festival organised by Brown Lemonade was back for it’s second year and this fledgling festival is growing in confidence and size. Full of UK and Irish talent, this festival attracted an audience of music lovers and their families. Coming into the festival enclosure patrons were greeted with performers entertaining kids with tricks and word games.
BBQ and spicy scents filled the air and musical notes set off sparks of excitement. In normal festival style there were chilled beers and ciders but what was a little bit more unusual was that patrons of legal age could also sip cocktails and spirits.
Now the important part the musical acts, I’m going to concentrate on my personal favourites although Moira Calling showcased fourteen acts this year between the Maine Stage and the gorgeous intimate All The Little Lights Stage (which was personally my favourite space).
The First act Matty Rea took to the stage at 1.15 and set the proceedings off with a bang.
Acts throughout the day included Franklyn, Brand New Friend, Stomptown Brass, Girls Names, The Emerald Armada, Flyte, Dandy’s Loft, Rebekah Fitch, Brash Issac, Silences, Orchid Collective and headliners Ryan Vail and Eliza and The Bear.
My favourite band of the day had to be Silences. Silences are Conchur White, Christopher Harbinson, Breándan White, Jonathan Downing and Michael Keyes they have received critical acclaim for their three EPs ‘Nevernames’, ’Sister Snow’ and ‘Luna’. Lead singer Conchur White was animated and lively throughout the set, interacting with the audience joking that the seated crowd looked like they where sitting in a living room and throwing in a few Bruce Springsteen quips.
Silences played a small set of hits including “Dress”, “Breathless” (its amazing echoing chorus), and new song “LA” which I personally thought sounded like it should end up on the soundtrack of an Indie film.
The band were intense, engaging the audience and I soaked up every beat and enjoyed every minute. The band ran over their allotted time just to fit in one last tune for a baying crowd. The last tune being “There’s a Wolf” where (in Bastille Dan style) White also comes in on on the rhythmic beat of the drums as well as omitting howling wolf vocals. I loved it!
My next pick of the day had to be the Orchid Collective, a strong four piece from Dublin they had good stage presence and Charisma.
Despite breaking a guitar string the boys continued in fine humour, as if this small hiccup didn’t even happen. The guys have had a heavy touring schedule all over Ireland this summer and it shows they know how to work a crowd.
Their strong guitar rifts beckon to those just on the outskirts of the stage surroundings. They got one of the biggest applauses of the day when they played their charity cover of the Cinematic Orchestras “To Build A Home” it was haunting and beautiful.
Before I get to the headline acts I should also highlight some fantastic sets from the Stomptown Brass, The Emerald Armada and Brash Isaac (another band who shouldn’t be constrained on a small stage). All had the audience dancing, singing and eating out of their hands.
Now on to the headliners!
Ryan Vail headlined the All the Little Lights Stage and he brought even more lights, and a fabulous audio visual display from Plume Studios.
The Derry man played a mix of dark electronica with almost classical piano compositions, completely changing the mood of this somewhat indie setting.
He dropped a bass beat and got everyone to their feet raving their hearts out, all that was missing from this set was a few glow sticks. It was such a shock to the system but a real treat to the ears.
Eliza and The Bear are described as euphoric folk pop and euphoric they are. The band bounced on stage which such vigour and excitement it was infectious.
They closed the festival on the Maine Stage with a few singalongs, teasing the audience with familiar guitar covers ranging from the Beatles to theme tunes. This was the first time the band have played live in Belfast (the exception to this being a small performance on the Stephen Nolan show which the guys admitted most of them just mimed along).
Asking who was familiar with their songs they had a mixed reaction but when closing the set with their hit “Friends” I think they made themselves a few more fans.
Overall I throughly enjoyed Moira Calling and will be marking the event on my calendar hopefully for years to come.
Scroll through our photo gallery, by Julianne Rouquette, below: