As the air gets colder, kids return to school and all happiness dwindles as the sun gets ready to vanish forever and leave us all in the depths of darkness, Irish band Hand Models emerge like a glowing ray of hope, giving us all one last glimpse of the happiest season there is with their Limelight Summer Party. Timed perfectly to run on 30th August as Summer draws to a bleak close, music fans of Belfast were treated to a purely homegrown night of local talent with not one, two, three…but six bands, all from our wee country, all ready to move the crowd that filled Limelight 2.
The night saw a line up that did not quit, with bands Mob Wife, Wynona Bleach, Beauty Sleep, Hand Models (be rude not to), Hot Cops and The Wood Burning Savages playing us into the wee hours. It was certainly a night for community and pride, made all the better with the local talent coming together and creating a 5 track charity compilation tape available to purchase at the gig, with all profits going to mental health charity Mindwise. Charity, great music and pints – what more can you need?
Kicking off the night were three locals lads Chris Leckey, Mark McDaid and Carl Small, known for their part in bands such as PigsAsPeople, Gascan Ruckus and Ghost Office but fresh out the womb as Mob Wife. A punk trio emerging just this Summer and already attracting a substantial crowd for it being so early in the evening, the band may have declared their nerves from the start of the set but they certainly commanded the stage like a band out of the womb for years. Showcasing songs including their debut single ‘Warm Water’, the bands modesty and nerves were drowned out in vocals alternating between melodic and rough, pushing through and leading the guitar and drums then rising and crashing into heavy finishes, the groans of the lyrics still lingering in the air. It certainly wasn’t a slow start for the Mob Wives and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down, but if you missed their debut show you can catch their next one very soon at The Empire in October.
Quick to follow were five-piece alt, gaze rock band Wynona Bleach. Formerly known as R51 but making the title change at the start of this year, Wynona Bleach have certainly made a huge name for themselves, even if they have changed it. Describing themselves to be about big chorsus and pretty verses, the band have taken their talent beyond the modest population of Ireland and even the UK, playing the BBC Introducing stage at Reading and Leeds Fest, supporting Feeder as well as a 12 date headline tour of Russia. Luckily for us Belfast folk, they took the time out of their international schedule to immerse us in the dreamy, melodic yet chaotic sound they have become known for. Playing songs such as ‘Sugar‘ and ‘Eyes Burning‘ from their upcoming EP, if the hypnotic harmonies rising delicately yet powerfully over the crashing drums and guitar hadn’t caught the crowd’s attention the amazing, glowing green hair and nails of lead vocalist Melyssa Shannon and nails to match certainly would. Again, if you were unfortunate enough to miss this set then you can follow Wynona Bleach to London for their next show in October – you won’t regret it.
Soft, ethereal sounds eclipsed by a crescendo of guitar and drums start to fill the room as trio Beauty Sleep take to the stage. Having entranced crowds across the UK and Ireland performing festivals such as Electric Picnic, Other Voices and The Great Escape as well as supporting All Tvvins, the band have had an unsurprisingly busy schedule that will without a doubt keep building. Performing songs such as ‘The Dark’, ‘All in‘ and ‘Until We See the Sun‘, that token 80s sound complete with hypnotic synth moves ever so fluidly amongst entrancing harmonies, interjected perfectly by colourfully constructed guitar riffs, percussion and keytar. It is a truly enjoyable experience, one that you can see for yourself at their next stops Focal Fest and Moira Calling, or on their debut album, promised later this year.
Next on the bill are our organisers, 4 local lads that every band up to now have thanked profusely throughout the night for inviting them to play in such a talented line up. Hand Models have over the year been taking over Belfast with continuous gigging and music releases. This is incredibly evident from the response of the crowd, not only appreciative of the band for giving them the opportunity to enjoy this night of music, but also delivering their songs that the crowd know and love. The indie rock quartet’s stage presence from the get-go is testament to their dedication to touring, fresh off the Stendhal lineup, supporting Deap Vally and playing BBC Radio 6’s Biggest Weekend to name a mere few. The upbeat sound of songs such as ‘Skate Shoes‘ and ‘TV Kids’ immediately hook the crowd who bounce along to every word.
The incredibly positive, good vibes across the room are testament to what Hand Models have delivered tonight – a purely homegrown gig for a crowd who are there for one thing and one thing only – to have an unreal night surrounded by great company. There’s no pushing to the front, no long queues and no inappropriate shouts interrupting the music. Just all round good vibes from a crowd gathered to hear good music. Hand Models finish their set with newly released single ‘Banana’, the aptly matched yellow lights glowing on their aptly chosen banana suits – fruity, sweaty and delicious.
Alt-rock trio Hot Cops follow our organisers as next in the lineup. At it since 2013 with multiple EPs under their belt, the band have created quite the splash, regularly performing across Belfast and Dublin in venues like McHugh’s, The Empire and Black Box to name a few. Following on from Hand Models, Hot Cops definitely switch the vibe up, with dark lighting hanging over the trio as the moody vocals flow all over the room in songs such as ‘Dumbbo‘, ‘Decay‘ and ‘Belle of the Tar Pits‘. The band end their set on an amazingly intense note, the crowd changing from jumping to swaying, eyes closed and no head banging in sight.
Last up and finishing off what has been an absolute treat of a show is the much anticipated The Wood Burning Savages. Emerging from Derry and soon spreading their fast-paced, punk rock sound all over the country and beyond, supporting one of our much-loved own And So I Watch You From Afar as well as playing at festivals in Scotland, Poland and Germany. And if that don’t impress you, the band have even made their way into the world of wrestling, with New York wrestler ‘The Product’ David Starr using their song ‘We Love You‘ as his entrance theme. Together since 2017 the alt-rock quartet have already made it onto Glastonbury BBC Introducing Stage & Whelan’s Ones To Watch, and now also the stage of Limelight 2 to round off a fantastic night of music. Showcasing music from their album released this year Stability, the band delivered songs such as ‘I Don’t Know Why I Do it to Myself’, the band delivered a set beyond mere songs but anthems, with explosive guitars and intense vocals showcasing lyrics that could be the voice for our generation as a whole.
And like that our night of witnessing 6 amazingly talented local bands come together for a night of music drew to a close. However, while it is over the message to take from it still remains: in the wake of the dance music revival, it is heartwarming to know that buried amongst the bass and thumps continues the thrashing of guitars, crashing of drums and the buzz of a crowd turning out strong for a night dedicated to showcasing and appreciating homegrown talent. Until next time.