live review ~ shizz the fest 2014 ~ limelight 1, belfast ~ part 2

Despite their youth, Belfast's The Late Twos already possess a legacy greater than even they realise. Through the release of their two EP's and subsequent tours, the band have amassed a mod army of followers reminiscent of 90's Mancunia. Tonight, they once again supplied a flawless performance of relative ease. Ryan Costley's bass lines hold an endless swagger, Ryan Bennentt's solo's shimmer like Johnny Marr, while David McMaster's backing vocals and sheer stage presence speak for itself. Ross Bickerstaff remains an unsung hero behind the drum kit, allowing Matty Legge to uphold the rigorous showman mold he's mastered from day one. It's genuinely becoming difficult to know where they can go next. In fact this may prove their greatest challenge. Opener 'Spies' remains a highlight.

The Greased Palm are a band of curious intrigue. Clearly beloved by the considerable crowd which had by now gathered, it was a solid, or rather, a strong performance from the Maghera locals. Which begs the question as to why it took them so long to relax into the situation at hand. In a set which saw them alter between borderline country and bluesy jazz, The Greased Palm seemed slightly unnerved by the size of the event and indeed by their own identity. Perhaps this is no fault of the artist, as it was this reviewers first time witnessing them in a live setting. On the contrary, the audience at hand clung to every riff and lyric right until their final track. There is also no doubting the groups musicality, particularly after the array of well executed saxophone solos...a nice touch indeed. Whether this awkward tension was a result of one off nerves or something only sensed by a handful of non-blues purists remains to be seen. Ask anyone hanging onto that barrier however, and they'll likely suggest the latter.

Gascan Ruckus' own brand of alt-rock has been carefully constructed to resemble a train wreck. Through slight of hand and intense head banging, you could be forgiven for assuming the freshness of the riffs are simply down to improvisation. Though rest assured, Gascan Ruckus is a controlled demolition of heavy rock, with dark undertones assigned to accompany their genuinely melodic roots. The anger of the young men on stage is given it's chance to flourish in a riot of sonic abuse, justifying their high bill position alone. A surprise and welcome inclusion.

Finally came headliners Pocket Billiards, a nine piece-ska collective that have been creating dancefloors for over ten years and show no signs of slowing down any time soon. Fusing the clean cut reggae vibes of The Specials with the tireless swing of Madness, Pocket Billiards seem about as likely to alternate from their three chord orchestral party as they are to spring an assault on the UK top 40. Though this doesn't make them any less enjoyable. In fact even those not dazzled by the geezer appeal of songs like 'Belfast Town' can't help but join in with the occasional 'Oi, Oi, Oi!'. Aside from their stage show, which was greatly enhanced by a full brass arrangement, stopping mid song early into their set in order to berate a drunken punter demands major respect. Even more so when it became apparent that a woman was being victimised. It was a small act of selflessness (and one unlikely to be remembered) by their frontman Chris Savage, but ultimately a snapshot into just why this city have adopted this ska-punk juggernaut into their hearts.

Shizznigh Promotions MD Jonny McKee deserves a lot of credit, once again pulling off an incomparably eclectic bill to great effect. If the mission was to send Summer 2014 off in style, Shizz The Fest accomplished this and more.

Taylor Johnson

For all official band news, follow the links below⁞►

The Late Twos ~ For fans of: The Libertines, Arctic Monkeys

The Greased Palm ~ For fans of: Eagles, Kool & The Gang

Gascan Ruckus ~ For fans of: Weezer, Radiohead

Pocket Billiards ~ For fans of: The Specials, Madness, The Beat

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