spectrum 2015 ~ official preview

Spectrum 2015 Preview 

Professional, passionate and always memorable, Belfast’s Spectrum Festival has grown out of nowhere to become one of the country’s most sought after local music events, a night dedicated to the modern sounds of Northern Ireland. Formed over a chance meeting and a shared love of the local music scene, Spectrum is the creation of Mícheál Douglas and Chris Lowry; who between them wanted to build a platform for local musicians to aspire to, whilst adding another vital date to the Northern  Irish calendar. Spectrum is for all those stuck in the 9 til 5 grind, doing what they can to keep their band above water. For the bedroom musicians, sweating over every inch of their home-made Ep, and for the people of the city they love ~ to come and experience the sound of a country united by something as simple as music.

Three years down the line and some may argue that they have succeeded. Building on the intimate success of their debut Black Box show, Spectrum then grew to The Speakeasy in Queens University SU. With a history that now includes Mojo Fury, Pretty Child Backfire, Kasper Rosa and A Plastic Rose (where Ian McHugh’s infamous ‘swallow dive’ to the bar is became one of the defining musical snapshots of the year), it’d be fair for them to take their foot off the gas somewhat. Not so, as Spectrum Festival returns in 2015 to the beautiful  Mandela Hall, a venue that has hosted the likes of Snow Patrol, radiohead, Pete Doherty and countless others ~ but who will add their names to that illustrious list this Summer? We felt it only fair to take you through it, one by one.

This is your official guide to Spectrum Festival 2015.

#1. Echo Raptors.

Look out for; Frontman Phil Rainey channeling Ian Brown for the groovier numbers.
Big Song(s); ‘Change My Way’, ‘Believe In Love’, ‘Plastic People’
For fans of; Cast, The Beatles, Oasis

If you needed proof that rock ‘n’ roll was alive and well, one quick listen to Echo Raptors back catalogue would surly put your mind at ease. Loud, uncompromising and hugely passionate, the Raptor’s have gone from strength to strength from their humble beginnings making acoustic video’s in their respective kitchens! Having already supported the likes of Happy Mondays and The Charlatans, toured all across the UK and released several big hitting singles, it’s fair to say the band have hard earned their dedicated Belfast fan base. To put it simply, rarely will Echo Raptors have to sing their own chorus’ ~ especially in front of a home crowd. For those wanting reminded of a time before the button pushers (alt-j we’re looking at you), Echo Raptors are the perfect tonic.

#2. In An Instant

Look out for; The entire crowd dancing to single ‘Something Right And Something Real’ ~ even those hearing it for the first time!
Big Song(s); ‘Something Right And Something Real’, ‘Come The Night’, ‘All Binds Fall Undone’
For Fans Of; Snow Patrol, U2, Two Door Cinema Club

Despite being just out of their teens and a band for less than two years, In An Instant are one of the most talked about acts in Northern Ireland today. Never rushing, IAI have picked their battles wisely during their short time together, delaying the release of debut EP ‘A Light You Know And Love’ to the point of pain for their fans; the results however, were clear for all to see, as In An Instant soared into contention as the country’s most exciting outfit. Easing their way into support slots for Blitz Kids and A Plastic Rose alike, nothing has ever seemed too big for this band or their mammoth sound. They’ve the songs to fill arena’s, but will they be ready for this one? (Well yes, they absolutely will ~ but let’s try and end on a cliff hanger).

#3 R51

Look out for; Frontwoman Melyssa Shannon’s ‘laser-eyed baby’s head’, resting on the synth.
Big Song(s); ‘Pillow Talk’, ‘Modern Age’, ‘Slowhound’
For Fans Of; Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead

R51’s star is very much in the ascendancy. Their ‘Pillow Talk’ Ep is undoubtedly one of the releases of the year and having already made their Mandela Hall debut, this gig is unlikely to phase them in the slightest. A five piece of melodic~melancholia, R51’s blend of electronic rhythms and dreamy guitar has a broader range than most. At times hauntingly delicate (‘Seaweed’, ‘Modern Age’) and at others forcefully raw (‘I Hate That Too’), it seems whatever this band put their minds too they can accomplish. Check out the harmonies between Mellissa Shannon and lead guitarist Jonny Woods too ~ impeccable!

#4 Hot Cops

Look Out For; The lounge-music interlude in ‘Passive, Passive’. You’ll know it when you hear it.
Big Song (s); ‘Fallout’, ‘Decay, ‘Six’, ‘The Art Of The Act’ etc, etc.
For Fans Of; Nirvana, Pavement

The band of the moment, (not that they’d tell you themselves), Hot Cops are three sweet boys with a remarkable sound. Fresh from an Introducing slot at Radio One’s Big Weekend in Norwich, the band’s ever building hype and fan base seems to at the least not bother them and at the most probably bother them, a little bit. Two Ep’s and a double a-side down, world domination to go. No pressure Hot Cops.

#5 Loris

Look Out For; Mike Mormecha’s insane drumming//Francis Mitchel’s haunting falsetto.
Big Song (s); ‘I’ve Been Quiet’, ‘Crazy’
For Fans Of; Years & Years, Indiana

Lisburn’s electro-pop pioneers have had an amazing few months since the turn of the year, growing from poppy-new comers, to an experienced band remarkably quickly. Alongside this growing experience has been the praises coming their way, with everyone from Phil Taggart to Rigsy quick to big up Loris’ rise. Third single ‘Yeah’ was then chosen as BBC Introducing’s ‘Track of the Week’, an accolade which saw nearly the entire Radio 1 team playing the track on some of the UK’s biggest radio shows. Add to that support slots with Ballet School, Little May and most recently Sylvan Esso, and you have a band ready for the next stage in their musical careers.

#6 New Ancestors

Look Out For; Some sort of river-dance!
Big Song (s); ‘Don’t Feel Sad’, ‘Annabelle’
For Fans Of; Kodaline, Southern, The Civil Wars

Having cut their teeth as the beloved 1930’s, New Ancestors transition into the present has been remarkably easy. Whilst their unique blend of folk-pop remains distinctly more ‘Rocket Summer’ than Mumford & Sons, it doesn’t mean they lack a commercial edge, far from it. Frontman Jonny Solari’s poetic lyrics glide over emotional backing, guaranteeing a poignant moment amongst the feedback of this year’s festival.

#7 Joshua Burnside

Look Out For; Weird instruments//costumes//new songs
Big Song(s); Old Red Eyes, Catalina, Platonia
For Fans Of; Paul Simon, Badly Drawn Boy, Damien Rice

Joshua Burnside may be the most unique songwriter in Britain and Ireland today. His music a stunningly harmonious blend of folk and electronica, there’s a simple beauty to be found within Burnside’s travelling songs and playful lyricism. Now based in Glasgow, this will be a rare chance to see one of our best songwriters live for a while. Don’t miss the chance.

#8. Emerald Armada

Look Out For; The trademark Armada-mosh-pit.
Big Song(s); ‘I Don’t Mind’, ‘This House’
For Fans Of; Fleet Foxes, Villagers

The Emerald Armada have been a bed-rock of the Belfast music scene for years now. A blue-print for any new band, the Armada’s tireless gigging schedule, addiction to writing and work ethic has served them supremely well since their formation back in 2010. Now back to the Mandela Hall as all conquering headliners, The Emerald Armada’s celtic rock will undoubtedly prove a special experience for fans both old and new.

Secret Weapon; Go Girl! (DJ's)

Every good party needs a trump card, and Spectrum Festival is no different! This year Belfast's fastest growing all female supergroup//really cool club have been invited to DJ in the Bunatee Bar for the night. Already making serious waves throughout the city, 'Go Girl!'s commitment to freedom of expression and supporting the arts has come not a moment too soon! 

So there it is, this year's official Spectrum Festival 2015 Line-Up. For more information on each band, click on their names below.

Taylor Johnson

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