They say you can’t keep a good musician down, and once again they were right. After a superb day one of Whelan’s Summer Ones to Watch, could day two live up to expectations?
Despite some dodgy timetables dotted around, it is indeed Half of Me who kick off the main stage. They’re riding high after recent single “Harbour” got some nice acclaim, and their set is fairly enjoyable. They do seem to be stuck between an urge to let loose and fly into a biting rock number, and keeping it simple with melodic pop tunes however. The songs with a heavier bass and crunchier guitar are the highlights and are definitely where the band excel. Good stage presence, nice tunes, and decent show. The ingredients are all there that’s for sure.
The first act we see upstairs are the relatively new outfit, Pranks. The ‘grunge’ label they’ve attached to themselves seems a little over-ambitious as the set never really hits those heavy notes. It’s only their second gig and if there were nerves, they certainly faded away as the gig wears on. Confidence seems to grow and by the time they close with the brilliant “Ghosts”, the shackles (and glasses) are truly off! A few more gigs and we’ll really start to see Pranks hit their stride.
We decide to stick around upstairs and check out indie upstarts Sub Motion. They’ve got plenty of style and their youthful energy is infectious, but the set could perhaps do with a bit more diversity. Pop-punk can be a limited genre at the best of times, but it’s serving the band well so far. A lively performance goes a long way and they’re worth checking out.
Downstairs on the main stage, Buffalo Sunn are about to begin. They’re a band I personally quite enjoy, but unfortunately this gig never really takes off. On record, the quintet have a rather anthemic, rock aura and they obviously put a lot of effort into their harmonies, but it’s to the detriment to the overall live show. It’s all rather wooden, and although the tunes are good, the crowd seem a little nonplussed. It’s such a shame too, as tracks like “Told You So” and “By Your Side” could be cracking live numbers but are replaced by standard rock songs. Maybe we’ve been spoiled by energetic band members over Friday and so far on Saturday, but Buffalo Sunn just come off a little flat.
So, four acts in and as yet, we’ve not really been blown away by what day two has offered. Could a band who’ve flown over from Manchester especially for the gig finally get our buzz going? As it turns out – yes. Yes they can. Fruit Tones may appear at first to be a mash of the Stones, Weezer and a youthful Tom Selleck but they sure know how to write a rock n’ roll number. They keep their tracks short and sweet, never overstaying their welcome and giving the crowd real bang for their buck. It’s fun, the right amount of messy, and a great surprise. Come back soon lads.
Up next are Swimmers who deliver a great show. Ah yes, the festival is finally hitting its stride! Their recent single “Lose Myself”, and “World Keeps Turning” are particular highlights, though a broken string during the former breaks the flow slightly as frontman Niall Jackson searches for a new guitar. It doesn’t dampen the experience however and it’s a great set with the perfect amount of funk in all the right places.
Finishing up the festival are Gangs, a rather vigorous and downright raucous foursome from Dublin. Saturday night has saved the best for last – they’re simply fantastic. As a band who specialise in high energy rock, they far out-do their peers. They strut around the stage like arrogant tigers, with guitarist Dan Smith posing like a young Nicky Wire and drummer Jonny Halpin keeping the machine ticking over perfectly. Worth checking out is their recent Back to School EP. A great way to end two days of musical celebration.