LIVE: Women’s Work Showcase 2022 – Oh Yeah Music Centre, Belfast

A community led, human-centered approach to promoting and supporting women & non-binary people in music, the Women’s Work Showcase at Belfast’s Oh Yeah Music Centre was stacked with impressive live performances over the Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend. Full of passionate, respectful fans and artists who all contributed to making the space feel as vibrant and as safe as possible, the showcase displayed the eclectic and exciting musical talent of the Northern Irish & Irish music scenes.

As we walked into the venue to the sound of Girl For Sale‘s tender guitar tunes, we recognised so many faces both on and off stage. HAVVK, Party Fears and Problem Patterns were all amongst the crowd, who cheered as self-described “pink pop princess” Susi Pagel performed her bittersweet anthems ‘Pick Me’, ‘Pretty Girl’ and also treated listeners to a cover of Avril Lavigne’s ‘Complicated’, as a nod to the 20th anniversary of the Canadian superstar’s debut album, Let Go.

Split across two stages, we turned to see Clara Tracey clad in a white suit seated behind her keyboard, as she delivered a captivating set filled with her clear, soft vocals and jazz-tinged keys. The sharp, infectious sounds of rapper Don Chi filled the venue next. Though she confessed to feeling nervous between songs, Don Chi continued to emcee with impressive confidence, with tracks ‘Orange’, ‘Angry’ and ‘Dent’ especially leaving a mark on the memory.

Up next were formidable Dublin four-piece SPRINTS. Tearing through a riotous set list that included songs from their recent EP A Modern Job, the band had the crowd hanging on every riff and chorus, with vocalist & guitarist Karla Chubb commanding their attention with truly furious flair. The infectious, radiant alt-pop tunes of Winnie Ama followed, filling the venue with joy and swaying bodies to tracks ‘Here I Go’ and ‘Awe Of You’.

Aoife Wolf brought her brooding “Noise folk from the bog” to everyone’s ears next. Armed with her guitar and enigmatic vocals, the effect of her subtle, yet captivating performance lingered long after she’d stopped playing. GIHE favourites Fraulein took to the stage afterwards, bringing their moody brand of alternative grunge to an attentive crowd. Joni & Karston’s natural charisma made their performance feel effortless, with tracks ‘And I Go (La La La)’ and ‘Belly’ sounding bigger and better each time we hear them. Derry trio CHERYM brought their brand of infectious pop punk inspired tunes next, smiling from ear-to-ear as they did so. ‘Abigail’, ‘We’re Just Friends’ and ‘Listening to my Head’ all stood out amongst a setlist full of energetic guitar anthems that went by in a flash of glee and angst.

Closing the night were feminist punks Problem Patterns. Kicking off their set with ‘Y.A.W’ (‘Yes All Women’), Alanah, Beth, Bev and Ciara firmly established their status as one of the most important and powerful live bands of the moment. Challenging the traditional “front person” set up by having each band member switch between mics and instruments for different songs, their set was full of jokes, joy and rage: all shared and directed at the patriarchal forces that attempt to crush minority communities who are asking for the respect they deserve. ‘Terfs Out’ the gloriously abrasive ‘Big Shouty’ and the wonderful ‘Gal Pals’ all resonated with the enthusiastic crowd.

Despite many artists and fans having to leave the venue earlier than planned due to public transport issues (which Oh Yeah Music Centre’s Charlotte Dryden highlighted in this tweet), the Women’s Work Showcase felt like a truly progressive initiative that proved that safe spaces for women & non-binary artists and fans are vital, and something that can be implemented into the wider music scenes if people are willing to put in the effort.

All that’s left to say is a huge thank you to the staff at the Oh Yeah Centre, the patient and attentive sound engineers, and to Charlene Hegarty, who curated the line-up and invited us over to share in the joy of Women’s Work.

Follow Women’s Work on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & on their official website

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Track Of The Day: A.A. Williams – ‘Evaporate’

A heavy, graceful musing on the darker side of the emotional spectrum, London-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist A.A. Williams has shared her latest single ‘Evaporate’. Taken from her upcoming second album, As The Moon Rests, which is set for release on 7th October via Bella Union, the track is a brooding blend of dramatic volume fluctuations and Williams’ effortless vocals, which mirror the raw sensitivity of her introspective lyrics.

Following on from her exquisite debut album Forever Blue (2020) and her lockdown inspired covers EP Songs From Isolation (2021), A.A. Williams’ second album looks set to be another stunning collection of cinematic, intense sounds. “Traditionally, your second album is the worry; where there’s the weight of expectation,” Williams comments, “but I must create music I like myself, and I’ve had more time on this record; I’ve felt more confidence and conviction. As The Moon Rests is both heavier and softer, there’s more texture and weight, and a string ensemble. It’s Forever Blue times ten!”

‘Evaporate’ is the first hint at what’s to come from the new record, and it’s a poetic, heavy rumination on the overwhelming nature of ones inner thoughts when they’re eventually  brought to the surface. Williams prefers not to be prescriptive about the exact emotions that inform her tempestuous tracks, allowing her listeners to extrapolate on their own terms. “It’s all part of an overriding arc,” she explains about her music. “With hindsight, some songs I figure things out, others I disappear into a hole. For example, in ‘Evaporate’, I’m trying to keep a lid on fizzy complicated thoughts, which just explode. Other times, I’m more relaxed. Mostly, writing is more retrospective, not about the here and now. The lyrics are the place where I figure things out.”

Williams’ intuition for writing elusive, tender lyrics alongside powerful, instinctive volume shifts is what makes listening to her music so enthralling. Accompanied by a monochrome video directed by Fraser West, ‘Evaporate’ is a dramatic, urgent return to form for A.A. Williams who looks set to be at the top of our ‘Albums of 2022’ list already.

Watch the video for ‘Evaporate’ below.

Follow A.A. Williams on bandcampSpotifyInstagramTwitter & Facebook

Photo Credit: Thomas Williams

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Track Of The Day: REWS – ‘Breathe Into Me’

A cathartic anthem designed to resurrect feelings of joy and creativity, REWS have shared their latest single ‘Breathe Into Me’. Released via Earache Records, the track is full of driving beats, chunky guitar riffs and front woman Shauna Tohill’s effortlessly powerful vocals, acting as a reminder to listeners to persevere in the face of adversity.

“‘Breathe Into Me’ is a song about the revival of a broken creative spirit,” Shauna explains. “It’s been a really tough time out there for everybody over the last couple of years and for me, it definitely did change my view on a number of things. There were a few demons to battle and so this song is an autobiography of the recent times experienced. It’s influenced by hues of dark pop merged with upbeat rock. I hope it ignites your spirit as much as it did mine!”

Through her chant-worthy chorus, Shauna provides her listeners with some welcome respite from the stresses of everyday life, urging them to embrace their desire to let go and move on from whatever might be holding them back. REWS have always provided their fans with big riffs and upbeat anthems, and ‘Breathe Into Me’ flows in the same vital vein.

The new single is accompanied by a video directed and edited by Tom Dodd, featuring Shauna and her REWS band mates circling a shadowy figure who bursts into life at the close of the visuals, mirroring the energy of the song’s chorus.

Watch the video for ‘Breath Into Me’ below.

Follow REWS on Spotify, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Track Of The Day: Real Big Sky – ‘Another Day’

A fluctuating, brooding guitar tune that swells with anticipation, Gothenburg four-piece Real Big Sky have shared their latest single ‘Another Day’. Taken from the band’s self-titled debut album which is set for release this summer, the track blurs powerful riffs with distant, elusive vocals to create a powerful four and a half minutes of swirling, enigmatic sound.

Originally created as a distraction for multi-instrumentalist Sara Kleppe (You Break, You Buy, Gold Baby) during the Covid-19 lockdowns here in the UK in 2020, Real Big Sky began life as a solo project which Kleppe worked on at home in her bedroom in Hackney. Making good use of her time during an unpredictable year, Kleppe picked up her old electric guitar and began working out songs and sounds that would eventually form the eight tracks on Real Big Sky’s album. Kleppe relocated back to her native Sweden in 2021, and now Real Big Sky have now blossomed into a full band, made up of her friends and family members.

With the help of friend & long-term collaborator Luca Romano – who also played drums and was on recording, mixing and production duties for the record – Real Big Sky’s sound is now fully fleshed and ready to be released into the world. The band’s previous singles ‘Long Lost’ and ‘Jess‘ were perfect introductions to their heavy, introspective noise, and their latest single ‘Another Day’ continues to flow in this vein.

“I wanted to experiment with introducing new elements to a song as it went along, but still try to keep it as coherent as possible,” explains Kleppe about the process of writing ‘Another Day’. “Changing dynamics throughout a song is something I try to give a lot of attention to, as well as trying to break free from the standard song structure.”

Listen to ‘Another Day’ below.

 

Follow Real Big Sky on bandcampSpotifyFacebook & Instagram

Photo Credit: Johanna Kleppe

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut