By Laura Shields, Arts and Entertainments Editor, @LauraShields86
We all have things we love; a person, place or even pizza topping. We hold these things in constant regard but sometimes we are reminded of just why is we fell for them to begin with. The taste of pepperoni after weeks of ramen noodles affirms that you did good when picking your favourite food. Tonight in Voodoo a line-up of new generation of pop-punk pioneers act as a personal reminder that falling for punk rock was the right move.
Dublin punks Chewing on Tinfoil take to the stage for the second time in Belfast. With the crowd that has gathered to see them play they seem more like old favourites than relative newbies. It is refreshing to hear a band sing in a Dublin accent when they actually come from there. A heavy blend of pop-punk peppered lightly with a Ska vibe makes Chewing On Tinfoil much more palatable than their name may suggest. Their talents truly become apparent on set closer, “Holy Communion”. The harmonious a cappella opening showcases a vocal capacity any seasoned professional would be proud of before the song explodes into the realms of raw punk rock.
Spraynard take the stage next with their set of remarkably short songs including the wonderfully titled “Can I borrow a feeling?”. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a “Simpsons” reference (and this isn’t even the only one). The mellow beginning gives way to a hail of squealing guitar. Unlike Kirk Van Houten’s song of the same name, this one won’t be hurled to the gutter. “Sticking Together is What Good Waffles Do” is a slightly more obscure reference to the show. Drummer Pat Ware’s breakneck stickman-ship makes us wonder if these songs are truly short, or just normal songs played fast? On stage antics figuratively break down barriers between audience and stage in keeping with the ethos of punk rock. Pat Graham makes a heartfelt and heart-warming affirmation that “anyone can be in a band regardless of gender or skin colour or whatever else you got going on”. As Spraynard launch into “Spooky, Scary” crowd surfing has begun, testimony to their popularity tonight.
Next batters up are headline act Modern Baseball. The Philadelphia four who linger between the pop-punk/emo genres are quickly gaining ground as “ones to watch”. Tonight on their first visit to Belfast they prove that they deserve this title. The set list is packed with catchy numbers as that is all Modern Baseball seem to write. When the band launch into 2012’s “Re-do” the audience’s collective voices all but eclipse the band. At times tonight Brendan Lukens’s tuning issues almost de-rail things. With long pauses between songs, the energy which is almost at its peak by the end of one track wanes slightly coming into the next. Yet with future pop-punk anthems in abundance this is an issue which resolves itself. Modern Baseball’s biggest tracks to date, “The Weekend” and “My Graduation” bookmark each other and beckon a sea of fist pumping and smartphone videoing in the planned show closer. However the Belfast crowd aren’t done yet. The calls for an encore are humbly relented too. For a moment it seems a line-up change is imminent with bassist Mark Dickinson swapping with drummer Sean Huber. After some licks from Green Day’s Longview, the normal line up is restored for the final song of the evening, “Re-Done”. Modern Baseball hit a home run in Belfast. This will certainly not be the last this city hears from them.