By Laura Shields, Arts and Entertainments Editor @LauraShields86.
On March 4th, Down To Level launched Snake Eyes, their second EP to date. Heralding the follow up to 2014’s Bounce became the perfect excuse to party and indulge in the riff laden rock songs which have become synonymous with the Belfast band.
First on the bill tonight is Gone All Year, another band from the city of Belfast. They are remarkably tight, warming the crowd up with solid pop-rock rhythms which set the bar high for any acts to follow.
It seems in fact that this bar has been set a little too high for second support act, Part Time Pilots. They get off to what can only be described as a shaky start in a sharp contrast to the band that has preceded them. Nonetheless, their rock and roll attitude makes up for it and they hit their stride a couple of songs into their set which sees them belt out one huge track after another.
Following the departure of Part Time Pilots there is a call from the smoky stage for everyone to get to the front of the elongated rectangular room that is Bar Sub. Down To Level, all dressed in black, kick off their performance with new title track “Snake Eyes”. As the show opener draws to a close the band look particularly pleased with themselves and rightly so. “Snake Eyes” has sets precedence for what is to follow; even at this early stage the crowd are eagerly getting involved in sing/clap-alongs. It is succeeded by another new track, “Never Going Back”. Here Gavin Kennedy shows of his intricate guitar skills while the power of Stephen Cassidy’s voice gives the track its monumental sound.
While this gig may be in support of Snake Eyes, Down To Level have too many great songs to stick entirely to the newly released material. Particular emphasis on released; the band pepper their set with a number of “yet-to-be-recorded” tracks of outstanding quality.
They introduce the infectious “Bounce” from their debut EP as not only the first song they ever wrote, but also “one of the songs we are very pleased with”. Both guitarists Chris Byrne and Kennedy are complementary, no one trying to outdo the other. Kennedy subtly flourishes Byrne’s solid playing with hammer-ons. Refreshingly, nothing is excessive.
The set ends with “Hero”. Featuring watery basslines and confident hard hitting drumming, it is easy for the crowd to “go nuts” as has been requested. But not only that, the band go nuts too. As the final song of the night draws to a close, Kennedy, Cassidy and Byrne are amidst the crowd of head-banging fans who are nowhere near ready for them to be done. However calls for an encore are humorously quashed by Byrne who quips, “We don’t have any more tunes, go home!”. I think for now we can content ourselves with the newly released “Snake Eyes” and look forward to what those unreleased tracks have promised.
Download “Snake Eyes” from Bandcamp.