Bandwidth Presents: In Stores Now
Great live footage of the best in NI music playing some unusual places
Bandwidth Films - purveyors of fine music videos and bespoke live sessions - is launching a brand new web series called In Stores Now. The concept is simple yet thrillingly unconventional: musical acts from all around Northern Ireland are invited to go into a shop or establishment and spontaneously play an acoustic track.
Acts can play one of their own songs or a cover, and are invited to respond to the environment around them in the performance. The whole is then filmed and put on YouTube - with plans to release one a week for an initial 12 weeks.
Will McConnell from Bandwidth, director and originator of the series, describes In Stores Now as 'a sonic experiment of sorts. We wanted to do something which ties the artist to Belfast and the scene at the moment. We didn't want to keep churning out anonymous looking music videos that could have been filmed anywhere - this is a way of tapping into the music that's around us right here and now.'
But what about the shop owners, how do they feel about this intrusion into their daily shop routine? McConnell says, 'most people in the little independent stores were surprisingly up for it. We're limiting the initial series of 12 to the Cathedral Quarter, and all the little independent stores around there.
'In a way it supports their business while they support ours - though there's no official affiliation with the council or anything. There's a can do attitude amongst the indie stores that's shared amongst unsigned bands too. That totally independent spirit is very infectious. I don't mean this the wrong way but I can't imagine we would have had this level of cooperation and energy from Marks & Spencers or Topman - anyway that would have felt all wrong doing a gig somewhere like that.'
In one of the first episodes, below, Mike Mormeecha (aka Clown Parlour) can be seen lifting a trumpet from a high shelf in the retro junk shop where he is playing, and using it to play an improvised intro.
'I'm beginning to see a lot of that with the sessions,' McConnell explains. 'In an episode we've just filmed in a chip shop on North Street, the guys from John Shelley & The Creatures were using salt shakers and knives and forks as percussion. I think there's a vinegar bottle as a guitar slide in there somewhere too.
'This is absolutely the point in this kind of exercise. I'm interested in breaking down those traditional barriers between the audience and the artist, get people thinking outside the box a bit. I've only just realised it, but I suppose its the camera that allows you to do that.'
This week there's also CultureNorthernIreland favourites Escape Act in the crazy old Spaniard Bar in the Cathedral Quarter.
In Stores Now will run for 12 weeks from June 17. Future episodes will include John Shelly & The Creatures playing in Chippie Chips on North Street, Under Stars & Gutters playing in Fresh Garbage, The Good Fight in a second hand book shop and Rachel Austin in St George's church.