Cheap Date 2

David McLaughlin is late for a Cheap Date with four upcoming NI acts

The ever versatile Black Box plays host to the second Cheap Date showcase, following an impressive opening salvo in the purpose-built festival marquee the night before.

Time spent marvelling at the newly launched Oh Yeah facilities at The Outlet building means a by all accounts sterling performance from fresh-faced troubadour John D’Arcy is missed.

It’s up to The Greeters, then, to match up to the talents of Oppenheimer & co, having performed the previous evening.

In contrast to the aforementioned D’Arcy, the exuberant quartet’s collective salad days may well be behind them, but what they lack in youthful vigour they more than make up for in charm.

The Greeters may even charm a little too much as their summery, twee-tinged blues-folk vibe becomes saccharine several songs in.

Like a gaggle of school-teachers cutting loose on the weekend, their loungey, jam-room rock is not without its merits, but to what extent you’ll enjoy said merits is entirely dependent on how much pep you can tolerate.

To these ears it all becomes a little too much when the cuddly toys are held to the mic to finish off one song with chirpy, electronic effects.

If the happy-go-lucky vibe of The Greeters is too overpowering for some tastes, the desolation rock of Julip redresses the balance.

Comprising three-fifths of the incomparable Tracer AMC and the twin-songwriting forces of Barry Peake and Niall Harden, Julip take their gigging bow with heady, authoritative ease.

Their introspective, folk-pinned sonic soup would sate the appetite of fans of Tim Kinsella’s various guises, such is their languid appeal and the undoubted depth of songwriting at play.

‘Foxes’ has a slouchy groove that builds a head of steam and boasts some big rock moments, but it’s with the closing strum of self-confessed pop song ‘Johnny And Janey’ that they really strike gold.

A charismatic debut performance of no small promise and one that should make Julip future favourites in local gigging circles.

Dreaded technical hitches dog The Jane Bradfords’ set, including an awkward sequence of no output from their electronic drumkit during one song, forcing a restart.

That aside, the Belfast quartet show glimpses of why they’re the band on everyone's lips.

A feisty, driving electro-rock clamour backs the juxtaposing Mark Kozelek-esque vocal of chief Bradford, Deci Gallen, and it works most of the time, but there’s an unshakeable feeling that the two variables would be better suited apart from one another.

Still, it feels somewhat churlish to write them off on this showing, especially with twinkles of pop gems gleaming underneath it all.

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