Volume Control Belfast 4 Haiti

Teenagers organise under-18s concert for Haiti relief fund at the Oh Yeah Centre

After the huge success of the Haiti fundraising events which took place across the city last weekend, teenage gig promoters Volume Control are doing their bit by hosting an all-ages gig at the Oh Yeah Centre, donating all proceeds to the Disasters Emergency Committee for Haiti.

The monthly music event is led by Belfast promoter, Ryan McCann, who recently celebrated his 16th birthday and has wasted no time in gathering an enterprising team to organise events aimed at supporting young performers and allowing teenagers to enjoy live, original music.

'I saw there weren't many opportunities for bands to play under-18s gigs, and there are loads of kids running about doing nothing, when they could be out listening to good live music!' he says enthusiastically. 'And I like hearing the Northern Irish accent in songs, it’s great.'

McCann and the rest of the bright-eyed Volume Control team meet up in the Oh Yeah Centre to discuss how the fundraiser is coming together. The surrounding walls are adorned with images of Northern Irish music legends - Van Morrison, Henry McCullough, Terri Hooley and Eric Bell - watching over the next generation of entrepreneurs and musicians.

Off to the side, one of the team phones the bands to check stage specification, another is taking notes on each person's role on the night. 'Who'll do the sound?' A hand shoots up. The photographer and reviewers are next to be found then volunteers to distribute posters. The group's energy and enthusiasm to make the event a success is astounding.

Glinting in the low light, Tim Wheeler's Gibson guitar is in a cabinet to the left, which accompanied Ash through a career featuring two Number 1 albums in the UK and 18 Top 40 singles. Some of that golden inspiration looks to be rubbing off.

Oh Yeah volunteer, 18-year-old Clare Houston thinks the artist selection for under-18s gigs is all important: ‘We have quite a lot of bands who would be under age so it fits in with the whole thing of it being an all-ages gig, having a band that can make a connection with the audience.’

Since September, the project has given the young volunteers the skills to make their own mark on Northern Ireland's arts, business and music culture.

‘We have 14 people from different schools running about doing different things, from photography to reviews, to stage-managing and sound,’ Houston enthuses.

McCann ambitiously wants to supply the teen market in Belfast with more gigs, which he believes are now in huge demand, ‘There’s a really big gap. I think loads of the bands have really big [online] fanbases, but they wouldn’t be currently gigging - so we get them in here and they build their fanbase more. It helps them out too.’

With six bands on the line-up for the Haiti fundraiser, the fifth Volume Control gig stands to be the most ambitious event yet for the team. But the young people take it in their stride, simply looking forward to seeing great live music.

‘I’m a really big fan of A Plastic Rose, so I’m really excited they’re headlining!’ gushes Houston.

‘I love music from anywhere really,' says McCann, with a widening grin, 'But when they’re from Northern Ireland, they hold a special place in my heart.’

Volume Control Belfast 4 Haiti takes place at Oh Yeah Centre on February 19 from 6.30pm. Tickets are priced £5 available in advance from Belfast Welcome Centre on 028 9024 6609 or online.

Check out the Volume Control Bebo, MySpace, and Facebook websites.

Eddie Mullan


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