A little bit of solidarity goes a long way - Bandwidth Sessions are given a helping hand
Say what you will about the Northern Irish music scene, but one thing is for sure: Northern Irish musicians know how to look after their own.
So it is that the magnanimous efforts of music photographers Carrie Davenport and Matthew Alexander Patton - along with BBC Introducing's Rory McConnell and CDC Leisure - resulted in 'GoodWill', a benefit gig at Auntie Annie's in aid of Will McConnell's acclaimed BandwidthSessions.com.
The future of the website - dedicated to the independent production of Northern Irish music videos - was jeopardised in April after its founder had all of his filming equipment stolen. McConnell was in need - the scene outstretched a helping hand.
'Will has a talent for making what me and my friends do seem momentously cool. He makes it worthwhile,' says Ian McHugh of A Plastic Rose, who features tonight as part of headliners The Snoodles.
Never heard of them? Not surprising. Their only public appearance to date was atop the Oh Yeah Centre two years ago as part of a Bandwidth tribute to The Beatles. Comprising the rhythm sector of Mojo Fury, the vocal talents of A Plastic Rose and the guitars of And So I Watch You From Afar, The Snoodles are a Northern Irish supergroup if there ever was one, even if it is, clearly, a tongue-in-cheek arrangement.
On the other hand, openers Prolapse are a full on parody project featuring members of Kasper Rosa, A Northern Light and Colenso Parade. Under the guise of space-age ego-maniacs, they come across as an extraterrestrial hipster Spinal Tap.
'So many bands wanted to play it was unreal,' explains Davenport between sets. 'And the supergroups thing was great just to get loads of people involved. We narrowed it down to only people Will had worked with, because we wanted to make it relevant. That was the deciding factor.'
Although each act is significant to the cause, the structure is still a puzzler. Sandwiched between the supergroups are the clean-cut alternative of Colly Strings and heartfelt Americana of Rachel Austin. Both are powerful performers, yet plainly incongruous within the party atmosphere of the night.
Austin's set especially seems to crawl to a bashful finish as scene heads hustle and bustle around the bar. The half hour-long interval that follows kills the momentum, meaning that The Snoodles have their work cut out for their one-off performance.
The eclectic bunch slide from The Beatles to The Kinks into modern rock territory with a patchy attempt at Foo Fighters' 'Monkey Wrench' before regaining ground with a homage to noise-pioneers Sonic Youth. Four back to back grunge hymns straight from Nirvana's Nevermind follow. Evidently, it's just what the packed Annie's audience ordered.
It's all a bit giddy and far from perfectly executed, with bum notes and incorrect lyrics aplenty, but there is something comforting about the sight of some of the country's most established performers reliving the fun of their formative years.
Mojo Fury, ASIWYFA and A Plastic Rose are all punk bands in spirit, if not in sound, and it's their contagious vigour on stage that reminds us of what we're all here to support. 'Will has done incredible things over the years and it's a great thing that everybody has come together,' concludes Gerry Norman from the stage.
It could have been the worst line-up ever assembled and the masses still would have turned out to get Mcconnell back to doing what he does best. And, with an estimated £600 final takings, we hope that he can begin to rebuild – preferably before Bandwidth-drawal sets in.