’Bring your pet gladioli’’ we were advised before heading to Meltybrains? (one of our ‘Plec Picks 2015′) in the Pepper Canister Church. Unfortunately it’s too cold for my gladiolus, that thing would be dead in seconds, but the f-f-f-freezing temperatures hasn’t stopped hundreds of people queuing up outside the venue. The taxi driver is shocked at the number of people snaking around the church parameters; “Jayzis, this used to be a famous pick-up spot for brassers back in the day . . .’’
“Brassers you say!”
Meltybrains?, like brassers, aren’t something you’d immediately associate with the church, but there couldn’t be a more fitting venue for their Donegal/IV vinyl launch. Melty-goers are provided with a church newsletter / football matchday-programme (highlighting each Melty’s season’s performance) before settling into the packed-out pews. Everyone’s seated and eager for the kick-off, well before the 8.45pm deadline.
The first bursts of noise transforms the venue into an otherworldly, oceanic space, enhanced by the Slipdraft visuals. Bursts of light bathe the church in a wash of ultramarine. A soft, tinkering intro glides into a progressively intense and carnal noise; each note reverberating around the venue between flickers of green, blue and sapphire.
It takes a full 12 minutes before the unearthly vocal howls kick in and the dense interplay of tracks that follow (Oh Earth, Stereotypical, M+M+M and Lincoln) keep us entranced on a primal fish-hook of anticipation. Music that guides us deep into the mental Melty seaworld of sound and back out again. Gothic chants are hacked away at by escalating waves of sound, gritty bass lines, piercing strings, robust guitar riffs and pounding rhythms.
Light Snow follows, with eerie, drawn-out vocals interrupted by a pulsing, fuzzy rhythm and intense drum battery. Textures of sound reach out to every nook and cranny of the church, meaning that even the quietest moments are loaded with a palpable energy.
The second half kicks off with IV, a bubbling pulse tuned to the rhythm of tides, dipped in echo, fading in and out with shadowy siren vocals before crashing into a full-on tsunami of sound. Green, Yellow and Purple pushes through with a dark, seductive ambience, culminating into, what could only be described as, a medieval plainsong in a sexy, retro-futuristic rave.
The atmosphere changes. Energy levels have been raised and people want to spend that giddy energy. And so they do. Dancing in the aisles and pounding the pews in appreciation of every beat. Pink and purple lights dazzle the church dome, highlighting the angels in spectacular colour (provided through the projection-mapping brilliance of Slipdraft’s intricate visuals), making them look like illustrations on a pack of Vegas playing cards.
The night ends with Donegal forcing every member of the Melty congregation to their feet, grooving intently and embracing the last song of the night. There’s no encore, it ends here and the main church lights flash on to break the spell. We’re back on dry land.
The cheeky, chuffed, almost bashful grins on the band’s face prove they enjoyed the show – the appreciation is mutual on both sides of the altar.