Noise Annoys: Flower power, a Sunflowerfest review

Screaming Eagles were one of the highlights of Sunflowerfest

WELCOME back to Noise Annoys, which spent last Saturday evening at Sunflowerfest in Hillsborough.

Thankfully, the appallingly wet weather on Friday night did not wash away Tubby's Farm nor the hardy souls camping in its fields for three days of music and family fun in a refreshingly non-corporate-sponsored environment.

Indeed, prolonged periods of actual sunshine throughout Saturday helped dry this most rural of festival sites out by the time yours truly – who most certainly was not brave enough to camp – arrived.

The mighty Triggerman were just taking to the main stage and the Derry troupe's heavy groove thing seemed to go down well with the Sunflowerfest crowd, a diverse selection of music heads, hippies and family units taking full advantage of its kid and middle-aged parents-friendly facilities.

Excellent sound meant you could feel the full force of tunes like Origin Of Man, The Riff Holds Sway and Rise of The Woodsmen even from back by the food stalls, where Noise Annoys was busy shovelling cheap and tasty Thai food into its slavering maw.

Next up on my Sunflowerefest hit-list were Screaming Eagles, also on the Main Stage – but before that, Maverick were busy transforming the Barn Stage across the way into the Sunset Strip circa 1987, but with better grooming.

It was like grunge never happened in there and those after 'nothin' but a good time' were thoroughly entertained by the catchy LA glam stylings of these immaculately coiffed Belfast-based top guns.

Back on the Main Stage, Screaming Eagles were a more no-nonsense, bluesy proposition with a good dose of AC/DC in their musical DNA.

Indeed, the Banbridge rockers chucked in a quick crowd-pleasing blast of It's A Long Way To The Top during their enthusiastically received set, which also featured the Soundgarden-esque single Save Me from current album Stand Up And Be Counted (the launch gig for which is at the Diamond Rock Club tomorrow night) and their fantastic cover of the INXS and Jimmy Barnes classic Good Times with guest vox from Stevie 'Blues' Horner.

After the Eagles had flown, it was back to the Barn for Nasa Assassin, a Belfast unit who probably haven't been featured in this column enough despite being around for a good long while.

For that I can only apologise, because this lot were absolutely storming.

Although apparently just coming off a 'nine month hiatus', Nasa Assassin were bang-on target with their barrage of genre-defying, intense-yet-groovy rock, sending the capacity crowd of willing Sunflowerfest space cadets into frenzied orbit.

Get thee to and check them out immediately – news of more NA gigs and/or music as soon as it materialises.

Headlining Sunflowerfest's Saturday bill were the one and only Senser, a fantastic rap/rock combo from the days before Limp Bizkit ruined the genre forever.

I was very much looking forward to scratching them off my thankfully ever-shrinking list of 'bands I thought I'd never get to see live' – and these London lads and lass did not disappoint, busting out cross-over classics like States of Mind, Switch, No Comply, Eject, Age of Panic, plus a thunderous, climactic cover version of Public Enemy's She Watch Channel Zero.

It was like the past 21 years never happened and a moshpit teeming full of kids who definitely weren't even born when these songs originally came out was testament to the timeless power of Senser's delicious combination of thrash metal riffage, big beats and socially concious lyrics.

Ears ringing, the Noise Annoys party of four were safely back home in Belfast about an hour after Senser finished, thanks to Sunflowerfest's courtesy shuttle bus and dedicated taxi rank on the nearby main road.

In other words, it's a festival easily enjoyed even by those whose camping days are long behind them. If you haven't been before, do make a point of investigating next year.

Next up, Noise Annoys is for the Stendhal Festival ( in Limavady tomorrow night, where Kilkenny's finest Kerbdog will be among those bringing the ruckus.

Honestly, it's like the 90s never ended round here.


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