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Belfast's Virgins make their Edinburgh debut

Quiet Sunday night in? No thanks says Julia Mason as Belfast comes to Scotland.


Who: Virgins with Wynona Bleach & Stuffed Animals

Where: Sneaky Petes, Edinburgh

When: November 20 2022

Dublin garage punks Sprints live Tufnell Park Dome
All pics by Julia Mason

Anyone who decries the lack of new music is living under a rock. The wealth of new music across all genres is breath-taking at the moment, and even on a Sunday night at Sneaky Petes in Edinburgh, you can see three bands for under a tenner and not one dud amongst them.

The gig opened with local Edinburgh band Stuffed Animals, a three piece with two guitarists and a drummer. A little research uncovers the fact they have been making music together for a few years. It's incredible to have a second support band who are such accomplished musicians. Their self-titled debut EP came out in 2017. One of the highlights of their set was previous single Fork a five-minute journey through various soundscapes and a perfect showcase for this talented trio.

Next onstage were Belfast's Wynona Bleach who were on this tour with headliners Virgins. (Jonny Woods from the band also produced the Virgins' EP.) Goodness what a glorious sound. The 5-piece immediately grabbed everyone's attention with their striking sound. Opening with For Real, they immediately had the room in the palm of their hands. Combining epic shoegaze with melodic alt rock and the vocals of lead singer Melyssa Shannon creates a sound which instantly filled the space. They released their debut album Moonsoake this year which was recorded with Bill Ryder-Jones (The Coral) in Portugal. A highlight was Drag with its lightness of touch and yet indie vibe full of guitars and crashing drums. Chatting with Melyssa after the gig it's no surprise to learn they will be at SXSW in March.

And so to fellow Belfast band Virgins. One of the utter joys of intimate, independent venues is the interaction with the crowd and this was taken to a whole new level in Edinburgh on Sunday night! 5-piece Virgins create a shoe-gaze atmosphere but with the added punch of two guitars and lots of pedals. The vocals of Rebecca Dow (with two microphones) give the band an ethereal air. Releasing their debut single Vows in August 2021 they have gone on to produce their debut EP Transmit a Little Heaven. The banter with guitarist Michael Smyth and the crowd was frankly hilarious, with one bloke actually asking Michael if he could take a photo with his phone!

The music created a dreamscape but with that aforementioned punch. The opening song Signalling was pure joy, in fact we were treated to the whole EP. Title track Transmit a Little Heaven was dedicated to us, the crowd, for coming out on this Sunday night, the band showing their appreciation in these tough times for touring bands. The final track Golden Tongues, Silver Lips took the energy up a notch and was the perfect way to close out the set. Michael jumped off the stage and no wonder the sweat was dripping off him by the end, the energy and pure enthusiasm he had put in were phenomenal.

With the band members of all the previous support bands in the crowd too, the banter continued throughout the set, in between hitting the lights with the guitar and nearly losing the mic stand. Why the heck would you stay in and watch telly on a Sunday night when you can have this much fun!

The Virgins vinyl EP is available here.


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