Volume Control is a mentoring programme for 15 to 18 year olds at the Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast, born out of a perceived dearth of live music events for young people in Northern Ireland.
In September of 2009, a 15-year-old music fan called Ryan McCann walked into Belfast’s Oh Yeah Music Centre and insisted on filling this void by putting on a gig for under-18s. From there – the band were Cave Atlas – Volume Control took off, with a team of young people who shared this vision coming on board.
In the years following, Volume Control has become something of a live music institution, with over 50 young people joining the ranks, benefiting from Oh Yeah’s mentoring and guidance to put on their own all-ages gigs. More than 150 bands have performed, with over 2,500 young people attending these events.
As well as organising eight all-ages gigs per year, the Volume Control team has also taken part in an Ulster Hall special during Belfast Music Week in 2011, a fundraiser with Ash, a pre-Glasgowbury warm up with Duke Special and in 2012 a fully fledged summer festival. All this is done by young people meeting up in Oh Yeah once a week after school to work on upcoming gigs.
This of course involves a great deal of hard work, and under the guidance of Oh Yeah mentors, members of the group take on various roles in the organising and delivery of gigs, and are responsible for booking bands, promoting the events and managing them on the night.
Crucially, the Volume Control team listens diligently to new music, demos and links sent to them, offering a platform to new bands hoping to gain experience alongside more established local bands.
Volume Control alumni have gone on to work in the music and entertainments industry, including club promotion, festival work, sound engineering and college radio. To get involved, check out ohyeahbelfast.com/projects/volumecontrol.
Volume Control Presents The Emerald Armada along with Jamie Neish, Matthew Duly and more TBC at the Oh Yeah Music Centre on July 25. Tickets are available here.
By Peter McCaughan