Photos: Bríd O’Donovan
The revival of the Triskel has become a most welcome boon for the city and a real success story in revitalising the gig scene here, and it acted as the perfect venue for exuberant noise merchants Bouts to make their Cork City debut on Saturday night.
Supported by Terriers, who tore through an impressive first ever set, which melded Rage Against the Machine vocal stylings to a grunge like backing, they set the tone for the evening in the close quarters that are Plugd Records. As a setting for the show it was a cramped environment but it went with the tone, the immediacy of the music and vibe lending the place an old punk club allure. It helps with music so brash to be just a few feet from the action. Just by turning off the lights, the white walls of the store along with its entry walkway took on a cavernous dimension and was full to capacity, a welcome sight for any band playing a first time show.
Bouts command a boisterous indie pop sound wrapped in angular compositions with sugary vocals over the top. There are hazy hints of shoegaze in the mix but where that genre is known for its more laid back approach Bouts have a far more assertive bent. The songs fizz with distortion and energy but the band recognise that it should be marshalled into a strong sense of melody rather than be left messy just for the sake of it. They utilise dynamics but a full throttle approach wins out the day more often than not and it suits the lads well.
Take the summery sounding “Get Sick” as evidence, an instantly memorable and catchy track which pulls off that My Bloody Valentine trick of being both subtle and hushed while still showcasing an aural assault of merging and stinging guitar lines. And that is a definite talent of the band, their use of clean and crisp guitar interplay to take the songs to even greater heights. Their sign-off song built on this idea, the pop song template of its opening bars eventually dissolving into a wonderful coda of ever escalating melody, the song reaching into the stratosphere before coming to an abrupt but perfectly judged conclusion.
A sound as blissed out as much as it is rocked out it makes the band a very attractive prospect in today’s musical landscape. There is almost a throwback quality to the style, not the work itself per se, but there were moments where influences crystallised, the mid-section of the gig channelling early and (well obviously) untouchable Weezer, pitched somewhere between the perfect pop of their first album and the coiled anger of their second. This unashamed love of purely driven guitar music which understands texture and approach appeals to me and made the Bouts gig damn near irresistible or at least there-a-bouts!
GoodCop BadCop continues its stellar run of Cork gigs and if it keeps up this level of quality we’ll be spoiled for choice.