Photos: Bríd O’Donovan
Read Eoghan’s review of Day 1 here
Full Lineup by Curator here
So we probably all know the background by now – established London alternative music festival spreads its wings and comes to Dublin for 2 nights packed full of gigs, mostly home grown with a sprinkling of international acts thrown in for good measure. I’m otherwise indisposed for Friday night so I head for town determined to make up for lost time on Saturday night, with the first pit stop to be for one of the ‘fringe events’ – 4 smaller pub venues in the vicinity which are hosting free gigs on the Saturday night. I drop into The Globe just before 6 to catch No Monster Club.
Essentially the vehicle for Bobby Ahern, who has been churning out lo-fi skuzzy gui-tar pop for a number of years, previously under the guise of Dublin Duck Dispensary. They fire through about 7 & 8 tunes in no more than 15 mins and despite the poor sound quality the tunes are great. Distorted, noisy, 2-minute belters with plenty of hooks, and a bit of sock-puppet-ventriloquism (don’t ask!) thrown in, whetted the appetite nicely for the night ahead.
Next onto the first gig proper of the night, and I’ve reluctantly passed up on the opportunity to catch Tierannesaur, opting instead for Deaf Joe, playing the main venue in Whelan’s. With a cracking debut album under his belt as well as a handful of EP’s, I was eager to catch him in a live setting. The omens were poor on arrival however – the venue was close to deserted and once on stage the man himself informed us that he was just recovering from a dodgy back and wasn’t feeling too upbeat (to paraphrase). So what we got was a Joe on keyboard accompanied on drums with a selection of tunes from the more somber side of his catalogue. After an unsure start the quality of the tunes began to shine through, with ‘From here to here’ and ‘Burrowings’ providing the highlights.
Next, I decide to alter my plans and head into the Button Factory to catch Katie Kim instead of hanging around Whelan’s for Ghostpoet. Kate takes to the stage as part of a four piece (including the aforementioned Deaf Joe who has wasted no time getting himself here) for a hushed set of tunes drawing heavily on recent release Cover & Flood. This was music to soothe aching mind and body with the reverb-soaked and inti-mate vocals and varied backing giving us a flavour of why so much critical acclaim has been aimed in the direction of the young Waterford native (even managing to pull off a great cover of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’!).
At this stage I’m beginning to feel a little too becalmed and I feel the need for a change of pace! So my indecision about where to head next is resolved by plumping for Hands Up Who Wants To Die at The Twisted Pepper. I know these guys pack a serious punch and I figure it’ll be just the ticket to shake the night up a bit. I rock up to the venue with a backup plan to escape to Bantum at The Mercantile if it’s not my cup of tea. No chance – from the off this is furious, disorientating and utterly compelling! Lead singer (and Richter Collective dude) Barry Lennon starts in the middle of the floor and stays there, more or less, for the duration of the gig, stalking the crowd, getting in faces, climbing benches and at one point going for a wander to the café next door as the remainder of the band belt out intense noise rock from the stage.
Can’t say I caught too many song titles/lyrics (although one was hilariously introduced as ’Come on you cunt’, complete with back story!), though their final tune ‘Sailor’ was standout and left the crowd baying for an encore, which seemed to take the guys off-guard! Mighty stuff indeed and needless to say the backup plan wasn’t enacted!
My next stop took me to The Mercantile for Melodica Deathship. I felt a twinge of guilt at this as I had seen, and reviewed, these guys back in January and thought maybe I should be checking out someone else. But I don’t…… because I think these guys are fuckin’ great and I really wanna hear them again. They don’t disappoint, though the small venue is no more than half full and more’s the shame.
For those not initiated, Melodica Deathship are purveyors of that well-worn fusion of sea shanty, hip-hop and electronic beats! With a new EP under their belts we’re treated to a few new tracks, which sit comfortably alongside tunes from Doom your cities Doom your Towns, with front man Exile Eye alternating a steady narcotic hip-hop delivery with melodica duties as the beats are cranked out behind. The highlights still come from old tunes ‘1803’ & ‘Black Ship Coming’, whose spiraling, hypnotic vocal deliveries are perfectly pitched to the woozy backing tracks. The boys are in good form and certainly look to be en-joying themselves, and seem to do a fair trade in merch from the stage immediately following the gig (which is probably as good a recommendation as any!).
So with only one gig slot remaining for the night a relatively easy decision is made to check out Toby Kaar who’s been earning all sorts of rave reviews of late. There’s an unu-sually long break in the start times till he takes the stage at midnight (I’ve skipped out for a pint outside the ‘confines’ of the festival) and as I arrive in The Workman’s Club the place is really filling up.
This is definitely one of, if not the, best small venues in Dublin and there’s a real sense of anticipation in the air as Toby sets up his gear and does a quick sound check. He launches straight into a new tune and the place goes immediately buck wild, and remains pretty much like that until he is more or less kicked off the stage 70 mins or so later. Now I’m not too sure exactly what it is he’s doing with the various gadgets he’s playing with but there’s no denying the result!
The set is crammed full of uplifting electronica, with echoes of Four Tet or early Manitoba, mashed together with some soul sampling, before building to raise the roof off the place. I have a slight feeling that he’s getting it a bit too easy, that the crowd are, essentially, too eager to please – a not uncommon situation in Dublin venues! However it’s probably an unfair criticism and by the time the set finishes with old favorite ‘Heart of gold’ and a single encore (‘Bothar Bui’, his Ten Past Seven remix ), Toby Kaar’s status as man of the moment seems to be assured.
And so ends the Dublin Crawl – by now all the disparate strands of the festival have convened here to The Workman’s Club for the after party and the place is truly rammed. I’m beat after a long night on the feet and decide to slip off to somewhere a little more relaxed for a few pints for the road, in so doing betraying my age!
From what I could see the festival would appear to have been a big success – while there were some small turnouts at some of the gigs I was at, I heard tales of venues being stuffed to capacity. Certainly there was a very large and conspicuous army of people around town sporting their fetching bright orange timetable affair, not including those who had the good sense to carry theirs in their pocket, which attested to a well-attended festival.
What I had felt to be an initially intimidating list of bands actually proved to be quite easy to manage and navigate. Having the same time slots operate in all venues made decision mak-ing a straight case of either/or, and this coupled with generous down times between gigs and the relative proximity of most of the venues made navigating your way around easier than I had expected.
So kudos to those responsible for getting this over to Dublin and making the thing work as smoothly as it did. Here’s hoping it was as successful as it appeared to be and that it will grow to become a regular of the early summer live schedule.