Bands nowadays have a lot of hype surrounding them, but when it comes to translating it on the live stage they bottle it and punters go home underwhelmed. It happened with Shame last year – a sold out and somewhat intimate UK tour was surely their ‘coming of age’ but instead, at least at Nottingham’s Resuce Rooms, was merely nothing more than average. Whatever they were doing had been done before, but most importantly it had been done much better. All of the hype surrounding the show fizzled out rather spectacularly within five songs as frontman Charlie Steen constantly pleaded with those who’d parted with their £11 to come closer before whipping his shirt off in a Cristiano-Ronaldo-90th-minute-penalty kind of way.
My philosophy is: if the people want to engage with the music and ‘come closer‘ and have a bit of a knees up, they will. They won’t need prompting. They won’t need to be told after the first six songs you’ve played. They won’t need to see your bare chest to get going.
Also, if the people are THAT interested in your music – and most importantly your live translation of your records – they will buy tickets to see you. For FONTAINES D.C there is clearly a hype surrounding them. Upgrading from Nottingham‘s Bodega to Rescue Rooms (and since announcing a show at the world famous Rock City for January) is showing that they can do exactly that. I mean, plenty of bands can sell out Bodega and Rescue Rooms, but to have 90% of the crowd chanting back the lyrics from an album released just four days prior to the show is notably impressive.
I’ve always been vocal about bands touring either during or just after the release of an album because it doesn’t give ample time to digest and appreciate each and every song. Of course, rarely will a band play everything on it (apart from American Football when they literally played LP2 front to back at Shepherds Bush Empire), but the tracks that might have slipped under the listener’s radar will be pulled out and there’ll be someone going ‘oh for fuck sake I wish I’d read the lyrics for this one’ despite knowing every other tune.
For Fontaines D.C, though, there are tracks such as the simplistic Sha Sha Sha that by the second chorus you’ve grasped the majority of it. There is the highly enjoyable, and yep you guessed it; catchy, Roy’s Tune which was greeted with energy from the first chord. Roy’s Tune isn’t particularly punk, nor is it particularly rock-y – but there’s a strange appeal to it, which to be honest, is down mainly to the simplistic rhymes that Grian Chatten spits.
It is with Chequeless Reckless that Fontaines D.C announce their arrival at Rescue Rooms, though. The two-minute onslaught of post-punk, which is massively reminiscent of Joy Division, is where we begin to see why there’s so much buzz surrounding the Dublin quintet. I’m not saying people are still clinging onto the unique stylings of Ian Curtis‘ stage presence, but very few bands have been able to recreate – or come close to recreating – that excitement. The best thing for a band to do is steer clear from replicating, and instead simply take inspiration and focus on doing their own thing, and while there are definitely traces of Curtis in Chatten‘s on-stage ego; there’s enough Chatten as a stand alone character to not simply think of Fontaines D.C as Dublin‘s latest Joy Division tribute act.
Fontaines D.C will venture across the pond to America next month and then again later this year before returning to mainland UK for another string of explosive dates. These shows (Stylus Leeds, Leadmill Sheffield, etc.) might be the last chance you get to see the band up-close-and-personal, as next year they’re infiltrating the likes of Rock City and Newcastle’s O2 Academy. It is certainly an exciting time for both Fontaines D.C and the post-punk scene right now – and as Dogrel taught us: don’t ever write off a genre because there will always be someone to establish themselves as the most exciting act for a long time.
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