A photo of Sinatra alongside Davis Jr and Dean Martin adorns the walls. The wallpaper is patterned with the Statue of Liberty and James Dean. Where you’d expect to see a domesticated rockabilly band or an alcoholism-riddled crooner onstage in this schlock ‘Merica-themed venue, there will soon be three of Ireland’s finest bands treading the boards underneath the cheap chandeliers.

The Pixies play over the sound system as the punters file in from downstairs. Band members mingle with the crowd before the assorted long-haired undesirables take to Garbo’s stage that stands barely two feet off the ground. Even the best start small, and two feet is more of a leg-up than most get…

Snapped drumsticks are hurled, lyrics spat like cobra’s venom, guitars throttled. The Fontaines are obnoxious, snotty, arrogant and proud. But, that’d do them no good if they weren’t worth a shit.

Lurching across the stage, The Fontaines’ dead-eyed vocalist oozes the sort of attitude not witnessed in the flesh since the heyday of The Jesus And Mary Chain. His bandmates throw themselves across the minuscule stage all the while tearing four-chord-at-the-most rock n’ roll from their Danelectro guitars. If The Strokes were half as good as the NME thinks they are, they’d be The Fontaines.

Lizzie of Bitch Falcon’s guitar playing would flay skin if you got too close to the amplifier. Wrestling riffs from her Fender Super-Sonic at a punishing volume while the rhythm section beats the groove to within an inch of its life, Bitch Falcon’s assault on the audience is met with head banging approval.     

Waves of feedback lash the crowd between songs, drummer Nigel bludgeons the kit like it’s something personal and Naomi’s fender bass keeps some semblance of sanity to the sound. For without sanity, the meteoric impact of Bitch Falcon would be lost in a distorted haze of sludge-grunge riffs and howling vocal wails.

Where The Fontaines and Bitch Falcon seemed to transport us back in time to bygone eras, Girl Band are an entirely futuristic proposition. Dispensing with such dated notions as the traditional playing of time-worn rock n’ roll instruments; guitar, bass, drums and vocals, in favour of a structured battering of said instruments, a deep and lasting cut is made in the audience’s psyche by these four misfits from across the isle. 

Eyes narrowed into angry slits, frontman Dara lacerates his larynx with blood-curdling screams while drummer Adam keeps Alan’s no-wave guitar sodomising and Daniel’s rumbling, beer-bottle-slide bass anchored with beats somewhere between Funhouse and The Chemical Brothers. We’ve not had a noise group this thrilling since the original groups of No New York.

The spirits of The Contortions and co. are strong with Girl Band. Dara’s spasming is a thrilling contrast to his bandmates stock-stillness which is a further contrast from the crowd’s wild energy. Hair and limbs fly with reckless abandon in appreciation of Girl Band’s mania. They tear into the material on debut album Holding Hands With Jamie and leave the stage through the crowd with no encore. A short-sharp-shock to the system.

A hit of joyous rapture straight to the mainline. Dara’s outside soothing his shredded cords with a cigarette. Alan mans the merch desk. Ears ring, bodies ache, all is well.

James Fleming

 

 

 

 

 

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