Time is a flexible concept in music. A year ago Fontaines D.C. were scarcely known on these shores. A few months ago the band were packing their bags and heading to SXSW, uncertain what to expect. Seven days ago they were helping package their debut album ‘Dogrel’, as fine and caustic a piece of post-punk as you’ll likely hear in 2019.
Tonight, though, it all feels different. ‘Dogrel’ is both on the shelves and flying off it, with mid-week chart placings putting the band – incredible, improbably, remarkably – in the Top Five. Through sheer guts and blood will Fontaines D.C have become a phenomenon, a force to be reckoned with.
As good as ‘Dogrel’ is, the band’s true realm of connection remains the live experience, this haphazard blend of chaos and romance, true belief and outright self-vilification. Arriving after an imposing set from Dundalk’s Just Mustard – a band whose time will also surely come – frontman Grian Chatten leads the way, a fixture in barely contained intensity, this anxious force of energy simply waiting, waiting to be unleashed.
With only one album to their name Fontaines D.C. keep things short, concise. ‘Big’ is barely 90 seconds long, yet it seems to encompass everything from the strictures of Catholicism, drug abuse, the pressures of city life and the right of everyone to claim their own ambitions.
‘Sha Sha Sha’ is a swaggering punk blaster, while ‘Hurricane Laughter’ veers perpetually close to the edge, its ‘Unknown Pleasures’ bassline matched against blasts, belches of corrosive noise.
But it’s not all volume, sweat, and adrenalin. ‘Roy’s Tune’ is one of the debut record’s key points, and its emergence allows both for the taking of breath and the broadening of emotion; likewise ‘Dublin City Sky’ is this flood of bruised poetry, utterly flaws and utterly entrancing.
The past seven days have been an unbelievable rush for Fontaines D.C. – the release of their debut album, selling out breathless shows across the country, and winning an avalanche of press on both sides of the Atlantic.
Where they end up in the Spotify dominated charts is now essentially beyond their control, which is perhaps why they relish being onstage, masters of their own domain, racing towards the end, to join the boys in the better land.
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