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Irish Tour: 100 Onces & Stonemasons


“It feels like an attic in here.” This is the first thing a friend says to me when we walk into the upstairs room of the Roisín Dubh on a Saturday to catch one of the last shows of Los Angeles duo 100 Onces’ extensive tour which saw them travelling around the UK, Eastern Europe, Russia and back to Ireland. The feeling that we’re in an attic is largely owing to the lack of much light of any sort and the cluttering of three band’s worth of equipment in the corner. It’s not a bad feeling at all, and it is one that fits the gritty, sweaty, raucous sound that will be provided by tonight’s bill, organised by local promoters FEAST. As well as 100 Onces as headliners, local providers of anthemic craic Race The Flux and Belfast’s Stonemasons come to the party with the intent to smash the attic to bits.

Stonemasons, who have been touring with 100 Onces for the past number of weeks, look deservedly tired. They appear worn out from weeks of shows and travelling during which they experienced being told that a dead body had washed up outside the venue they were to play in Naberezhnie Chelni, only for the venue to tragically burn down only hours after the gig. With all that in mind, watching the trio whose sound harks back to the likes of early And So I Watch You From Afar, Kasper Rosa and Axis Of. It’s a sound that permeated across the country, having spawned to a certain extent in Belfast, reaching a sort of peak in and around 2010. Stonemasons seem to be one of few bands that continue to carry the torch of that style that blends elements of punk, post-rock, math-rock and grunge. Playing tracks from their recent Lost Layers EP release and one brand new one, Connor McCann’s guitar and Pádraig Kerr’s bass are crushingly loud and furious. For some reason however, it’s hard to shake the feeling that they’re not entirely committed to what their doing, that they’re struggling to even convince themselves that they’re good, or that they should be having fun doing what they’re doing. The incredible saving grace is the spectacular drum work of Patrick Blaney. What’s seen in Stonemasons is a group of undeniably talented and committed guys who are perhaps struggling to move on from a sound that’s ship may have sailed. It might be time for them to experiment further with their songwriting, because the talent is undeniably there.


Next up is Race The Flux whose appeal lies in their ability at making technically interesting and complex rock tracks not dissimilar to those of bands mentioned above while still maintaining more memorable structures and a little more conviction. This is aided by infectious vocal and guitar harmonies and the band generally just looking like they’re having a really good time performing. The songs dance somewhere in between the sound of Queens of the Stone Age (whose Songs for the Deaf, the band regularly perform in full) and the quirky intensity of Adebisi Shank. The heavy bits are heavy and the goofy bits such as the lead guitar part in Big Fig are impossible to shake once they’re in your head.

Finally then, 100 Onces take their place as the closer of tonight’s proceedings. Not dissimilar to Stonemasons, the pair look physically battered after the tour but both manage to keep a spring in their step and indeed in their performance. Drummer Richard Ray’s energy is what makes their gig what it is. Looking as if he’s fighting off a swarm of bees behind the drum kit while playing, it feels like I’m watching the last 10 minutes of Whiplash on loop for the duration of the show. The only downside to this being that it means that the drums were almost the sole focus. Barrett Tuttobene’s guitar playing is visibly very impressive but owing to the amount of distortion he is using and the lack of bass to back it up it’s often bordering on impossible to make out what’s he’s doing. The pair are incredibly tight and accomplished at what they’re doing, maybe it’d just be a bit nicer if we could make out what that sounds like a bit clearer. That said, 100 Onces pack an enormous amount of raw energy, ferocity and complexity into their set and if that’s all you’re looking for, then look no further. Eoin Murray

The Empire Music Hall, Belfast by Liam Kielt

Roisin Dubh, Galway by Vincent Hughes

is the editor of The Thin Air. Talk to him about Philip Glass and/or follow him on Twitter @brianconey.