As a line of punters stretches around the corner of Vicar Street, saturated to the bone by the pouring rain, a Dublin ‘aul fella’ passing by asks:
“What’s on in there tonight?”
“No, but what are they called?”
Inside, the crowd made up of skinny-jeaned punks and skinhead raver types funnels into the auditorium, the bar and the merch table. Within minutes there is a mad scramble for zines that are on sale and before anyone has even settled in they are gone. It’s difficult to ignore the intense sense of anticipation that is permeating every surface of the building.
Half an hour after doors, Limerick city’s PowPig (below) take to the stage, filling the role of support for the night. Even as they walk on stage, the young four piece’s quirkiness is palpable with a few big smiles, a couple of little waves and a sticker on the side of their keyboard that quite visibly reads “BIG POW”.
Opening with their most recent single ‘Mayday’, the group proves themselves to be a cohesive and fierce unit. Although their demeanour is casual and at times a little kooky, there is something peculiarly authoritative about Powpig’s stage presence. Continuing their set with two unreleased songs, ‘It Fucking Smells’ and ‘I Feel Very Loud at the Moment’ it becomes clear why the band were chosen for the support slot. Their sonic palette extends far beyond the “alt-punk” label that is often attached to them, with funk-inspired guitar lines, operatic falsettos and the franticness of 90’s alternative metal all making an appearance across just these two songs.
It’s been said so many times before, but PowPig are undoubtedly one of the most inventive and talented bands in Ireland at the moment. They are all insanely talented, multi-faceted musicians and their songwriting is in a world completely of its own making. The group finish their set with two fan favourites, ‘Ode To Wiseau’ and ‘Birds of Paradise’. A few punters at the front of the crowd mosh and groove along to these final numbers, but more importantly, they are all smiling. It’s hard not to embrace the genuine sense of joy that PowPig radiate with their performance.
During the interval it becomes clear just how crowded the venue is. Groups of people heave their way in and out of the auditorium, shuffling their way to the bar or to the merch stand where members of PowPig are joking with customers about the evils of capitalism. With all this being said, there is a noticeably fierce subsect of concert-goers stubbornly protecting their spots at the barrier. As the auditorium fills back up, there is palpable tension and the air grows thick with anticipation, but more so perspiration.
The lights of the venue go down and a wall of wailing feedback fills the room as Girl Band take to the stage. All four members appear stoic and are dressed neatly in either all black or full suit. The feedback dies down and the group launch into their first track, ‘Pears For Lunch’ from their debut album Holding Hands With Jamie. Immediately the crowd erupts into waves upon waves of mosh pits. The entire centre of the room is flooded by flailing limbs and tumbling bare torsos. The following two tracks, ‘Fucking Butter’ and ‘Lawman’ elicit a range of crowd activities. The throbbing and grizzly basslines and metronomic drums of ‘Fucking Butter’ evoke a crowd-wide bounce, whereas the manic distorted glissandos of ‘Lawman’ sees a horde of crowdsurfers migrate their way across the entirety of the auditorium. This juxtaposition is perhaps one of the defining factors of the gig and is telling of the influence dance music has had on the band.
At any given moment there are groups dancing or thrashing about in all corners of the room. Songs with a defined hardcore influence such as ‘The Cha Cha Cha’ and ‘The Last Riddler’ see spasmodic pits open in the venues centre, while the beastly techno nature of ‘Shoulderblades’ sees the entire venue shake under the weight of 1500 floundering and bouncing human bodies. However, these moments of mania would be nothing without their quieter counterparts of powerful ambience, with songs like the hypnotic jazz-infused ‘Salmon of Knowledge’ bringing the whole room, now illuminated by soft peachy lights into a trance-like state.
The highlight of the show is undoubtedly the band’s now-famous cover of Blawan’s ‘Why They Hiide Their Bodies Under My Garage?’. The carnage is indescribable, everything is a blur, strobe lights intermittently give views of the room. A quick glance at the floor reveals piles of discarded cups, smashed pairs of spectacles and a PowPig CD being trampled underfoot. In synopsis, it’s eight minutes of utter destruction.
The show finishes up with the band’s classic track ‘Paul’, taken from their debut album and of course it is a tour de force. The crowd heaves forward again and again, pushing the front row to their limit and screaming the lyrics back at vocalist Dara Kiely with reckless abandon and all of a sudden it is over.
The lights come up in the room revealing the sweaty gelatinous horde that inhabits the space. People stare at each other blankly trudging about the place in states of sheer exhaustion. One phrase is heard over and over throughout the room: “I can’t believe we survived that.” Jack Rudden
Photos by Aaron Corr