FONTAINES D.C….but I’m gonna be BIG

In front of me, at first, it’s hard to tell just how many fucks Fontaines D.C. give about being here tonight. It’s probable that they give several, but it’s also possible that some fucks have gone out the tour bus window.

It’s been a loooong and incendiary year for Dublin’s punks. It’s also the day after someone else – Dave – took the Mercury Prize that they were nominated for, for their fantastic debut Dogrel.

While guitarist Conor Curley plays it mod cool,  guitarist Carlos O’Connell and bassist Conor Deegan are deadfaced. Tom Coll does due diligence on drums, but it’s only singer Grian Chatten that gets into – or summons – it.  Channeling baby Ian Curtis, he stalks the small stage, like a kid on too-much sugar in an oversized Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds shirt. His energy is thirstily received; he balances on the stage edge, lunges into and stares through the eyes of…the oddly comprised audience of middle-aged women, bearded men and Irish students.

Truth be told, Fontaines could be, should be, playing a much larger venue. Their trajectory has been swift and true and is well deserved. Along with Idles (whose shirt Coll is wearing tonight) and Shame, they’re bringing rough-hewn post-punk back. And thank the gods for it. The room’s also ridiculously primed to welcome them. Along with Murder Capital, I can’t think of another Irish band I’ve been so excited about.

They start with a wall of “Hurricane Laughter” and Chatten stares down the crowd, being generous to the drunk woman in the front who wants to have regular, one-on-one conversations with the band while they’re playing, in between shouting for the guitar to be louder. “Chequeless Reckless,” “The Lotts, “Television Screens” are all strong, and “Sha Sha Sha” has the sleezy sway. The newer “Televised Minds” sounds good, but then a switch goes off.

If in front of me, Fontaines have finally and fully ramped up for “Too Real,” behind me, the crowd has detonated. There’s a mosh-pit mess happening in a very small space, and Chatten feeds off it, grits his teeth and spits “IS IT TOO REAL FOR YA?” Everyone yells back, and smashes into each other. “Big” is next and this is the Fontaines IT moment.

Dublin in the rain is mine
A pregnant city with a Catholic mind
Starch those sheets for the birdhouse jail
All mescalined when the past is stale, pale
Dublin in the rain is mine
A pregnant city with a catholic mind
Slick little boy with a mind of Ritz
Pulling that thread for the next big fix, this
My childhood was small
My childhood was small
But I’m gonna be big

We’re all mescaleeeeened, and the past is stale, pale. Gonna be big, indeed.

In the final run there’s “Liberty Belle” but “Boys in the Better Land” offers a perfect end. It’s hard to know if the boys on stage are actually in the better land, but I think a few fucks are given. At least we’re all feeling good, even with the bruises.\m/

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