BATSBATS at The Spirit Store, Dundalk, Friday 15th February 2013

Dundalk’s wonderfully atmospheric Spirit Store has had a facelift over the past few months. It’s had more than just a lick of paint; the capacity has been increased, new venue entrance, green room and a lift for artists to take their equipment upstairs. Despite the changes, the venue hasn’t lost any of its famed atmosphere and it’s still hard to imagine a better setting for a gig venue in Ireland.

One this occasion it was BATS which had brought GoldenPlec to the Spirit Store. Despite the mass critical acclaim obtained for their second album ‘The Sleep of Reason’, there was a disappointing low turnout for a band on the up. This was a disservice to BATS and to support acts on the night; The Couth and Richard Richard, which was a shame as all three acts impressed and deserved a wider audience.  Lisburns’ The Couth were first up and their energetic post punk style was very reminiscent of The Strokes and Arctic Monkey’s. A cover of Lonely Boy was thrown into the mix and it felt somewhat out-of-place in their set which was mostly promising.

Dundalk band Richard Richard was next up and their mix of odd vocal harmonies with Vampire Weekend angular musical style was arresting. The jaunty Afro Caribbean Love Song from their debut EP caught the attention immediately. There is certainly a radio friendliness about the band’s songs while their performance tonight was solid, if not spectacular. Sadly a portion of the crowd who had come to see local lads Richard Richard left making a small attendance, even sparser.

You could hear the tumble-weed blow through as BATS took to the stage. However it was to BATS credit, that they didn’t let this affect their performance. Their set was a blistering one and shame on those who were not there to hear it. Noel Anderson on drums was a beast propelling the band along at a furious rate. The first two songs needed some minor sound adjustment as the guitar picking lines were not quite as audible as they should have been. But this was soon rectified for the pulverizing Wolfwrangler which brought out one member of the audience into a dance around the room before tiring and falling off his stool. The set was a mix of older songs along with a strong selection form the current album. Of the older material, an urgent Shadow Fucking and BATS Spelt Backwards is Stab were particularly memorable.

The stop starty Heat Death had Rupert Morris pulling a startled rabbit look before the song plunged into brutal metal riffs.  The set ended with a cacophonous rendition of The Sleep of Reasons which had the ears ringing. And with that, Bats thanked those who had stayed, leaving the stage as quietly as they had entered it.