Bodega at Whelan’s, Dublin, 16 February 2019
Since their birth, no more than two years ago, the raucous post-punk bravado of the Brooklyn band Bodega has captured many fans. They’ve had a reasonable buzz surround them, with critical acclaim for their debut album ‘Endless Scroll’ and famed slots at SXSW and The Great Escape adding to the hype.
Starting off their first ever Dublin gig, co-singer Nikki Belfiglio walks on stage, with the elegance of a magician’s assistant, to proceed to point her drum stick at the crowd, scanning the room in authoritative fashion.
“Saturdays are alright in my book” co-singer and guitarist Ben Hozie proclaims before introducing their self-described “theme song” Bodega Birth. A short rant-like song on the electronic screen-hungry society we’ve become.
Throughout the gig the band give off a palpable energy and intensity. There’s such personality in the two vocalists, with Belfiglio’s boisterous punk-like vigour and Hozie’s bold New York twang – they command attention.
Even with the light rig of percussion (two drums and two cymbals), the band achieve a hefty sound of invigorating rhythms and grooves. The drummer Tai Lee literally jumps in the air when hitting the kit – think of the circa ’81 Donkey Kong after drinking ten espressos.
This passion is the main force that gives Bodega their ferocity to rouse the packed room. Particularly on tracks like Can’t Knock The Hustle and How Did This Happen?!, as it not only lifts the crowd, but bassist Heather Elle and guitarist Madison Velding-Vandam feed off the energy emanating from the fervent drummer.
“Today is Nikki’s birthday” Hozie announces to the crowd, who proceed to sing to Nikki. This is the one and only time in the night you get to see the prominent swagger defuse, as she seems visibly shy during the chorus of Happy Birthday – the most awkward song in the universe.
Songs like Name Escape and Margot get notable cheers from the audience. With the front row getting joyously rowdier. The gig never dips in liveliness.
After an encore of fan favourites, Warhol and I Am Not A Cinephile, the band end the set with new song Shiny New Model.
Before leaving the stage Hozie encourages the audience to “please come talk to us, please come drink with us and please tell us what we should do tonight.”
After a generously tireless performance like that, let’s hope they didn’t end up in Coppers.