It’s the end of the current tour for Fang Island, who have been doing the rounds over the preceding weeks aided and abetted by No Spill Blood. Hailing from Rhode Island, Fang Island specialise in a type of infectious, no frills guitar music that marks them out as the greatest band on earth. Okay, they’re not the greatest band on earth, but they might well be the most enjoyable band to rock out to on your headphones. The band’s ethos is simple – create the sound of “everyone high-fiving everyone.” While we have no idea how this might sound, if it’s measured through musical notation then this is probably it.
The three-pronged sonic assault that is No Spill Blood takes the stage, and from the alarm tone synth of Good Company it’s a heavy, molten slab of Death From Above 1979 style noise. Drummer Lar Kaye is a hard-hitter, and he and the howling vocal and bass of Matt Hedigan provide the basis for Ruadhan O’ Meara to layer on the colour with his dense synth patterns. It’s a full room from the first notes, as the band tear through the ‘Street Meat’ material, with the synth elevating things, swirling around the venue and grounding back on the solid work of the rhythm section. Crowd surfers are hoyed out of the air by bouncers, but the atmosphere is never anything less than cheerful. Bodies pump in rhythm, and when the band kicks back in after the prog-y breakdown of New Tricks a sea of heads simultaneously rock back and forth on their hinges. A false ending winds down the set, Buckfast makes an appearance, and the band gear up once more to bring things to a conclusion. Go on, the Bucky.
Things are buzzing nicely as Fang Island hit the stage. This gig was upgraded from The Grand Social to a post-midnight slot here in The Button Factory, so folk are by now well-readied from the previous band and the previous beers. There is no rest for NSB’s Lar Kaye, double-jobbing on bass guitar for the headliner’s set, and from the off it’s head-shaking stuff with The Illinois. Seek It Out comes in with a distorted intro before scaling back, and an anthemic Life Coach follows. With two albums to their name, the band dips in to both through the set. ‘Major’ song Chompers is all finger-tapping, snare-rattling excellence – the song’s upward key change is the single greatest moment of this weekend. The band stop, barely pause for breath and delve straight back into the rock-out ending.
In advance of Sideswiper, the band ask that “everybody put your hands up in the air and high-five the person next to you!” Most do. Dooney Rock is a folk-style stomper, and a bit of armlock barn-dancing breaks out down in front, until the song speeds up to beyond dancing capabilities. Welcome Wagon maintains the momentum, and you would be hard pressed to pick Kaye out as a stand-in, rocking out as he does every bit as much as the three Fang Islanders. Strobe lights flash – it’s a commendable light show for all bands tonight – and a few crowd-surfers fight a losing battle with the bouncers, as the set comes to an end.
Fang Island, not do an encore? Highly unlikely, and out they come with discordant noise and guitar wails. This is the most sedate part of the night, until the song slowly builds into power chord-y goodness and freaks out. A tom assault begins a rollicking, unexpected cover of Thin Lizzy’s Sitamoia, and it’s a fitting end to a night of serious noise rock and good-time tuneage. Fang Island may well be the least cynical band on the planet – we hope they revisit our corner of it again in a timely fashion.