Fontaines D.C. at The Button Factory, Dublin. 21st December, 2018
The hum of anticipation bouncing around the crowd who have packed in to the Button Factory, resonates as deeply as the layers of plugged-in punk about to erupt from the stage.
An audience made up of young and old, there’s a hushed understanding that tonight they will all witness something that is sure to be remembered by each of them; to be the envy of those who weren’t there.
It’s a rare pleasure to catch a band the moment before they explode in to fame and with the news of Fontaines D.C. signing to Partisan Records earlier this year, a sold-out UK tour, supporting slots with Shame and IDLES and an upcoming debut album in 2019, that’s certainly the expectation here.
School Days Over plays over the speakers as the final tunings are done. Lost on many, it’s a subtle reminder of the Irish influence and heritage that is so ingrained in this Dublin band. Clutching setlists, they emerge to thunderous applause as the monochrome font flashes on to the screen behind.
From the first chord, the energy disperses, engulfing the audience as the five lads stumble, bound around and scale the stage. Frontman Grian Chatten spits out colloquialisms over the blisteringly loud riffs and rumbling basslines. Dressed in a satin red shirt, he uses the mic stand as a crutch, paces around the stage manically and stares intently into the eyes of all his spectators.
He bares an intensity, somehow upstaging the noise itself, as he delivers the stream-of-consciousness lyrics – his only job tonight. “My childhood was small but I’m gonna be big” he chants and honestly, he might well be. As they move through favourites: Liberty Bell, Chequeless Reckless and Hurricane Laughter, among other new material, the atmosphere is gripping and manic.
But it’s not all heavy and destructive. Moments of fragility and sincerity emerge amongst all the thrashing – “I love the way they treat me but I hate the way they use her”. There’s very real poetry there, echoic of the Dubliners and The Pogues.
Bodies charge into each other as new single, Too Real, bursts in to life. Gimmicks and frills have no place here, only pure authenticity. It’s a frenzy as each band member commits to the reckless outpouring, song after song.
Barely addressing the crowd, Boys In The Better Land cranks things up to an unimaginable level with guitarist Carlos O’Connell climbing speakers and using a Heineken bottle on his fretboard before eventually launching himself in the the crowd and leaving his guitar behind.
As the Dublin quintet leave the stage, there’s a tingling excitement and exhaustion in the air. There’s an awe-striking trail of destruction left in the wake of the lads. With ears ringing and vibrations still to be felt through the floorboards, Fontaines D.C. have lived up to every whispered expectation. Their live shows are sensational and to see them at this stage of their career is nothing short of special.
The torch is not only being carried, but burning a full flame alongside these lads. This year will surely see them conquer even bigger and better things – Fontaines D.C. are every bit deserving of the furious momentum supporting them right now.