Falling at a happy, angst-ridden medium between righteous anger and nervous anticipation, the evening of the referendum on marriage equality is a great time to be out pretty much anywhere in Dublin. To be witnessing three extra highly-charged punk-inspired bands wreck The Hangar before an audience dying to let loose that nervous tension, though, is the perfect antidote.
Bitch Falcon – who clearly possess one of the best names in rock – are a thundering, bass-heavy outfit that take grunge, filter it through a light post-punk lense and shine in the dingiest corners of their own insecurities. Latest single Breed is the first to come out since Fia Kavanagh left the band earlier this year, but there’s no sign of an absence in the other tracks: they’re raw, scuzzy and darkly intense.
Three, in fact, might just be their magic number, allowing frontwoman Lizzie Fitzpatrick to come to the fore, and ensuring a cleaner sound that highlights the pure frantic class of their fretwork. Fitzpatrick’s joke about everyone voting no goes down like a lead balloon, but increasingly recognisable highlights Breed and Wolfstooth more than make up for it.
Second act ‘Strong Boys’ are a new name to us, but they certainly make an impression. Fronted by a muscular bearded man in a silver-studded white waistcoat, they play a brand of embittered punk with tracks rarely exceeding two minutes, almost tailored to the night.
Album ‘Riot Shock’ is a potent swipe at religious influence in Ireland and a roar for gay rights, with tracks with pointed names like No Pope, Two Dads and Second Class. Live, they’re a wall of sound delivered with some playful back and forth between guitar and bass, roared over with potent, growling angst. It’s not pretty, and not helped by some fuzzy sound, but fitting and expressively, gloriously bitter.
Fucked Up are kings tonight, though, especially when charismatic frontman Damian Abraham refusing to play a note before whipping the crowd into a chant of ‘yes, yes, yes’. Later he has ‘yes’ scrawled all over his body in black marker, and gives a couple of male audience members hefty pecks on the lips.
Abraham, unquestionably, is the making of this band. The set is no more than two tracks deep when the bouncing beard takes a lively stroll to the back bar, stopping to hug and scream in the face of audience members whilst wrapping his mic cord around thumping legs.
Things get messier as they progress. Opener Queen of Hearts is haphazardly loud, but not a patch on the utter shambolic brilliance of night-closing chaos served up as Other Shoes. The tracks, frankly, could say anything, so viciously and frenetically are they performed.
Abraham in particular has never been prone to toned down performance: taking an album described a ‘rock opera’ and screaming it in a way that’s half embittered anger and half playful self-parody is just a standard night on tour.
There’s no doubting the sincerity of the rage tonight, though, and the accompanying sense of community it provokes. Fucked Up are an in your face affront to the senses that leave your head rattling and eyes bulging.
They nod to Paranoid Visions as an influence, but sing with a brutality that Ireland’s seminal punk band muster in lyrics alone. The toned down backing vocals of Sandy Miranda are the only relief.
The Canadians are a live tour de force; full of boisterousness, shock factor and toned noise. It’s harsh, boisterous, rampant and abrasive, but more importantly, the most pleasant aural assault you could hope to witness.