Ian Sweet at The Grand Social, Dublin on Monday 11 February 2019.
Ian Sweet, one-time band and now solo moniker of Jilian Medford, concluded her European tour in support of her third and career-best release ‘Crush Crusher’ in Dublin on Monday night.
Medford and her accompanying bassist and drummer are in a spiky mood. Clearly eager to get back to Los Angeles, she informs the crowd that she’s looking forward to binge-watching her favourite Grand Designs style architecture show on Netflix during the impending 11-hour flight.
She also reveals that the band recapped their tour backstage with a game of Kill, Marry, Snog with Leeds being crowned the winner of worst show of the tour. When a Leeds joke falls on deaf ears and she says “tough crowd” you couldn’t help but wonder if the group’s geography could do with some brushing up upon.
There’s something quite endearing about the trio’s nonchalance towards proceedings, which gives the show a zero-fucks given, live rehearsal vibe. In many ways this is a more rock ‘n’ roll approach than many successful acts take. Ian Sweet are here to play their set and go home. If you like it, great. If you don’t, great. Nothing in between changes for Ian Sweet. It’s an aloof yet pure approach to music which says this is who I am, take it or leave it.
Ian Sweet excel in songs such as Your Arms Are Water when Medford’s vocal sits comfortably in the spacious arrangement. On others such as Spit and Falling Fruit her dainty voice drowns in the band’s bombastic garage rock stylings, giving proceedings a slightly unhinged feel.
Musically, the band are generally on point; Medford utilising her Jazzmaster’s whammy bar to great effect, whilst at other times her no frills guitar style takes its cues from Ronseal. This allows her bassist to express himself more thoroughly with rampaging fretwork. At times he seems to be completely ad-libbing and having a complete ball in the process. His Joie de vivre is quite infectious and at times the performance feels as if we have stolen into their rehearsal space unnoticed and have laid witness to a band in a purer form than we are normally accustomed to.
Of course, rehearsals are unwieldy and at times Ian Sweet blur the lines between casual and incompetent, the learnt and the unlearnt. Somehow there’s something wholly appropriate about it. But you can’t help but get the feeling that they know they are getting away with it, albeit just barely. It’s not apparent whether Ian Sweet would marry or murder their Grand Social performance, but one thing’s for certain. Ian Sweet is a hot mess, but that’s how it’s meant to be.