Lower Than Atlantis returned to Dublin for a well-earned headline gig in The Academy last Sunday. Billed as all-ages, the crowd was predominantly filled with excitable, sugar-addled teenagers, scatterings of twenty-somethings who had suddenly started to feel very old (I place myself in this category) and a couple of bewildered parents who were either dragged along by their kids, at the wrong gig or just plain lost. It made for an interesting night.
First up were Blitz Kids. As is so often frustratingly the case with opening acts, the mix was muddy and uneven, with Jono Yates’ guitar verging on inaudible. Their set still seemed to lack any real punch and their stabs at anthemic alt-rock occasionally fell flat, and the mix wasn’t completely to blame. The songs just seemed to be lacking anything really memorable or notable. Still, they were well received and Joe James cut a charismatic frontman – a mixed bag.
Jody Has A Hitlist were more impressive. While not particularly groundbreaking, they’re certainly good at what they do and they went down well with the expanding crowd. Hit Me Like A Hurricane and closer Turn And Walk Away (the latter inciting the night’s first singalong) show that the band know how to craft, write and deliver likeable, inoffensive pop-punk. For fans of the genre, their forthcoming debut album shows some good promise.
Lower Than Atlantis arrived onstage to seizure-inducing strobe lights and yelps of excitement from the minors before launching into Love Someone Else from 2012’s ‘Changing Tune’. It became immediately apparent that all those years playing in grimy, half-empty venues and the very many support slots has really paid dividends. They sounded loud, aggressive and extremely tight, and played with energy, presence and confidence. Most of the set was focused on the grunge infused indie-rock found in the likes of High At Five and the great Deadliest Catch, guitars all fuzzed up to eleven and drummer Eddy Thrower playing with Ghrohl-esque splashiness. The delighted adolescents moshed themselves into a frenzy, expending the last of the weekend energy before school reconvened the next day. There were moments when these rockier numbers started to feel a bit indistinct from one another, perhaps lacking slightly in mood and texture, but nevertheless, they kept up a frantic pace until the sparse, moving Another Sad Song silenced the suddenly still room and revitalised the latter section of the set.
Vocalist and main songwriter Mike Duce can certainly carry a melody, and he also cut a charismatic, disarming figure onstage. Beaming away and clearly delighted to be there, he incited some notable moments of crowd interaction – a follow-your-dream speech that managed to sound genuine and (just about) stayed on the right side of cringey, and a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ from the crowd, sang into Duce’s phone for his girlfriend, which veered to the wrong side. Most interestingly however, was a well-worded and justified swipe at venues who manage to get away with outrageous cuts on band merchandise. Closing with the brilliant Beech Like The Tree and an improntu verse of Electric Six’s Gay Bar, the night ended on a party atmosphere and everyone, from overexcited kids to suddenly older twenty-somethings to bewildered parents, left feeling mightily impressed by a band whose hard work is finally showing some tangible rewards. A great performance.