Friday night in magical but windy Dingle and the town is a buzz with the return of Other Voices. Of course there’s a lot of focus on those playing St. James’ Church, but there’s a wide range of musical offerings available in the various venues scattered around this outpost on the Wild Atlantic Way, including The Hillgrove which looks resplendent in its Other Voices finery.
First to really impress are Sprints a Dublin band who been making waves with their recent releases so there is a palpable sense of expectation for their appearance in Dingle. And they certainly deliver, their performance bursts with focused hypnotic energy as they explode into life. Striking an imposing on stage figure lead singer Karla Chubb is mesmerising from start to finish and even takes a trip into the crowd such is her enthusiasm. They may be a garage noise band but their sound is incredibly well crafted, with even the odd three part vocal thrown in for good measure. They give a unique twist as to what to expect from such a band, and an extremely assured set is brought to a stirring close with Modern Job.
Star on the rise Gemma Dunleavy looks like she has Dingle if not the world at her beck and call with a performance that brims with confidence. She commands the stage with her endearing presence and beguiling vocals, and it is evident that that a huge amount of work has been put into the arrangements which are at times extremely intricate, with fragile harp, fiddle and keys adding a sublime polish, best displayed by a gorgeous performance of Cruisin’. As you would expect the feel good moment of the night (and possibly the weekend) without a doubt is Up de Flats, a hip hop anthem that gets the now rammed crowd bouncing with abandon.
Thumper top off the night doing exactly what they do best, letting rip with glee. Front man Oisín Furlong teases and cajoles the crowd throughout their muscular set. The Loser is pulsating as the double drummers pound us into submission. They finish with the epic anthem that is Down which blows everyone away in a whirlwind of spectacular rhythmic noise.
Kicking off Saturday at The Hillgrove are Rowan, who are working the daylight equivalent of the graveyard shift. And they work it with aplomb, even if lead singer Dylan Howe protests that “they aren’t a morning band”. Their sound is perfectly pitched polished indie and they get the early crowd immediately enthused, Current single Youth and Youthhood is a standout, whilst Big Wave features an intriguing, driving, almost Latin rhythm.
The Zen Arcade race on to the stage, and their high energy non-stop set might convince you that they are trying to cram a one hour set into the allotted 35 minutes but their ebullient, youthful energy carries the crowd right along with them. But it’s not just their patented “cow-punk” that works it’s magic, even their more subtle numbers are engrossing. A lung bursting set is brought to a close with Flying Objects of My Desire, another rock-their-socks-off crowd pleaser.
Later in the evening MELTS bring their deep, dark and intoxicating presence to bear on the Other Voices audience. It’s a forceful performance of apocalyptic rock that crests with the absolute guttural monster that is latest release Maelstrom, which envelops all in its sonic wave. Their final offering Waltzer is another dizzying epic that leaves you craving for the rapid release of their debut album.
One of the highlights of Sunday at Other Voices is Dublin rapper Malaki who strikes a powerful presence on The Hillgrove stage. It’s a performance rammed full of intensity but one that pulls the assembled masses in for more, creating an atmosphere of mutual togetherness. It’s a set that’s hugely impressive from someone relatively new to performing live at this level, but on this showing his potential is obviously massive.
Malaki is certainly a tough act to follow, but if one band can do that then it’s Tebi Rex an ensemble with an incredibly winning personality, led by the dynamic duo of Max and Matt. They immediately have the crowd in the palm of their hands with It’ll Never Be Enough and AAARGH. And whilst they have always been irresistibly engaging, Tebi Rex have developed into a formidable unit and songs such at I Never Got Off the Bus and Deadman II perfectly illustrate their growing maturity, delivered here with the self assurance that you’ve come to expect from them, there’s even some Gaeilge thrown in for good measure by Matt in honour of their presence in An Gaeltacht.
Final act of the night Prymary Colours with their sparkling outfits, adorable choreography and deep house vibes combine to provide an incredibly joyous experience. The stunning vocals of Cayisha backed by the by the pulsating, energetic sounds of producer Daz bring a club energy to proceedings to the delight of the highly appreciative revellers. Their dazzling upbeat set provides the perfect finale to Other Voices at The Hillgrove.
Photos from The Hillgrove, Dingle 2021 – Flo Foley. Malaki at The Sugar Club and Prymary Colours at Love Sensation 2019 by Stefan Tivodar. Tebi Rex at Other Voices 2019. Courtesy of Other Voices.