Pianos Become the Teeth at Whelan’s, Monday August 13th 2018

The unique thing about bands at the vanguard of the emo-rock ‘revival’ is that you will get bills where two bands lauded as the cornerstones of a genre share a stage in a relatively small venue. This was the case for the US duo of Foxing and Pianos Become the Teeth.

Proceedings kicked off with gutsy two-piece Kamikaze Girls. At their best, they’re headbanging alt-rock but more often than not their lack of low-end holds them back and prevents them from being truly memorable. While frontwoman Lucinda Livingstone fills her duties well, much of her guitar is lost in the mix, instead drowned out by the frenetic drumming of Conor Dawson.

A band’s first trip to a country is one that can go a multitude of ways. Missouri natives Foxing may have never graced our shores as a band before, but they were quick to make themselves at home.

Their third LP ‘Nearer My God’ was released to the world less than a week ago, building on their already established fan-base with what is debatably their most explorative album to date. Slow burner Grand Paradise starts their set off and by the time frontman Conor Murphy transitions from the nefarious whispers of the opening section with an anguished scream of “shock-collared at the gate of heaven” their set refuses to decline in intensity.

Foxing have been long applauded for their ability to make music with their hearts firmly planted on their sleeves. In a live setting, the vocals of Murphy go from crushing falsetto to angsty screams seamlessly. Every word bleeds with sincerity and even during slower parts of songs, phones are in pockets and nobody is rushing to the bar for another pint.

Fan favourites like The Medic and Rory shine through in a set packed with emotion while the feverish Gameshark and title track Nearer My God gel well with older track.

The co-headline tour means both bands play less than a dozen songs which seems restrictive in some regards but allows both bands to show off parts of their full catalogue.

To pigeonhole Pianos Become the Teeth to a genre is difficult. While on paper they are similar to Foxing, their brand of sad songs is more refined and their stage presence is entirely different. While Foxing seemed to be in the debt of those in attendance, PBTT emerge with an almost cocksure attitude that is endearing.

Their 2017 release ‘Wait for Love’ is held in high regard and is without a doubt their most accessible album to date, so it’s no surprise that it features heavily in their set. Opening with the anthemic Charisma, they made a statement of intent that doesn’t waver. The heartfelt refrain of “And what a way/You won me over” reverberates around the room with bassist Zac Sewell shining.

The decision to depart from their post-hardcore days to a more palatable style of music is one they have settled into admirably, and the set features very little from their first two albums.

Ripple Shine, Love on Repeat and Repine show the band at their best, and cement them as one of the most impressive bands in their genre.