It was fitting that while all the cool kids were in Dingle soaking up the Other Voices atmosphere, that one of the true underground success stories of Irish music were celebrating their 20th anniversary in Vicar Street.
With support from David Kitt’s New Jackson and Dublin Guitar Quartet it was an evening that celebrated the finest left field music Ireland has to offer. After all, if you came to a Redneck Manifesto gig in search of hits, you’d leave feeling foolish and more than likely frazzled by the intricate wall of sound on offer.
Indeed, the Redneck Manifesto are not the type of thing one would recommend to the uninitiated listener; both your ears and mind are faced with complex onslaught of patterns and sounds which become less puzzling with prolonged exposure.
For the Crumlin sextet the idea of verse and chorus are redundant; this is a band whose raison d’être is mood and their weapons of choice are vignettes and motifs, and their goal is to transport the listener to a different vantage point.
That is not to say that there aren’t instantaneous moments of joy to be found in TRM’s music, because there are plenty, and their back catalogue would no doubt make a fine sample bank for hip hop artists – a worthy project for some brave soul to undertake in the future perhaps.
The Redneck Manifesto’s new album ‘The How’ – arguably their best to date – offers many of the highlights in tonight’s celebration. Their triumphant return and call to arms, Djin Chin, is a sleek siren call which proves that the band don’t need to hide behind walls of effects to forge an emotional response from the listener. Sip Don’t Gulp delivers an adventurous journey through sci-fi noir, and surf riffs.
In Hindsight brings the group back to its formative years with a plaintive sonic exploration. De facto frontman Richie Egan informs the crowd that they’d not played the track in 15 years and “probably never would again.” It was a fitting homage to the band’s early work and also a way to draw a line under the period and step away from it.
The international appeal of Irish post-rock acts such a the Redneck Manifesto is often lost on the Irish media and music fans. So, it was nice to see that one fan had travelled all the way from Brazil to celebrate with the band. Naturally, they did the appropriate thing and dedicated I Am Brazil to the fan, who they invited to come forward and introduce himself to the crowd.
The main set swaggered to a close with the funky bass riffs of Black Apple providing one of the highlights of the night. There can be a certain sense of trepidation that whatever will follow in an encore won’t quiet live up to such a performance, but the Slayer-esque riffs of Sweet Pot more than sufficed in pushing the night in a new direction before the onslaught of No One Plans Eleven gave each individual member a final moment to shine.
It’s a credit to the Redneck Manifesto that they can surf their career in a set and leave those in attendance in no doubt that their best work still lays ahead of them.