I Phoenix, Harrows, House of Dolls, The Revellions (live in Dublin)
Monday, April 13, 2009
The IMRO Showcase Tour 2009 (The Sugar Club, Dublin)
Review Snapshot: The IMRO gig at The Sugar Club showcased a number of talented new musicians who gained full audience appreciation with their varied sounds.
The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10
There’s something about venues. With its tiered seating, shining disco ball, velvet curtain and candle-lit tables, The Sugar Club set up a serene and relaxed feeling the minute you took a seat. There was a real sense of 1950s nostalgia about the set-up. I almost felt like a member of the Back to the Future audience, awaiting Marty McFly’s inappropriate Johnny B. Goode guitar solo. The IMRO gig was full of band members, mates of mates, and mates of mates of mates, who showed up to give them support.
Dublin alt-rockers I Phoenix were first up. Their solos were not as insane as Johnny B. Goodness, but with a powerful and intense sound they acted as a refreshing break from effects-heavy laptop bands. With gutsy climaxes and well-developed endings, the band appeared to be a tight and well-practiced group. The vocals were a little hard to hear, but technical details aside, they proved to be a talented little rock outfit.
More characters streamed into the glow of the old theatre – the man with the handlebar mustache, the girl with massive glasses and wide belt, lots of Topman clothed boys. (Quick digression - Am I the only one who is a little bored with uber-trendiness at gigs? Or maybe I’m just jealous…) Strolling to the bar, I discovered my biggest disappointment of the evening – emptying Six Euro onto the countertop for a bottle of Tiger. After just seven months of living in the UK I seemed to have acquired an exaggerated culture shock when buying any form of drink back at home.
The second biggest disappointment of the evening was also the second band, five-piece Harrows. Their early tracks showed them to be poppy, radio-friendly and almost too good to be true, with catchy riffs, a Kings of Leon soundalike as lead vocalist who rasped in all the right places. But as the tunes wore on, I realized there was far too much repetition in the lyrics and the sound. Having previously won the 2FM Battle of the Bands Dublin heats, I could see them being successful because they seem to fit into the young rock scene quite well, even if they weren’t to my taste.
Third band House of Dolls were also quite fashionable – with Johnny Two Belts on guitar and banging on a single drum – but their music seemed a little more mature. With influences like Joy Division and My Bloody Valentine, their music had a moody 90s sound that rocked The Sugar Club. There was a little too much reverb on the vocals but the full sound of the band made up for that minor tick. The audience seemed to really enjoy the band, and there was a great atmosphere of appreciation for all of the bands during the evening.
The Revellions, a band who looked and sounded like The Doors, were the final act to take the stage. Tight pants? Yep. Straight hair? Yep. A faraway gaze? Yep. The five-piece were immediately tagged for me as Monkees. With mic-swinging and leaping around, they gave an energetic performance and show promise for any fans of a heavy 1960s sound.
This evening’s IMRO Showcase proved to be a classic night of talented regional bands that have the potential to become more widely known. Showcase acts from 2008 such as Robotnik, Codes, The Kinetiks and Halves have garnered more fans and a greater reputation with the launch pad that such a showcase gig can supply.