Review + Photography by John Hayhurst

Viva the Revolution as The Boys in the Better Land – Fontaines D.C. play yet another sweatfest in Leeds.

There is a music revolution taking place right underneath our noses, to finally cast out all those tedious indie boy guitar bands, and replace them with innovative passionate performances, where art is fused to music and physical interaction with their audience. No longer will we accept 4 or 5 lads wearing anoraks and shades indoors, playing some monotonous chorus singalong from their BlurOasis hits of the 90’s handbook (Yes that means you – The Sherlocks). Idles and The Murder Capital this year have stirred the senses like no other bands are currently doing, and this week alone I’ve seen Fat White Family and Working Mens Club, who both blew me away with their dark mixture of post punk based electro rhythms. Tonight, I’m in Leeds again at the Uni venue ‘The Stylus’ for Fontaines D.C. and it is everything and more that we want from this new generation of post punk styled ensembles.

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However, before all that we have an LA based two piece called Warm Drag and due to tonight being a club night with a gig curfew of 10pm, it is all starting a little too early, they go on stage to about 20 people gazing at them on the front rail. That didn’t stop vocalist Vashti Windish singing and stomping around like it was full to capacity. She plays that white mic stand as good as any rock frontperson can and the outfit of a Honda biker shirt and tight leather strides made her look like Courtney Love playing Jim Morrison set to a Prodigy backing track. The stage needed filling though as her bandmate Paul Quattrone was all the way over one side, hiding behind his synth stack. Opening track ‘The Wanderer’ set the scene on a lively electro grunge 30 mins, which by the end did thankfully have everyone watching them.

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Warm Drag

It’s now filled almost to capacity by 8:30pm although some stragglers would still try to get in at 9, Fontaines D.C. walk out on stage and immediately you can sense the tension, largely because vocalist Grian Chatten is pacing the floor looking like he’s about to fly off the handle at anyone who dares to challenge him. He gives a sign to the crowd to pick it up and the band burst into ‘Hurricane Laughter’ which is enough to make the first 10 rows compress into 3 and the early signs that tonight is seriously going to be a sweatfest.

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Fontaines DC

All eyes are on Chatten as he conducts the mood by a raise of his finger or a stare at the throbbing crowd at the front. It is fair to say a mixture of ages, from the older, perhaps original post punks to newer students witnessing a band with rage and passion for perhaps the first time. A Leeds United scarf gets thrown onto the stage and he gleefully ties it to a mic stand, perhaps he’s a fan, I’m not aware of their football allegiances, but it is a safe bet to cheer MOT (Marching On Together) in this one club town. ‘Chequeless Reckless’ keeps the momentum going and the newer ‘Televised Mind’ followed. The latter track not released on their debut album ‘Dogrel’ and yet it still seemed to be regarded as a live classic by the punters here. This isn’t the first time they have played Leeds, last time was at the legendary Brudenell Social Club, but as their popularity has sky rocketed this year, complete with a Mercury Music Prize nomination, it isn’t suprising that tonight they are at a bigger venue although it sold out just as quick.

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The uplifting ‘Roy’s Tune’ enables a breather to be had as it is really the only slow number they do, and it is just as well because the crowd surfing begins in earnest for ‘Too Real’.

There is virtually no on-stage banter, just this severe marching/pacing from Chatten in-between each song, several seconds before the next onslaught begins, almost as if they have tried to cram as much into their short set – due to the early curfew. Harsh lighting throughout, sometimes none at all to emphasise the atmosphere.

Personal favourite and probably the most well-known track ‘Boys In The Better Land’ isn’t the encore, in fact they don’t do encores, preferring to just charge through a set ending with opening track on Dogrel – ‘Big’. That album is certainly in my top 5 of the year just behind The Murder Capital, their fellow Irish compadres of this revolution.

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FontainesDC

With the speed of the set, I feel a little short changed, but glad that I witnessed this incendiary band in such a small setting, the next time it will be at the Academy, if it is still standing after Idles play next week.

The New Gen Post Punk rebellion continues, and these bands will be the future of festivals to come, get out there to a club now while you can buy a ticket for less than £25.

SETLIST: Hurricane Laughter, Chequeless Reckless, Televised Mind, Sha Sha Sha, The Lotts, Television Screens, Roy’s Tune, Too Real, Liberty Belle, Boys in the Better Land, Lucid Dream, Dublin City Sky, Big

LISTENING: ‘Dogrel’ – released 12th April 2019

WATCHING: Full Live Performance

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