Friend? @ The Grand Social
Day two and yet another instrumental outfit. Friend?’s main addition to the genre is to set guitars to kill and lump in a fiddle to augment the sound. And to be fair, it works in part. Think The Frames on ‘Santa Maria’ or ‘Fitzcaraldo’ with Glen Hansard on a tea break. Certainly, when the fiddle leaves the mix there’s little here to distinguish the outfit from the raft of instrumental post-rock outfits out there doing much the same thing — which is to mostly power their tunes with chugging guitars and leave little in the way of subtle progressions. That said, there’s something there in the sound ploughed by Friend? More space within it, or even the odd vocal, might make them that bit more engaging.
The Lost Brothers @ Twisted Pepper
Currently polishing off their second album with Richard Hawley’s band, the Losties are certainly finding the right collaborators for their lush, pitch-perfect torch songs. Tonight Babyshambles and Fionn Regan bassist Drew McConnell is manning the double bass in Twisted Pepper for the duo of Omagh’s Mark Mccausland and Navan’s Oisin Leech. ‘Angry At The Sun’, ‘Ribbons and Bows’ and ‘City Of The Rose’ from their 2008 debut make up much of the short set. This is music straight out of the back bars of ’50s America and reminiscent of Norway’s Kings Of Convenience. Like Hawley however, it begins to sound a bit samey and the melodies, though rich in beauty, allow little in the way of emotion to seep through. Definitely an act to watch but there’s a lingering feeling that there’s an ingredient missing here.
Futures Apart @ The Workman’s Club
Arriving at The Workman’s Club, it’s initially hard to get past the get-up sported by this Wexford four-piece. They’re far and away the most ridiculously dressed band of the festival sporting scarves, wife beaters, Hoxton haircuts and generally looking like they’re each trying to outdo each other for the London look-of-the-season. Most importantly though they don’t sound half bad, matching their “futuromatic” description of themselves with a promising electro-pop-punk infused sound aimed somewhere between Friendly Fires and Editors. Lyrically though there’s work to be done on meaningless repeated refrains of “we form this time”. The sort of band Noel Gallagher would give a ridiculously good quote about.
Colenso Parade @ Sweeneys
’60s pop is certainly where it’s at for this Omagh four-piece who are all about call and repeat backing vocals, punctured by little do-whoops evoking Grease, high school and the Jersey Shore. It’s all sweet and catchy in parts but with lyrics such as “have you seen her style” it’s hard not to think of the fictional band from Tom Hanks’ That Thing You Do. The four-piece’s set in Sweeney’s simply isn’t fun enough to capture the attention of the small crowd, though kudos to catchy recent single ‘Find Your Mother’.
Electric Penguins @ Sweeneys
The Penguins were reportedly involved in a ruckus with an ex-member at their Tower Records in-store the day after this gig but one would hope the two incidents were unrelated. All droning synths and ambient sounds and minimal vocals, the core duo are backed tonight by a couple of other players but struggle to be heard amid the chitter-chatter. Hushed, intricate tracks like ‘Highgate Hill’ don’t quite cut it live, but you can certainly hear the cleverness in their kraut-club inspired melodic electronica.
Photos by James Goulden, Damien McGlynn and Sara Devine.