It’s the kind of gig that when the band finish the crowd look around seeking faces to exchange elated glances, impressed by the performance that has been enjoyed from start to finish. Then, as you leave the venue inexhaustible with energy and despite the almost impairing buzz in your ears from the band’s ferocity, you plug in your earphones and immediately listen to the songs again and again on the highest volume possible, but still try to make the music even louder. You think about how much you’ve enjoyed watching the band perform and then text someone to tell them about the amazing gig you just left. It’s a gig that once you get home the first thing you do is look up train timetables to Belfast, figuring out the logistics to see them play again the following week.
The band that leave such an invigorating impression is Belfast based trio, Hot Cops. They perform to an intimate gathering in Dublin’s Bello Bar, which is garnering a reputation as the perfect venue to see Ireland’s best underground bands play live. Early comers are treated to electronic excellence (with an interval) from Flann McMorrow, a total contrast to Hot Cops’ sound comprised of occasional rasping vocals, hefty bass, thrashing drums and strangely sensual guitar riffs.
With a brief introduction the set opens with a perfect rendition of ‘Passive Passive’, their current single released with Paper Trail Records, the Dublin based independent label established by Jack Rainey and Dan Finnegan, two of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet with an incredible instinct for infectious music by exhilarating new bands. The strength of this single is outstanding, and it will most definitely be a constant favourite amongst their fans and audiences as their discography expands. It asserts Hot Cops as both prolific music makers and songwriters, which makes you think of what you were doing when you were 20 years old, and you simultaneously feel a little inadequate and even more in awe of their talent.
Musically, the guys are flawless as an entity and individually. Frontman and songwriter, Carl Eccles’ onstage presence is palpably endearing, and with each meek and sincere show of thanks and gratitude to the audience he is met with a wave of warm smiles that fill the venue. The chemistry between the guys is played down perhaps due to a shyness that is inevitable in the early stages of their career, but there are a few lovely moments shared by the guys which materialise in glances and brief giggles between songs. ‘Scared of Everything’, and ‘Fallout’, are familiar to the crowd and new songs are introduced later on in the set and they are received with unanimous approval and rapturous applause. These songs find themselves stored away in your memory, you will sing the fragments you remember in the aftermath, in an attempt to hold onto the tune until you encounter it again on their debut album, which will hopefully be released next year. Until then, at least you have the memory of those songs and how they made you feel in that moment and then it will return, the music as lovely as your soul, such is the Paper Trail’s philosophy.
Hot Cops playing in the Bello Bar has been, without contest, the best gig I have been to in a really long time. I realise that is very easy to say, but it has been a while since I felt so genuinely excited, obsessed with, and musically fulfilled by a band’s sound and the promise of their future. Some people dream of winning the lotto, if I could see Hot Cops perform every weekend then I would be pretty content.