Black cats and rabbits’ feet may be de rigueur elsewhere on this Friday the 13th, but everyone in Whelan’s on Wexford Street is feeling particularly lucky tonight. Arriving a tad late, State has just watched the last few numbers by Enemies, darlings of the Richter Collective cult, who intersperse their careful thrashing and bashing with those customary noodly bits everyone likes at the moment. We didn’t see the whole set, so we’re just going to say that it was up-beat, loud and all very ‘post-rock’.
Enemies had a fair old crowd before them (State even got dirty looks while squeezing in to join a friend up front) but by the time our headliners have stalked forward on to the stage, it’s more or less full.
The band they’re here to see, The Cast of Cheers, arrived fully formed at the start of the year, with free-to-download debut Chariots making them tonnes of friends. They also performed live like they had a few hundred gigs out of the way already and had the gumption to boycott the IMRO Showcase over their stance on Limited Online Exploitation Licences.
If it all sounds very precocious then that’s because it is. You can see it in them throughout this tight-as-a-duck’s-arse set. Conor Adams’s edgy vocal is a cultivated weapon, full of phlegm and finished with a Reznor-like snarl. Brother Neil does a decent Omar Rodriguez-Lopez impression, flailing guitar manically and writhing about in between lead duties. It is noticed that the two guitarists occasionally dance about like this while a mysterious guitar track is playing somewhere. This is down to some form of sampler loop pedal. It’s a nifty idea, and part of Cast of Cheers’s sound, but live it looks vainglorious – why don’t they stop throwing shapes and play the thing instead, you wonder.
Or not. You may be marvelling too much at the moments when everything comes together. ‘Derp’s’ high-wattage math-rock pulse is a full-on floor-filler. During ‘Tigerfox’, Adams drops his plec amid the ranting chorus “Is there any fucking love in here?” The line is quickly improvised by the dancing mob as he stoops to pick it up. That rhythm section is something to behold too. It would all be impossible without Kevin Curran on drums, you feel. Like bassist John Higgins, he doesn’t fill spaces with ego, and instead just builds structure and playful stability for these restless songs.
We near the end of the show and Whelan’s is seeing a full-blown crowd-surfing and slam-dancing demonstration. It slightly demeans the intellect of this music, but State isn’t worrying. By all signs, Cast of Cheers are the cream in the process of rising to the top. Tonight, after all, there was no shortage of fucking love in here.
Photos by Kieran Frost