It was with nostalgia-addled, tacit reverence that The Redneck Manifesto were received during a homecoming gig that coincided with the release of their first full-length album in six years. Cited ceaselessly by contemporaries as a musical influence, and held in the uppermost regard, the band have, since the incendiary impact of I Am Brazil, established themselves as a worthy bastion of the Irish music scene with an unquestionable monopoly over instrumental post rock. In recent years, however, the Rednecks were scattered across various locales, from San Francisco to Sweden, and transatlanticism quelled their creative constancy. The self-proclaimed old men, anchored by real life and responsibilities, a decade after their inception, were ready to pass on the mantle to more youthful charges including The Jimmy Cake and And So I Watch You From Afar. Yet sporadic gigging since the release of the Seven Stabs EP suggests that the band haven’t finished honing their craft just yet.
With And So I Watch You From Afar playing a gig in Andrew’s Lane the previous evening, there was an apt occasion for comparison and contrast between sensei and grasshopper. As the Northern Irish quartet delivered a set that seared through the oppressively dank venue, the swelling mass’s response to the driving dynamism seemed intuitive, almost spiritualistic as they thrashed as one under the epilepsy-inducing strobe lights. The mood during the Rednecks’ gig is decidedly more relaxed. Richie Egan’s pervasive charisma creates an enveloping air of intimacy and an energy that, although less vehement and forceful than ASIWYFA, prompts an infectiously sparkling enthusiasm that permeates the venue and compensates for the fact that it hasn’t been filled.
The setlist is a less a showcase of latest release Friendship than a demonstration of how it serves as the perfect companion piece for I Am Brazil, the material from each album possessing an interchangeability within a seamless and fluid set. The Rednecks fashion a math rock opera; Jape-inspired electronic flourishes are set off by guitar lines redolent with traces of psychedelia and krautrock, splintered riffs skim flawlessly through moody tempo changes.
Their flair lies not in a full-volume sonic assault, but the intricacy of their melodies; structured but frenzied, harmonious but chaotic. The band has been quoted as being particularly proud of the sonic palette of Friendship; it’s an experimentation that translates impeccably from studio to stage, each song highly textured, multifaceted, and performed with an invigorating zeal. The tendency of post-rock outfits to perfect rather than innovate has generated a glut of homogenous driving riffs and roll-of-thunder drums; the Rednecks seek to disengage from the identikit. Their delightfully detailed instrumentation is different, yet manages to create a familiarity between songs that is never monotonous. Endlessly uplifting, The Redneck Manifesto retain their stronghold over audiences and continue to pip their peers.
Photos by Loreana Rushe.