Headline gigs during a band’s early days can be difficult to fathom. Friends and family inevitably infiltrate the audience so when the conclusion of a song is met with enthusiastic whoops and cheers, it’s hard to know if it’s being done out of a sense of duty or genuine delight at what’s just been witnessed. Waiting in the Workman’s Club for tonight’s gig to start, State worries that it might be one of those occasions because, with just one single to their name, plumbing for a headline gig now seems an odd choice for The Riot Tapes.
As it turns out, any partizan back-up present isn’t required because the group’s set proves they’re grafting hard to earn their chops. Playing a selection of songs due for inclusion on their first LP, the six-piece demonstrate that they’ve nailed the art of creating hooky melodies. ‘Open-Eyed Dreams’, Sun Keeps Beating’ and ‘Photograph’ are highlights – all three tracks anchored by Elaine Doyle’s powerful vocals in particular, and some tight instrumentation.
They’re not quite the finished article mind; the audience interaction is rather limp and there are a few songs that are hard to differentiate from each other – but these are forgivable elements in a band at this juncture. In the meantime, the sheer enthusiasm in the way they play fills the gap.
All in all, it’s an impressive performance from a band who are working their way in from the fringes of the Dublin scene. The album might just finish off that task when it drops later this year – tonight’s taster has certainly heightened expectations.