For 10 years, Whelan’s have been showcasing their hotly tipped artists for the year ahead. Night four of the festival brought more of Ireland’s newest and finest to the forefront including God Alone, Blushing Boys and The Love Buzz.
Words by Jack Squibb
Starting upstairs, proceedings got underway in blistering fashion with Cork five-piece metal band, God Alone.
Grabbing the audience by the neck and screaming for their attention, the night could have been called there. Melodic chaos emitted from the speakers, it was an invigorating performance.
Packed with loud blasts of metal, before settling down into a false sense of security with melodies more in line with indie. That calm would then be ripped away as bassist Cian Ó Maoláin and frontman Jake O’Driscoll intertwined and thrashed around and off the stage.
The way the Cork band unleashed upon the heated room was riveting. From mosh pits to people just admiring their ferocious style. Celebrated as one of the best new talents coming out of the Rebel County, they left the capital as one of the best new talents in the country.
Spending the night with miniature workouts by constantly going up and down stairs between sets, music wasn’t the only thing setting hearts racing.
Heading downstairs to the main stage, Skinner was on with a rapid-fire dose of grunge and darkwave.
Sharp riffs and infectious beats that had the crowd hooked. Moody but entrancing, the young Dub hit hard with his angst-ridden songs. It was thrilling as he sang about feeling outcasted during ‘Slouch’ and then tailing it back musically for ‘Sometimes My Brain is Goo’, while still keeping that tension there, lyrically singing about coming undone.
Lifting spirits, Milk wholesome performance pulled in one of the biggest crowds of the night. Their luscious version of pop draws comparisons to The 1975, with enchanting synths and smooth bass lines.
Frontman, Mark McKenna romantic quips on ‘A Little More’ and summer release ‘Temperature’ Showing his lovesick side was swooning the crowd. The set closing with their breakout single, ‘Drama Queen’ left people hoping for more. It was a great segue for the next act to take over the spotlight…
Blushing Boy were powerful with their atmospheric take of alt-rock. Fronted by Ella Naseeb, the band’s songs took people on a rollercoaster of emotions, to the point of drawing some members of the crowd to tears.
Searing riffs didn’t create wild dances but more stand and observe in awe, like during a Sigur Ros performance. Naseeb’s powerful voice was captivating as it echoed through the main room. More so on the band’s first release, ‘Consumer’, which brought their almost-spiritual performance to a close.
A band that has whipped up a storm throughout the capital city, Sprints electrified on the night. Lead by Karla Chubb, they were gripping as they stomped their authority on the night.
It was a set to remember, with the balcony’s barriers under stress as people leaned over with a sense of desperation to be a part of the performance. While those on the ground played into the palm of Karla Chubb’s hand, giving the band a raucous reaction after every song.
Packed with a punch, the post-punk band roared with deafening melodies while Chubb’s words induced a frenzy and had adrenaline pumping long after they left the stage.
Sprints return to Whelan’s on February 22nd for a headline show upstairs and is already sold-out. For a band with a massive sound and driving home topics that’s on everyone’s minds, it’s not a surprise in the slightest. What is surprising is that they’re not playing in a bigger venue.
After Sprints, the night took a turn from fun and breezy to wild and breathless after that. Heading upstairs for the umpteenth time, Turnstiles were brewing up a storm made out of pure, unadulterated punk. Led by London-native Callum Mitchell, he was propped up by thudding drums and rip-roaring guitars that shook the room.
Their brash brand of punk induced mosh pits along with questionable moves being thrown around within the heated crowd. Their first two releases were stacked with angst that trickled in and then swept everyone over into chaos.
Throw in a storming cover of Idles’, ‘Never Fight A Man With A Perm’ and one from Slowthai. It was a beautiful release of tension that had the place up in arms begging for more.
Each band only got a short set and organisers appeared to be strict over this too. Rules are made to be broken some would say and Turnstiles tried to live to those ethos. They were told stop, they ignored, the call came again from the back but they waged on.
Eventually the sound guy managed to make his way through the crowd and pulled the plug on Turnstiles emphatic set. Exciting, invigorating and loud. Turnstiles were outstanding.
Nerves should come with a warning. The trio from Mayo brought their explosive sound to Whelan’s and carried on from where Turnstiles left off. Their booming riffs would leave even the most hardened of gig-goers breathless and with ears ringing.
The mixture of synths, along with roaring guitars that swell into massive instrumentals, the dark tones of wave rock were infuriatingly good.
The crowd were sold by the end of the first song, as they launched themselves into each other, held each other aloft and submersed themselves into the sound of Nerves.
Closing out the fourth night of Whelan’s Ones To Watch 2020 are one of our favourites at JACKS, The Love Buzz.
The Love Buzz’ sound has been growing with every show they put on. Their time in the spotlight in Dublin showed once again that they continue to move in an upward direction.
With smooth, rolling bass lines from Aidan Lynch, while frontman Kieran Hurley attacked the mic while spitting out his silky riffs. Three months on since the release of their EP, Candy Flip, ‘Disco Junkie 1200’ still hit home like it’s already an thrilling indie classic.
The band let themselves go on the stage, getting caught up in the vibes they were generating. Between Lynch and Hurley dropping to the floor and play fighting without missing a chord and the crowd bouncing from side to side, the close to night four was coming to a playful end. Meanwhile drummer Henry Love, just soldier on in the background keeping the pace going.
The Love Buzz have always put on an electrifying live show and have managed to raise their performance up to another level again.
Ones to watch in 2020 according to Whelan’s. After their whirlwind set, that’s a resounding yes.
Night four of Whelan’s Ones to watch showed that Ireland’s music scene is continuing to head in the right direction after a dominant 2019.