By Jasmin Robinson, Third Year History
The debut album Dogrel from Fontaines D.C. has been revered as one of the best of the year. The four-piece from Dublin combine elements of traditional Irish poetry with snarling post-punk ideology. 2019 has been relentless for Fontaines D.C., and on Saturday, it was Bristol’s turn to have a piece of the madness before they head away for the New Year.
Trundling on stage for a prompt 20:45 start, ‘Hurricane Laughter’ was their rallying call. Its intense bass-line reverberated round SWX’s foundations. Complete with a fuzzy and nauseating potency, Fontaines D.C. enraged with a no holds barred sense of mania and resilience from the off. Lead singer Grian Chatten remains calmly menacing, while the rest of the band let loose – much like the LP’s set-up. ‘The Lotts’, for example, holds a certain ‘80s Gothicism through Chatten’s introspective and analogous monologue, and the haunting mirage of guitar pedals. The Dublin boys perilous journey continues with ‘Chequeless Reckless’, and the relentlessly fresh ‘Sha Sha Sha’. The song's staccato guitar and bounding drums are fit for the sold-out crowd to mosh and crowd surf to in sweat inducing fashion.
As I arrived at SWX, I overheard a group declare ‘They don’t do encores, we’ve seen them 4 times this year and they’ve never done one’. Their sold-out show at SWX was no different. This is all part of the ferocious and seething charm of a Fontaines D.C gig. The performance has its introduction, its middle, and its end – no need to fulfil the norms expected of them. The punch-drunk Guinness wielding ‘Dublin City Sky’ triggered a huge singalong that marked the finale. Arm in arm, the crowd sang wholeheartedly to the album’s closing track, giving Fontaines D.C. the go-ahead for the epilogue.
Sentimentality aside, after the traditionally Irish singalong, Conor Curley and Carlos O’Connell’s harsh guitars ushered in ‘Boys In The Better Land’. By now, SWX had erupted into a sea of flailing limbs and slinging beers. From top to toe the room was bouncing, and it was only helped by the huge opener from Dogrel, ‘Big’. Chatten chants ‘My childhood was small / But I’m gonna be big!’ as the crowd in a manic whirlwind sing it right back at him – he was right.
What Fontaines D.C. showed tonight, and indeed this year, is that Dublin is theirs. They are flying the flag, complete with literary genius and abrasiveness that no other punk band has managed this year. From the dewy-eyed ‘Roy’s Tune’, to the brusque ‘Liberty Belle’, Fontaines’ cleverness is felt in each song. Their SWX headline gig showed how their poetic punk musical turn translates live. Their performance was incredibly sharp and passionate – put simply, it was fantastic.
Featured Image: Guy Marcham/Epigram