Mr Martin Harris of infamous Downpatrick punk-rock hallions Surf Green was down with the squad at McHughs Bar, Belfast to watch Dublin’s Fang Club rip it up in the basement with The Wood Burning Savages and Thumper. From what we hear on the grapevine, it was a rather sweaty affair! Here are his reflections on the night…Since releasing their self-titled debut album in August, Fangclub have picked up a lot of well-deserved attention and their anticipated show in McHugh’s Basement on 27th October is a true sign of where things are heading for the Dublin based trio.
Opening up the night were fellow Dublin-based band Thumper. In my opinion, the night could not have kicked off in a better way. Their use of guitar effects along with the tight three-way vocal harmonies (and the occasional scream) really set them apart from a lot of other bands that I’ve seen on the Irish circuit. A true treat to the rapidly filling basement and I cannot wait to see them next time they venture to Belfast. Although, I don’t think I look forward to seeing that beautiful guitar getting another beating any time soon! If you’re into bands like Wavves or FIDLAR, check these guys out.
Next on stage were Derry’s own The Wood Burning Savages. They had a different energy to them than Thumper, a cleaner more old school punk/ rock ‘n’ roll leaning sound. Their frontman, Paul Connolly, was very engaging with the audience, constantly asking us to come closer and their confidence was incredible. Their warm chat in between songs definitely made the now tightly-packed crowd gathering in McHughs feel almost like a small family and I haven’t quite felt this atmosphere being given across from a support band before. As their set relentlessly progressed, the band show no sign of dropping the ball in regards to energy, with their closing number driven by a tribal beat, provoking infectious movement.
Now was the moment the crowd had been waiting for, Fangclub took the stage. At this point, the venue was rammed which couldn’t be more different from the last time Fangclub played here, as referenced by their frontman Steven King. The last time they played in McHughs they played in front of 10 people. It’s clear how much their album and their prestigious support slots to Muse/Biffy Clyro, Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes and Twin Atlantic had begun to pay off. They started their set off with a bang, playing one of the leading singles from their new album, ‘Better to Forget’, right from the off it was obvious this gig was going to be an intense affair.
The band were at their tightest tonight, with King’s vocals sounding clear and stronger than ever along with the great backups from bassist Kevin Keane and drummer Dara Coleman. They were powerful. Another set highlight for myself was ‘Best Fake Friends’, a short punk rocker that had everyone in the crowd moshing and moving frantically. Another great strength of the set was the added crowd interaction between each song, this kept the spaces between each song feeling short and left for no awkward silences between each song as is often the case at gigs with that dreaded song ‘tuning’ between songs.
At the end of the night, the band had finished their set and ended up coming back on stage for more following the crowd’s persistent demands. They stated they usually don’t get asked for an encore but Belfast was an exception. How flattering! Following this, they played a cover of Elvis’ ‘Suspicious Minds’ and it didn’t take long before the front row of the crowd, myself included, ended up on stage with the band singing along – serving as a perfect ending to a brilliant gig that I had personally been looking forward to for the past year and a half. With shows like this, the sky is the limit for Fangclub and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for them.
Words by Martin Harris
Photos by John McCullough