At this point, the touring schedule massacre committed by the Icelandic volcano ash has been well documented. The cancellation of Dublin gigs this week by great acts such as LCD Soundsystem and Sam Amidon, coupled with the announcement of new gigs by the torturously dull Lady BlahBlah and the fact that Whitney made it to the O2 would have you thinking things are pretty bleak on the gig front. But even the ash cloud has proven to have a silver lining as some of the more adventurous acts around find ways to make the best of their disrupted travel plans.
On Thursday night things also looked a little bleak as James Vincent McMorrow played to a tiny gathering of people in the Academy. McMorrow seemed to win a fair few new fans on the night but given the huge popularity of TV On The Radio in this city, it was somewhat surprising to see a lack of interest in Kyp Malone’s side project Rain Machine. The gig comes at the end of a European tour for Kyp and his five-strong band and they are in celebratory mood. The loose, indulgent, jamming style of the performance is a suitable extension of the self-titled album on which Malone’s distinctive vocals are spread across a musical palette that differs greatly from TV On The Radio’s own fusion of bluesy funk and modern experimental rock. Playing live with the Brooklyn indie-gods, Kyp Malone – as the instantly recognisable singer/guitarist – is just one part of a tight and powerful sonic machine, but leading this newly assembled group he enjoys the freedom to explore his ideas and musical avenues.
During the set, the unavoidable topic of the volcanic ash cloud was raised and we were informed that the band would be stranded in Dublin for a few days as a result. At this point, amid the cheering of the crowd, a few eyes lit up at the prospect of having such performers hanging around Dublin at a loose end. Later on, after chats about the gig, recording studios and German catering food, tentative plans were in place for Kyp Malone to come join us at the State gig in the Mercantile the following night. Sure enough, he arrived at the jam-packed venue to delight the crowd with a quick, 4-song solo set that – in my own view – may have been even better than the previous night’s gig.
The gig, organised as part of Love:Live Music Day, featured 3 of Ireland’s better bands playing in a bar on Dame Street that has had a bit more noise emitting from it of late. Take The Money & Run opened things by belting out a bunch of 100mph indie-pop tunes like they were on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. Their singer has a really strong voice (at times a bit too strong for the sound man) and they’ve got a good collection of songs. One of the best of which unfortunately sounded a little too similar to the outro of Band of Horses’ “Is There A Ghost?”, thought this may have been just me. Afterwards I finally got the chance to see Ireland’s most talked about new band The Cast of Cheers. Their brand of viciously frenetic math-rock really sets them apart as leaders, rather than followers, in the genre. By the time our special guest arrived and played his set, the Mercantile must have been at bursting point and every utterance onstage was greeted with huge roars of support. Kyp commented afterwards that he was shocked at the generosity of the crowd. The perfect setting then for the country’s mayhem specialists Super Extra Bonus Party to enter the fray. The boys were coming close to blowing the roof off the place with their first couple of songs before getting a helping hand from MayKay as she joined them for “Eamon”. If the Mercantile have serious intentions of becoming a real gig venue then the Bonus Party took it to the test. The crowd-surfing antics of both band members and fans drew the attention of one member of staff who positioned himself in front of the band to intimidate any potential surfers but, with one call for a round of applause in his honour, the band removed any potentially stifling fear he had instilled in the front rows. Pictures below from both Rain Machine at the Academy and the State gig in the Mercantile, while on State.ie you can also find Alan’s thoughts on the former and a video from the latter. Flickr sets from both are here and here.