Fontaines D.C’s music represents so much of the last three years, and it was encapsulated in a cathartic and visceral display before a hungry and desperate crowd.
Dublin's Fontaines D.C. were initially scheduled to come to Australia in January 2020, almost three years ago to the day. They didn’t even postpone that tour because of a certain pandemic. They just wanted to finish their second album and bring it back a few months later. Yeah, that didn’t happen.
Such is the nature of our recent world that three years later, they would finally arrive, not just with that record (2020’s A Heroes Death), but another (2022’s Skinty Fia) in tow. Would the crowd in February 2023 be a lot different to the crowd we’d have had in Paddington RSL in 2020? Well, we’ll never know, but it certainly was a lot larger! They’ve played some of the biggest festivals in the world over the last year, and to finally debut their very Irish, very raw post-punk to an Australian audience really meant something.
There was just one more reason to wait, and it was a good one, in the form of local, wailing punk dynamites Body Type. Having already supported the likes of The Pixies and Wolf Alice, as well as just being announced at Denmark’s Roskilde Festival, they are no strangers to a high-profile support, and the amped Roundhouse crowd are hungry for noise.
They were rewarded with a typically high-energy set, starting with Palms and ending in The Charm. As is sometimes the way with support sets, the sound can take a little while to settle in, but by the time The Brood was playing, from their 2022 AMP shortlisted album, Everything is Dangerous, but Nothing’s Surprising, they sounded plumb, and the crowd was swelling, and the sweat was building.
“We just recorded a brand-new album, and we're going to play two songs off that! We’re shitting bricks!“ announced singer/guitarist Sophie McComish. It was a treat to hear Holding On and, in particular, Miss the World (yes, yes, we have). Those two unreleased tracks landed perfectly with the crowd and some powerful vocals from Georgia, Annabel and Cecil, all of whom take over singing duties during the set whilst nailing their instruments.
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Finishing with set highlight, Buoyancy and The Charm left us primed. It was a typically loose, raw and powerful Body Type show and left us hungry for more, and there are plenty of chances - their headline show is worth every penny.
By the time 9.30 rolled around, the crowd were feverish with anticipation. It meant that when the five-piece sauntered on stage, the relief was palpable. The first track, A Lucid Dream, felt completely appropriate for the haze of a time we’ve all been through. And then it was full steam ahead, crisscrossing between their three solid albums seamlessly.
The title track from album two, A Heroes Death, spurned the crowd to help loudly with the lyrics, “Life ain’t always empty”. Debut, Dogrel's, Sha Sha Sha with its visceral refrain, moved into the title track from album three, Skinty Fia and maintained an ebb and flow that rolled throughout the set. Lead singer, Grian Chatten, spun around the stage with a nervous energy, black sunglasses hiding his face until halfway through the set, at which time he really started to settle in. I Don’t Belong pumped hard with the crowd churning and throbbing as crowd-surfers defied security and Chatten really hitting his straps, stalking the stage, his trademark monotone vocal, soaring around the venue.
It wasn’t until halfway through the set that Chatten finally spoke, his Dublin drawl hard to decipher, but something about, “We’ve been trying for four years”, before diving into the dry, How Cold Love Is. With all the excitement and energy in the crowd, even the most downbeat tracks bristled amongst the crowd. The band of musicians are a big reason for this. Despite usual guitarist Carlos O’Connell not making the Australian trip due to the impending birth of his first child, Cathal MacGabhann from fellow Irish band The Altered Hours filled in more than admirably, but it was the pounding rhythm of bassist Conor Deegan III and drummer Tom Coll that kept the Fontaines train driving forward. Their flawlessly constant and persistent beat, never rushing but patiently steering the way through a show that may not have had a lot of flair from the instrumentation but was dense with sound and tight in its engineering.
A brief pause saw Chatten check on members of the heaving crowd, who by this point were a sodden mess (some water was kindly provided), before Jackie Down The Line burst from the stage. The more melodic track giving the lead singer, and the crowd, a chance to push their voices even harder.
Too Real powerfully ended the main set and saw Deegan III throw his bass to the floor before repeatedly slamming the headstock into the stage. This is the sort of punk ethos that delighted the crowd as the bass was roughly discarded on the stage as the band members departed.
Of course, there was to be an encore and Boys In The Better Land was lustfully belted out before, finally, Chatten’s imperturbable façade cracked, and he smiled and broke a tambourine into multiple parts before performing the ultimate track, I Love You.
This was a show that was worth the wait. The crowd knew that; the band knew that. Fontaines D.C’s music represents so much of the last three years, and it was encapsulated in a cathartic and visceral display before a hungry and desperate crowd. It gave us the energy and will to drive forward, just like the band have and will continue to. As we walked into the muggy night, we just hoped it was the first of many similar performances in Australia for many years.