by James Fleming
When nitelife.ie walked into Fibber Magees on Parnell Street, Kiss My Acid were halfway through a rendition of Stiff Little Fingers’ ‘Suspect Device.’ The three piece band fronted by dreadlocked Foxboro Freda do a decent job, but the snotty vocals and Green Day-esque stage moves don’t capture the raw grit of the Fingers’ original.
Their snottiness works better on some tracks than others. For instance, replacing Glenn Danzig’s howl with Freda’s brattish vocals on ‘Hybrid Moments,’ doesn’t work. On Bikini Kill’s ‘Suck My Left One,’ however, it’s a match made in heaven. All the attitude of the original is there, but the song is not just a faithful replication. What, with their bassist Rick Wright’s backing vocals adding an unfamiliar edge to what was originally all female track.
By the end of the gig, the drummer has leapt from the stage and is pouring Buckfast down this writer’s throat. Freda herself has abandoned the guitar and is moshing with the crowd. Kiss My Acid were far from the best band of the night, but they gave it their all, and left an impression that will not be easily forgotten. And it’s only 10:00pm.
I was sceptical once I saw the tin whistle and the violin come out. Folk-punk bands can be, in this writer’s opinion, notoriously derivative. Re-hashing the same chords as the Pogues and doling out the same lyrics as the Dropkick Murphys.
But, after 22 years on the go, Greenland Whalefishers are a well-honed blade. Their brand of celt-punk is a refreshing burst of originality, never descending into drunken parody. Vocalist Arvid Grov is a shaman to rival the mighty Shane McGowan, and the band play together seamlessly.
They storm through their set at an alarming pace, breaking strings and displaying showmanship that bigger bands would drool over. The Rickenbacker bass stomps, the drums batter the crowd, Arvid growls, howls and sneers through 11 songs of the highest grade, walking the fine line between the good and evil tattooed on each of his arms. A wild gig. Arvid bids the crowd goodbye and wishes us well for the night. Even if it ended here, it would still be an awesome night.
A smoke break ensued. At this stage, our ears are ringing… painfully. Out in the beer garden, the crowd are roaring to be heard over the piercing noise that only they can hear. It’s thronged with the Dublin’s faithful. The football fans have left after whichever match was playing finished, leaving just the punks and rock n’ roll fans here for a night they’ll remember no matter how much they drink. And believe me they do drink…
You want proof of how dangerous rock music can still be? Before Paranoid Vision’s first song is over, a fist fight breaks out. Four, five, possibly six people roll around on the floor, throwing punches, kicks and whatever else they can at each other.
They’ve been pulled apart by the time the song finishes. But Deko Dachau still has a few choice words for them, and P.A System’s glare alone would be enough to shut anyone up; it’d kill an ass at a hundred paces.
PV are the best there is at what they do, they’ve ripped up the punk rule book and they do things their own way. The only way they know how. There are no less than six of them on stage tonight; screaming, thrashing and tearing through their 12 song set. And the crowd love it, they mosh as if their lives depend on it. Aoife Destruction’s vocals provide a stark but perfect contrast to Dachau’s roar. And for a singer that’s been snarling his way through one the most underrated punk rock sets since 1981, he can still give it all the balls and grit that it needs. P.A’s strumming hand never lets up through the whole show, going like the hammers of Hell. And he’s got a stare full of fury that John Lydon couldn’t have pulled off, even back in his glory days.
We could’ve listened to them all night, but their hour eventually reaches an end. They leave the stage and walk into the crowd, where they are greeted with shouted thanks, shaken hands and pats on the back. The night really could have ended here.
And it should have. Remember that line about folk-punk and it being derivative? Blood or Whiskey, bless them, can’t seem to shake that statement off. They give it wiggan your honour, but even the vocalist’s piercing stare doesn’t compare to Paranoid Visions’ show.
They plough through their set, featuring riotous covers of ‘Hand Me Down Me Bible,’ and ‘Guns of Navarone,’ but they don’t quite manage to set the audience afire like Paranoid Visions did, and their brand of folk-punk doesn’t hold up against Greenland Whalefishers’. There’s a stark contrast with the genuine sense of danger the moshers generated during PV’s set, and the drunks lurching into each other now.
One gentleman is throughly enjoying himself, exquisitely attired like it was 1977 and even sporting a Blood or Whiskey tattoo, but aside from him and the selection of drunkards at the front of the stage; the rest of us nod our heads in time and walk to the bar.
The dedicated drunks do attempt to carry the singer across the pub, but are halted by the low hanging stage lights. And that’s the sense you get from Blood or Whiskey. One of having not quite made it.