It is not very often that you will come across a young band in the early stages of experimenting with making music and finding their style of performing that can command attention with great urgency. Then again, not all bands currently emerging on the Irish music circuit have the sonic innovation and inherent fun that exudes effortlessly from Dublin quartet, Munky. After a successful closing set at the One’s To Watch showcase in Whelan’s towards the end of last month, the band returned to the venue to play their first sold out headline show.
Munky are an overtly exuberant band made up of four friends (Zac Stephenson, Sam Russell, Conor Lawlor and Niall Donnelly) that came together over mutual and varied musical tastes spanning Nirvana, Chic, Robert Johnson and Blink 182. Artists that you wouldn’t naturally put together, but when those influences are pieced together in the right configuration create a dynamic sound that is infectious, unpredictable and fun. Thus, producing the kind of music that is best enjoyed in a live setting.
Support on the night came from The Optimists and Sub Motion, both acts were well received by the audience, warming them up nicely for the main event. As ten o’clock drew closer the crowd continued to swell and congregated close to the stage, awaiting the arrival of the band. You couldn’t help but feel energised by the ominous feeling of excitement in the room. The crowd were noticeably young densely populated by pals, parents and people that enjoy discovering the breakthrough bands of the year. Everyone ceremoniously unting once the music began, devoting their attention to the band.
The diversity throughout Munky’s influences made for an eclectic setlist. They chose to open the gig with some of their heavier rock numbers (‘You’ve Got Male and ‘Regular Fool ‘84’) before transitioning nicely into the funky side of Munky’s repertoire, manifesting in their current single, ‘Hunter Gatherer Blues.’ This was the pivotal moment in the show, the moment when the crowd and band fused through the contagious disco-blues-rock infusion of guitar, bass and drums. They maintained the momentum by continuing with a cover, unchartered territory for the band prior to this outing. They gave Childish Gambino’s ‘Redbone’ from Awaken! My Love a new lease of life, their rendition was absolutely phenomenal. Not phased by the universal magnitude that Glover’s most recent album has had upon online publications and fans, Munky make the song their own.
The interaction between the guys while they played demonstrated that naturally have a very tight musical connection, every moment of their set was faultless and empowered by their passion for making and playing music. With such an incredible debut on the main stage at Whelan’s it is hard to imagine how they can improve, making the prospect of seeing them again live all the more exciting.