Live : KERBDOG w/BLACK SVAN & RAT NECK (Róisín Dubh, Galway – 11/04/15) Posted: 16/04/2015 by John O'Brien
There’s nothing quite like a good rock show. One where you’re guaranteed to see a number of bands playing a similar style, allowing you to enjoy the consistency of the night as a whole. However, things really get interesting when a gig’s bill features three outstandingly different bands playing entirely different genres on a single stage. That’s exactly what KERBDOG’s gig in Galway’s Róisín Dubh with support from BLACK SVAN and RAT NECK provided. With KERBDOG’s fan base spanning from youths to people who enjoyed their music back in the 1990s, along with BLACK SVAN and RAT NECK bringing their own respective crowds along, the stage was set for an incredibly memorable night.
The show opened with an interesting set from the Dublin based band known as RAT NECK. To say that RAT NECK were a simple punk act would be an insult to the band’s unbounded creativity. There are so many different genres and influences at work here that it’s borderline crazy. Yet it works and works well. At times there were hints of hardcore, other times they leaned towards surf music. One minute they might be reminiscent of 1980’s MISFITS, the next they’d have more in common with RANCID. All of this was wrapped up in an almost stoner/prog package with a purposely dirty guitar sound to match the band’s attitude. Their set was made even more enjoyable by the lead singer’s jokes about sexual relations and Irish politicians between songs, sometimes touching on both topics at once.
The tone changed when BLACK SVAN took to the stage, bringing with them a much more serious atmosphere. The Louth based five piece plays a style rarely heard on Ireland’s live circuit, mixing powerful vocals with thundering mid-tempo riffs to create a sound which seems to have roots in both blues and nu metal. Beginning with the aggressive track ‘Retribution’, which is in turn the opener to their debut album, BLACK SVAN tore through a large portion of their “16 Minutes” record with acute precision, at times sounding like a mature and sophisticated DROWNING POOL. Their tight set and full sound seemed even more impressive with the presence of their new drummer who’d only practiced with the band twice before the gig. Keith Caffrey’s powerful lead vocals were nothing short of jaw dropping as he touched on gritty verses and runaway melodic choruses with enough strength and confidence to make one think of ANTHRAX’s John Bush and DISTURBED’s David Draiman. BLACK SVAN meant business, and were not afraid to show it.
KERBDOG don’t play the “rock star” game. Before their set began, lead singer/guitarist Cormac Battle had already taken to the stage to tune up the right handed guitar he plays upside-down as a makeshift left-hander, and spent time cracking jokes about how he should be backstage instead of interacting with the Róisín Dubh’s crowd. Once the band joined him and played their opening note to ‘Pledge’, the crowd erupted! It was evident from the get go that the band were having just as much fun playing their old songs as the audience were hearing them. KERBDOG’s live presence is a buoyant one as Battle, guitarist Billy Dalton and bass bassist Colin Fennelly provide an energetic performance.
Their set was comprised of classic after classic, featuring choice cuts from their self-titled debut album, including ‘Dry Riser’, and a whole host of tracks from their “On The Turn” record. The active capacity crowd sang along with every word of such standout songs as Pointless, Rewind and Severed with a passion. Along with a barrage of their well-known 90s’ material, KERBDOG also played a their latest single, ‘Electricity’ which is, in turn, a take on an old unreleased demo track originally known as ‘Soaking Wet’. The real highlights however came in the shape of fan favourites ‘Sally’, ‘JJ’s Song’ and ‘Mexican Wave’. These high energy songs showed just what the Kilkenny band are really capable of.
There have been endless amounts of great rock acts from Ireland over the years, but very few have had the same impact or gathered as dedicated a fan base as KERBDOG. Their fun blend of grunge and punk sounds as good today as it did in the 1990s. The band may have aged, but the sound certainly has not. Add to this the light hearted atmosphere conveyed by the band at their shows and the reasons KERBDOG’s fans are still as loyal as ever quickly starts to make sense. Could Galway City have already housed the feel-good rock show of the year?