Concert Reviews

This Weekend, Fontaines D.C. Was the Band To Know

Fontaines D.C. frontman Grian Chatten was the one to watch on Friday.
Fontaines D.C. frontman Grian Chatten was the one to watch on Friday. Mike Brooks
On Friday night, Fontaines D.C. played a show at The Studio at the Factory. Originally from Dublin, the band now calls London home, and are touring behind their third album, Skinty Fia. Both of their first albums drew critical praise and awards in the U.K. and Ireland, and their second album, A Hero’s Death, was nominated for a Grammy. Meanwhile, Skinty Fia has risen to the top spot on both U.K and Irish album charts. It's a band Dallas should know.

"Jackie Down the Line" is the first single off Skinty. There are hundreds of definitions of a "Jackie," or more properly “Jackeen” or Little Jack."  Wiktionary gives us “an arrogant lower class person, especially in Dublin” and “A Dubliner, especially an excessively anglophile one.” Note that in the Republic of Ireland, being excessively anglophile is not a compliment.

There is no doubt that singer Grian Chatten and Fontaines D.C. are embracing the darker end of the definition. Whether it's self-loathing (Chatten is half British), or proud defiance is unclear. What is certain is that the band embraces their roots in no uncertain terms. If the gang from Peaky Blinders made music, it might sound just like this. Deal with it.
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Grian Chatten takes stock of the crowd.
Mike Brooks

Onstage, there was one more thing to be taken care of before the band came out, as Chatten’s microphone was secured to the mic stand with electrical tape. When the set began, he carved restless circles around the stand like a caged animal, pulling on the cord or slamming the entire stand down to end a song.
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Grian Chatten going round and round.
Mike Brooks

Occasionally, he bounced up front over the stage monitors to survey the rest of the zoo. The song lyrics work the same way. With the ear of a poet, Chatten would use words like a guitar riff, leveraging repeated phrasing to wormhole his message into your subconscious. Around it goes until it sticks.
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Grian Chatten gave the crowd their money's worth.
Mike Brooks
The band behind him was relentless, built like a champion EPL team. Guitarists Carlos O'Connell and Conor Curley provided flash out on the wings, with Conor Deegan (bass and occasional guitar) and drummer Tom Coll giving the club a reliable, constant structure up the middle. 
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A little flash on the edge.
Mike Brooks
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Some more flash on the other edge.
Mike Brooks
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Keeping the band steady with structure up the middle.
Mike Brooks
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Tom Coll, Fontaines D.C.
Mike Brooks
Opening for Fontaines D.C. on this tour is another London-based band, Jacob Slater’s Wunderhorse. It
should have been obvious that this would be guitar-driven rock and roll when Slater came out in a Metallica shirt. Unsure what to make of the thunderous riffs, the crowd seem initially a little ambivalent. That completely changed when the band had to pause to fix the drum kit. Instead of standing around or offering nervous chit-chat, Slater went solo with a quiet, delicate number that hushed the entire room. From that moment on, everyone was on his side.
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Wunderhorse was the perfect opener.
Mike Brooks
With The Mars Volta playing a second sold-out show in the adjacent room, and Roxy Music holding court at the American Airlines Center, there was a lot of competition for Friday’s entertainment dollar. Undoubtedly, those who chose Fontaines D.C consider it money well spent. The Fontaines D.C. are a young band putting together an impressive catalog of work. Their songwriting puts them well above most of their peers. Don’t let the “met over a common love of poetry” legend fool you; this is a group with a darkly attractive edginess that will suck you in. They are Frankie down the line.

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Grian Chatten of Fontaines D.C. Still going round and round.
Mike Brooks
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The setlist for the Irish band.
Mike Brooks
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Mike Brooks

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