The Music From Ireland showcase at Fat Baby took place in a cramped basement underneath the club, but that didn’t stop these musicians from putting on quite a show. As one of the more varied showcases this writer has ever been to, it was exhilarating to go from acoustic folk, to psych-pop, to noise-punk.
First off, Fionn Regan took the stage all by his lonesome, quietly and graciously. His entire stage presence consisted of standing in one place, looking straight ahead and just playing. And what playing it was. The diminutive singer with the soft-spoken demeanor went away, and the folkster who filled the room with his voice and his guitar came out. Playing a mix of older songs and songs from his upcoming album, 100 Acres Of Sycamore, Regan took control of the capacity crowd from the first note and didn’t let go until the last string vibration faded from the epic closer, “The Lake District.” It was a testament to the power that one man and his guitar can have in this day of reverb, keyboards and double-bass drums.
That’s not to say that a full band pales in comparison, as proved by the following act, the charmingly titled and stylized FRED. The five-some was all smiles throughout its set, joking with both friends and fans in the audience. The lead singer was especially charming and self-deprecating, mocking his sweaty glasses and the tiny venue. All in good fun, of course. The group’s music was a mix of pop and psych-rock that resided somewhere in between Los Campesinos! (matured) and Stone Roses. There were lots of harmonies throughout, as every member (minus the drummer) gave singing a shot, with great success. As the set wound down, one of the light technicians turned down the bright lights, which led to a dark and intimate atmosphere for the final, fascinating songs. FRED may not have the most memorable of names, but its tunes rung in the air for quite some time after the set finished.
Finally came Funeral Suits, dressed in swagger and tight pants. The band’s music is abrasive, reverb-filled and somehow poppy. It’s what you could call post-pop-punk, if you were so willing. Whatever you wish to call it, it’s clear that these guys are not for the faint of heart. From the very start, drums were pounded, guitars were thunderously played, and keyboards ejected walls on walls on walls of sound. It was enough to fill the tiny venue with a palpable wave of sonic distortion, and it was all quite thrilling. The two lead singers somehow managed to penetrate that choking tide of noise to deliver some quality melodies, when they weren’t screaming along with their instruments.