Tag Archives: Spies

Ones To Watch: Day Three

Sleep Thieves performing in The Village on Day Three. (Deadly) photo by Ruth Medjber.

Day Three of Ones To Watch 2012 boasted more musician-with-laptop types than any other event I’ve been to on Irish shores, which, at first, appeared to be good news for the beat-hungry paying customer, but bad news for the artists themselves. With so many similar acts on the bill, how does Joey Two Synth make his name count? And more importantly, how many individuals from this tipsy Friday night crowd will be able to remember it tomorrow?

There’s no questioning the Irish appetite for computer-generated sounds – you only have to look to the drool-inducing line-up gracing the Twisted Pepper tonight (SertOneBantumMontoDatadrip, Reid and more) for proof that electronic music is in marvelously good health – but a truckload of them all at once was just too much to process. At least, this is what I assumed.

As it happened, the acts on last night’s bill were innovative and versatile enough to vanquish my worries completely. On first gawk, it would have been easy to mix up Last Days Of 1984, Tenaka and White Collar Boy or equally, Reid, Simon Bird, Bantum and Trophy Boyfriend, but each set was genuinely memorable, with each new sound tugging at a different nerve.

I’m not even going to attempt a comprehensive review of last night’s goings-on. Reid delivered above and beyond what I was expecting. Daithi trumped anything I’ve seen him do before. It was a night for overachieving.

Tonight, at the band-heavy fourth installment of Ones To Watch, I’ll be asking the same questions as before, only replacing Joey Two Synth with Billy New Strat. If I get anywhere near as encouraging an answer, I’ll be a very happy punter.





Last Days Of 1984

White Collar Boy


Simon Bird

School Tour

Trophy Boyfriend


Sleep Thieves

North Sea

Morning Hush

Girl Band*

Ghost Estates

* Change from original line-up which listed Future Monarchs.

The Good:

White Collar Boy

The brainchild of Dubliners Gavin White and Mark Cummins, White Collar Boy sound mightily impressive on wax (by which of course I mean SoundCloud), but their oft-peaceful electronica took on a whole different form in the upstairs crook of Whelan’s last eve. The dreamy, ambient grooves on their Solar Midnight mini-album gave way to freewheeling rhythms, razor-sharp hooks and periodically, bone-shaking thumps, made all the more charming with some eerie, booming vocals. I was pretty floored to learn that their first live show took place only a month ago.

The Great:

Simon Bird performing in Whelan’s on Day Three. Photo by Ruth Medjber.

Simon Bird

Dublin-based Brit Simon Bird is the man responsible for one of my favourite sets at 2011’s Hard Working Class Heroes festival, so I was hardly surprised when I fell for his jarring, industrial grooves all over again last night. The real miracle is that, in just three months, Bird’s live show has become sharper, louder and all the more engaging.

A bonus: if you took a step back and squinted, it kinda sorta looked like Prince Harry was banging out the choons.

The Painfully Clever:

Trophy Boyfriend:

Dublin-based production whiz and probable evil genius Gregor Ruigrok AKA Trophy Boyfriend didn’t so much as flinch when he dropped his remix of Jedward’s ‘Lipstick’ towards the end of his set, but, to me at least, it felt like a dastardly plan to trick music-lovers into dancing blissfully along to the country’s most frequently-bemoaned musical duo. And dance they did…while bellowing out the reconstituted chorus. Interestingly enough, Trophy Boyfriend received equally ecstatic reactions for remixes of tracks by The Cast Of Cheers (‘Family’) and Le Galaxie (‘Powers Of Miami’), two bands whom it is acceptable, nay demanded, for any self-respecting Irish music fan to like. Clever, clever lad.







Dying Seconds


Holy Roman Army

The Gandhis

Come On Live Long

Hush War Cry

Nanu Nanu

Trap Door

Futures Apart


Gypsies On The Autobahn

For times, go here.

Ones To Watch 2012: Day One

When you’re broke, which most of the people I come into contact with on a regular basis are, it’s easy to focus on the cost of something, rather than the value. This is why the idea behind Whelan’s Ones To Watch festival strikes me as being so flamboyantly clever. The value is big (acts you know and acts you don’t, all working hard to be remembered) and the cost is low (€5 or €10).

For those who haven’t been, here’s how it works; the price of a pint earns you one night of music, or up to 15 acts, depending on the day. For the price of two pints, you get four nights’ entertainment and a potential 50 acts. Now, here’s where my own analogy comes back to bite me in the ass. Whether you’ve shelled out the price of one jar or two, your ticket stub also covers the cost of … a pint, courtesy of Heineken Music who sponsor the event along with Musicmaker Ireland. The thing’s a steal, is what I’m saying.

To further maximise the value, the line-up is a genre-hopping, hype-dodging cross-section of the Irish music scene, taking in acts we’ve seen and loved before (The Dying Seconds, Daithi, Spies, Alarmist), acts we’ve heard and can’t wait to see (Lethal Dialect, The Altered Hours) and acts we just… well, like the sound of (Bridges Of Madison County, Wizards Of Firetop Mountain, Trophy Boyfriend, White Collar Boy).

Forgive me for gushing, but I feel that in January, the month when money, excitement and banter are at a year-long low, it’s nice of Ones To Watch to throw us a bone, on all three counts.

Here’s what happened last night…


The Line-up:

Elaine Mai





Wyvern Lingo

Laura Sheeran *

Deaf Joe

Hello Moon


*Laura Sheeran did not perform, but will be playing on Saturday night with her band Nanu Nanu.

The Good:


Singer, songwriter and all-round musical demon Tony Wright must be starting to get a little weary of the constant comparisons between current project, stargazing acoustic outfit VerseChorusVerse and his previous role as the fury behind And So I Watch You From Afar’s fearless, wordless rock. Still, here we all are, bringing it up at every opportunity, instead of judging his sweet ‘n’ softhearted folk for what it is. Last night, I began to realise why the comparison has not been allowed to slip. Wright approaches his tender acoustic ditties with the same tenacity that he brought to the mighty ASIWYFA, even bellowing out in full voice when the song takes him… only this time, he has to create the hush all by himself. The kid’s got guts, and an adoring and, for the most part, totally silent Whelan’s crowd appear to agree.

Also very, very good: Deaf Joe, whose powerful songs betray his shy stage presence.

The Great:

Elaine Mai

There are more than a couple of similarities between 26-year-old multi-instrumentalist Elaine Mai and longtime collaborator Daithi, who happens to be performing at OTW 2012 this Friday. Both artists use live looping to create a sound that is remarkably large and lush, and most baffling of all, totally organic. In Ms. Mai’s case, this means recording and repeating guitar, synth, glockenspiel, vocals and a bit of creative percussion (she’s been known to box a beat in her time) until the figure of a song starts to peek through. Granted, it takes a lot of patience to enjoy an Elaine Mai show, but it pays off when you get to the money moment, the inevitable climax at the end of each tune when all the layers slot triumphantly together and the drama reaches its pinnacle. Even if it only lasts a couple of seconds, when Mai gets it right, it’s dynamite.

The Surprise: 

Wyvern Lingo

Acoustic trio Wyvern Lingo have been around for a while now (five years if MySpace serves me right…which it rarely does), but watching their packed-out Ones To Watch show, I can see why they’ve remained acoustic for so long. Karen Cowley (keys), Saoirse Duane (guitar) and Caoimhe Barry (percussion) all possess colossal voices, echoing everyone’s favourite chart-topping wonderwomen Florence Welch and Adele Adkins. It would be sacrilegious to bury their faultless harmonies in an electronic fuzz, so thankfully, Wyvern Lingo have been clever enough to keep it simple. The result is, to be lazy, a female take on Mumford And Sons or Local Natives, and to be frank, an absolute treat.

Also a surprise: the unplugged, feelgood tales of Dublin trio Elevens.


Wizards Of Firetop Mountain

No Spill Blood

Lethal Dialect



Altered Hours

Agitate The Gravel

Trumpets Of Jericho **


Bridges Of Madison County

Melodica Deathship

** Trumpets Of Jerico have sadly pulled out due to illness.

For stage times, go here.