God Is An Astronaut at the Academy – Review and Photos
God Is An Astronaut at the Academy, Dublin
October 26th 2013
“God’s an astronaut. Oz is over the rainbow, and Midian is where the monsters live.” This is the line from the 1990 movie “Nightbreed” that inspired the name of Wicklow based post-rock band God Is An Astronaut. Approaching the end of a 25 date European tour including stops in Cork and Belfast, the quintet (formed in 2002 by twin brothers Niels and Torsten Kinsella) perform in the Academy tonight. While the venue is not sold-out, there is a considerable crowd present to see these local lads who appear to be impressing fans abroad more than at home in Ireland.
Their music is mostly instrumental, with vocals used more as another musical instrument rather than for their lyrical substance. The lyrics, when present, are often distorted with synthesisers, giving an appropriate space-age theme to the sound. The four guitarists, all dressed casually in jeans and t-shirts, play as if they are jamming in their own rehearsal space, banging their heads and interacting with each other while obviously enjoying the session. The drumming by Lloyd Hanney is precise and heavy on double bass. They have abandoned their customary background video display which has accompanied their songs for most of their live career, relying instead on their own stage presence and antics to hold the attention of their audience.
On several occasions, they stress that it is good to be home, and thank the crowd for their support. They play a few tracks from their brand new album “Origins” including “Calistoga”, “Reverse World” and “Transmissions”, but also blast out plenty of tunes from their six album back-catalogue like “From Dust to the Beyond” and “Fire Flies and Empty Skies”.
Introducing “Calistoga”, Torsten declares that “this song is for all the ladies”. He continues to tell of their recent show in Portugal when he asked one of the locals how to say “this song is for all the ladies” in Portuguese. Unfortunately, the Portuguese word for “ladies” sounds very similar to the Portuguese word for “boobies”, resulting in a rather regrettable dedication.
Without the catchy sing-along lyrics that often disguise the absence of real musical talent in some bands, the audience exhibit little enthusiasm for much of tonight’s talented performance. The gentle bobbing of heads makes it hard to judge whether they are unimpressed or enthralled by the music. The shortage of lyrics also tends to make the tracks quite repetitive in terms of song structure and style, and the risk of the entire show blurring into a single memory becomes very real. Thankfully, they pull a rabbit from the hat for the finale of “Route 666” from their 2002 debut album by donning Slipknot-esque horror clown masks, which heightens the audience’s enthusiasm for one last tune.
Review by Alan Daly
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko