Scoops At Whelan’s – Review
It’s a standard Thursday night in Whelan’s as the usual suspects crowd the bar, discussing the working week so far and all the potential activities for the forthcoming weekend. However, upstairs in the venue section is entirely different, there’s a palpable air of eager chatter, and the place is almost heaving with bodies as people try to sneak around fellow patrons in order to catch a glimpse of the stage. You see, tonight is the EP launch for Scoops, a Dublin based four piece, with a reputation that clearly precedes them, judging by the crowd that has turned out on a chilly week night in the capital.
As the band stride on to the stage, there’s an apparent confidence to their presence; having spent some time touring with fellow indie/rock group Keywest, the boys are no strangers to the otherwise unnerving murmur that seems to have engulfed the top floor of Whelan’s. The eagerness of fans is noticeable as this soft chatter is quickly replaced by a triumphant clamour of sound as the band pick up their instruments. The die-hard fans are to the front and are already chanting at the band, and with a cool confidence the frontman, Stephen Cooper, welcomes the audience to their launch night. The sanguine manner in which the band face down a room full of hungry fans is impressive, and their time supporting other bands has clearly served them well. However, tonight is their night and they’re certain as to how they wish to spend it.
The band start out with tracks such as ‘Best of You’ and ‘Stuck on You’, from their debut EP Scenes of Joy, and it becomes apparent that they already know exactly how to get a crowd excited. The room almost begins to pulse, with fans singing along and chanting the band members’ names. Having just played a closing set in Whelan’s ‘Ones to Watch’, which received much praise, their performance on Thursday probably made them feel right at home. In fairness to frontman, Cooper, he knows how to handle a room, his casual interplay with the fan, the way in which he provokes them into putting their drinks down, putting their hands together, and just dancing like nobody’s watching (and there was plenty of that). His humour and chat in between songs underscores their impassioned performance, providing the perfect balance between serious musical performance and a casual Thursday night. On top of that, his track ‘Goodbye’ marks him out to be a serious songwriter as well a musician. It’s a track that’s possibly from a more inexperienced time, but the heart and message are certainly evident. Yet, it’s not just Cooper that marks himself out as an excellent performer, drum and percussion player, Stephen O’Rourke performs a drum solo, at one point, that can only be described as awe-inducing.
As the band close their set with the title track of their EP, ‘Scenes of Joy’, one can just tell they’re in their element as a band. There’s an enthusiasm amongst them as they catch each other’s eyes and share a sly grin, and this energy just seems to extend into the audience as they almost drown out the band with their chanting along to the chorus, which is one that has to be listened to to be believed.