Shouting at Planes at Whelan’s – Review
Shouting at Planes at Whelan’s – March 12th
Cavan’s Shouting at Planes are one of those bands that seem to have somehow crept under my radar, despite amassing a sizeable following in the four years since their inception. They celebrated the release of their latest effort, ‘St Jude EP’ upstairs in Whelan’s on Wednesday, following on the back of their previous EP ‘Surrender’.
To me, Dublin is a city that feels a little awkward at social events ‘til it’s had a few pints, and playing on its phone and going for a few more fags than it planned to. With work looming, and funds not quite stretching to three nights on the lash per week, I get a little fearful as bands get ready to play at mid-week gigs, fearful that the reaction is going to be a far dryer one than they’d expected it’d be, and hoping that they don’t look too disappointed.
Not the case at this gig, with the warm reception from the packed house providing ample energy to feed both acts. Red Queen Contest opened the night, playing a superb brand of uptempo rock, delivered via heavily-reverbed guitars, soaring dual vocals and a punchy bass. Most bands are blessed to have one accomplished vocalist, but these selfish pricks kept two for themselves, sharing the lead at first, but then combining in gorgeous harmonies to thrill. They power through 40-minute set of sheer quality, a lively and at times aggressive introduction for Shouting at Planes, specialising at taking surprising twists in the tracks, but returning to a satisfying resolve when necessary. Their debut album is available on Bandcamp, and definitely worth a listen.
On come Shouting at Planes, opening with a brief moody number, complete with ebow, delay and all the usual Sigur Ros tricks, before settling into their buoyant alternative part-rock part-blues sound. The band boast a tight rhythm section, strong drumming and basslines to die for, overlaid with rhythm and lead guitars, and vocalist/saxophonist Liam McCabe leading the charge, with the odd bit of trumpet thrown in for good measure. The result is an excellent mix of sounds and energy that exudes fun and keeps the crowd lively.
Unfortunately, Shouting at Planes remain a tough band to categorise in the reviewer’s “It’s like Queen meets Ke$ha!” sort of cliché. Each time during the gig that I felt I had come up with an apt comparison, they’d suddenly switch to a completely different sound and I’d have to start all over. On record, it’s more obvious than it is live without the benefit of all the backing instruments, but it’s fascinating to watch them genre-hop while still producing song-after-song of highly enjoyable music. They burst through an hour’s set, peppered with songs from the new EP, including standout track, ‘Can’t Keep Up’, which boasts one of those riffs that you could just jam to forever, and ‘To the Sea’ also producing a memorable climax.
In summary, a fantastic gig, with two superbly-paired bands, matched perfectly in their energy, both of whom with a now-permanent spot in my more uptempo playlists.
Review by Conor Cosgrave