Genre Free (photos & review)
Monday March 25th saw a collection of bands hit The Button Factory stage as part of the Genre Free album launch. Genre Free is a non-profit development label dedicated to the promotion of Ireland’s unsigned musicians and music industry technicians. NDT Productions are those responsible for the Genre Free project and last night saw the release of their second Genre Free album. Four acts came out on top of the competition to record on the album for free at Temple Lane studios and spent the night proving exactly why they deserved to be there. With free entry to the gig, a crowd was quick to fill the Button Factory floor but regardless throughout the night repeatedly proved to be tough crowd to please.
Seven acts performed across two stages, alternating in a Jools Holland style for the night. Only four of these acts are featured on the album, the second and acoustic stage serving only as a filler for main stage intervals; and unfortunately, with good reason. The acoustic stage was a collection of cover bands, and nervous faces, filled with forgotten lyrics and missed starts, to be graciously saved by a guitarist who did more than justice to an acoustic rendition of Red Hot Chilli Peppers “Under The Bridge”.
Kalare, a Kilkenny singer-songwriter was first to take to the main stage accompanied for her first two songs by only a piano and her backing singers. Quick to prove a strong vocal range, Kalare doesn’t really come into her own until joined by the remainder of her band. She proves most comfortable with full backing and her strong sultry tones and songwriting are both equally impressive. Songs such as ‘Translator’ and “You Light Up” are highlights of her set, gaging full attention of an otherwise difficult crowd.
Second up on the main stage is Kildare indie rock band, Super Hanz. Their own songs are dominated by Foals-esque guitar riffs and lead singer Stephen Fagan’s distinctive vocals are oddly reminiscent of those of Kings of Leon frontman Caleb Followill. In theory, the mix should not work but in reality make for a distinctive and captivating sound. They announce that their bassist is merely a stand-in a fact that would have otherwise gone unnoticed, with Rory Boyle flawlessly pulling off the set. In the midst of their set they launch into a Maccabee’s cover of “No Kind Words” and Fagan briefly strays from his distinctive diction but nonetheless pull off an outstanding cover. Having already released an EP last year, Super Hanz own the stage proving the worth of live gig experience.
Rudy Trixx, a soulful ‘indie’ band hailing from Galway are next to grace the main stage. Listing Two Door Cinema Club, Plan B and Arctic Monkeys as some of their influences, Rudy Trixx take to the stage with a set that mashes the three together in a mix that gets the crowd going instantly. Frontman and singer, Callan Qualter’s enthusiasm is infectious and as he almost giddily dances around the stage, you cannot help but join in. Even in the bands more mellow tunes Qualter’s owns the stage and holds the crowd’s attention.The band seem to revel in the reaction of the crowd and only improve as the set goes on.
Last to take to the Genre Free main stage is a six piece collective from Limerick, Leading Armies, whose blend of funk and rock undoubtedly make them the most engaging band of the night. A slow and soulful intro from frontman Glen Scully bewitches the audience, demanding the crowds first and only instance of silence in the entire night. This soulful intro finally breaks into a ska-tinged drop and Leading Armies come together to showcase the physically charged performance style that has made them so popular to date. The most impressive aspect of this collective is that five out of six band members sing, and sing well, each with their own enthralling vocal tones. For such a young band, between them they hold years of live gig experience and this fact is clearly visible to an audience, who quickly lose their toughness. It is clear that this is a band who have much further to go and whose journey won’t end at a national stage.
Each of the four bands have contributed two songs each to the free album and on the night proved exactly why they deserved to be part of the exceptional project that is Genre Free.
You can get your free copy of the Genre Free album here.
Photos and review by Laur Ryan.