Fontaine’s D.C. @ O2 Institute 25 November 2019

Digbeth is well known in the Birmingham area for it’s close links to the Irish community, in fact, it can sometimes be referred to as the Irish quarter, so it seems like a fitting area for Dublin’s finest rock export of 2019. I was actually lucky enough to have been sent a promo of one of their earliest releases back in early 2018 and to see Fontaines D.C. grow over this last year has been fantastic. It was announced that their debut album Dogrel was the BBC 6 Music album of the year today. Quite rightly, too, in my opinion, so my expectations for tonight were set high, and I was expecting the hype that surrounds the band to be secured.

The support came from Warm Drag a 2-piece from Los Angeles. The duo was quite compelling but also quite hard to describe as well. I guess if you like something a bit unique and quirky, then this was the band for you. However, I wasn’t really sure that their sound had the right feel for the post-punk loving Fontaine’s fan base. Don’t get me wrong they were captivating enough, but their synths and soundscape electronic vibes just didn’t quite hit the right mark. There were a couple of times that I started to see a bit of movement, particularly with the third track that they played, but it was limited. The band continued to give it everything they had throughout the 30-minute set hardly stopping for breath as their music meandered its way through the venue.

I found it interesting that it was a sell-out show, yet there was no queue. I couldn’t help thinking that was a testimony to the age of fan that they have captured. The young band have definitely got a type of fan; it is that of a particular age longing for something that can ignite the fire that they had when they first heard that post-punk vinyl that they brought from Swordfish records. It is so easy to see why.

The band’s frontman Grian Chatten has been likened to Ian Curtis so many times, and it’s so true. As the band came on stage, he paced around and around. Throughout the set, he would be continually grasping the air. There was a moment when he turned and looking up to the lights above him, trying to capture something in an almost spiritual way before grabbing the mic stand and banging it on the floor launching into Hurricane Laughter (one of the first tracks they released). The likeness to Joy Division doesn’t end with Grian’s emotive mannerisms on stage, the vibrant and pulsing basslines, monotone singing and oscillating drumming help to cement the likeness.

Every single track was delivered with a charismatic rawness and perfection that I haven’t seen for a long time. This is a damp, miserable and cold Monday night, but it hasn’t put off the excitable crowd, every single track seems to be anthemic, and for an album that is only 7 months old, that is impressive. I think everyone knew every word to nearly every song. The band let the music do all of the talking, Grian is a man of very few words, there was the occasional thank you but tonight was all about showcasing the art that they had crafted with their debut and their beautifully unpolished sound. 

This was a night that started with a bang and ended with a bang. There was a scattering of relaxing yet captivating moments with ‘The Lotts’ and ‘Television Screens’, but mostly we had exactly what you would expect from the post-punk championing Dubliners. Chequeless Reckless was full of the aggressive energy and nervous excitement that you picture when you listen to it. One of the highlights for me was Sha Sha Sha I loved the way that the stage and in particular the drummer was highlighted with green and white lighting it was a stroke of simple but effective genius. ‘Too Real’ and ‘Boys in the Better Land sent the venue into a mosh driven frenzy.

Everything about tonight was punk, the rawness, the animosity, the aggression yet softness of the music and the fact that they don’t encore! I loved it!! 

Fontaines D.C. are a band that you need to see full stop! There are no ifs, and there are no buts! The Irish band are not only one of the most exciting and essential bands to surface this year, for me, but they are also one of the most influential and inspiring alternative bands of this decade!!

Set List

Hurricane Laughter

Chequeless Reckless.

Televised Mind.

Sha Sha Sha

Lucid Dream

The Lotts.

Television Screens

Roy’s Tune 

Too Real

Liberty Belle

Boys in the better land



Reviewer: Imran Khan

Photographer: Stephanie Colledge 

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