- Live Review
- 21 Jun 22
Luna Sky (pictured), Ora Fantoma, Waterdogs, Vacuity, and LG4 Wheezy joined forces to provide a wild night of entertainment.
Friday, June 17, was a night full of music and culture in Cork city. So, I chose to visit one of the most well-regarded (and wild) institutions in south Irerland's punk scene: Fred Zeppelins.
"Fred's," as it's known to regulars, is the kind of pub where Buckfast is sold by the measure and the smoking area, through a clever effort, is just a room with a hole in the ceiling – but nothing could make you want to leave.
The first floor of Fred's greets you with the stage room, on many nights home to roughly 60 attendees. Upon walking in, I immediately understood why my friends always described Fred's as "one of the sweatiest venues in the country." Still, there's an overwhelming charm about the place that sparks a curious desire to examine its every inch.
The gig on this particular night was put together by the hands of an up-and-coming Irish production company, Relapse Promotions. Relapse has Overdose Festival to its name, which took place in Limerick until pandemic closures brought about its finale. Since the easing of restrictions, the group rebranded to Relapse, put on a series of gigs and successfully staged a full day festival, with more to come. The effort of local musicians, Relapse clearly understands the art of collecting talent fit for a stellar night.
The first floor of Fred's was packed with an eclectic looking bunch as the first act kicked off – from women in chokers and fishnets to guys clad in flannel, and everything in between. I was prepped for whatever this show would throw my way.
LG4 Wheezy was first up to take the stage. The Cork-based LG4 rap collective offered various sounds and styles, elevated by Wheezy (Adam Graham) jumping in for a few songs by other members LG4 Trey and LG4 Ness. Adam describes Wheezy's sound as "emo rap," but, "less rapping and more singing," explaining he's "quite fond of the auto-tune and how much you can mess with it." During 'I can't do this on my own', it dawned on me that Adam's voice is a perfect meld of Brendan Urie and Garrett Nash, yet grittier. Despite the chaos of people jumping on and off the stage, Wheezy put on an exuberant performance, presenting an enticing preface for their upcoming, end of summer single release featuring Trey and Ness.
Up next, Limerick band Vacuity exploded onto the stage. This post hardcore/alternative metal outfit are a wildly chaotic group of teens from as young as 15 years old (yes – their guitarist, Daniel Blake, is a child prodigy). The quartet described their sound as "broken white boy music" with a smidge of "teenage nasal whining." The band have travelled through different sounds since their union, settling on a much chiller tone once drummer Conor Brennan joined the family.
Vacuity have a very distinct split in their sound between their two vocalists/guitarists/bassists, Seth Collins and Ben Young. Ben brings an indie-rock flair to the band, whereas Seth leans into a punk/alt-metal sound. While you'd wonder whether a defined lead singer would benefit Vacuity, there's no doubt these kids – with their Nirvana inspired tracks ('Lighthouse'), and a vivacious, youthful enthusiasm – are going far and fast. Check out their debut EP Bull In A China Shop below.
The evening's diverse lineup pushed on with three-piece band Waterdogs. The Limerick-bred group are a unique blend of blues and grunge, citing their influences as Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Fox Jaw, and Kerbdog.
"I would say we're very '90s. That's kind of the adjective that springs to mind," bassist Ciara Hayes divulged.
Guitarist and main melodist/lyricist Aaron Griffin also delved into the band's sound, saying, "I guess the point of it is, we write the songs we want to play, and we don't really try to think too much about what genre they are. The genre is whatever we want to play."
Their setlist for the night proved Waterdogs are certainly not contained to one genre. The tracks varied from intense grunge to soft, melodic indie tunes. Frontman and vocalist Gearoid Relihan boasted an intense vocal range and clear potential, though his tone might benefit from greater vocal and breath control toward the tracks' end. Despite some intensely melancholy lyrics, their melodies made you want to sing along, especially in 'Ash' or 'Brainfog,' while 'Friday Night' had us in our feels. The band have yet to release any tracks, but plan to play live throughout the year.
Ora Fantoma sat as the penultimate act of the night. Groovy alt-rock/dark techno rhythms oozed through Fred's, bringing the crowd to their feet for a welcome boogie. The band started out in 2019 as a two piece formed upon guitar, bass and vocals and have progressed into a trio, adding Rory Craig into the mix on keys/occasional synth.
Vocalist and bassist Colm O'Brien described how their sets always end up heavier when playing in Fred's, sharing, "We have a very heavy element to our sound but I suppose we've always been like we don't identify as a super heavy band, that's just a component to it."
Pierce Peppard's strong drum skills drove the rock momentum of the performance, whilst the use of keys and synth throughout their set added a slight indie element. Their new track, 'Wretch,' is set for release on July 25.
Night headliners Luna Sky absolutely blew me away from note one. The trio is comprised of siblings Jess and Greg Halford, alongside bassist Keith Smith. The moment their set began, I was reminded of a heavier Two Door Cinema Club, with elements of Razorlight and Foo Fighters. Solid melodies and impressive bass solos struck all the right chords throughout their performance – though the addition of a second guitarist could summon a fuller sound to their raw tracks.
Strong indie-rock vocals really took the cake. Donning a Hawaiian shirt and a beaming grin, I wasn't expecting Greg to open his mouth and for an amalgamation of Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain to come out.
Luna Sky's debut EP Not On The Radio released in March on all streaming platforms, and you better believe I've had it on repeat since catching them live. Tracks like 'Richie' and 'Craving Love' will sell you on this band immediately - but take my word for it, their live performance was a unique force of its own.
Without knowing what to expect from this gig, I left thoroughly taken with the acts and especially impressed by Relapse Promotions. It should come as no surprise, but a team of musicians know how to put on a good show. I look forward to my next venture to the Rebel County to see what else Fred's has in store...
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