- 19 Jan 20
The third night of the Whelan's annual Ones to Watch festival held more new musical revelations for Hot Press. Once again, we have the scoop on the best of the night.
"That was a song about a man who turned into an insect. This one is about an insect that turned into a man." Thus begins the third night of the annual Whelan's Ones to Watch festival. Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra segues into their second tune with an offhand humour, though their songs are anything but humorous. "I hope everyone likes depression," front woman Sarah Deegan quips to the crowd, taking a sip of her pint and launching into "Scarlet Letter," inspired by the (rather depressing) Nathaniel Hawthorne novel. The motley crew of musicians before me weave gritty guitar and aggressive percussion over sincere poetry. There is a funk-like groove to the music, and Deegan's voice has – dare I say it – a touch of Dolores O'Riordan's intonation. They took a timid crowd and drew them in, making a tender but strong debut to the evening.
Up next are The Wha, and the cavernous expanse of Whelan's is suddenly teeming with people. Even the balcony is crammed, and all five foot three inches of me has to fight for a decent vantage point. The lads are barely out of the womb, but don't you dare call them fledglings. These are seasoned musicians, already drawing crowds that could sell out Whelan's by themselves. Their set opens on one of the best bass lines I've heard in years, quickly erupting into a chaotic, frenetic run of tracks. At boiling point, singer/guitarist Sam Cullen unleashes a primal scream. Everything is loud, but nary a note is out of place. As suddenly as it began, it's over. The crowd yells after them, but the boys simply pack up their instruments and take their leave. You're going to want to keep your eyes on these boys – rumour has it new music is on the horizon for March!
Meanwhile, upstairs is packed to the door for Bobbi Arlo. She has already worked with the likes of Tebi Rex and takes to the stage like it's her best friend. Her music sits somewhere on the spectrum of funk-pop, and her soulful voice and bubbly stage presence make it difficult not to be infected with positive energy. After giving her Mam a shout-out, she closes her set with feel-good hit 'Berries.' The crowd, of course, knows all the words.
Back on the main stage, we're gearing up for JaXon. The Wexford native has little to offer in the way of streaming material, but his stage presence says almost everything you need to know about him. While indie-rock is certainly a generational trend tried and tested by many bands here in Ireland, JaXon is confident in his sound. His soaring vocals speak for themselves as faithful onlookers peer down at him from the balcony.
Closing out the Hot Press evening is Janksy, another act to pack the upstairs stage. The 18 year old Dublin native is a genre fusing act who pulls influence from hip-hop to punk. Again, upstairs is completely full. The energy is intense, and people are paying attention to the young singer. His song 'LIMBO' has a definite groove. Janksy is another artist you don't want to sleep on.
Full photo gallery coming soon.