- 19 Jan 19
January is when the entertainment business seeks to find this year's rising stars. Therefore, Whelan's Ones to Watch festival comes at the perfect time.
Now in its 9th year, over 60 new acts will take to the venue's stages across five days with the goal to showcase Ireland's talent. As the festival moved into the weekend, it certainly lived up to this promise.
First on Friday was Mullingar five piece Jeffs ManCave. The blues rock band delivered a rollicking set. Lead singer Keith McLoughlin's Celtic twinged vocals combined with the guitarists' alternative picking style help the group stand out. Keep an ear out for their catchy track 'Devil On My Shoulder'.
While 2018 was definitely Wyvern Lingo's year, Dublin-based Elkin should make a similar splash in 2019. The band display an eclectic mix of R&B, pop and hip-hop beats, bolstered by alternating female vocals and smooth guitars.
Tracks like 'Blame', 'Fade Away' and 'Green Eyes' impress live. Meanwhile, look out for their fantastic cover of LCD Soundsystem's 'Dance Yrself Clean', transforming the nine-minute dance odyssey into their own sweet pop ballad.
If Elkin remind of Wyvern Lingo, the 2018 success Galway singer Lowli most resembles is Saint Sister. Blending orchestral instruments with haunting, angelic vocals - her music seems destined to be used as the credits intro to a BBC murder mystery.
Alex Turner opened his last album stating he just wanted to be one of The Strokes, but solo artist Kynsy certainly could have been. With her raspy, deep voice she draws comparisons to Julian Casablancas while her band's tuneful but distorted guitars evoke the NY band.
Next was Dundalk singer Elephant, whose high voice hypnotised, particularly in contrast to his band's often jangly, intense guitars. Delivering honest, raw lyrics, it is no surprise he asked the audience for a towel. He certainly worked up a sweat.
The night was capped with energetic turns from Dublin psychedelic rockers Jooce and Mullingar funk act Bobby and the Blunts. The former feel like early Tame Impala but heavier while the latter's bass driven builds and jazzy freakouts recalled Beastie Boys and Rage Against the Machine.
Friday night at Ones to Watch was all killer, no filler - leaving this reviewer hungry for Saturday.