- 16 Dec 19
The Scratch have, steadily and relentlessly, been building a following. Now, after a brilliant sell-out Button Factory show, they may just be about to explode into real national prominence...
On a freezing cold winter's evening, during which speckles of snow fell throughout many parts of the city, there was no better place to be than in the Button Factory, basking in the reflected warmth of the hottest ticket in town. The Scratch, quite remarkably, had sold out this hometown show three whole months in advance – and in the entire week leading up to the gig, Instagram and Twitter were awash with people seeking to secure last-minute entry. Make no mistake, the hype that increasingly surrounds this Dublin and Cork rooted four-piece – comprising Daniel Lang, Conor Dockery, Jordan O’Leary and Peter Keogh – is most definitely real.
There was a tangible, electric energy in the air before the band took to the stage. Above hung a huge portrait of the white hand-and-dove logo that will be all too familiar to anyone who has ever signed on, removing any doubt as to the origins of the band name.
They emerged to a rapturously wild reception from the crowd, as The Button Factory itself seemed almost to physically sway, animated into life by the enthusiasm of those inside it. From the moment the band let loose the fiery riffs of their opening number 'Cig in the Breeze', it was obvious that this was going to be a night to live long in the memory
A Scratch gig is unlike anything you will have seen before. The band defy categorisation: they are a traditional-leaning acoustic band, but with roots that are also deeply embedded in rock and heavy metal. Their lyrics are frequently laced with razor sharp witticisms. ‘Old Dog’ is a case in point, where they describe “a sweaty red complexion for a head” before the zinger: “You're fuckin' fumin”! Later in the same song, the singer admonishes the target of his disapproval: “Do us all a favour, and pack in that mouldy behaviour.”
The Scratch’s music might best be characterised as a heavy metal leaning brand of folk-punk, but it isn’t all lyrical gob and spit: the members of the bad are not afraid to let their musical dexterity do the talking on occasion, as in the highly impressive, extended instrumental 'The Road to Ballyshannon’.
In a sense, The Scratch offer a collection of stylistic juxtapositions, superbly knitted together by a sense of instrumental inventiveness and magnificent raw energy. Thus, while their catalogue of recordings is highly impressive, it is only by seeing them live that you really appreciate the full scale of their appeal.
You can see from the reaction of their fans that there's a huge amount of goodwill out there towards them, within the Irish music community. This was acknowledged repeatedly throughout the night by Daniel 'Lango' Lang, who is both the voice of the band and their explosive cajon player: you could tell that it was genuine and heartfelt.
While it might sound contradictory, the night was full of highlights: perhaps the most memorable came when they were joined on stage by Loah to perform a rendition of their beautiful collaborative effort, ‘Shadow’. But it was, as Damien Dempsey might say, all good.
Although they have only been going for a few years, The Scratch already have two world class EP's under their belt, and have racked up hundreds of thousands of streams on Spotify. But forget the metrics for a second: to play a sold-out hometown show at which the crowd could – and did – sing along to every one of your songs is surely the best measurement of success.
On the night, the band revealed that they will be releasing their debut album in the coming months, as well as headlining a show in The Academy in April 2020. Be sure to get your tickets for that one well in advance. These guys could be huge.