Showcasing tracks from their instant-classic new album Skinty Fia, Dublin’s introspective post-punk five-piece are in their element in a now rare small-scale gig
Clad in a Scarface T-shirt, slick with sweat, Fontaines DC singer Grian Chatten slams his microphone stand down on the stage repeatedly, as though punishing the floor beneath him. The stage, however, is blameless. Formed in 2017 and named after a character from a mafia movie and their home city of Dublin, Fontaines DC have established their reputation as would-be guitar-music saviours, all the while questioning that burgeoning fame and the prevailing thumbnail sketch of their band as Irish post-punks with a poetic bent.
The stage is probably their most natural habitat, where all the bristling ambivalence of their work translates into certainties: intense songs, delivered with commitment. As often as Joy Division have cropped up as a reference to Fontaines DC’s strain of low-slung ill ease, they’ve been matched by Chatten’s studies of frontmen such as Liam Gallagher and Ian Brown.
At once cherubic and lairy, Chatten spends much of this small club show on the lip of the stage, balancing on monitors or perched on the metal barrier, stirring up the crowd, extending his wriggling fingers towards them, Sistine Chapel ceiling-style. The audience pays Fontaines DC back in outstretched limbs, umpteen crowd-surfers and word-for-word singalongs.