Somewhere between the ordeal of navigating our way through the maze of corridors and fifty seven magic doors that constitute Dublin venue The Grand Social and the time we order our first beers, my girlfriend turns to me and remarks that Lotuseater, whose music I've introduced to her just a couple of days previous, are not really the sort of thing she ever expected me to listen to.
"Why?" , I answer, "I like all sorts."
"Yeah I know, but y'know usually . . ."
She trails off , but what she meant to say is:
"Usually the gigs you bring me to consist of some bearded blokes roaring at an audience that contains more bearded blokes, and me, and playing instruments far too loud, that are tuned far too low for comfort, in a basement that smells faintly of piss.".
Yet here we are, and for good reason.Lotuseater rock, maybe not in the smash your face in, stomp you with a million riffs and a wall of distortion kinda way , but in a more subtle way, crafting songs that defy genre barriers and scene limitations, and tonight they're launching their long awaited debut album, 'Feed Me To The Night' , the culmination of two years hard work writing and demoing(review to follow shortly on this here blog).Fittingly for a band as unconventional as they tend to be, tonight is less your average launch gig,and more of a wee soiree, with the audience treated more as invited guests than just some punters to entertain.
Greeted at the venue door by none other than Lotuseater frontwoman Siobhan Kavanagh, who is wearing one of the most fantastically elaborate, if least practical dresses I have ever laid eyes on,we are informed that the show is going to be delayed a little,so she invites us to get a drink, and assures us things will kick off soon.Now there are two things that I love about this.One, that the singer of the headlining band is dressed like she's the protagonist in Alice in Wonderland, if Alice fronted a trip-hop/rock crossover band, and two, that she's actually bothering at all to greet people as they walk in, as if this was some elaborate dinner party and not her band's album launch.Furthermore, when we are ushered inside a few minutes later, she then proceeds to walk around the rapidly growing crowd and hand out elegantly designed miniature cupcakes from a box, while the evening's first support act, a very talented bellydancer by the name of Kadri, performs a short routine to the strains of Lana Del Rey.
Given that The Grand Social appears to have a strict enough curfew, the music proper kicks off quite early, with New Secret Weapon up on stage well before nine.Not a band I'd ever heard before tonight,or even really heard of, to say I was caught unawares is an understatement.Picture latter day QOTSA force-fed a ton of hallucinogenic drugs and then let loose on the Primus song book, and you might begin to describe the fucked up noise being visited upon us.Bizarre, schizophrenic tunes infused with a skewed pop sensibility and played with the fervour of men possessed,their set is a delight to behold.Drummer Trevor Keogh acts as a fulcrum from which singer/guitarist David Griffin and bassist Mark O'Connor are allowed to indulge their own brand of fucked up rockarolla , peppered with the odd nod to country and funk here and there.Essential stuff, and a fantastic live act.
Most other nights, New Secret Weapon would have walked off with the show tucked under their arm like a fat child with some stale half price Tesco doughnuts on a summer's eve, but most other nights aren't Lotuseater's night.Flanked by be suited guitarist Aiden Norris and bassist Ciaran Timmy Lynch, Kavanagh strides onstage, unleashes that fantastic depth charge of a voice and the audience are putty in their hands in about ten seconds flat.Lotuseater ,as I said before, rock live, but not so much in a CIRCLE PIT!! kinda way, more in the sense that everything, the performance, stage presence and sheer quality of the songs on offer combines to make an extremely satisfying whole.
Lotus Eater rocking the Grand Social, and some suits.
At the heart of Lotuseater's unique and beguiling sound is Kavanagh, and this is especially obvious live.A magnetic, powerful front woman both in terms of her musical ability and stage presence during songs, between them she's endearingly chatty and down to earth, even coming across as a little bit shy and nervous at times.There's no attempt at a diva like persona or any tired platitudes thrown at the audience telling them they're the best crowd the band have ever seen etc.Instead, Lotuseater for the most part let the music do the talking for them,a wise decision.Trying to sum up Lotuseater's eerily funky, left of centre sound in terms of genre or comparisons to other bands is pointless and vulgar, suffice to say there's really very few bands who sound like this.Live, their musical chops become apparent;the funk-punk juggernaut of 'Bless Your Efforts' , the murky beauty of 'Blue Lagoon' , the Muse-esque histrionics of 'It's All Too Late' ,all performed with a muso's flair, but a rock band's enthusiasm and passion.Drummer Cion O Ceallaghain is the band's engine room, deftly unperpinning the band's sonic explorations and locking in with bassist Lynch seamlessly.As the band's set progresses, so too does the fervour of the audience increase; a hefty tattooed bloke in a Tapout wifebeater near me dances like a charmed Indian cobra, and the gig photographer at one point forgets what he's doing and starts jumping up and down, expensive Canon bouncing along with him.
Like I said, not your typical launch gig then, but not your typical band.My girlfriend remarks to me as we leave that she's utterly blown away, and demands to know when the band are playing again.
Soon enough I reckon, but first we should hit a couple of hardcore shows.
Stephen O' Connor, Born Again Nihilist
Check Lotuseater out here: http://www.seekthelotus.com/
Check New Secret Weapon out here:http://www.reverbnation.com/newsecretweapon?page_view_source=facebook_app