Fontaines DC at Brixton Academy
Everyone is missing gigs, and not just the music – the experience.The lukewarm beers, the toilet queue, the crowd surfing, the mosh pits. Being so close to a stranger in the age of Covid feels like the stuff of fantasy. But although live music has changed for now, virtual reality technology is giving it a chance to fight back, and there is no better band to share the experience with than Fontaines DC, brought to life by Melody VR.
Despite only forming three years ago, the band’s two record releases have cemented their place at the forefront of the post-punk movement, with their debut listed as album of the year by bastions of the scene Rough Trade and Six Music. Their second outing, recorded largely on tour and released during the pandemic, was equally lauded by critics and has been described by the band as “a list of rules for the self.”
With touring cut short this year, the setlist at Brixton Academy was a perfect amalgamation of both albums. The Dublin four-piece ripped through it with the enthusiasm and vigour that their fans have come to expect. Opening with A Lucid Dream before breaking into new single A Televised Mind, they came out with a bang before settling into their (slightly) more sedate songs, including Love is the Main Thing and the almost-ballad Oh Such a Spring.
The slackening of pace gave viewers a chance to sit back and appreciate the technology. The VR capacity and camera angles afforded the audience a view of the stage that one could only dream of at a real gig. It was possible to see every expression on magnetic frontman Grian’s face, as well as move across the stage to catch a wry smile from drummer Tom Coll. Ironically, the worst view was front-of-house – probably the best anyone could hope for at an actual gig.
Impressive lighting and well-crafted video installations combined with impeccable sound quality ensured an immersive experience and helped the show build towards a crescendo of fan favourites, among them A Hero’s Death and Boys in the Better Land. Before launching into the final song, Grian thanked fans for sticking with the band and participating in the virtual gig. This was a flawless performance complemented by slick camerawork and impressive stagecraft, and though it didn’t quite make up for the audience not physically being there, it came mighty close.
Photos: Derek Bremner
For further information and future events visit Fontaines DC’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Televised Mind here: