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Review of Sprints in Newcastle's Head Of Steam

Dublin's melodic garage punk maestros deliver on their manifesto



Newcastle Head of Steam

November 2 2021

Blowtorch Records styles itself as the Future Sound of Ireland. This is plainly somewhat boastful however it neatly encapsulates our location and our forward looking nature. In truth we represent the shouty, guitar end of things and of course only a portion of that.

When it comes to Irish bands in that genre there are few, if any, shoutier or guitarier (some mistake surely - ed? ) than Dublin's purveyors of thrashing garage punk - Sprints. Now signed to the very fine Nice Swan Records they are turning heads and burning ears in Ireland and the UK.

Karla Chubb from Sprints live in Newcastle Head Of Steam

And so to Newcastle's Head Of Steam to catch this upcoming Irish band on their first UK tour. Colm O'Reilly (guitar), Jack Callan (drums), Sam McCann (bass), Karla Chubb (vocals and guitar) make their unassuming way onto the small, barely raised stage - little can we know that an hour later we will leave changed forever in strange and beautiful ways.

One of the great things about Sprints' recorded material is then when you listen, it's like you're dropping into their world for a brief stay and listening in to a conversation. About friends moving away (How Does The Story Go? - "we've spoken every day for 8 years and what do I do when you've gone") or unwanted male attention on nights out (The Cheek - "he said baby are you straight, I said bye bye bye").

The frustrations and difficulties involved in navigating modern life are reflected clearly in their lyrics but they also come out in their visceral, garage punk noise attack. Yet it's not just anger and ranting - they are clearly having the time of their lives and crucially also want the crowd to have a good time too.

Sam from Sprints in a gig crowd

At some point, the force of nature which is Karla says something along the lines of "We've been waiting two years to play gigs again and it's our first UK tour. Get down the front and dance otherwise you're a bunch of dry shites." Yeats himself couldn't have put it better.

At various points of the show Sam, Colm and Karla are each in the crowd, blurring beautifully the lines between watcher and performer. Jack confirmed to me later that if he'd had the chance, he'd have been in the mosh maelstrom too.

The intensity builds throughout to the final ecstatic release of How Does The Story Go? ("a song about how everyone in Ireland is fucking off to Canada"). With the addition of friend and tour bus driver Sergio on guitar. This track neatly encapsulates the appeal of Sprints. It is making a point yet it's not preachy, it's melodic with brilliant hooks and includes a simple but so effective rallying cry for any generation - I'm not fine. This is powerful shit.

Where to now? Well for an encore, an excoriating cover of Wet Leg's Chaise Longue with Karla eschewing her guitar for a mightily effective cowbell.

For the future, there's a new EP next year and they are also back on tour. They'll be playing bigger venues I venture - go see them now while you have the opportunity to dance down the front with them.


Available now in the Blowtorch Records shop


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