Review of THUMPER live in Brighton
Were Dublin's onomatopoeic six piece caught in the headlights or did they deliver a knockout gig? Carmel Walsh investigates.
Where: The Green Door Store, Brighton
When: October 5 2022
Prior to THUMPER's eagerly awaited Galway gig (October 13 in Róisín Dubh), Carmel Walsh ramps up the anticipation with her review of the band tearing up Brighton.
“That was a chaotic sweaty mess…but it was OUR chaotic sweaty mess.” said THUMPER after their gig at the Green Door Store. If you haven’t been to a THUMPER gig you haven’t lived. Dublin’s most hyped post punk forerunners had the venue in a hot sonic frenzy with their 6 piece maximal wall of sound and pop punk melodies. With two drummers and four guitarists up front they swept the audience up in their sonic whirlwind with gritty post punk verve and layers of poetic depth, hidden within the lyrical crevices of their harmonic sonic wall. It was glorious.
After wowing crowds at the Great Escape Festival in May they already had a cult following and a crowd of multi aged punks and musos eager to see them again. No one left disappointed with the energy ramping up throughout their set. They created a tight, high energy, euphoric celebration of all that is great about music and the unpredictable on and off stage antics only added to the buzz of the show .
They had the audience enthralled from the start with singer Oisín Leahy Furlong and guitarists Alan Dooley and Alex Harvey leaping into the crowd rolling on the cobbled floor climbing up walls in every corner of the room, playing the guitars over their heads, behind their backs using various body parts and furniture to shred their strings. They were so skilled that they didn’t miss a single note on their travels. Musically it was ‘a tight ribbon of psych pop fineries.’ No matter which one lurched into the crowd or balanced near the ceiling or lay at the feet of the audience, there were enough members on and off the stage to keep that wall of sound solid and tight.
Bassist Dav Campbell, with drummers Stevie D’Arcy and Benedict Warner-Clayton holding the fort on stage, create a heavy percussive bed for the riff to weave through, while the others let rip and performed on every surface of the room. No matter how wildly they played or in which position, the sound was tight from all those hours of touring. I’m sure that we’ll see them burst onto the mainstream fully formed like the Beatles after they returned from their formative years honing their craft in Hamburg.
The venue added to the punk vibe with cobbled floors and peeling paint. The 18th century horse hospital under the railway arches is gritty and crumbling in the best way – it’s authentic as the hipsters would say and brings the best out in bands; like a no holds barred gig at a squat party. THUMPER are well able to bring that exact same punk edge everywhere they go. The late great punk originator Jordan Mooney, who was Vivienne Westwood’s muse and often appeared on stage with the Sex Pistols, was a big THUMPER fan too. Having seen them play in Brighton in early 2020 she tweeted, “Anyone anywhere who gets the chance to see this band. GO. Their name is THUMPER and they will not disappoint on any level.” If anyone knew good punk it was the late Punk Queen Jordan (RIP) who would often horseride through Hyde park with Sid Vicious in the 70s. It was fitting that lead singer Oisín Levy Furlong wore a T shirt saying “ Girls Invented Punk Rock Not England” in the town where this punk queen was a stalwart.
As well as grit, THUMPER’s songs had that crunchy joyful pop punk vibe of bands like Green Day and Blink 182 with an intense, infectious sense of urgency. With arms and legs flailing and sweat flying from end of the mullets in the mosh pit, many of the male punks in the audience were topless by the end of the gig…with the rest of us wishing that we could do the same. The band said of their Dublin gig, ‘However brief, it will be beautiful,” and this was evident at this gig too.
There was something beautiful about a room full of people singing the anthemic The Loser in unison over the gloriously sleazy shredding - “I am a loser baby lose yourself with me" with everyone and losing themselves in the moment together, like a hardcore Beck. And the heavy soundscape building to a euphoric mosh-ready crescendo laced with harmonies that the Beach Boys could be proud of. This feels like a band that refuses to be pigeonholed.
Fear of Art was another anthemic gem with the breathy introspective multi- layered chorus of "Everyone knows you’re no different/ Everyone’s knows you’re the same as me." It’s a classic in the making. A beautifully dark moment of unity for band and audience and a bona fide banger and dark existential celebration of existence. As they say “The cosmos needs you glistening.”
They even played a hard core tongue in cheek punk version of Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield offering a merch prize for whoever guessed the track, echoing that tongue in cheek sense of euphoria that they were bringing to the venue, juxtaposing warmth and wit with hard core punk energy.
The band were as much a part of the crowd as the audience were. Just when one band member would make your jaw drop by shredding their guitar fiercely in the middle of the floor, you’d look up and there would be another standing on a wall rubbing their guitar strings along the edges of the door frame. The place was crackling with excitement. We all love that unpredictability in bands, but it's usually only one band member as the driving force. Here there were three of them in the crowd and you didn’t know where to look. There were no Delusions of Grandeur here. Oisín held the mic out for members of the audience to take the leads in the chorus and at one point he handed his guitar to a member of the crowd to shred and by sheer coincidence, the punk that he handed it to happened to be a musician, Milo Hill, who did an epic job of improvising along with the band to the joy of everyone there.
Despite the apparent chaos the atmosphere was warm and the crowd were spellbound. THUMPER were master crowd sculptors and when things got a bit crazy, they said things like “Calm down now Brighton. You all went a bit mad there” and everyone laughed as we all knew that it was the band themselves leading the frenzy. It was the perfect way to break the fourth wall and lightly puncture the pent up energy in the room, ready to build it all up again later.
Towards the end of the set, lead singer Oisín parted the audience like Moses parting the Red Sea, getting us to make eye contact with the person opposite ready to run across and high five them during the climax of the final song, before breaking into a fierce and joyful mosh pit lead by guitarists Dooley and Harvey. It was the perfect end to an outstanding night. Then as everyone was leaving, guitarist Harvey walked into the crowd on their way out putting on an American accent saying “those guys were crap”. After such an amazing evening we all laughed and he was met with pats on the back and phrases like “you were epic” and “ gig of the year.” It was gritty and glorious; the perfect euphoric, cathartic and poetic gig. They are punching like heavyweights and it won’t be long until they burst into mainstream consciousness fully formed. We can’t wait to see what they do next. Go and see them. You won’t regret it!
Cork Oct 12
Galway Oct 13
Dublin Oct 14
Limerick Oct 15
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