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Sprints headline their biggest gig yet - live review

Dublin's garage punks are on a fast track to stardom and doing it according to their own Manifesto. Julia Mason reports on a thrilling night.


Who: Sprints with Eades & Nixer

Where: Tufnell Park Dome, London

When: October 13 2022

Dublin garage punks Sprints live Tufnell Park Dome
All pics by Julia Mason

There was a certain inevitability that this gig would sell out. Dublin 4-piece Sprints are still to release an album but with two EPs under their belt, appearances at Glastonbury, SXSW and The Great Escape this year and their first A playlist track on BBC 6 Music with outstanding current single Literary Mind, surely it is only a matter of when, not if. Hanging in the bar beforehand, the 4-piece are very relaxed, chatting to friends and fans. It says a lot about their approach and the closeness of band members Karla Chubb (lead singer, songwriter and guitarist), Colm O’Reilly (guitar), Jack Callan (drums) and Sam McCann (bass). Pre-gig nerves just don't seem to be a thing; it's more a case of looking forward to a milestone gig in the band's short history.

The supports at Tufnell Park Dome in London were Eades, and to open fellow Irish artist Nixer. What a joy to see a decent crowd in early. In my completely unscientific observation it appears that since lockdown restrictions were lifted, gig-goers are getting to gigs early to support all the bands. Nixer are energy fuelled with lead singer Seán Keenan jumping off stage into the crowd on the very first song! There was no barrier set up so the separation between audience and band just didn't exist. Those at the front could lean on the stage. Seán is joined in Nixer by Gearóid Peggs and together they make electronic dance music with guitars thrown into the club-inspired mix. It's music that is difficult to pigeonhole, which is usually a good sign. Looking around the crowd the smiles said it all, everyone was enjoying the music and performance and completely engaged. Nixer released their debut EP People Feel earlier in the year on Blowtorch Records. It's a concept album inspired by a night out so completely appropriate to hear tracks from it tonight!

Next up were Leeds band Eades who released their debut album Delusion Spree earlier this year. A very different kind of energy but boy oh boy energy nonetheless. Three guitars, keyboards and drums, they are not your traditional guitar band. This is more funk punk with a riot of fun thrown in. The combined vocals give their music a raucous edge and singles 'Reno', 'Delusion Spree' and 'Coltrane' are highlights. They were the perfect band to support Sprints because to be honest if you love Sprints you will probably love Eades. I have no doubt they made a ton of new fans in the room and seemed to be enjoying every single second.

And so to Sprints and the 500+ crowd were buzzing with anticipation. Opening with Manifesto we were off. Let's be crystal clear: Sprints don't do quiet songs. This is a full-on assault on the sense with no pause for breath:

"I don’t need nobody to tell me what to do

And I don’t need nobody to tell me what to say"

Sprints' music is spine-tingling in its ferocity and power. This is melodic punk as opposed to hardcore. Which means it is fierce and urgent and relevant, but the lyrics can be heard and understood. They range from personal experiences and positive affirmations to finding our way in a society which seems deeply troubling right now. However the songs are immediate, grabbing the attention and demanding you listen again. The set had a sprinkle of old, current and even a song not played live before Up and Comer. There was hardly any break in the music. The band of course did express their appreciation to the support bands and the crowd. Bassist Sam stated that they could not quite believe this was happening but Sprints' music more than holds its own on a bigger stage.

Current single Literary Mind is a highlight. What a song - just when it seems Karla cannot be any more passionate in her vocal, Sprints produce this track. The harmonic combination of Karla and Sam is at a whole new level in terms of emotional pitch. But let's not forget the musicianship in this band too. All four band members play a vital role and it is the combination of the four that produces the electricity. A personal favourite is I'm In A Band - a tongue in cheek expression of the reality of talking to people about ... being in a band! Karla appears bored with the repetitive questioning; at times I suspect it can be patronising and condescending. Towards the end Colm crowd surfed with his guitar - which was particularly satisfying as there were signs on entry saying, 'No Crowd Surfing', just another example of Sprints stating we're all in this together.

And like a train hurtling along, it was suddenly all over. Sprints will be a breakthrough band in 2023, there is no doubt with their level of song writing and performance. Next up is gigs in Ireland. On both sides of me at the front were women who had come on their own to see Sprints, such is their love for this band. The shared experience of live music - bloody hell. Thank you Sprints for giving us a night to remember. It was sweaty, it was special, it was extraordinary - and it was all over too fast....

Setlist Drones - old song Modern Job Delia Smith Heavy

I'm In A Band

The Cheek Up and Comer How Does The Story Go Literary Mind Little Fix

Upcoming Irish Dates

THU 20.10.22 - KASBAH @ DOLANS - Limerick

FRI 21.10.22 - ROISIN DUBH - Galway

SAT 22.10.22 - WHELANS - Dublin

The Nixer vinyl is available here


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