Adebisi Shank, Toby Kaar - Bunatee, Belfast.
Adebisi Shank, Toby Kaar
Bunatee Bar, Belfast
Thursday July 26th
Given that tonight's gig in the Bunatee Bar is first and foremost an opportunity for Dublin rockers Adebisi Shank to test out new material as part of their "New Tunez" tour, it would be natural to assume that they might be a tad rusty on the live circuit these days - particularly as their most recent round of serious touring came towards the end of last year. This crowd aren't buying into that notion for a second though, as a quick look around the Bunatee reveals a loyal fan base that are expecting to be entertained. And entertained they are, first of all by Cork native Toby Kaar. Setting up behind a laptop and a few samplers, the audience might be expecting a relatively tame head-bobbing DJ set- but what makes Kaar's performance stand out tonight is that it's just that - a performance.
With various bits of his musical setup glowing and pulsing steadily, Kaar moves head, feet, and just about everything else to trick the audience into thinking that they're not just watching a DJ set.
It's largely successful; the modest crowd that have gathered seem genuinely won over as his set of Gold Panda-inspired electronica moves punters away from the bar and right up to centre stage. In a set that ranges from beats with serious muscle to a few more gentle, Jamie xx moments, the few meandering segments are easily forgotten.
Fortunately there is nothing modest about the crowd that have amassed by the time Adebisi Shank are ready to perform. The Bunatee has made the quick transformation from an intimate venue to a packed-out sweatbox - all too appropriate given the frantic nature of their set.
Tonight may be all about giving new tracks an outing, but such is the crowd's enthusiasm that whether the band play old classics such as 'You Me' or numbers that the crowd aren't quite familiar with yet, the reaction is the same; beaming smiles and moving feet. Indeed, 'Fun' is the keyword tonight, as the trio power through a set that barely stops to take pause- and does so only when the band's laptop gets temperamental.
Even at that, guitarist Lar and bassist Vinny's experimental noodling whilst normal service is resumed is a joy to watch. It's probably the only time tonight that the audience actually stops to try and comprehend how the band make the sounds that they do, such is the speed and skill with which they play. It's a much bigger sound than a line-up of three would suggest. 'International Dreambeat' is spectacular tonight - the band's second album generally comes across very well. Their new material also seems to suggest a leaning towards Sargent House label-mates Fang Island, which can be no bad thing.
All in all it's an impressive feat that they have taken a genre which can become a bit samey at times, and through their live performance inject a well received dose of variety and excitement into proceedings. Whether that can continue remains to be seen - but they've certainly done it tonight.