9.15pm on the Friday night of a Bank Holiday weekend in upstairs Whelans, and a dozen or so of us glance awkwardly at each other (and the Coal fire) and wonder if maybe there’s more action further along Wexford Street.
9.25pm and Pockets assemble on stage, and magically the room begins to fill. Five minutes later and it’s eighty percent full and obvious the evening’s first-act has a core fan base that are committed and vocal.
Pockets don’t disappoint. They take us through eight or so well-crafted, musical rollercoasters of songs, alternating between intricate soulful lament and punk-crashing breakout romps. The highlight of the set is the new single – “Alone,” which showcases high-levels of musicianship and musically throughout.
A more critical eye may point to their initial lack of presence and band communication on stage. However, make no mistake – this band can fly, and I look forward to hearing them again with more performance time on the clock.
10.00p.m. and a six-piece Planet Parade play to a packed house. First impressions confirm a previous hearing about a month ago – this is a band who know where they are going, and have a grasp of superior songwriting processes. Songs like “You’ll be Sorry” and “You and The Devil” suggest traces of Arcade Fire, early Bombay Bicycle Club and something uniquely their own, influenced largely by leading vocals, quality guitar work and drums.
Perhaps the most important thing anyone can say about Planet Parade is, this band is progressing, not static. There is something exciting about watching a band play a dozen or so quality songs, yet get the feeling, their best songwriting is yet to come.
Their musicianship is noteworthy too. Delicate three-part harmonies; runaway safari rhythms; skilful combinations of major-7 and minor-7 chord progressions; and always the propelling-forward solid core of backbeat, bass, percussion and keyboard. Defence and Attack; Attack and Defence.
The only real gripe of the night? Both bands are worthy of a bigger venue with proper high-ceilings, decent sound mix and larger stage. Based on the performances tonight, that wait will not be long.