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Fight Like Apes

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This article originally appears on Subba Cultcha.

Sequestered to the rafters of the Kentish Town Forum, the Ting Tings soundcheck reverberating down the narrow corridors, a door is suddenly sprung open to reveal Pockets and Maykay of Irish great new hopes Fight Like Apes squeezed onto a couch designed to let you know if your neighbour showered this morning. 2008 has been an astronomical year for the Dubliners that has seen them take their pop-culture obsessed dirty synthpop and rise from nowhere to SXSW buzz band status, Glastonbury performances and BBC play list staples.

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The Virgins – Dublin Castle

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This could be any city in the world, shoe horned into the dark, skin creepingly tight confines of a bare wall venue, dripping with the stench of sweat, a thousand spilt Red Stripe cans and endless spent bass lines, a group of shaggy haired Americans pumping out a taught set of stripped rock with roll included. There are tell tale signs though, the Club Fandango logo stage right, Steve Lemacq shuffling through to the bar and the pages of London Lite strewn on the bathroom floor, all revealing we are deep within the bowels of Camden, in the basement of the infamous Dublin Castle, a venue that manages to seem smoke ridden months after the ban. The Americans in question are Atlantic records play list bothering The Virgins, surely the most dishonest moniker in rock history.

The Virgins ply that New York City staple of dirty bass led blues rock that has reverberated around the hallowed walls of CBGBs a thousand times. It takes elements of The Stones, The Stooges and  The Boss and fires it out with a gossamer coat hewn from the sinews of youthful exuberance. Tonight is no different. They easily fill the stage space available, their line up expanded to five, creating a persona bigger than the sum of it’s parts. They begin slowly, a series of false starts and rambling jam like noodles perforate the air before things really kick off, but when they finally get around to launching into the rolling ‘She’s Expensive’ it’s almost a stealth attack dropping you into the middle of the song before you really realise what’s going on. For a band that was brought together by a Ryan McGinley photo shoot and has thus far only a handful of singles and a debut album to it’s name, coupled with a wave of hyperbole built around songs being featured on hit new US TV sensation Gossip Girl, it’s a blessed relief to feel the meat on the bones of songs like ‘One Week Of Danger’ and ‘Teen Lovers‘. There’s a good deal of substance here behind the style, which is a good thing as it would be easy to dismiss the rib exposing muscular rock as a Strokes/Razorlight lite concoction.  Formed in 2005 there is a long, long lineage to the music that The Virgins make, but that should not be an excuse to dismiss it out of hand. Though singer Donald spouts the same self assured lyrics that make you want to wreak furious vengence on Johnny Borrels vac formed visage he manages to do so with an innocent aloofness that directly channels ‘Aftermath’ era Jagger and manages to even sound genuinely evocative when slowed down for a solo slow song.

There is an abundance of well heeled young ladies in the audience tonight, no doubt drawn out by the Gossip Girl associations and the highly suggestive video to album fulcrum ’Rich Girls’, it’s ironic then that tonight their set is actually cut short and they do not get to air their biggest song to date. No matter though by the end of their  set they have won over the assembled throng and have the crowd baying for more. There are moments tonight when  the set dips a little, despite their debut album dropping The Virgins remain a few songs short of a killer set, there are still a few rambling edges, and whilst that haphazard appearance currently remains cute whilst they face shoe box venues and where the crowd can hear every off mic word, The Virgins are clearly aiming for greater heights, they will need a few more songs to make the leap, but for now they have the feet of north London and Steve Lemacq tapping.

Written by Jonathan

September 20, 2008 at 11:45 am