It is approximately a 20 second walk from Botanic train station to The Empire, making it very hard to say no to the cracking line-up of bands all playing on a wintry Thursday evening. I make it through The Empire’s giant doors in time for the first performance (and for my fingers to defrost before trying to use my camera).
The night begins with upcoming rapper Nickcantsleep, who blasts through a set of punk infused, fresh tracks. Cool, catchy choruses make for an enjoyable opening performance that have ears pricked up around the room.
Valium are up next, the opening riff of ‘Love in a Headlock’ starting off their set with a clean-cut, visceral bang. Their cover of Tame Impala’s ‘Elephant’ is slick, and fits their sound well. Funk tunes are showcased through psychedelic licks from guitarist Ben Murray. Warm bass tones and moody vocals set a grungy feel for the rest of the evening.
Dublin based Nealo brings a hip hop vibe to the room, with chilled and flowing vocals. He brings the night down a tempo momentarily, through raw and relatable lyricism that has heads nodding. His rhythmic flow makes for a satisfyingly slow set.
Alt-pop quintet Wynona Bleach are last up, and fill out the stage under dim, blue lights some time before midnight. They open with ‘Graves’, from their EP, ‘Sugar’, released last year. The track is an instant attention-grabber, with a persistent guitar line that echoes 90’s grunge rocker’s The Smashing Pumpkins. Their alt-rock style is made unique with instrumental dream-pop touches and Melyssa Shannon’s sweeter than sugar vocals. Sweet melodies are made centre stage in ‘Sugar’, with enjoyable
guitar fuzz and honeyed vocals.
‘Eyes Burning’ makes an appearance in their set, a track that allows room for shoegaze textures to shine though their grunge rock style, through ghostly reverb guitar and bursts of expressive vocals. Percussion and guitar blowouts make this particular track an enjoyable live performance.