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Bats - August 30, 2009 - Andrew's Lane Theatre, Dublin, Ire

By: Ken McGrath

The last time Bats played Dublin was in the tiny confines of The Lower Deck. Somehow, they’ve managed to climb, by being absent for a few months, hand over claw to the rafters of a much larger venue, one which they’ve also managed to comfortably fill almost to capacity. If this is what happens when you go away for a while, then more bands should try it.

That they’ve been off in the States recording their (fantastic) debut album, Red In Tooth And Claw, with producer Kurt Ballou (Converge) no doubt has something major to do with the buzz surrounding them. Having fellow Richter Collective label mates Adebisi Shank opening for them certainly didn’t do any harm either in getting bodies in the door.

Fresh from supporting Faith No More earlier in the week, Adebisi Shank are, quite simply, on fire. This band gets better every time they attack a stage and it’s clear they’re still on a high after being granted the opportunity to open for Patton’s legendary boys. All hyper riffs and tight beats flung about this is infectious instrumental madness for the attention deficient generation at its peak. Where Adebisi Shank really go right is in setting off with the energy levels high and maintaining that the whole way though. With the locked in bass and drums providing the anchor the swirling, mish-mash of sounds being wrenched from the guitar is given free reign to simply soar. And does.

When Bats later comment from the stage that “Adebisi told us they’d only play at 85%. That was 185%,” they’re not joking. You can picture them shivering backstage into their leathery wings worried they may have chosen a support act that could outshine them on their album launch night. No bride wants the bridesmaid looking hotter than they do.

It may have been touch and go for a bit, but thankfully, it’s not to be and the nerdy-alt-rockers of Bats remain top of the pile tonight. Something seems to have happened in the time that they’ve been away, because tonight they are unstoppable. In no small part helped by the new material, they deliver their slightly off-kilter songs, group vocals and chopping beats to a heaving, dancing crowd who may be unfamiliar with the material right now, but won’t be the next time.

With the vocals drenched in echo and with a flawless sound blaring from the speakers fan favourites “Bats Spelled Backwards Is Stab” and “Death To Kent Hovind” give them something to screech along to but the newer stuff is where it really delivers. Heavier and with more punch behind it (you could possibly even say it’s more metal) Bats have clearly been eager to start playing this live. The crushing “The Cruel Sea” delivers wave after wave of slicing riffs before erupting at the “We are drowning” section, that release saved until just before the end. Mostly instrumental and slightly haunting “The Barley” is another explosive track that creeps out amongst the crowd, while “Gamma Ray Burst: Second Date” is surely a fan-favourite in the making. “Star Wormwood” might have been a little shaky but still delivers, showing they’re not afraid to push themselves musically.

All in all, an absolute cracker of a gig from a band that you’ll be hearing a lot more from in the not too distant future.

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