It’s high time the comedy hip-hop stars were given credit for their insight and intelligence.

YOU MOST LIKELY KNOW Rubberbandits for something daft. It might be that ‘Horse Outside’ video, their numerous appearances on RTE’s ‘Republic of Telly’, or an episode of ‘Rubberbandits’ Guide To…’. You might even remember their channel 4 outing with the ‘Almost Impossible Gameshow’. In the latter, they had contestants complete ludicrous mini-games like ‘groin croissant’, in which the frustrated participants had a few seconds to shake free a plastic pastry attached to a certain part of the outside of their jumpsuit with velcro.

They are, in short, quite exceptionally silly. But their satire also has a tendency to shine a light on Irish society. Put aside the croissant shaking, or songs about ‘Spastic Hawks’, and some corners of their professional output is subtly but brilliantly political.

They take a satirical look at race relations on ‘Black Man’. ‘Spoiling Ivan’ documents the friendship between a grown man and a child, playing off the inbuilt societal assumption that labels such a friendship as somehow wrong. There’s even an ode to holding off on sex, and its relationship benefits.

Far beyond the music, their use of social media, and public comments on sensitive issues have stretched in scope and become ever-more assured. It’s a trend that seemed to really kick off when Blindboy Boatclub called into Joe Duffy to debate the drug references in ‘Horse Outside’. In doing so, he absolutely shredded an irate caller, confidently explaining the duo’s thinking in the process.

BELFAST MUSICIAN Tony Wright is a real enigma of the Irish music scene. Once at the absolute heart of breathtaking instrumental act And So I Watch You From Afar – a swirling tornado of rock so successful they toured arenas alongside Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters – he quit, picked up his acoustic guitar instead, and currently lives the life of a troubadour, hopping homelessly between friend’s couches, and strumming for a living.

Not that he has any regrets at all: what Tony’s become sits better with him. It’s closer to who he is now, and allows him to step away from the commercial side of music and explore at his own place.

“For all the And So I Watch You From Afar albums, we really had a deadline from the labels to produce the record,” he recalls. “It was very much a product; a commercial process. That didn’t sit well with me. Now I’m making music when I want to make music. It feels so much more natural.”

What Wright sounds like now is hard to define. He hops between gloriously emotional guitar-pop songs – performed under the moniker VerseChorusVerse (a nod to Nirvana, though largely a sarcastic one) – and fiery collaborations where he seems to absorb a part of the soul of his musical partners. He spits out delicate and heart wrenching interpretations that wildly differ in style depending on who he’s working with.

Naturally, doing this homeless, and with mental health difficulties he pointedly speaks about publically in an attempt to end stigma, is not the easiest. “I’m lucky enough to have a lot of friends who’ll put me up, so I’m not literally on the street,” he says of his situation. “It’s partly circumstance and partly Tory government that have me here. But mentally I’m doing well now. Some days it’s like walking a tightrope, and you have to keep your eyes on the horizon to be sure you don’t fall off, but I’m doing okay, I’m allowing myself space.”

One album, their own beer and performing in a cardboard box: twenty years of King Kong Company A SELF-PROCLAIMED COLLEGE BAND reformed to a heyday later in life that far exceeds their 90s peak, King Kong Company are fast becoming Ireland’s go-to festival act, and with good reason. The Waterford based act are a high […]

Having put a focus on obtaining a really musically talented cast, brought the simpler elements of the story to the fore and utilized a clever set extremely well, the latest incarnation of Once – showing at the Olympia Theatre until late August – is astoundingly well done. Adapting Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova’s music and taking […]

A global phenomenon that’s taken off in the city, Sofar Sounds turns unique spots into one-night-only gig locations. They won’t tell you who’s playing. FREE. SIMPLE. SOCIAL. The concept of Sofar Sounds is one that very much returns music to its roots, kissing goodbye to gig promotion, ticket sales, headline tours and conventional stages. The […]

THIRTY ONE YEARS into a career that’s taken Green Day from gritty pop-punk scenesters to a far more accessible brand of pop-rock, California’s finest still play Kilmainham with the energy of an act auditioning for their first big break. An indication of the sands of change came earlier in the day, however, as frontman Billie […]


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