Fontaines DC @ The Bowery Ballroom Review

September 10, 2019 | By: Lucy Blumenfield


On a Tuesday night in the beginning of September, I take the train down to see my first concert since moving to New York. The first to perform is Pottery, who bring an anticipatory energy seen in knee kicks and bright smiles. The five members slide and slow and speed through a continuous but diverse set. Tangy. Punchy. At times, they all sing, creating a sound that brings to mind old sailor chants. Maybe that’s just the haircuts?

At around 10pm, the members of Fontaines DC take the stage: Carlos O’Connel and Conor Curtley on guitar, Conor Deegan on bass, Tom Coll on drums and, last to walk out, lead singer Grian Chatten. Encapsulated in a chaos of sound, Chatten paces the stage. In those first few moments, he exists on the outermost plane of a spinning disk, with the crashing cymbals and high pitched guitar. It is only when he comes to the mic that he is anchored; the center of a spinning disk has no velocity. “‘Sup,” he addresses the audience after a song or two, barely pausing for the next one. Yet masked under that distinctively rock and roll brand of nonchalance, Chatten is surprisingly earnest. Each song is simultaneously a quiet reflection and a rock performance. His tone is monotonous without a great deal of melodic inflection, but there’s this hint of indignation and itch for rebellion layered within it. It’s within that monotony that Fontaines D.C.’s power lie. Their performance shows us that they can comment and question their environment without being biased by it.

At one point in the set, Chatten brings a man from the crowd up onto the stage. Barefoot, the man dances (quite gracefully for what appeared to be an unplanned event, although I initially thought the guy was an old pal of the band) and sings along. Hugging the man, Chatten tells the audience: “This is why we do this kind of thing.” And walking out of that performance with ringing ears and a warm smile, I remembered too. This is why I watch live music.