The city of Dublin has always taken immense pride in its ever-growing music scene. It’s never difficult to discover traditional Irish folk music or bluegrass down your local pub on any given night. However, If you’re looking for a more alternative environment, you have to dig a little deeper. The Workmans Club is a fantastic venue to dig into that environment, and on Wednesday night they played host to Canadian post-punk outfit Viet Cong.
With the show selling out long before the evening approached, there was always a hefty musk of anticipation within the crowd. That I didn’t dare leave my spot towards the front in the inevitable fear of being crammed at the back of the narrow, but long room, showed how much of an occasion this was. Slotting myself next to the stage with about seven other people and a row of empty pint glasses, I knew it would be exciting.
As they set up, their happy mood was apparent when guitarist, Daniel Christiansen fostered the set-list into a shoddy paper airplane before launching it about one meter into the crowd. That joking act would be his first and last of the evening. As soon as they kicked off with “Throw It Away,” he was focused to an extent that I can’t recall seeing at a show before. Eyes closed throughout every song, he masterfully and effortlessly performed his way through the set, almost oblivious to the hundreds of people watching on. Considering his high level of musical ability, it was up there with the most impressive parts of the night. Take nothing away from the rest of the band though. Everyone knew their part and mistakes were hard come by.
Bassist/Vocalist Matt Flegal was in a more chatty mood that Munro and made it a point to joke around in between songs. His spirits were high and as a whole, so was the rest of the band. That showed in the songs as well. Every tune was played with an immense amount of intensity. If I had to complain at all, it would be about the person stood next to me who was intent on pretending he was a 90’s raver, twisting his body around in my periphery at all times. The highlight would wait until the final song before the encore.
“Death” is the final song on their flawless self-titled album and it was their finale of the night. At over eleven minutes long on the record, they pushed that out even longer live. The performance of that song alone would have been worth the entry fee for anyone. The intro was slow, steady, repetitive and drawn out, but the energy built up quickly after that. Once it built up, it didn’t go back down again. Drummer, Mike Wallace stood up and continued to drum about half way through. Guitarist, Scott Munro’s guitar seemed to lose another string each second as it attempted to hold on through the battering he was giving it. Guitar strings were flying everywhere towards the end of the song, with his 12-string being reduced to about five at the end. It was definitely up there with the best performance of a live song I’ve seen and they wanted to leave it there. The crowd had different ideas though and cheered for an encore for about 10 minutes before they emerged back onto the stage. They explained that this was their first encore in history and gave the ecstatic crowd one more tune.
Finding out who the opening band was prior to the show was quite difficult, so I was pleasantly surprised when the Dublin act, Women’s Christmas appeared. The venue was already almost full when they came on and they didn’t disappoint. Complete with an Ex Models t-shirt and a low-hanging guitar, they took us on a fuzzed out trip back to the 90’s. They seemed a bit shy and overwhelmed at first, but soon came out of their shell, making jokes about their songs we may have heard on YouTube. They’re one of my Dublin favourites for a reason though and they played a solid set. The lone guitarist/vocalist had a lot to do to keep up the energy, and he was a superb player. They warmed up the crowd in the best of ways, and I will certainly be watching them again in the future.