From Derry, Northern Ireland, TOUTS take to the Studio2 stage to play angry, ferocious, unhinged punk rock, warming up the crowd initially before chaos erupts throughout the latter-half of their set. The venue is pogoing, headbanging, and moshing as the teenage three-piece lay into their instruments. It is the perfect storm after the calm, this Joy Division-inspired post-punk of Dublin four-piece INHALER.
Consisting of Josh Jenkinson-Tansia, Robert Keating, Ryan McMahon, and Elijah Hewson (son of activists Ali and Paul Hewson – the latter better known by his stage name Bono), Inhaler channel the Manchester sound of the late 1970s through to the early 1990s into their own rhythmic style and delivery. The harmonious vocal interplay between Hewson and Keating is complemented by the band’s hook-laden melodies, and the highlight of their set comes when they played the Stone Roses-influenced I Want You.
After watching the crowd down a few pints of the black stuff, it’s time for drunken anarchy. Self-described as “a singer that can’t sing, a mod that can’t play bass and a drummer that can’t see,” Touts are incendiary, tackling the political climate of today with fire, as well as the bygone years of Northern Irish history. Even their name has political undertones, taking meaning not only from ticket touts but also from police informers in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Inhalers soon join the crowd, standing not too far away from myself, as guitarist and lead vocalist Matthew Crossan prowls the stage, laying into his guitar like a young, angry Paul Weller, while bassist and backing vocalist Luke McLaughlin delivers raw power reminiscent of Joe Strummer. It’s no mere coincidence, the band draw much inspiration from The Clash through songs like Bombscare and Political People. Luke even takes on lead vocal duties for Can’t Blame Me, as drummer Jason decimates his kit with ferocious energy.
Touts were recently offered the opportunity to cover a ‘lost’ Joe Strummer track originally recorded in 1984 called Before We Go Forward. Released by Touts to raise money for the Joe Strummer Foundation – copies of which are available at the merch stand – the cover is played live to the cheers of the Studio2 crowd.
Towards the end of the night, Touts play the self-explanatory Go Fuck Yourself, bellowing out the chorus with confidence and undeniable punk rock attitude; the relentless camaraderie between the trio electrifying Studio2. And if I’m getting the running order of the setlist mixed up, please forgive me. Each song is approximately two and a half minutes of unadulterated, anthemic punk rock played at lightning fast speeds. Touts appear to have no shortage of energy and understand the fundamentals of the genre. And no, I haven’t been taking notes at the bar; I’m in there, headbanging – destroying my spine one punk song and vertebra at a time.