BARQ At Whelan’s – Review
New kids on the scene BARQ have been causing quite a stir in the two months since they dropped their explosive debut single, ‘Gentle Kind Of Lies’. The self anointed ‘Agro Soul’ quartet are comprised of some of Dublin’s most formidable musicians, led by powerhouse vocalist and front woman Jess Kav. Securing spots at the likes of Body and Soul and Indiependence for the summer, they launch their second single, ‘That Thing You Love’ tonight in the intimate confines of Whelans’ upstairs venue.
The anticipation in the room awaiting our performers is finally put to rest when the band saunter onstage and dive straight into things with a bang. The drum and bass driven vibes are present from the get go, with Neil Dorrington and Tommy Gray syncing together like a well oiled groove machine. ‘Disarm’ packs the punch any good opener should, and immediately showcases Kav’s unique and powerful timbre.
To our pleasant surprise, the band have been writing for well over a year, and have a lot more than the two tunes we’ve heard online thus far. The set carries on with the glitch-tastic ‘Skin’, again blowing minds with their perfect blend of hiphop grooving and gritty, alternative sounding guitar lines from axe man Stephen McHale.
Several of the tunes are performed with the addition of two lovely backing singers, Carly Coonagh (who provided support) and Conor Ryan. The group’s debut, ‘Gentle Kind Of Lies’ sounds phenomenal here. While packing quite a punch recorded, this tune is a thing to behold in a live setting. Not a body in the place isn’t bopping along to this slick number. The open feel of the verse is contrasted perfectly by the tightness and urgent feel of the chorus. Add in some top class harmonies and there’s not much else you could want.
Our two chanteurs stay for one more tune, the mesmerising ‘Bear’. The three stacked vocals in the ferocious coda are a thing of wonder. The juxtapositions of tone with each other and the rest of the band are simply awesome. Now finishing up the relatively short but, oh, so sweet set, their latest single, ‘That Thing You Love’ proves to be the finale. Possibly the highlight of the evening, the irresistibly danceable tune sums up the night perfectly. Otherworldly guitar licks and impossibly tight grooves sit under Kav’s poetic and aggressive lyrics, and send the crowd into one final frenzy before saying goodbye.
With so many bands emerging in the bustling Dublin scene, it’s easy to push aside acts that are hyped up and praised highly so early. This is not the case with the boys and girls of BARQ. Their genuinely unique blend of alternative rock, soul and hiphop is utterly refreshing, and warrants all the praise it gets. The birth of a giant is what we witnessed tonight, and it was rather beautiful.