The streets are already frosting over when the upstairs venue opens for The Midnight Hour. The line-up is promising. We’ve seen Omagh’s Mosmo Strange before in Belfast's Warzone Centre. They’ve already released two EPs this year. A split record with Part Time Pilots and the astonishingly good Mosmotapes. Kiss My Acid played Blackpool’s famous punk festival, Rebellion, this year and there's a promise of a new record in the new year.
Mosmo Strange are up first. Their sound is a mix of the power pop of Weezer and the stoner rock of Kyuss and Queens Of The Stone Age. The two blend seamlessly and the musical output is reflected in the band’s look. Bassist Eamonn Doherty and guitarist Nolan Donnelly sport long hair and beards. Doherty is particularly hirsute, reminiscent of a young Roy Wood, while frontman Gavin Scott and drummer Conor Bradley represent the indie kids.
The titanic rumble of their instrumental opener fires a warning shot before ‘Rollercoaster’ gets the assembled ramble going. Donnelly takes the lead vocals for a new song that builds up to some seriously tight riffage in the b-section, followed by their reworking of ‘You’re The One That I Want’ from Grease. Scott makes the song his own in a way that the X-Factor panel will never understand.
‘George Snorewell’, the opening track from last year’s Art EP rocks even harder live. The beer garden empties as incredulous folk wander in to see what the racket is. They finish with the infectious ‘Vince The Pince’ which threatens to separate heads from shoulders as Mosmo Strange depart triumphant from their debut gig this side of the border.
Kiss My Acid take the stage next. Bassist Rick Wright has purple hair, a plaid shirt and goatee, proper ‘90s. Frontwoman Foxboro Freda’s dreadlocks match Wright’s purple, while drummer Tom Ryan rocks a stormtrooper t-shirt. The punk trio warm up and antagonise a couple of drunk dancers that have wandered in. They play at breakneck speed. The catchy ‘Revolution’ is followed by “a fast one”, ‘Wild Ones’. Ryan plays double time on the bass drum. It’s good to hear punk music in Whelan's.
Freda delivers the lyrics to crash and burn aggressively and theatrically. Wright bangs his head while Ryan stoically drums. The myriad tempo changes mid-song are surely enough to keep him occupied. Their energetic performance suffers from having to follow Mosmo Strange. Their hardcore thrash obliterates the Northern Irelanders groove in a squall of feedback.
An audience member is charged with forming a moshpit and he duly obliges during ‘Individuality’. Soon bodies are flying around Whelan’s dancefloor. Kiss My Acid have taken the revered venue down to their level and it is beautiful. The extended breakdown of last song, ‘One Too Many’, allows Freda to bond with the audience. She chats and dances while Wright and Ryan keep the rhythm going. The eventual climax is the perfect end to the night. Kiss My Acid may not have the tunes of Mosmo Strange but their stagecraft is top notch, and their punk attitude of community and confrontation makes them highly unpredictable. It’s a very welcome characteristic in an increasingly safe music world.