Gigs of the week: March 13-19

2manyDJs_060112040036117_wideweb__300x3052 MANY DJs,  Olympia Theatre, Dublin, tonight, 11pm-late, €29.90 (tickets)
Any time there’s a retrospective about music at the turn of the millennium, the resurgence of guitars generally rises above all the other chatter – as if guitars ever went away. The likes of The Strokes, The White Stripes and the march of the ‘The’ indie-rockers gave NME plenty to write about after the wave of the 1990s dance superclub excess broke and rolled back, and everyone was too embarrassed to be seen with a copy of MixMag.

Electroclash artists like Fischerspooner and Miss Kittin & the Hacker filled the cool void left by superstar DJs, forging a punk-new wave wing of the electro school. The electroclash scene was ultimately a busted flush after a year or two, but not before 2 Many DJs muscled into this magpie scene with mixes and sets that took this rock/punk/electro bastardisation to new levels. Glasgow duo Optimo had been doing it for years, but 2 Many DJs jumped the queue with their brazen take-down of the obvious pop and rock canon.

Belgian brothers David and Stephen Dewaele had been around for years as electro-rock act Soulwax, but they became the de facto kings of the mash-up with their 2002 album As Heard on Radio Soulwax – an irreverent mix of eminent rock and punk tracks by the Velvet Underground, The Stooges, the Breeders and New Order along with chart R&B, funk, Dolly Parton and the latest nosebleed electro from Vitalic and Adult. Far from a DJ curio, it helped spawn a whole dance sub-genre and club nights like Nag Nag Nag and Trash in London. As Heard… was even the popular music album of the year in the New York Times.

The mash-up scene reached peak level in no time, landing in the charts with the Sugababes’ Freak Like Me co-opting Tubeway Army’s Are ‘Friends’ Electric? and Adina Howard’s original. New Order even fused with Kylie Minogue at the BRITs with Can’t Get Monday Out of My Head. But for every half-assed bootleg of Smells Like Teen Spirit with Michael Jackson or AC/DC with absolutely everything, the Dewaeles kept it from turning stale. They took the collage aesthetic to its next logical step with the animated single sleeve visual show, DJing and manipulating the images in sync.

They’ve moved on from the strictly pop mash-up style of festival sets (Blur, Blondie MGMT, Hot Chip, Destiny’s Child etc), digging deeper into their dog-eared record bags at their own headline gigs, where you’ll hear krautrock and Slayer rubbing up against techno, Chicago house and electro. We’re guessing tonight you won’t be too far away from AC/DC though, and maybe some oirish rock sacred cows may be slaughtered tonight, just for Paddy’s Day.

PROMO-The-Unthanks-by-Pip-April-2011.01THE UNTHANKS Empire, Belfast, Tonight, €18.50 (tickets)
Most of the acoustic music from England peddled as folk is far from it – more a gaggle of bands trying to jump into the 7pm festival slot before Mumford & Sons. Singers Rachel and Becky Unthank thankfully took a different fork in the road – with roots in the progressive English folk of Pentangle and Fairport Convention, and a hint of Wicker Man paganism. They’re currently touring their new album Mount the Air, with delicate piano and jazz-inflected trumpet woven into their traditional arrangements. The live 10-piece ensemble will surely open up new interpretations of the pieces.

PHAROAHE MONCH, Sugar Club, Dublin, Tomorrow, €17.50-20 (tickets)pharoahe-monch-2_335_335
NEW York rapper Pharoahe Monch is on that long list of underground hip-hop figures whose name gets dropped more times than he sells records. A founder of Organized Konfusion with Prince Po in 1991, he still crafts intricate political rhymes and vivid surreal stories, somewhere between Mos Def and spoken word renegade Saul Williams. His 2014 album PTSD is another leftfield side-step – with an over-arching theme of the psychological effects of traumas on the brain.

the-darknessTHE DARKNESS, Dolans, Limerick, Tomorrow, SOLD OUT/ Cyprus Avenue, Cork, Tuesday, SOLD OUT/ Judge Roy Beans, Newbridge, Thursday, €25 (tickets)
BEFORE you rub your eyes and check to see if your cup of tea has been spiked – yes, The Darkness are still going and they’re playing three gigs in Ireland over the next week. It’s hard to believe that around 10 years ago the daft hair metallers were about as big as the 80s stadium rockers they were aping. Oxegen veterans can even remember they replaced David Bowie as the main headliner in 2004 when Bowie cancelled (still mortified for Oxegen there). But after a few years in the drug excess wilderness, Justin Hawkins and his spandexed cohorts have been taking another spin round the circuit with their air guitar party anthems like I Believe in a Thing Called Love and Growing On Me.

TOTALLY ENORMOUS EXTINCT DINOSAURS, Opium Rooms, Dublin, Monday, €15 (tickets)OXD_TEEDWilliamsburg
YOU could easily spend years avoiding Totally Extinct Dinosaurs because of the stupid name, but you’d be missing out on an electro-pop artist that exercises the brain cells as well as your dancing muscles. Funny enough, TEED’s real name of Orlando Tobias Edward Higginbottom is even dafter than his stage name, but he’s far from a mere ‘quirky’ chancer. The Londoner is a classically trained musician who brings an intricacy and cerebral heft to his productions, with debut album Trouble hitting similar buttons to Hot Chip, Royksopp or Phoenix. This DJ set should take a more eclectic route, but there won’t be much standing around.

00083a7b-642ERIU – St Patrick’s Eve festival, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Monday, €39.50 (tickets)
THERE’S no such thing as a school night when Paddy’s Day is the next morning, so you can indulge in some Monday festival capers with this one-off party from the Body & Soul crew. It’s a chance to “wrap an age-old tradition in a contemporary cloak”. In the grand courtyard surroundings of IMMA and its Baroque Chapel, Vault and Great Hall, you’ll get to sample R.S.A.G, Donal Dineen (pictured), Tonie Walsh, Máirtín O’Connor Band, Katie Kim, Subplots, Margie Lewis, Landless and Katie Kim.

PADDY’S DAY UNLOCKED, Meeting House Square, Dublin, Tuesday, €5 (tickets)jinx-lennon
A LOT of people in town on Paddy’s Day fit into two camps once the parade floats have all passed — the steamboats ‘revellers’ falling about the town covered in beer dribbles, and the tut-tutting folk getting out of dodge before they get into a real fine mess. Paddy’s Day Unlocked is a lifeline for those who want to escape the hordes on the session, as well as an alternative to lining your coat with naggins and skulling vodka down an alley. The Happenings crew are turning Meeting House Square into a “buzzing beerless bunker” from 3-7pm, with new Irish music, family activities and a fine line in food. Blogger and promoter Nialler9 is in charge of curating the music, and he’ll be leaving you in the capable hands of punk poet Jinx Lennon, infectious rap trio Hare Squead, west coast trad from Ensemble Eriu, folk singer Sinead White and vocal ensemble Tonnta Music.

Originally published in Irish Daily Star