After a jam-packed two-year gap since their last album, Irish post-punk band Fontaines D.C. finally released their third studio effort, “Skinty Fia,” on April 22. The album, named after an Irish phrase that translates to “the damnation of the deer,” focuses on the struggles the band faced to stick to their roots whilst traveling on tour and tackling new identities as a world-renowned rock group.
The band — made up of frontman Grian Chatten, guitarists Carlos O’Connell and Conor Curely, bassist Conor Deegan III and drummer Tom Coll — has never shied away from writing about their home country on a local and global scale. Through their 2019 debut, “Dogrel,” they embrace their nationality in many forms — storytelling with fictional Irish characters, name dropping landmarks and Chatten’s unique, protruding accent. While many bands try to disguise where they are from, the charm and lore of the Fontaines relies so heavily on their Irishness that it is impossible to turn a deaf ear to.
As an Irish-American myself, with family members that came from County Cork, I’ve been following Fontaines since the very beginning as a form of educating myself about my own personal roots. I always have felt that there was more I could learn about my home country that I display to the world so blatantly through my full name — Allison Kelley Dempsey. I fell in love with “Dogrel,” and their follow-up album
“A Hero’s Death” that
came in 2020 — a more pessimistic look into the problems of humanity that are still stabilized with their modern post-punk attitude — thinking back to the band IDLES — an undertone of hope.
When they announced their U.S. tour to support “Skinty Fia” during the winter, I immediately jumped at the chance to grab tickets for the first night of their two-night Brooklyn Steel residency. The concert came after a nearly-week-long hiatus due to Chatten’s sudden laryngitis diagnosis; I was chewing my fingernails because I wasn’t sure until noon of Tuesday morning that my show was actually going to be occurring.
From the very start of their set — after an exceptional performance from the opening act Just Mustard — you could easily tell how much the lads have been itching to get back out on stage. During an explosive opening performance of title track “A Hero’s Death,” Chatten paced around the stage, beckoning the crowd to keep on cheering. His live stage antics embody those of the late Ian Curtis’ from post-punk gods Joy Division. His jolty arm movements, slaps to the face and repetitive banging of the mic stand — almost like an attempt to break it — put me in a trance and brought me up to the level of intensity that he never fails to express through his work.
The electric crowd could not wait for long to start losing their minds, and a rather-wide mosh — spanning to reach both sides of the GA section — erupted with just a few shoves during the opening notes of the second track, “Sha Sha Sha.” The crowd was mostly older men and women; I theorize that Fontaines’ music calls them back to their teenage years, influences of the punk sounds of the 70s and 80s, specifically from Europe, always have been present. I felt their energy when I joined the mosh with them, and spent most of the concert singing my heart out as they played a grab-bag mixture of songs from all three albums.
For me, the height of the concert was right in the middle — as they were performing a beautifully strung-out version of “Too Real.” A number of brave souls crowd-surfed throughout the show, but the surprise in my eyes when I grabbed and hoisted the leg of a friend of mine — who I didn’t know was coming — was unbeatable. He proceeded to reach the front and extended his hand to Chatten, who gave him a sloppy yet endearing handshake as he continued to sing the chorus.
Even though the set was rather short — just clocking in at over an hour, probably due to doctor’s orders — it was absolutely unforgettable and so much fun. Fontaines’ authentic rock attitude prioritizes engaging with their fans and guarantees that they will receive the show of a lifetime. I left the show being completely satisfied yet craving more music, like how I was before they released their new album. My official concert rating is an undeniable ten out of ten — would 100% see Chatten go wild on stage again.