Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs @ Whelan’s, Dublin – November 20th 2021

After a lockdown lifts, the first to emerge shall be the punk bands! So it felt anyway, at a raucous night out with British rockers Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs as they smashed back onto the scene with a fresh tour, playing an unstoppable set at Dublin’s famous live music venue, Whelan’s

As live music has only recently been reintroduced into the post-lockdown social menu, it seemed like all of Dublin was looking for a way to vent some steam, so the buzzing venue saw a mad mix of characters from every corner of the city. Leaning against the balcony rails, I was intrigued to find a stunning harmonium on stage, which turned out to belong to the opening act, Mantua. The meek-looking solo artist took the stage and started with a soft-spoken patter and started a hypnotic monotone on the instrument typically used for religious worship. Mantua proved to be anything but meek, her entrancing vocals powering out in a haunting line, not unlike an Indian raga. 

Mantua, live at Whelan’s, Dublin – 20th November 2021

Shelving the harmonium, Mantua continued with well-crafted backing tracks designed to put one on edge, full of poignant sounds both dark and sacred. The woman’s meditative chants were boldly sombre when played to a potentially rowdy room, but the power of her voice more than held its own, often soaring, sometimes shouting commandingly. On top of bellowing bassy reverberation suited to an epic film score and chugging industrial rhythms, Mantua’s masterful vocal restraint carried the set, drawing in and away from the microphone, soaring peaks and valleys of her modal improvisation. As quick as she appeared her songs were over and she was gone, walking off unceremoniously.

Buy Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Tickets!

We didn’t have long to wait before Newcastle band Pigs (x7!) took to the stage in various degrees of undress, largely barefoot, thighs out. Lead singer Matthew Baty’s choice of graphic tee and Muay Thai boxing shorts made for a colourful outfit, presumably to give him a full range of motion–and we would find out why we would need it almost immediately. The guys launched in with the air of pent up energy, like a tiger bursting from a person bursting out of quarantine, kicking things off with the austere Blood and Butter. The lyrics recited in the recorded version sound like stark modernist poetry. Inject them with trudging live guitar, driving bass and punishing percussion of (to say nothing of Baty’s scorching vocals!), followed by a banging rendition of Reducerwithout taking a breath, and you have a recipe for doom punk perfection. The tune brought instant excitement to the stage and they warped downtempo for its confronting refrain of “Ego kills everything.”

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, live at Whelan’s, Dublin – 20th November 2021

The band continued bringing the goods right out the gate with their hit Rubbernecker, a track that has been getting a lot of radio play. Baty didn’t hold back for a second as he belted the scant but striking words, feeling everything with a pained expression on his face. The song pounded forth as Baty seemed to shake the earth with full-on sumo squats, stamps and marching across the stage. Pouring his soul into every sound and movement, the frontman never stopped moving, like a bloodthirsty shark biting at the mic chord. 

While Baty was like a man possessed over the course of the coming tracks–rattling his throat, punching the air, smashing the mic against his palm in some weird ritual–primal sounds abounded from the well-rehearsed instrumentalists. Meanwhile, the venue was bustling and a one-man mosh pit broke out down in the front of the stage–while most of the on-lookers were definitely digging it, bobbing and banging their heads to the beat, this one particular fan was positively worshipping the sound, bowing reverently over the amps at the front of the stage and dancing like a whirling dervish.

The band utilized their unique synthesizer-fuelled sound as the show went on and we saw Baty drawn to the Frankenstein synth kit and crank at dials seemingly at random during Sweet Relief”. After these weird outbursts, he came crawling back unwieldily across the stage, staring dead-eyed into the crowd to the chest-pounding beats, then back to twist the knobs like a mad scientist as Gloamercame to a trudging crescendo. The tracks started morphing into one as the heavy funk of the set went on over some of the outfit’s less inspiring songs, but the energy level remained unbreakable.

Matthew Baty of Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, live at Whelan’s, Dublin – 20th November 2021

It wasn’t until close to the end of the set that Baty took a break from his on-stage aerobics to address his audience, expressing delight to be able to be out doing what they love, live on stage once more, and joking about his new moustachioed facial hair choices: “I’m a pound shop Freddy Mercury… everybody’s thinking it.” His bizarro wit came through as he dedicated the next song New Bodyto “the feeling of ordering a takeaway and receiving it” claiming that it was commissioned to be written for the new JustEat campaign, only to lose out to Snoop Dogg at the last minute. Wailing, “I don’t feel a thing,” the slamming doom ballad with a heavy chord progression invoked a further spiritual experience for devotees in the pit. 

John-Michael Joseph Hedley of Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, live at Whelan’s, Dublin – 20th November 2021

Battling an early curfew and claiming that bands who do encores aren’t playing their last song properly (because “you have to play it so hard it makes you feel sick!”) Baty signalled that the gig was coming to an end. Knowing that Pigs would give this last song their all, everything kicked into one final hedonistic rock rave in overdrive as the sounds of A66echoed forth. The tune unravelled into a chaotic sort of nirvana and capped off the set perfectly. The whole night was a study of the sacred and the irreverent all in one and was definitively an ideal channel to let loose after a long period of restricted everything. Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs will definitely give you your fill of headbanging if you are planning one of your first gigs back post-lockdown!

Setlist:

Blood and Butter
Rubbernecker
Halloween Bolson
Sweet Relief
Gloamer
GNT
World Crust
Cake of Light
New Body
A66

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs continue their ‘Viscerals‘ UK tour for the rest of November, into December 2021:

Nov 23 / Manchester / Albert Hall
Nov 24 / Bristol / Motion
Nov 25 / Birmingham / The Mill
Nov 27 / Brighton / Concorde 2 –
Nov 29 / Southampton / Engine Rooms
Nov 30 / London / Electric Ballroom
Dec 1 / London / Electric Ballroom
Dec 2 / Leeds / Stylus
Dec 8 / Nottingham / Rock City
Dec 9 / Edinburgh / Summerhall
Dec 10 / Glasgow / St Luke’s
Dec 11 / Aberdeen / The Lemon Tree
Dec 17 / Newcastle Upon-Tyne / The Cluny
Dec 18 / Newcastle Upon-Tyne / The Cluny
Dec 19 / Newcastle Upon-Tyne / The Cluny

Review by Krysten Maier, Photography by Michael Lockheart © 2021