Gig Report: Waterdogs impress at Pharmacia

Off the back of the release of their debut EP Midnight Loser, local alternative rock four-piece Waterdogs brought ’90s vibes to Pharmacia.

Local group Waterdogs are one of Limerick’s brightest musical prospects. Leaving their most recent local performance in Pharmacia on Friday, December 1, it’s safe to say Waterdogs are on the up-and-up.

A collaboration with local radio station Wired FM, Waterdogs hosted an evening ranging from soft, lyrically dense folk, to headbanging rock. With support from Annie Cheevers, The Luminesc, and Misvanity, the evening was a perfect storm of talent from near and afar. 

First to take the stage was Boston native Annie Cheevers. An unexpectedly understated but welcome opener considering the acts that followed, Annie’s folk sound was a hit with the captivated Pharmacia crowd. Ebbing and flowing through a set of deeply personal songs, Annie had an uncharacteristically stripped-back instrumental backing. 

Despite usually playing with a full band, two subtly interplaying electric guitars accompanied Annie’s fantastic vocals on the night. A highlight from Annie‘s set was her closing song, with the working title of ‘Eyes on the Horizon’, it capped off a stellar set of lyrically driven indie-folk perfect for the chilly weather on the night. 

Cork based four-piece The Luminesc were next up on the night, drastically changing the energy of the night. With a brand of Queens of the Stoneage-esque hard rock, The Luminesc thoroughly reset any sense of serenity Annie Cheevers may have left the audience with.

With a small group moshing at the front, The Luminesc played a set of high energy, musically complex, and riff heavy tunes, with soaring vocals akin to ’90s grunge heroes like Layne Staley and Chris Cornell

A relatively new project, having only played their first headline show in July, The Luminesc were highly uncharacteristic of a new band, playing incredibly tight and well-coordinated.

Akin to headliners Waterdogs, The Luminesc also boast more reserved and self-reflective moments in their lyricism, for example in songs like ‘Waiting for a Sun’. Making full use of the Pixies’ accredited “loud-quiet-loud” dynamic, The Luminesc were an exciting listen on the night, and an excellent precursor to the acts that would follow. 

Next to bat were Clare natives Misvanity. The four-piece, together since the dawn of time (2017), are regular performers at Pharmacia – as many in the Limerick music scene have gathered by now. Despite this, die-hards can attest that no Misvanity set sounds the same as the last, and Friday night was no exception.

With a set of musically dense, often catchy and danceable as much as intense and primordially moshable songs, Misvanity’s half-hour set was a highlight amongst a roster of highly talented openers. 

While the group experienced technical issues on the night, their ability to not miss so much as a note was admirable and a testament to just how tight and well-practised the band are. A highlight of their set was actually a song they had apparently only written 12 hours previous.

Untitled on the night, the song signalled a new but welcome direction for the band with a slower, more considered approach with vocals being at the forefront unlike some of their other tracks which is exciting considering the talent of the group’s lead vocalist. Overall, Misvanity are a band to keep track of and with how often they play around Limerick one would implore readers to check these guys out. 

With Misvanity concluding their set headliners Waterdogs finally took to the stage.

Opening the set with their song ‘Ríastrad’, Waterdogs thoroughly kicked the door off its hinges, introducing newcomers to the group’s contemporary take on ’90s alt rock.

Though the group certainly wear their influences on their sleeve, it’s hard to draw any arbitrary comparisons to those, Waterdogs are like a melting pot of different sounds and influences, melded into a highly distinct and unique sound – with their set a testament to this.

Skilfully crafted, note heavy, often distortion laden guitar lines from guitarist, Aaron Griffin, interplayed masterfully with the intricately played riffs of bassist Ciara Marie Hayes, and the pounding relentless percussion of drummer Eoghan Creedon. Instrumentally, Waterdogs are a force to be reckoned with.

Through all of this, singer Kat Casey’s ability to craft her own imprint on the band’s sound and showcase her incredible vocal abilities amidst busy surroundings was especially notable. 

Waterdogs‘ set ranged from moments littered with delicately played blues rock – to riff heavy headbangers – to more lyrically driven instances of introspection, with the dynamic of the band changing constantly.

Songs like ‘Fall’ and ‘Stuck’ personally stuck out, with the band’s vocalist truly coming to the forefront, with soaring, impossible to ignore choruses juxtaposing verses that, again, displayed the band’s penchant for more delicate moments.

Instrumentally, ‘Friday Night’ was Waterdogs on full throttle, with their guitarist jumping around the fret board with near impossible accuracy.

Waterdogs – Photo by Molly Cantwell

However, the release of their debut EP Midnight Loser was what the audience came for, and the EP’s tracks performed live did not disappoint. While all of the released tracks were a hit with the crowd, in a live setting ‘Stonedriver’ translated particularly well. Their debut single, the track was a first introduction to Waterdogs‘ music for many and acts as an encapsulation of the band at their most raucous, allowing their more hard rock inspired, bluesy tendencies to burst to the forefront. 

Closing out their set, Waterdogs encored with a spirited rendition of The Animals’ ‘House of the Rising Sun’. Capping off the night with an undeniable classic, Waterdogs proved their admiration of their blues rock ancestors.

Overall, the night was a perfect storm of musical talent. Waterdogs, as headliners tend to be, were the absolute highlight of the night, however.

Playing to a substantial Pharmacia crowd can be no easy task, especially for a band that’s not yet massively well-established in Limerick, but it’s easy to say now that those in attendance who had not seen the band play before will certainly be seeing them again.

Bringing the spirit of ’90s rock to Limerick with a healthy and unobjectionable modern twist, Waterdogs’ future is bright. 

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