There was a time, back in the aughts, when indie rock was booming on the stage and online. You could head down to Lower East Side venues and catch New York’s burgeoning scene, but also out-of-town acts, sometimes out-of-country, playing the Big Apple for the first time. It’ll never be those days again, but one can still catch new artists just south of Houston, like when Dublin’s Somebody’s Child played Mercury Lounge (QRO venue review) on Thursday, September 21st.
Way back in February, debut record Somebody’s Child (QRO review) came out, and the month after they played Austin’s South-by-Southwest (QRO recap). The group was supposed to play Mercury Lounge the week after that, but couldn’t thanks to America’s tight visa laws, and so it was bumped all the way to the fall. But that didn’t dampen the indie-rock group’s enthusiasm at a full Mercury Lounge – frontman Cian Godfrey noted how great it was for a small band from Ireland to play to a packed house.
Godfrey also noted that the band had been playing a number of summer festivals, and how it was great to play a full set. They didn’t just hit up every song on Child, but also got in some new and rare ones, such as “TV Screens” and the first-time-playing-live loss call-out of “Last Night I Held Your Hand” (Godfrey asked the crowd for forgiveness if he forgot the words…). They even started with non-Child “The Lover”, though that meant that things began with something unfamiliar to the crowd.
And it was with the album songs that things really lit up. That was true from the heartbreaking “Hold Me Like You Wanna” to evocative action of “I Need Ya” (Godfrey joking to the crowd that there’s only three words in the chorus, so they should be able to sing along…). They skipped doing the ‘stand on the side of the stage and then come back’ encore break and just kept going into “Last Night”, and ended that night with the epic alt-rock of “We Could Start a War”.
At one point, Godfrey mentioned that he lived in New York City for three months when he was 21, near Union Square, “Arizona Peach Iced Tea & a bagel – that’s all I could afford. That was me for three months. But it’s great to be back.” We’ll never be 21 again, but thankfully there are still great new bands coming out and coming to 21+ clubs like Somebody’s Child at Mercury Lounge.