Three of the four Von Shakes are childhood friends from Dublin, Ireland, and have been playing as a group since their teens. Now in their early 20s, vocalist/guitarist Patrick Brazel, lead guitarist Hugh O’Reilly and bassist Cillian McSweeney moved to Brooklyn about two years ago after playing all the local clubs. Drummer Ryan Normandin from New Hampshire joined the group after the original drummer left. The band is now playing all the local clubs in New York, with dates already at the Knitting Factory, Spike Hill, the Bitter End, the Delancey and Arlene's Grocery. Tonight’s show at the Mercury Lounge was the group’s 250th concert performance. The band has recorded an EP, Almost Nobody, and hopes to release an album, Bohemia, by autumn.
Is it possible for a band from Ireland not to be inspired by U2? Judging by the Von Shakes performance at the Mercury Lounge tonight, maybe not. The Von Shakes demonstrated a bit of that guitar sound and vocal dynamic. Throughout the set, the band played all up tempo pop rock songs with a slight indie edge. The set was comprised of adrenalin-pumping, guitar-driven songs built around hook-based anthem-like choruses, light vocals and stinging guitar lines. The performance was strong, but there are a lot of promising bands making similar music in the New York club scene. The band is working hard, and in time should get the attention it deserves.