SAN FRANCISCO — Fontaines D.C. frontman Grian Chatten was a ball of nervous energy. Pacing the stage at the Independent like a caged animal, he surveyed the audience menacingly while simultaneously looking for an imaginary door through which to escape. Moments earlier, the band had taken the stage to the strains of Irish legend Luke Kelly’s poem “For What Died the Sons of Roisin” before launching into “A Hero’s Death,” a blistering, shouty tirade.
Fontaines D.C. (the D.C. stands for Dublin City) wore their Irish roots on their sleeves. Chatten’s north Dublin accent enhanced rather than hindered Fontaines’ brand of poet-punk. He delivered “Sha Sha Sha” and the Libertines-esque “Chequeless Recklessare” in a sneering brogue, held together by a chugging, sloppy-in-a-good way rhythm section.
Forgoing stage banter, the band powered through songs from its 2019 album, Dogrel. “Television Screens” was given the poetic treatment, followed by “The Lotts,” a song about an inner-city area of Dublin that is gentrifying. The topic obviously resonated with the San Francisco audience.
Chatten, guitarists Carlos O’Connell and Conor Curley, bassist Conor Deegan and drummer Tom Coll came together through a love of poetry, and nods to Irish writers Joyce, Yeats and Behan permeated their performance.
“Televised Minds” and “Lou Reed” were clever and urbane. “Hurricane Laughter,” which came next, was all sharp edges and shrill guitars.
“Liberty Belle,” another ode to inner city Dublin, preceded Fontaines D.C. launching into their best-known song, “Boys in the Better Land.”
“And the radio is all about a runaway model with a face like sin and a heart like a James Joyce novel,” Chatten sang.
Before the final song, he announced that Fontaines D.C., “don’t do encores,” and then closed with “Big.”
Opening act Pottery impressed with a solid 35-minute set. Hailing from Montreal, Pottery’s songs were sparse on words with quirky angular breakdowns; a sound reminiscent of Devo.