Live Review: Bicep – 3Arena, Dublin 17.03.2023

Words and photos David McEneaney

St. Patricks Day.
Usually a day I do my annual impression of Will Smith from I Am Legend and spend the night sleeping in the bath so as to avoid the horrors of what’s happening outside. 
However, when I got the opportunity to shoot Bicep this Paddy’s Day, I practically bit their hand off…right up to their bicep…sorry. 
This is a band that I had started hearing more and more about over the last year or two, and the more I heard, the more I wanted to hear. They first got my attention when I was driving and they came on the radio, and then I added them to one of my Spotify playlists and from there I seemed to notice them pop up pretty much everywhere since. They are an electronic music and DJ duo from Belfast, but are based in London, and consist of Andrew Ferguson and Matthew McBriar.
Even if you’re not a fan or don’t recognise the name, the thing about Bicep is that you are still highly likely to know at least one or two of their songs, most notably some of my (and apparently everyone else in the 3Arenas) favourites ‘Glue’, ‘Apricots’ and ‘Atlas’, three of my go to songs for any kind of get together with friends since we are now once again allowed to do such things.
Upon arriving in the 3Arena on 17th March, I was excited to see what they would be like live, especially in such a large venue. They had unfortunately had to reschedule this gig twice due to lockdowns and venues closing, but maybe that was what was supposed to happen, so that they could play their biggest Irish gig to date in one of the biggest venues in the country.
As the crowd seemed to grow, they were warmed up by Defekt and then Saoirse, who transitioned between each others sets seamlessly. By the time Saoirse had finished, I realised that the venue had filled up without me even noticing, and this is when the real fun started. In-between the sea of guys in Celtic jerseys and girls in cowboy boots, you noticed the paramedics dealing with some early casualties of people who had clearly started celebrating the exile of the snakes a lot earlier in the day…or maybe they were just too overwhelmed at the thoughts of what was going to happen and had to get out by any means necessary. A particular incident that stood out to me was when a seemingly inebriated gentleman was being wheeled by 4 security personnel to freedom  in a trolley, arms and legs flailing around like a newborn. 
As soon as that was taken care of, the show started, and what a show it was. 
The two lads were in their usual head on formation, completely surrounded by one of the best lighting shows I have seen to date. Whoever designed this program is a genius. There was absolutely everything you could think of, and a lot more. Rainbow lasers cutting through smoke in a way that you would expect Thor to be on his way, laser beams like something out of any sci-fi film from the 80’s, animations that seemed to engulf the two guys and create some sort of 3D environment around them…It’s almost impossible to describe, so you should maybe see if any of it was uploaded to YouTube yet…although with the amount of iPhones I saw flying around the floor and army of extras from the Walking Dead, it might be a few days before people are in the right mind frame to even look at their phones. 
The music itself was perfect…from the bass that hit you right in the chest to the effortless blending of one song into the next, you could tell the guys were loving every second of it, and so were the crowd. 
This was not only a gig, but a communal experience. One that seemed to unite every single person in the place in one common goal…to make sure it was the best Paddy’s Day they couldn’t remember yet. I saw people who didn’t know each other bond and dance over songs, I saw people helping other people out of potentially claustrophobic situations, I saw phones being rescued and drinks being spilled but met with laughter, not aggression. All because of Bicep and their tunes. The way any good gig should.
I would highly recommend seeing these guys live if at all possible. If they can fill a venue this big and put on a show of that calibre after only two albums, then who knows where they are gonna go next. They have even (maybe) changed my mind about leaving the house on St. Patricks Day…

Meli (II)
Opel (Four Tet Remix)
Boss Rhythm

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