Galway has always had a home for the new and emerging when it comes to music, with nights like Strange Brew in the Róisín Dubh and Citog in the Cellar thriving on promoting new local and national talent. Always concerned with embracing every facet of the arts, Galway Arts Centre pitched in last weekend with a three day stint of gigs and workshops. The talent was out in force on the final night with an eclectic range of music over two rooms.
Operating a BYOB policy, there was a substantial crowd filling out the downstairs of the GAC immediately after doors opened, sipping cans of beer and mingling with the bands. The space lends itself a lot better to a live gig than I initially thought it would, and the full sound set-up worked a treat as the acts finished their sound-check.
Several other nice touches gave the night a special air: the upper room laid aside for DJs Laminator and ADULTROCK had a projector splaying Russ Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! across the room, with passing punters’ shadows intermittently obscuring the images; the tall window frame the bands were placed in front of gave foot traffic on Dominic St a bird’s-eye view of the acts in session and turned quite a few curious glances into paying custom as Oh Boland rocketed through their set.
With vocals that sounded like the rowdy offspring of John Lydon and Shane MacGowan, they seem to throw the sound from their instruments, with every strum, kick and howl belting the audience. Energy by the bucket load drove their loyal fans front and centre – and on one occasion, nearly over the monitors – but even those opting for the safer vantage point at the back of the room failed to resist and were drawn forward to witness a purely kinetic performance.
Cave Ghosts brought the mood to a more even keel. Mixing equal parts 60s girl band and stargazing pop, their music is like a snapshot of a hazy summer evening free from responsibility and full of two-piece female harmonies that add to the evenings almost house-party vibe.
Wandering the halls to the upstairs room, I am greeted to a much more chilled atmosphere. Galway-based Laminator had the few revellers that had explored this far into the building spellbound with his mix of clipped and ambient selections. It was a shame more of the gathered crowd didn’t venture into his space – the choice and mixing of the chosen tracks deserved more interest than they were greeted with. Later, ADULTROCK gathers a larger crowd with his mix of music travelling from his trademark shimmer-house to a late spin of Beastie Boys, the black-and-white films still shining past the dancing audience.
The crowd were back into pogo mode as Hunk finished what was a lively, if somewhat maligned set. Their brand of garage rock didn’t hit home on the night mainly because their liberal use of reverb drowned out the vocals which sounded worth hearing during the quieter moments, although they definitely deserve a second listen if their inventive song structures are anything to go by.
Uniformly dressed in polka dot dresses, the female contingent of Dott “ooh” and “ahh” their way through perfect harmonies and solidify their place in the crowd’s hearts. Their lyrical prowess never ceases to impress (“waistbands low and spirits high” from ‘Leave Tonight’ a prime example) but their sound has become tighter since the release of their debut EP last year. Never missing a beat (even when a mic briefly gave up the ghost) they are assured in their musicianship and nail the delivery – ‘Let’s Do It’ seems to sound better with each listen, but live it is the most enjoyable three minutes of my weekend. With personalities to match the bright nature of their music they round off the night with a sense of fun and kinship, leaving the feeling that tonight’s proceedings may return bigger, better and sooner than we think.