Roisin Dubh’s free Thursdays have become something of a Galway institution: cheap beer, live (and usually respectable quality) music, and a crowd that’s appreciative enough to ignore the fact that the backroom’s velvet curtains and red-light-only stage set up is more than a tad sleazy. Recent shows have included the likes of White Liars, Hooray for Humans and Tallulah Does the Hula, plus sporadic support, but this week they’re making a change: a one off free Friday, and perhaps the best complimentary night out of the year. Welcome to Galway, Super Extra Bonus Party.
The five-piece have had to stretch Roisin’s tiny stage into the wings to even squeeze on, and their on-stage action – featuring an insanely lively man on the mixers down the back, and three string-men down front who are in danger of giving the front row concussion – makes full use of the space. The band leaps manically and occasionally strolls into the bouncing throngs, or tower over them, guitars held overhead like musical twelve-pound lump hammers.
The Choice Music Award Winners treat us to an impressive array of early tracks alongside newcomers from the magnificent Night Horses album, including ‘Comets’, title track ‘Night Horses’ (the name, Gavin tells us, was delivered to them in a dream by former German football coach Rudi Voller, who is a man SEBP simply cannot ignore), and a stunning ‘Spanik Sabotage’ masquerading as a fake cover of ‘Galway Girl’ (‘by Mundy, and Sharon Shannon’).
By half way through SEBP’s performance, the front third of the crowd are dancing like ravers in a mosh pit, a – let’s be polite and say aged – lady is slowly clambering on and off a chair whilst shaking her substantial rear, and the back half of the room has filled out so much there’s a minor fight for position (and a glance at the ensuing madness) going on. Best of all, no one’s enjoying themselves more than Super Extra Bonus Party, who’s live sound is a real aural barrage, a wall of sound that dabbles in blasting rock crescendos and moments of pure electronic, dance-floor-filling genius. They draw natural comparisons with a far less agro-fuelled The Prodigy (or, perhaps, mind-bending Belfast rockers And So I Watch You From Afar experimenting with nu-rave stylings).
‘This one’s for former Galway mayor Pete Sampras’ they yell before one song, before chuckling amongst themselves for the next thirty seconds without missing a beat. It’s all so playful and aurally alluring, most of the audience is in raptures, and why not? You’ll rarely have this much fun sober, let alone for free.
Photos by Colm O’ Cuinneaghain.