IT’S easy to feel as if we’ve been stalking through a desert over the last 20 or so months. The relentless pressure of the you-know-what-19 has been bearing down on us with the force of the sun, lockdown gave each new day the sparkling idiosyncrasy of a sand dune (each one as varied as the last 100 in all the ways you don’t like), and an end goal that was as fleeting as a mirage. Indeed, the promise of a return to normal, or even a roadmap as provided by neighbouring power bodies, seemed continually within sight but further away.
It would seem, though, that we’ve finally stumbled onto an oasis – or is it just another trick of the light?
It was announced that from September 6, live events were to return to Ireland, whereas nightclubs were slated to return on October 22. However, there's a catch, as always. Until the 22nd, indoor shows are capped at 60 per cent capacity whereas outdoor is limited to 70 per cent, with no real indication as to whether or not late October will permit a full return for the night-time economy. These cap restrictions on outdoor events seem particularly ill-thought-out when compared to the likes of GAA attendance and their maskless masses in the filled hostelries post-show (no harm intended towards the clubs and fans, sport is equally important to our cultural consciousness).
There is a need for further clarity, for concrete dates and plans, not half measures, truths and promises this late in the game – it is simply not enough for a sector that has been told not to work and then shoved to the bottom of the pile.
The blatant disrespect has not stopped the creative forces of Ireland from continuing to function, however, with two more festivals brought in to ring out the summer season and welcome the winds of autumn.
It was announced this week that events organiser Sense would curate a four-day series of performances that celebrate the electronic, hip-hop and R&B talent of Ireland. From October 12 to 15, the likes of Monjola, Shiv, Aby Coulibahy, Malaki and more will take to the Button Factory in Dublin for a series of performances that will make it worth the trip.
On a larger scale, Bodytronic have announced a multi-month, multi-venue festival with a huge line-up of artists that will look to capitalise on our meagre, government-mandated craic allowance. With shows in Wigwam, the Bernard Shaw, Pot Duggan’s, the Lighthouse & MVP, the festival will have a series of DJs, performers, podcasts and comedians from September 11 to October 28. Expect to see NewDad, DDR, Bobofunk, Gaptoof, Emma Doran and more. With the saga of Electric Picnic now officially over (it’s not happening folks, pack the tent away), we can only wish these upcoming events all the best.
And as always, we look to end the column by casting a spotlight on some of the best independent releases of the last week. There's been plenty of news albumwise, with bands’ eyes set squarely on October for release dates and touring (get ready for a hectic 10th month of the year), which was reflected in the singles column this week. First off we have the 80s-infused pop-rock of Aonair’s ‘Bad Decisions’. There’s a big of hint of Springsteenian pomp to this track, wrapped in huge synths, addictive hooks and sprawling guitar. One for the dance floor.
In fact, rock bands had themselves a wee week over the last seven days, with a series of familiar faces releasing some of their best work yet. Silverbacks return with their first new single since their debut album ‘Fad’. A claymation video accompanies their art-rock stomper ‘Wear My Medals’, which has a tumbling, chaotic guitar sound to it. Meanwhile, Cork stalwarts The Altered Hours continue their re-unification tour with ‘You Are Wrong’. One of their better songs, there's a sparkle and sludge to this record which meanders through shoegaze, alternative rock and drone music. On tour with Fontaines D.C. through this year and next, get back on the bandwagon while you can.