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Dimestore Recordings: Saviours of Irish unsigned bands?

Picture this: you are at gig your friends band are playing at in a small venue in Dublin’s city centre; at the door you are asked to pay five to ten euro in which you hesitantly hand over; you make your way into the small venue which appears to be cavernous due to notable absence of an audience excluding whoever else is playing on the night, you simply think you are early and head to the bar; the poor bands or acoustic acts timidly glance at each other afraid to say a word, frantically they check their phones and send text messages out to whoever promised that they would come. They don’t come.

The night begins, the venue doesn’t fill up but a few more people have arrived forking out a few bob at the door sometimes a few confused and bemused tourists. The bands, who have very limited knowledge of such dour evenings, get up on stage and play their sets to a sympathetic small gathering. After the brief applause has ended the entire venue descends into a weird awkward silence usually interrupted by a cough, door slamming or the squeaky shoe of someone attempting to cheekily sneak out. Once the evening ends the bands thank whoever came out for the night but both band and attendee are delighted to head home and forget this awful evening while the greedy sod who has organised the night walks away with the proceeds.

Sounds familiar? This has been the standard for some time in Dublin and has been so for many years. However, recently new promoters have emerged with an entirely different ethos and this abject trend may be coming to an end.

A number of promoters and venues across Dublin seem to have stumbled upon the exceedingly obvious fact that the majority of the Irish public simply do not want to pay to see emerging Irish acts, a lot of which are quite talented. One of these new nights is ‘Dimestore Recordings’ which takes place every Thursday evening in ‘Sweeney’s Mongrel’ on Dame Street. This new night seems to tick all the right boxes. Gone is the obligatory cover charge, people are free to come and go as they please. If you don’t like the music then leave, if you do stay have a pint and enjoy. Cover charges are the scourge of such nights and people will come in and watch the music if it is free. It also encourages friends of the bands who want to come in but might use the ‘I’m skint’ excuse not to bother attending.

Another important part of ‘Dimestores’ success is that there are not simply three or four bands playing between eight and eleven p.m. in a spacious and vacuous venue. The music covers three floors and continues until closing time. That means that there is a vast cornucopia of acts playing all night, drawing in a crowd and mingling together. This leads onto the next benefit of this night: it is helping to create a music community in Dublin. Previously bands wouldn’t communicate with each other. For whatever reason there seemed to be irrational hostility between groups that didn’t even know each other. Perhaps this weird awkwardness between bands was actually caused by the shitty nights previously organised under the aegis of frankly dodgy bastards. Or perhaps out of sheer embarrassment they just wouldn’t bother to communicate with each other. The many bands performing on the night – now without the added awkwardness of the bad old days where the slow realisation that the night is a sham would hang over the evening like a great big ominous shit cloud- can now mingle amongst each other and make contacts with other musicians throughout the evening and thus create a social vibrant music scene.

The music goes on through the night – sometimes on all three floors of the venue – and there are usually numerous bands such as the Hot Sprockets, Sounds of System Breakdown, The Stoney Brokes and The Hassle Merchants playing throughout the course of the night which generates a fairly large crowd in quite a small venue. Playing gigs can be problematic especially for new bands taking their first steps out in the Dublin music scene. Its nights like these that Dublin needs and in the long run this new enthusiasm spurred on by a love of music can pay dividends in the long-term. Dublin has come on leaps and bounds in recent years and there are more venues, band nights and bands playing in the city than ever before.

‘Dimestore Recordings’ runs in Sweeney’s Mongrel every Thursday from eight till closing at half two. It features the best of Dublin’s up-and-coming unsigned acts and entrance is free. Another night ‘Mugic Happens’ runs on the second last Wednesday every month in the Button Factory and this night is also free in with the likes of ‘The Riptide Movement’ and ‘Noise Control’ taking to the stage for a night of excellent Irish music at no cost.

By Stephen Fionn Walsh


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