Neither apocalyptic rain or muddled government regulations were stopping this one
Inside for 48? Outside for 30? Gazebo? Table service? Stand up? Sit down?
No, not a wedding - a live gig. Things are a wee bit more complicated than they used to be.
The obstacles put in Mike The Pies's owner Aiden O'Connor's way only serve to underline the resilience and ingenuity of the live music industry. Although this gig series is being supported by the Irish Government's Live Performance Support Scheme (admirable), the same government keep changing (or failing to clarify) the rules on where and how live performances can take place (annoying).
Thankfully Aiden persevered and thus we found ourselves in a mini marquee on a flat roof atop Mike The Pies in Listowel. Two bands, several sound and video technicians, Aiden and a crowd of about 30. And monsoon conditions.
Once Turnstiles hit the first notes of their new song Dig It Out, all that was forgotten and we were once again worshipping at the rock and roll altar, blessed by the glorious rain of sound dropping upon us. Maybe it was even better for being outside - the visceral feeling of being so close to the bands was amplified by the wind and the water pounding on the tent.
The opener was followed by Omniscient Delusion, Tantrum, Something To Die For, IDC, Doorman (Slowthai cover), Die Happy, Wasting Away, Moving Forward, Tantrum, In A State and Just Bleed.
This was essentially the same set they had played at the filmed gigs during lockdown but what a difference when you can feel the music-shifted air practically lifting you off your seat. And when a sing finishes and it is greeted with whistles, stomps and cheers, not a weird silence. Of course this streams straight back to the band and so the positive feedback loop of live music is restored to its rightful place as one of life's most glorious shared experiences.
Too soon it had to end but only to be replaced by more beautifully punishing post-punk noise. Bullet Girl are four lads in their early 20s from north Dublin, As lifelong friends, lead singer Aaron and guitarist Dylan started making music together in their early teens. The two bonded over a love of Surfer Rosa and Doolittle and channel grit and determination into making music that punches. Joined by Noel on drums and Tony on bass they hit hard all right. And looked and played like they were loving being back in a live setting.
Not being as familiar with Bullet Girl, I am relying on their set list which runs like this: The Hunt, Whacked, Panic 2020, Paper Guns, Untitled 1, Parasites, Untitled 2, McViolence, Concrete Bed, Dog. The latter two in particular were outstanding.
I don't think I have ever seen a drummer enjoying a gig as much as Noel and it dovetailed nicely with Aaron's ferocious intensity. Ears ringing - oh yeah!
And so it was all over by 9.30pm due to neighbours' noise concerns. I wouldn't being a Mike The Pies neighbour! There's a whole series of gigs they can listen to for free under the LPSS scheme and when they're finished, hopefully back inside for the full MTP experience. Can't wait.