Darragh McGrath ran his last Cork show under the GoodCop BadCop moniker last weekend, before emigrating to Canada. In between hauling amps and packing bags, he found time to keep a diary of the day’s events.
Gig days always start off a little awkward. You spend the first half of the day waiting until the agreed meeting time and going over all the things you’re supposed to do, should have done, have done and will definitely do next time. After the early afternoon bout of checking emails and pushing the gig online one last time, I head into town early to meet some peeps and get some strong coffee. I bump into two thirds of No Spill Blood in the Crane Lane (Cork is pretty small) watching a bit of the Atari Teenage Riot girl (that would be Hanin Elias – Ed.) in an afternoon show while waiting for Elk to arrive with the gear. Band arrives, everyone loads in, and miraculously the sound guy is already there (a rare occurrence and a good sign!).
After some chats and everyone setting up, Dave the sound guy gets straight to work. I go upstairs to make a phone call as No Spill Blood start playing a song and everything around me starts shaking like it’s an earthquake. I am again reminded that I should have invested in a decent set of ear plugs a long, long time ago. I leave to get some food once Maori arrive and Elk are onto their check. By the time I’m back Terriers are just finishing up and by now it’s 9pm and the doors have got to open.
Personally, the worst part of any gig is the start, waiting for people to come in. I like to keep a tight schedule time-wise (as in, I’ll put the bands on at the times I listed as opposed to the usual ‘Cork time’ rule of anywhere between 30 and 120 minutes later). I’ve been given a looser way with the times in Cyprus Avenue which is handy as it allows a little fine-tuning once set lengths are decided upon.
I tend to pace a lot during this time and look incredibly agitated. It’s during this moment that you get the nagging feeling that this is going to be the one that goes horribly wrong, that nobody shows up and all the good faith you may have accrued with the bands and venue evaporates in a large, hollow open space in front of where the band play and you stand alone, watching them with arms crossed as they play at you and curse your name. Probably. My mood is contrasted by the guy doing the door who appears to be incredibly happy and optimistic about everything.
Terriers kick things off with a nice instrumental track and things get punchier with each successive song. It’s always interesting seeing bands like this right at their beginning – this is only Terriers’ second gig – when it’s not certain what way they’re going with their sound. I like that it’s got bits of all kinds of genres in there and three pretty different vocal styles. The band seems to be trying to find their way but the best part of it all is they don’t sound quite like anyone else out there right now. There’s impressive work from the drummer, especially for the final song where he takes the lead on vocals. There’s a decent crowd for when they start and by the time they finish things are looking rosier and there’s a lot more heads bobbing about.
I’d seen The Maori John Wayne once before at the excellent Days on End festival in Triskel’s TDC room back in February. I was very drunk at the time but remember enjoying it a hell of a lot and not really knowing why. The first thing you’ll notice is their costumes and you’d be forgiven for mistaking them as a piss-take novelty act on first impression but then they start playing and it all makes a strange sort of sense. By their second song the crowd has swelled to an impressive size and I can relax. The saxophone and drums lead the way with the rest of the band filling everything out and some weird aggro-reggae vocals over the top. They’re kind of absurd without being repetitive or one-note. The crowd really dig it and they give the night a good sense of uniqueness.
Elk are Elk. If you don’t know one of the best bands Cork has produced in the last five year then I’m not sure what to tell you except you’ve been missing out. They’ve become a lot more focused since becoming a three-piece and while they may have lost some of that pop immediacy, they’ve more than made up for it with tighter gut-punching songs. New song ‘Hinter Hunter’ is a perfect example of Elk crushing their pop sensibilities through an alt-rock grinder. They’re big winners with the crowd and there’s even some dancing up front.
By this point most people’s ears should have gotten used to being accosted by volume but No Spill Blood start off with ‘No Retreat’ and it all goes a bit Melvins. Lar beats the living shit out of the drums like he’s found them sleeping with his wife and it’s all mixed with some deep propulsive bass and dirty, stinking synths. Add Matt’s vocals pushed through some odd delay pedal (I think… I can’t speak musician…) and it makes for a rather chaotic and noisy end to the night.
All that’s left for me to do is get paid and divvy up the takings. I learn that the bathroom sink is perhaps not the most effective place to do this. By the time it’s all done, its past closing time, all the posters for the gig have been rightfully nicked and we’re out on the street where I give a long, drawn out lesson to everyone around me about the benefits of lunging.
Oh and I’m reminded I should have sorted an after-party. They never bloody appear when you want them and they’re apparently impossible to lunge into existence no matter how hard you try. Ah well, next time…