What’s that, you say. a gig in Stoneybatter?! Yes. In a large room in what seemed to be a stripped-out former shop. What you might call a “space”, I think. Bring your own drink. I didn’t bring any, but some did and I’m sure they were delighted. It seemed to be some sort of Deserted Village buzz, and I have only nice things to say about that label, even though I’ve only got Thinguma*jigsaw’s (awakeinwhitechapel) by them.
Their logo was a fetching road sign on that CD and they included the translation: Sráidbhaile Iargúlta. In one swoop, Deserted Village instantly rooted themselves in Irishness – for who else has such bilingual signs? – and that somehow made them seem all the more cool to me, because they were putting out a mortality-obsessed Norwegian duo and not trying to be too detached and hipstery. I don’t know why that seemed important to me, it just did. It also might not have been anything to do with them, but there was a merch desk with non-performing bands’ stuff, so I surmised.
Next on, Peter Delaney. Peter Delaney’s Duck Egg Blue EP from a couple of years ago helped open up my conception of what music produced in Ireland could sound like at a point when I was still pretty fuzzy about the fact that it didn’t have to be gig-focused and Dublin-centred. He’s from Limerick and he plays the ukelele. Not in a jaunty sort of way, but in a deeply sad way which can only be created by an instrument with no natural sustain. Two ukeleles he had with him in fact. He played only three songs, concluding with an unpolished, melancholy epic called ‘The Guest’ which is, at some point, going to be spoken of with reverence. Probably.
After Peter came LITTLE MYTH EPIPHANYMPH, icily scouring the room with her silent death-stare and THE SEVERED HEADMASTER, presenting the merry morbid show to the gathered patrons. So comfortable did he feel in fact that he later introduced himself and his companion by their real names: MARTHA REDIVIVUS and SETH HORATIO BUNCOMBE.
Banjo in hand, Seth sang sanguinary songs about death, mortality, fatality and downfall with the peace-disturbing bowed-saw playing of Martha creating a bizarre, unsettling atmosphere in the background.
But here’s a secret.
YOU HAVE TO BUY THE MYTH
SUSPEND DISBELIEF! JESUS!
When the singer of Thinguma*jigsaw tells you that he is about to sing a song about a mortuary, you don’t give off a relaxed chuckle.
When the singer of Thinguma*jigsaw tells you that he is about to sing a song called “Sweet and laudable it is to die for pornography or, in Latin, Dulce et decorum est pro pornographia mori”… that’s not funny either! Internalise it.
Some woman hummed her way through ‘Dulce et decorum est…’ and in return had the last several lines of the song (which is about the production of snuff films) sung directly at her. She soon exited her front row seat, possibly to meet with early demise.
Highlights? All the new songs sound just as atmospheric and eerie as the first albums, and the show was mostly new songs. The Daniel Johnston cover ‘Walking the Cow’ and the (awakeinwhitechapel) opener ‘Serpent’s Apple’, opening and closing the show respectively, were the equivalent of hits.
But in the end, the crowd in this bouncer-free, bar chat-free, cheap, communal space tainted the experience themselves. This is why we can’t have nice things.