A Whole New Level of Crazy
Righto, let’s get to it. For those that haven’t read my 2017 wrap-up blog post, I had a personal top five One’s to Watch list for this year. Of those five, the only one I had yet to actually see play live was NIMF, formerly putting out music under the handle Aoibhín. This was simply unacceptable, so I had to form a plan to eventually catch them hitting the stage. It didn’t look too promising that they would be playing a date that would overlap with free time for myself any time particularly soon, so a bit of crazy improvisation was in order. When it comes to mad shenanigans, I thought I had done it all at this point. From three major concerts in six days, to two in one night, to buying too many tickets of an evening and running around all corners of Cork City to show-face at everything, I’ve been no stranger to some madness.
When I saw the announcement for Searchlight 2018 at the Button Factory, which featured a number of musicians and bands that would be well worth checking out alongside NIMF, a plan of pure insanity started to take shape. It seemed little more than a fanciful idea, I was working both on the day of the gig and the day after it, in Cork, whereas the gig was in Dublin. However, as I added all the components together required to pull it off, it formed an ambitious but achievable timeline, and that was all I needed. The schedule: Working January 18th from 8 AM til 4:30 PM. Travelling approx 5 KM from there to reach a bus to Dublin leaving at 5 PM. Arrive in Dublin at 8, go straight to the gig for a couple hours, then catch an 11 PM bus home, arrive back at 2 AM, and work again at 9 AM. Easy peasy, right?
NIMF & Matilda O Mahony
Without further ado, I made it to the event as per my schedule, walking in to find NIMF mid-set. Bit of a bummer that, but I still got to see about half of their set at least so it was still very much enjoyable and a pleasure to finally see some of it played live. Their ‘Electro-Fantasy’ genre has had me hooked since first listen, and translating it to the live stage they did not disappoint. My eye was already drawn to watch their progress this year, and there it shall remain fixated. They played a few songs before closing on one of my favourite’s of theirs ‘Drifting’ from their 2016 EP ‘Don’t Look Down’. NIMF’s band line-up consists of Aoibhín Redmond on main vocals and keys, Oisin Redmond on bass, Connor Duignan on guitar and Joshua on drums.
The event featured a fantastic dual-stage set-up allowing for a quick turnover between acts, as soon as NIMF had finished playing on one stage, the attention was shifted over to the second stage where the music continued almost immediately. When it comes to the line-up for Searchlight, the only other name I knew of beforehand besides NIMF was Matilda O’Mahony. I wasn’t familiar with her music so much as I was of the person behind it, having gone to school with her for a couple years. There she was, sat in the middle brandishing a cool black Acoustic Guitar, joined by Dav Campbell on Guitar to the right, and Emily McCormick to the left on backing vocals. Together they put on a lovely set, with Matilda and Emily’s combined vocals working their magic. The trio has recently featured in a video with Project 82 where they played three of their songs ‘Coffee’, ‘Sleep’, and ‘Down To Me’, which you can view below.
No Tie Friday & Ger Kelly
Back up on the main stage a band by the name No Tie Friday kicked off, with it quickly becoming apparent that they were here as somewhat of a crowd favourite. The Wicklow natives – consisting of Keith Molloy on Vocals & Rhythm Guitar, Matt Morgan on Drums, Niall McGurk on Bass and Barra MacMahon on Lead Guitar – were ready to put on a show without hesitation. With their driven Indie-Pop/Alt sound, they had the crowd hooked to every ebb and flow of their sound with a brilliant performance. Among other tunes, they played their debut single ‘Delay’ which you can check out under this piece. They’ve been working hard recently in recording sessions putting together their much anticipated debut EP which they’re eager to share with the world soon.
After No Tie Friday, on the second stage stood one man and his electric guitar. Ger Kelly is his name, and a fine musician he was. I enjoyed his storytelling, with standout tracks in my memory being ‘New Breed Of Fish’, ‘You And I’ and ‘Maps’. The latter of which he announced before playing, then to the reacting crowd proclaimed ‘No, not that one, this one is my own’. As I was watching from the front I noticed the capo on his guitar had an engraving on it, though I couldn’t quite see it in the right light to make out what it said, so I questioned him on it after the set. As it were, the engraving is a nod to an EP he is working on releasing at some point, and if I heard correctly it read ‘You Can Mean More Than One’. Keep an eye out for that sure and we shall see indeed what comes of it.
Dreaming of Jupiter
The last act I got the chance to see before I had to head away was Dreaming of Jupiter. They are a Dublin band comprised of Zoë Gough, David Levins and Sam Oye. Their sound has a genre-transcending mystique to it that fluidly travels the pathways genre to genre but doesn’t quite land in any one for long enough to grant it as a title. Indeed, listening to them is an elixir of musicality, concocted from the finest mix of ingredients. A touch of pop, pinch of soul, a healthy serving of electronic ambience and a splash of secret spices preserving the uniqueness of their recipe. Have I taken this analogy too far? Perhaps. Nonetheless it’s a potion I’ll continue to drink from going forwards with much intrigue. Like many others of the evening, they too are working on new material to release in the not too distant future. They’re poised to drop a new single ‘Let Me Down’ soon, which is taken from their upcoming debut EP. Until then, enjoy a single they put out last year called ‘Eyes of Stone’.
That just about sums up my Searchlight 2018 journey. Shouts to the musicians that I unfortunately missed due to time but I am sure did a fine job: Laura Ryder, Tanjier and Future Stops. No doubt I’ll be seeing some of these names down the line. Congratulations to everyone who helped make Searchlight an incredibly well put together evening: Sound Training Productions, Garageland Ireland and Music Maker. That’s all for this one folks, and remember, keep on Merchin’! -Seán.
P.S. There was no merch to acquire at this particular event, but I did debut a new piece I carried with me on the night. Huge thanks to Susanna, supporter from the beginning and concert partner in crime at Hermitage Green last September (And out-did me in mad concert shenanigans at the same time) for this one. She personally hand-painted me an amazing custom tote bag in Finland and sent it to me for Christmas, makes me feel just that bit more official on my outings when I’m carrying this to events now.