Picture This, Featuring Orla Gartland

For my first two concerts, I got some pretty big names under my belt right from the get go. It was then that I started down the path of discovering newer music for myself and adding a broader range of listening material to my repertoire. One such new discovery came in approximately late November/early December of 2015. Crawling through the aul’ Facebook feed a video caught my eye, and I gave it a click. That video was the instant hit on it’s way to going viral by the name of ‘Take My Hand’ by Picture This. Like many others, I was instantly hooked and following the ascension of this remarkable duo closely from there on out. The pairing continued to put out new tracks over the next few months and showed they were no one-hit wonder as they continued to make waves in the Irish and international music scene with their charm and musical talents. After a while of being on the up and up, the prospect of them going on tour began to become a reality. When they announced that they would be doing a tour of Ireland, I just had to go and see them. The best part? They were coming all the way to my back door practically, with a show in DeBarra’s in Clonakilty, West Cork on their agenda. I immediately bought myself a pair of tickets for the October gig and awaited the show eagerly.

As the date of the gig was almost upon me, I had asked a few different mates to come along with me, with not too much success. Then a friend agreed to accompany me, only to pull out on the very evening of the show. I had to quite quickly consider my options, but ultimately I decided that nothing was gonna hold me back and one way or another I would get there irregardless. As the friend who was no longer coming with me was also my lift between the towns, I had to come up with an impromptu new plan: Thumb it and leave figuring out how I was getting back til after the show. You only live once, right? Despite the relatively late hour and the turning of the sky fast approaching, I managed to nab a lift out to Clonakilty and arrive with some amount of time to spare.

I was chilling across the road from the venue while waiting for the time of the gig to come closer, when a snippet of conversation from a group approaching the venue caught my ear, and then my attention. From what I gathered, they were discussing the fact that there were 6 people in their group, but they only had 5 tickets. Well now wasn’t that something, I was standing there with 2 tickets in my pocket and not a soul with me, Without skipping a beat I was moving across the road directly to the group, and making introduction. I couldn’t help but hear about your little predicament, I chirped cheerily, as it would so happen, I’m stuck with a ticket going to waste, would you care to have it from me? It’s the little things in life like moments of that nature that brings happiness to my life. It was an inexpensive gesture made in a moment of timely opportunity and being open to approaching the world outside my head with a care-free attitude. I like to ride the wave of life in that manner, letting it me take me where it wills me to go. As it was, the group looked at me like I was some kind of guardian angel, and swiftly brought me into their ranks, and I didn’t have to worry about being alone at the gig anymore, an added bonus.

As we handed over tickets before entering the back end of the building where the gig was taking place, I quickly identified a merch table by the entrance and eyed it up with glee. However it did appear that it wouldn’t be in operation until after the gig, so I had to wait for that opportunity. It had also just come to my attention that there was a support act before the main event, so I was intrigued to discover this artist I hadn’t heard of before. With the crowd packed in and settling into place, a red headed lass brandishing a guitar took to the stage, and thus the night was set to begin. Introducing herself as Orla Gartland, it was in a matter of almost no time at all that she had a remarkable command over the crowd. She was witty and funny, built up a great rapport with the audience, and the power and beauty in her singing and music was astounding. To say the least, I was immediately a fan, and already having a great night without even seeing Picture This yet.

Ultimately Orla’s set came to an end, and the general consensus in the crowd was that she had more than suitably warmed the crowd up to her and set the tone for the night. After a brief respite it was time for the main event. Picture This duo Ryan and Jimmy came out, accompanied by a couple of people they had brought along for their live band. Every bit as charismatic and up for the craic as they came across in their multitude of videos and postings online, they lived up to any preconceived expectations and beyond with their live performance, completely smashing it. Any worries about quantity and quality of content were non existent as they moved through a fantastic set of their singles to date, along with plenty of new unreleased material. It was great to be a part of the experience with them as one of the hottest new prospects coming out of Ireland in recent times.

When the gig was over, without further ado I was over to the merch counter in a flash, eyeing up all the goodies. I had already been expecting to get Picture This merch before showing up, but after seeing Orla Gartland I was definitely getting my hands on anything she had to offer aswell. And boy oh boy did she have an impressive selection. To this day, I can honestly say she has some of the best merch I have ever come across, especially from smaller artists. Even her price list cracked me up, as it listed all the items and their already impressively low prices, and then at the bottom the best entry of all. “The whole feckin’ lot – €15”. Well now c’mon, I read that and I turned right to Orla who was standing there and said “I’ll take one ‘whole feckin’ lot’ please”. For that price, I netted myself: A wristband, 3 awesome badges, her EP ‘Lonely People’ and the most kick-ass merch shirt I have ever seen. With awesome colour print quality, the shirt depicted an animated red headed musician in mid air brandishing a guitar, hair flowing majestically behind her, as she flying head-kicks a zombie decapitating him among his undead and bodily degraded brethren, all under the magnificent caption “Meanwhile during Orla’s set…”. Speaking to Orla about the set she had played earlier in the evening, and her brilliant merch, she was very down to earth and great craic to talk to. I especially remember one thing she said which was to the effect that when you’re the lesser known artist at a gig, she figured it was especially good to step up the merch game. Step it up you did, Orla, this is where the bar should be set for all artists! On the topic of merch (No, really?!), I picked up the long sleeve Picture This shirt, which cost me more than the entirety of Orla’s merch collection (Still worth it though!) and their debut self-titled EP. I acquired one more piece of Orla’s merch since then that was not available at the gig, which was the EP that preceded ‘Lonely People’ called ‘Roots’, thus completing my Orla Gartland merch collection.

I made it out onto the streets of Clonakilty afterwards, freshly equipped with Orla’s shirt and carrying the bundle of other items I had picked up, and went for food while I contemplated what exactly my plan of action was next. I had tried unsuccessfully to see if anyone was driving back my way from the people at the gig, so I was running through the options in my head. I was almost half convinced I could just carry on through the evening by wandering aimlessly through the town until an early hitch opportunity would present itself in the morning. However some rain kicked up and cold temperatures set in and my phone didn’t look like it would survive til the morning and that’d be my only source of entertainment, so reluctantly I called a taxi which took me home for a handy price of more money than I spent on all the merch AND the gig tickets combined. Ouch. But hey all things considered? Worth. It.

For anyone interested in checking out either of the artists this post is pertaining to, here are the social links, I highly recommend them both if you’ve not yet heard of them, or even if you have just to get your ass to listen to them some more! And as always, keep on merching!

Orla Gartland:

Website

Youtube

Facebook 

Soundcloud

Spotify

Twitter

Picture This:

Facebook

Website

Instagram

Spotify

Twitter

Youtube

Picture This and Orla Gartland

The Script, 2015

If I were a shark, then Paramore was a delicious drop of thick, sweet blood seeping through the water like ink. I had acquired a taste of the good stuff, now I was on the hunt for prey. It wasn’t until almost two years later that my thirst could next be satiated. In that time I had finished school, moved towns and acquired a job. Freshly equipped with some funds and totally excited to pick up where I left off in 2013, it didn’t take long for a target to pop up that caught my attention. When I heard that The Script were going to be playing a stadium concert in Croke Park for their No Sound Without Silence tour, there was no hesitation about it. My ticket was bought within the hour, seated in the stands as unfortunately the standing tickets were sold out.

This was going to be massive, and I was ready to embrace it to the fullest. It was clear early on that I’d be in for quite a different experience to Paramore. There would be no tag-along dad for this event, nor were any of my friends going to be attending, so I was entirely on my own in this endeavor. This didn’t bother me too much, I was still just excited to be going and knew I’d have a good time regardless. Much of the difficulty of the planning process was removed as the ticket outlet was selling tickets for a bus-hire travelling to and from the concert.

Thus rolled around the 20th of June, and I was off. An early start to the day saw me getting a bus before the sun was out in order to make it to Cork City where the bus travelling to the concert was going from. Arriving in Dublin with time to spare, the first order of business was to find the nearest pub and get a pint down. The atmosphere for the Paramore concert paled in comparison to the scale of electrifying anticipation coursing through the streets of Dublin on that day. From businesses blasting The Script’s songs beyond the thresholds of their establishments, to flag bearers and countless stands of knock-off merch (None of that for myself this time, thank you very much), it was a big deal to have an Irish super band on home soil filling out a stadium concert.

I didn’t particularly know the directions to get to Croke Park, but as it turned out that would prove to be no trouble at all. It quickly became apparent that there was a mass of bodies converging on the stadium from all directions, and all I needed to do was follow in the path of anyone I saw walking and sure enough, street by street, the crowd of like-minded individuals was growing and growing as we collectively made our way to our destination.  After getting through the process of entering the venue, I found myself in the laid back atmosphere of the lounge area connected to the stands where I would be seated. Naturally, I immediately gravitated towards the merchandise counter. I made the decision to pick up the shirt and the hoodie, and quickly donned them before entering the stands.

I was pretty pleased to find that I had a fairly decent position to view the concert from upon discovering where I was seated. It was a fascinating and breathtaking sight to watch the place fill up to the brim, the flow of people seemingly never ending through the multitude of entrances onto the stadium grounds and into the stands. The Wailers, of Bob Marley fame, were the first to take to the stage and commence with the evenings entertainment. They proceeded with their reggae set to the still ever growing crowd and kept overall spirits high.

Next up was Pharrell Williams, another artist I was fairly pumped to see. With his energetic, crowd-pumping songs to get everyone into their groove, and his accompaniment squad of dancers, Pharrell delivered a fantastic performance while bringing us one step closer to seeing the Script take the stage. Among the lengthy music repertoire at his disposal, he dropped the then new and just about to be released single Freedom which stands out to me as one of the most memorable songs he performed that day.

Without further ado, with the light in the sky fading away gradually into twilight, the grand entrance everyone was waiting for began. To the fanfair of the crowd, a steady rhythm being pounded out on a drum, and a procession of large green flags, front-man Danny O’Donoghue and the rest of the band began the long walk on a pathway cutting through the crowd to the stage. Upon reaching the stage, they kicked off the show with an energetic display of one of the most Irish songs in their arsenal, Paint the Town Green, quickly setting the pace for what would be a phenomenal concert and one of the most memorable experiences in my life. The Script continued to put on a highly impressive show for the next couple hours. At times strange but intriguing, like when Danny asked an audience member to dial an ex on their phone for him to perform down the phone to them, to moments of the pure awe-inspiring beauty of watching the band play to an entire stadium of lights waving back at them, and the mesmerizing technical displays from the stage lights, pyrotechnics, fireworks and great big confetti cannons to bring the evening to a close.

And then, the exodus. The great migration of bodies that had drank their fill of live music and adrenaline and now had to return to their normal lives. This is where my night turned a bit… awry. Firstly, I was still very much unaware of my surroundings in Dublin and thus had a bit of a difficult time remembering the directions to get back to the bus, zig-zagging my way through several different streets, over and over again to try and get a sense of it. Eventually after perhaps an hour of this, I managed with some amount of success to get my bearings and reach the agreed destination. However it appeared there were some problems and the rendezvous point had been relocated. I was then to learn that while we had been inside Croke Park having the time of our lives, a bit of an incident had occurred with the bus.

I should note at this time that most of the passengers, myself included, opted to leave our rucksacks upon the bus with whatever we deemed unnecessary to bring into the venue. For myself this meant a few pieces of clothing, 2 books I was reading, a little bit of money stashed in one of said books as I didn’t want to overspend on merch, my return bus ticket from Cork to West Cork and my retainer. The staff of the bus had opted to park up and head into a cafe/restaurant and get some hot beverages, and across the road from them doing this, on the blind-spot at the other side of the bus, nefarious activities were taking place whilst they were unawares. A group of lads had broken into the bus, and 3 things were robbed: The bus attendant’s bag which had a lot of the bus companies cash in it, and 2 randomly selected rucksacks from the middle of the bus. One of those rucksacks being mine. Talk about putting a downer on the end of the night, I was a mix of conflicted feelings. I was still pumped to the brim with the elation and adrenaline from the concert and now I had an addition of panic and a some amount of despair.

The bus was making an immediate return trip to Cork City that night, so off we went once the whole kerfuffle was over of reporting it to the gardaí and ensuring everyone had made it back to the bus. Picture the scene, if you will: I’ve just rocked up in Cork City again at roughly 4:30 AM, have just taken on one of the biggest solo endeavors in my life thus far and had nobody with me. I’ve just had most of my travel possessions robbed, leaving me with a phone that has just died, a very tiny amount of cash left, and several hours to kill before the first bus departs that can bring me back to the safety and comfort of home and my parents to offload what I’ve just been through. In one of my less proud moments of my life so far, I ended up spending a number of those hours sat in the back of a McDonalds having purchased just a coke and resting/sleeping at the table surreptitiously. A glance across at the only other occupied table of someone doing much the same thing at least took away some of the guilt of the action. Around an hour before the bus station would re-open, I was awoken by a member of staff, and I murmured my apologies and an excuse about falling asleep by accident, and darted out. Eventually the bus station opened and I scraped together the very last vestiges of cash and coin I could muster up and repurchased my stolen ticket and made my way home.

As with my Paramore concert, there was much to take away from the experience afterwards in order to improve upon how I could approach future occurrences and avoid hurdles that I wouldn’t have been aware of initially. Now as I’ve babbled on for far more time than I imagine you value my experiences at, this is where I conclude today’s blog post. As always, I’ll leave you with the merchandise in question relating to the events of this post. And remember, keep on merching!

The Script Shirt and Hoodie

Chapter the First: Paramore!

We’re taking it right back to the beginning of the learning curve with this one, to my amateur days. My first concert, and I’d say for sure one I wont be forgetting. September 2nd 2013, in the 02 Arena Dublin, the first date of the Paramore Self-Titled Tour. Paramore were easily in my top 5 favourite bands/artists at this point in my life and I was super duper excited to be attending this concert as my first major music event. It was a momentous occasion in my life, and just to tip the scale of how satisfying it was to be going to this concert, I’d actually had enough money of my own to buy the ticket rather than run to my dad for it. Although, on that note, I was 17 and this was going to be my first major concert, so naturally my dad tagged along too regardless.

It’s important to note at this point that not one of my friends and peers was going up to this concert, although that’s not to say that I was going to be enjoying the experience alone. In fact, quite the contrary. See, being in the age of the internet, I had made my fair share of online friends aswell, and it just so happened that one particularly good acquaintance I had made in this manner by the name of Christopher was also going to Paramore. Plans were hatched to meet up and enjoy the concert together and thus this was also the first time I’d be meeting an internet friend in person.

Fast forward to the day of the concert, me and my dad arrive in Dublin after the arduous journey from the countryside of Cork, and proceeded to figure out just exactly where on earth we were going and attempt to not be late. We booked our accommodation for the evening and made our merry and meandering way to the 02 Arena, with many a detour as we tried to gauge the correct direction. It was as we neared the venue in question that we made the fatal error, the reason I look back at this and consider myself to be such a merch amateur at the time. We passed one of those unlicensed stalls selling knock-off band merch with sub-par designs that didn’t really have anything to do with the band. The sensible thing to do would be carry on to the Arena and pick up some official merch there. But I didn’t know any better and I saw this stand and I just haaaad to have a shirt to wear when I was supporting Paramore. Even back then, catching my first sight of band merchandise, the pull to acquire it which I am so familiar with nowadays was just too strong to resist. It’s an ok shirt and I still wear it to this day, but I look back in shame on the missed opportunity to have the proper good stuff. A learning curve indeed, I didn’t make that mistake again.

We reached the 02 Arena, and the queue was larger than anything I had seen before, waves upon waves of people encroaching upon the entrance packed into the zig zagging formation of the crowd barriers. We joined the lines and I was buzzing at how close I was to seeing Paramore play live. We finally made it inside, and I quickly ditched my dad in the “I’ll find you here if I need you” corner and ran off to enjoy myself. I located Christopher, made a quick determination that he was indeed the same person as he came across as online, and probably not likely to bring me any harm.  We joined forces, along with his friends he had brought to tag along, and we lost ourselves in the expanse of the crowd, managing to plant ourselves in a strong position about 20 bodies deep from the front lines.

There’s a number of emotions and thoughts that come to the forefront of my mind these days when I think back to the Paramore concert. And one of those particularly that crops up is a sense of regret. Regret? Oh come on Seán, you’re not still hung up over that shirt, are you? No, not at all, allow me to explain. Naturally at most concerts you don’t just get to see the main headlining artist, there’s also a support band involved. I had never heard of the support band in question at this particular concert, and I don’t recall paying a whole lot of extra attention to it or committing much of that portion of the concert to memory, eagerly awaiting Paramore’s entrance as I was. I’m sure at the time I thought the support act was quite good but thought nothing more of it beyond that. Well, therein lies the problem. The support act was a band on the up and up in the Irish music scene, and soon to be international scene, called Walking on Cars. Mhmm, that’s right. Guess who’s a big fan of Walking on Cars now and totally regrets not paying more attention at the time when I actually got to see them live? Yep, you guessed it. No matter, I haven’t managed to get to see them any of the times they’ve played since, but spoiler alert, that’s going to be remedied next month thankfully.

Pangs of regret aside, this concert was absolutely phenomenal and I wouldn’t trade any part of the whole experience for anything. Not even to not make the mistakes I did, because that’s all part of the process and thereafter appreciating doing things the right way (Mostly). The atmosphere was unlike anything I had ever experienced before that moment. it was electrifying and for those few hours I was the physical embodiment of pure joy and happiness. Above all I had a great time solidifying a friendship with Christopher that stands strong to this day. In fact, he is responsible for much of the music I have discovered and am obsessed with to this day, and since Paramore we have both attended a couple more concerts, with even more on the way so you’ll be sure to see his familiar character popping up here and there. On that note however, I believe I have babbled on enough on this particular post and we have reached the end. Marvel in the wondrous quality of this ‘Paramore’ shirt, unrivaled by any official merchandising company I’m sure. And remember, keep on Merching.

Paramore

An Introduction and Forthcoming Plans

Welcome! As this is my first blog post, I want to start this out with a general outline of why I’m here, and the direction I intend to channel this blog in. Well then, who am I and why am I here? Without getting existential about those questions, my name is Seán, I’m 21 and Irish, and I’m writing this as much for myself as for anyone else so inclined to follow me and my exploits. For as long as I can remember, I have had an avid interest in writing and expressing myself with the limitless possibilities presented in the English language. However as of late, perhaps the last 2-3 years shall we say, I have found myself completely lacking in motivation and inspiration to write anything, and I’ve felt stagnant in my non-expression because of it. With this blog, I aim to recapture the passion I have for writing by using something from my life which holds a similar level of passion to feed into it. And hey, I’d like to think at least a couple people might derive a little bit of interest out of reading what I’ve got to say, so that’d be an added bonus.

So, “The Merch Perch”, eh? I think it’s safe for you to assume I’m no bird perched up in a tree, so the obvious deduction here is that the main word of the title to draw inspiration from is Merch. Perhaps some day when I’m scraping the barrel for content, I’ll put up a post or two featuring some adorable little birds and thank my lucky stars that my affinity for a title with a ring created a loophole to change my topic of writing so drastically. Merch merch merch, god I do love the stuff. I’ll be honest, if it wasn’t for merch, I’d barely own enough clothes to keep my back covered. I’m a tad obsessed. This obsession stems from my absolute love of music. Artists and Bands big and small, new and old, I can’t get enough. I try and make time to attend as many gigs and concerts as I can, and it’s come to be a bit of a staple of mine, whether initially intended or not, that I tend to come away from these events with merchandise. Often-times with not just one or two items, but almost everything that was up for grabs. Just this weekend I went out for the night, told myself I couldn’t afford any merch, and came away brandishing a brand new vinyl, but that’s a story for a later date.

This brings me to the content I’ll be posting and the direction I’m heading with this. I’ve been collecting merchandise for quite a few years before starting this blog, although more so in the last year or two due to the excellent combination that is holding down a job and not being bothered saving much when I can buy something now. My intention is to chronicle a path through the merchandise I’ve acquired, the interesting and sometimes wacky adventures occurring during the events in which I’ve made these acquisitions, and a bit about the artists for whom I have purchased the merch to support, especially in the cases of the lesser known artists I shall cover. And of course, photographs! Can’t write about merchandise and not show it off a little! So keep your eyes peeled and come along on this journey with me, I promise I’ll do my best to keep it somewhat interesting. And lastly, I bid you adieu with some eye candy in the form of my display of artist CD’s, you’ll be sure to see some of them popping up again in posts to come.

Cheers!

 

CD Display
Display of my Artists CD’s I’ve collected