Category: Venues – The Button Factory

The Erics

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State Lights

Emerging from a First Fortnight haze for The Erics took a bit of doing, but was well worth it. Getting to see openers State Lights again, who I had seen at the First Fortnight Big Gig, was a real treat – they are an impressive act who I’d expect to be seeing higher up the bill before the year is out. Further up the bill were Daithi, who is always brilliant, and headliners The Riptide Movement, impressive as always. The night was rounded out by Le Galaxie doing a DJ set, who unfortunately were on a little late for a school night and played to a largely empty venue. An eclectic mix of acts but a fun night!

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State Lights

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Daithi

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The Riptide Movement

20150129_230655Le Galaxie DJs

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First Fortnight 2015

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Trailblaze Revolution, Christchurch Cathedral

This is a tricky one to write to be honest – I re-read last year’s post (https://gigaholic.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/first-fortnight-2014/) and can vividly remember how I felt writing that post, and during the festival. To be able to remember things so clearly and yet to know how much changed within the space of a year is a little bit disconcerting to be honest.

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Danny Battles

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The Lost Brothers

During 2014 I became much more involved in First Fortnight, having been asked to get involved with a pretty amazing group of people to do fundraising for the charity. Being more involved has let me see how much goes into this festival from the other side, rather than as a volunteer or as a spectator. The fact that this festival has been created by a bunch of volunteers is simply mind-blowing. That said, being more involved makes it challenging to write a review of it, so I’m not even going to attempt it. It’s impossible for me to be unbiased so all I’ll say is if you haven’t been to a First Fortnight event yet, then check out the festival next January, or one of the fundraising events during the year. I think that’s the fairest way of me keeping Gigaholic true to my views but without letting my love of this festival skew any review I wrote of it.

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I Have a Tribe

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State Lights
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Booka Brass Band

20150110_232552We Cut Corners

I toyed with using this post as another spot of free therapy, but it a) doesn’t seem fitting, and b) doesn’t really seem needed. This year has given me so much more confidence – it is impossible to see how much can be achieved by a small group of volunteers with some big ideas, without some of that confidence rubbing off. Hard to sum up how grateful I am for that, so I’m not even going to try.

Hot Press Jagermeister Freezer Sessions

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 The Academic

The Hot Press Jagermeister Freezer Sessions always bring together an eclectic but talented bunch, and are growing in size each year. This year’s line-up were disgustingly talented youngsters The Academic, Jagermeister Freezer Sessions Live Band of the Year Rackhouse Pilfer, Booka Brass Band and The Minutes.

Highlight for me were Booka Brass Band, who I somehow had never seen live before. These lads are fantastic – I mean, who doesn’t love synchronised brass brilliance?!

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Rackhouse Pilfer

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Booka Brass Band20141204_233101 20141204_233105The Minutes

Kormac’s Big Band

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This gig was my first chance to see Kormac with a full band in an indoor venue, and I loved it. Their new material is a bit of a departure from the Big Band sound of old, but highly enjoyable.

Kormac’s Big Band are one of those unique acts that are almost impossible to explain to people, as I found to my detriment that night. Bringing a friend who I really thought would enjoy the show, but who really didn’t, did take a bit of the gloss off the evening, but sure what can you do?

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We Cut Corners

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I relatively rarely am drawn so much to two gigs that I am willing to do a double header in one night. May 9th 2014 was am exception. We Cut Corners had been one of my festival favourites a couple of years ago and I hadn’t seen them in a while. Liza Flume in support sealed the deal.

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Both acts were just great – the new We Cut Corners material is really good and Liza Flume is simply sublime. Fantastic gig.

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The Erics

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If I’m honest, I probably shouldn’t have been at the Erics. Getting over a chest infection is never the best scenario for getting the best out of a gig – freezing, knackered and hacking up a lung, I felt like I should apologise to those standing around me for the added sound effects!

 

But that aside, Entertainment.ie had managed to put together a great line-up for their awards night, The Erics, with some of the best acts around at the moment. Cave Ghosts and Gavin James opened up the night, followed by O Emperor (who I had been dying to see again since their new album came out) and stars of the show, Le Galaxie. It was a night definitely worth staying out past my bedtime for!

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Cave Ghosts 20140130_205643

Gavin James 20140130_213326

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O Emperor 20140130_223428

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20140130_225433Le Galaxie

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Dave Le Galaxie has a rock-star moment

First Fortnight 2014

20140112_011407Vann Music (First Fortnight finale gig, Button Factory)

As is rapidly becoming a January tradition for me (and by the look of the crowds, for lots of people!), my first outing of the year was to First Fortnight, Ireland’s mental health arts festival. I’ve talked previously about how amazing I think this festival is, with its mix of music, poetry, art, film and theatre in addition to discussion forums. The fact that year-on-year, this festival has managed to gather growing crowds at a time of year when the tendency is to hibernate, and to keep prices at a level that allows people to come when no-one is feeling flush, is a testament to just how brilliantly organised it is. The growing numbers in attendance mean that the festival is continuing to spread its message of normalising the discussion of mental health in Ireland, and continuing to challenge mental health prejudice through the creative arts. In a country that seems to only be slowly coming to the realisation that talking is important, the open discussion that takes place at the First Fortnight events encourages people to talk but manages to avoid being preachy.

20140111_212123Spot Gavin James going unplugged in the crowd (First Fortnight finale gig, Button Factory)

20140111_215424The Academic (First Fortnight finale gig, Button Factory) – disgustingly talented for ones so young!

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Come on Live Long (First Fortnight finale gig, Button Factory) 20140111_232609

Heathers (First Fortnight finale gig, Button Factory) 20140112_010810 Vann Music (First Fortnight finale gig, Button Factory)

This year, I went to more events than usual. Apart from my traditional trips to the Therapy Sessions music and poetry events, and the Finale gig featuring some of the best Irish acts around at the moment, I went to Silver Linings Playbook followed by a discussion panel and a play so brilliant that I went back to see it again and brought my parents – Confusion Boats (I’m not going to say anything about this other than that I think Ger Kelly, writer and star, is a serious talent, and that everyone should go see it!).

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Laura Elizabeth Hughes (First Fortnight Therapy Sessions 1, Workmans Club) 20140103_220914

Ger Kelly (First Fortnight Therapy Sessions 1, Workmans Club) – he writes, he acts, he sings, is there nothing he can’t do? 20140103_222935

Mark Geary (First Fortnight Therapy Sessions 1, Workmans Club) 20140103_234247Daithi (First Fortnight Therapy Sessions 1, Workmans Club) – disappointingly small crowd hung around for his set, which was brilliant as always

I also did some volunteering at the festival for the first time this year. From freezing my arse off at Happy Clouds to getting a chance to see the Poetry Slam, the Milk and Cookies storytelling and baking evening, and the No Room at the Inn mental health service discussion forum – volunteering at this festival was such a privilege. Tiring, but a privilege! The organisers are the nicest, most hard working group of people you’ll ever meet. The fact that this group of my peers (they are normal people, with day jobs, who organise this festival on a voluntary basis) can achieve something so amazing – well, it is humbling, inspirational and just a little bit intimidating!

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Susan Quirke (First Fortnight Therapy Sessions 2, Workmans Club) – she may have been nervous but she played a belter of a set

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Evie Murtagh (First Fortnight Therapy Sessions 2, Workmans Club) – another terrifyingly talented youngster 20140110_222700

Idiot Sounds (First Fortnight Therapy Sessions 2, Workmans Club) – slightly more alternative than I could deal with, I’m afraid 20140110_230745Tara Lee (First Fortnight Therapy Sessions 2, Workmans Club)

In last year’s blog (https://gigaholic.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/first-fortnight-2013/), I touched on why this festival means so much to me, and now that I’ve had a chance to be involved in it in a small way, it means even more. The next piece of this post is something I’ve struggled with – I just couldn’t decide whether to include it or not. I’ve never revealed a huge amount of personal information in this blog, and this was deliberate. Last year’s First Fortnight post was probably the most I’ve spoken about myself here but I felt that in the spirit of what the festival is all about, it was appropriate. And I still feel like, when it comes to First Fortnight, sharing honestly is the least I can do.

 

So, in that spirit, here goes. While I’ve had my issues (haven’t we all?), I’ve been lucky that they have never been too severe, in the greater scheme of things. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t almost cripple me with self-doubt at times – trust me, my brain is often my own worst enemy. I really wanted to sign up to volunteer for First Fortnight for quite some time, but I had to think long and hard about whether I was actually up to it. While I’ve made huge strides in working on myself and my confidence from my lowest point at the end of 2012, I still have my bad patches. The last thing I wanted to do to the First Fortnight organisers was sign up and then back out, which is my pattern when things get too much – but I decided it was time to push myself out of my comfort zone. If I’m honest, I was so nervous on my first day volunteering that I didn’t know whether I wanted to cry or puke, and nearly turned back so many times. I’m sure the people who met me at that first event probably thought I was some kind of mute – nope, not mute, just terrified. But it got easier, and easier, with each event I helped at – luckily, I helped out at quite a few events, so my lasting memory is of how much fun I had, and not how scared and out-of-place I felt initially. The people running this festival are so welcoming, the other volunteers were a lovely bunch, and I am going to be the first in line to sign up to volunteer again next year.

 

If anyone has actually bothered to read until the end of this blog, well done – I think I’d have given up long ago if I wasn’t writing it! Thanks for sticking with it, and letting me share, even though it doesn’t really fit in with what Gigaholic is about. And if anyone who made it this far happens to be a part of First Fortnight, I hope you know how amazing what you’ve created is. From the fact that I look forward to the festival every January, to the fact that I often take a different route to work just so that I can see Maser’s You Are Alive wall on Camden St, First Fortnight has really got under my skin. I don’t think I can express how much being involved in First Fortnight 2014 meant to me, mainly for the amazing festival it is, but also for proving to myself that despite being terrified, I could do it. So, thank you. It’s not enough, but it’s all I can say – thank you. Roll on First Fortnight 2015!

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Stuart Semple’s Happy Clouds (First Fortnight, Meeting House Square)