I had never been to The Bowery before this Monday evening just past. Rathmines hasn’t been a regular haunt for me since my first year Halls days when Toast occupied its place near the Swan Centre. Apparently, the bar has been in place for about a year now. For those who have yet to enter its doors, prepare yourself for a surprise. Resembling the cavernous interior of an old ship, complete with wood panelling and cannons emerging from the walls, this week the pub dons an extra layer of eccentricity. Bavarian bunting hangs from the ceiling and bar staff wear the traditional dirndls of South Germany. (“I’d quit if my boss asked me to wear that to work”, I muttered to my pal. I’m probably less fun than the very friendly and helpful staff who were there last night, however). Complimentary pretzels are on offer at the bar, and, in the beer garden (a generous term used to describe what is essentially a couple of picnic benches in the back alley) barbeque food is available. All very nice, but admittedly a little strange when combined with the permanent pirate aesthetic.
Given the musical programming of last night and the week ahead, the eclectic décor seems perfectly fitting. Eclectic is my key word in describing Oktoberfest at The Bowery, and it’s meant in good spirit. This week, in addition to the joys of German beer, the venue presents such a variety of music acts that anyone willing to be surprised will be guaranteed a good night.
The evening was MC’d by Eddie Durkan, of Hardy Bucks fame, lending the whole affair a distinctively Irish comedic twist. Haiku opened the proceedings at about 8.30pm. Forged from connections borne out of performances with various Irish acts, including the relatively high profile Cathy Davey and The Republic of Loose, this five-piece offered a fun antidote to the standard indie act. Influenced by West African music, funk, and hip-hop, they provided an enjoyable set with a bop-able edge, setting the tone for the night. Haiku will be in The Bowery once again on October 19.
Their follow-up, The Hit Machine Drummers, further proved the fact that this week would not be boring. An Irish drumming troupe, dressed in leather and kilts (I’ll admit, I wondered where all the BDSM Scotsmen I noticed in the crowd had come from) took to the stage armed with snares and impeccable choreography. The Hit Machine Drummers typically perform at weddings and corporate and sports events, but their short and memorable set was a thoroughly enjoyable insertion into the evening, making the energy levels rise visibly.
Finally, the evening’s headliner, Lisa Canny and her band, brought the night to a close. Canny is a graduate of UL’s Irish Music and Dance programme and has a Masters in Ethnomusicology from UCC. Now a full-time gigging musician, usually based in London, these diverse influences can be heard in her music. Wielding a harp in one hand and a banjo in the other (not literally; she only played one at a time, naturally), Canny’s music fuses traditional elements with pop and soul. Her set also included a cover of MIA’s ‘Paper Planes’ with an inserted original rap based on Conor McGregor quotes, which says it all really I think. Canny was crowned the UK “Future Music” Songwriting Champion of 2016, and will return to The Bowery on October 18.
This week, The Bowery will invite a range of guests to their small, nautical stage. Tuesday night, The Hot Sprockets played, alongside MUNKY, Sub Motion and Modesto. Paddy Casey headlined Tonight, and other highlights include the inimitable and unmissable Meltybrains? this Friday, and a live show from The Hardy Bucks on Sunday. The Bowery seem to be making a pretty good concerted effort to support live music in Dublin; if you want to support that too, and fancy an evening of good cheer and tunes, it’s worth swinging by this week.