Nights In

Student experience: playing longitude

This past weekend saw myself and my band, The Dead Sets, play our second festival of the summer and our biggest gig yet. 
We had the honour of playing the Whelan’s Live stage at this year’s Longitude festival. For five students, with less than enjoyable part time jobs, to play at the second biggest festival in the country is something I and my band mates will never forget. 
We were fortunate enough to win the Long Road to Longitude competition in Canvas at the Grainstore in Cabinteely last month, that’s how we got our slot.
This competition was organised by Canvas Youth Arts Program and Dun Laoghaire and Rathdown County Council in cooperation with MCD Promotions. We and two other bands, Madison Front and Level Heads were the winners on June 14th. That was just the beginning. 
The Dead Sets were given the opening slot on the Whelan’s Stage on the Saturday of the festival. While 2pm on the Saturday wasn’t the busiest time, our tent soon filled up shortly after we started playing. 
With just 30 minutes to show what we could do, we made the most of every second. Five original songs, one cover and roughly 31 minutes later, our time on stage had ended. 
How quick that time passed, how euphoric it had felt. As a band we’ve been told each of us looks like we’re having the time of our lives on stage. This is completely true. 
To us there is no greater pleasure in this funny, little world than playing your music live for people who you can see are enjoying it. It’s the greatest joy we know and it’s the only thing we want to do for the rest of our lives.
Those 31 minutes were undoubtedly the highlight of the weekend, but the whole experience was what made it complete. As the first band on the stage that afternoon, it was our job to sound check all the amps and drum kit for the other acts to follow. 
For me, as the drummer, repeatedly hitting one drum at a time for five minutes each was a little boring, but it was a huge learning experience for each of us. After all, we were just doing exactly what the technicians on the main stage were doing as well. 
It doesn’t matter where you play, Marlay Park or the local pub, Madison Square Gardens or a tiny stage in Dublin, you have to play with every ounce of passion, energy and humility you have in your soul. 
Nothing is more important than the music you make and the way you deliver it. You could be the biggest act on the planet, but without knowing where you came from and remembering who helped get you there, does it really mean anything?
But enough philosophy for now! The simple reality of what we did was we got on stage, played the songs we loved, and some people seemed to like them! We can ask for no more than that. 
Once our time had ended, it felt like it had almost never happened, it was so surreal. We aren’t rock stars yet, we still have a lot more work to do to get there. 
Unfortunately music isn’t paying the bills. College fees, rent, the cost of motoring and of course the cost of socialising still have to be covered.
We cover those costs by going back to our part time jobs that we aren’t particularly fond of. Retail, deli work, filing in in an insurance company and cooking burgers in McDonalds is what we do to get those little pieces of paper that dictate most aspects of our lives.
Of course we all have college to keep us motivated as well, which will always keep us grounded. Pretty soon we’ll be back in college worrying about grades or exams, and playing a gig like the one I’ve just spoken about won’t make much of a difference. 
It’s a fantastic memory we will always remember, but I don’t think any of our lecturers will give an extra 5% for it!
Photo courtesy of  Arthur Doyle Photography