For part two of my closer look at the Galway music scene, we turn to Citóg, a gig night that proudly proclaims itself the ‘home of Galway music’.
One essential part of a local music scene is having a place for musicians to play gigs – somewhere that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to book, or is free to play, or pays a few quid to the bands involved. Galway has had a number of nights throughout the years – including Stress!!, which was run by Tony Higgins, Jonny White and Garret Collins – and the latest is Citóg.
(For those outside of Ireland, Citóg is an Irish word that was used to refer to left-handed people in quite a derogatory way. It’s since fallen out of use, but I like the fact that the left hand is controlled by the right side of the brain, which’ rules’ creativity. So using the name for a music event, in a positive way, is strangely fitting.)
Like Stress!! Citóg is for local and national bands to play, a night to celebrate local music and introduce new faces to a Galway audience. While researching my article for The Ticket, I sent out some email questions to the guys involved, and here’s what they had to say:
Who are the people behind Citóg and what is its history?
There are two of us in it, really. Jay Burke does the sound and I [David Boland] do the bookings. We’ve been running it for about a year. We started in The Cellar and when that closed down after Christmas we moved to DeBurgos where we’ve been ever since. [Citóg has recently moved back to The Cellar Bar on Friday nights].
What was your main aim when setting Citóg up?
We aim to provide a place where local acts can play regularly and also where people in town can see some new music every week. I think some of the most exciting music in this country right now comes from unsigned bands or small independent labels and the mainstream media seems generally unaware or uninterested in them. For me, the most relevant bands out there aren’t getting signed or being played on daytime radio. They’re unemployed and they’re playing in your local Citog. We’re just part of a larger movement of people taking it in to their own hands and trying to give some exposure to the sweet, sweet underbelly of this nation. In Galway that includes things like the Play Irish initiative, Wingnut Records, Rascal Radio, and independent labels like Rusted Rail.
Every Friday we have three bands play, at least one from Galway, and it’s all for free. The bands get heard, the audience gets drunk, and everyone goes on their way a little more enlightened and happier than before. It’s beautiful.
What have been your favourite moments at the Citóg shows so far?
The best nights in The Cellar were probably our Halloween Party (Rural Savage, The Ralphs & The Deadbeat Collective), which was insane, and our two Christmas shows. We did a quiet, serene pre-Christmas party with a projector and visuals which was very dark and romantic. The Friday before Christmas we had a more traditional festive celebration. We’ve had some great nights in DeBurgos too but it’s definitely more suited to a low key affair.
Most of the best moments just come from hearing something beautiful, especially for the first time. I’ve been knocked dead during soundcheck a few times. Its kind of like when you see the dollar signs light up behind Simon Cowell’s eyes as he discovers a marketable new pop star, but in a slightly less exploitative way.
How would you describe the Galway music scene?
It’s small but varied, and probably quite close. There are a lot of bands on the verge of releasing albums or EPs so it feels like it could take off any time soon.
Have you seen the Galway music scene evolve over the last number of years? If yes, how?
Definitely. I think there’s a confidence that maybe wasn’t there a few years ago. Most of the people I’ve met through Citóg are genuinely trying to make interesting music and the scope of what’s being done musically in Galway is huge. A few years ago I don’t think there was the same diversity or the same amount of people making a go of things.
Do you think enough is done to encourage local bands in Galway?
At the minute it’s actually quite good. There are a good few venues doing live music and there are a lot of motivated people doing their own thing. We have a decent outlet in Wingnut, a record label to be proud of in Rusted Rail, the Play Irish initiative is being tried out on Galway Bay FM and bands are generally very supportive of each other.
What are your favourite bands and venues in Galway?
The Roisin is still the best for bigger bands and international acts but I think we’re probably the best in town for atmosphere and general craic. We’ve a great regular crowd and it’s always very relaxed. Plus the standard of music has been very high so far.
I’ve seen about a hundred acts at Citóg over the last while so it’s impossible to list everyone I’ve been impressed by. The music I keep coming back to recently would be The Followers Of Otis, who have a great album out already, and Yawning Chasm who will have one out later this year. You would be remiss not to catch Donal McConnon live, or Rural Savage who are one of the most promising and unique bands in the country. Think Jinx Lennon meets Dead Kennedys, but from Donegal.
What would you like to see happen with the Galway music scene in the future?
I’d like to see it get more notice outside of Galway. There are fantastic and original acts around town at the moment and most of them are planning some sort of release over the summer. It would be great for the whole scene if they were to do well nationally.
What are the plans with Citóg for the future?
We’ve already released a mixtape of bands who’ve played Citóg so the plan is to make that into a series. We’re also looking at ways to involve more people creatively, be that photography, making videos, designing posters or recording some of the newer acts who have played Citóg. Anything original and creative we can help out with we’re happy to. There’s also an idea of taking Citóg on a mini tour to a few cities around the country but that seems far away right now. Basically, we’d like to keep improving the night while keeping the good vibe we have at the moment.
So Cow – Barry Richardson
The Driftwood Manor – Everyday Gives