Photo by Andy Ferreira
At the end of my last post I wrote about how things change in the music business, and how time is the only thing that can tell what will happen in the future. One imminent change for the Cork and wider Irish music scene is that Black Sun, the weirdo/experimental/improv/noise (I could go on!) night run by my dear friend Vicky Langan, will see its last music show take place this Saturday. Its experimental cinema programming will continue, with thanks to the Triskel Arts Centre.
In Vicky’s own words:
Looking back, it would have been cheaper every time to book a flight to somewhere in Europe and see these artists perform, but anyone who’s been invited to play here knows how tremendously proud I am of Cork City. A sentimental Galwegian with a grá for a place that’s not even ‘my own’. With every new visitor, I couldn’t wait to show off the place and make introductions. The heart of Black Sun was always about the community that grew around it and helped it to keep on. Many friends were made in the throes of the gurgle, scrape and drone. Without the loyal support of our regulars, the financial risk of creating these events would have been too enormous to bear. We had a feeling that maybe you’d be there, and if you turned up, well, then you were our private heroes.
Living in Dublin, I haven’t gone to all of these shows, but every one that I have attended has been so different… the shows were always mind-opening, usually featuring music I had never come in contact with before. Some shows, like the Jean-Louis Costes performance, featured discomfiting or even disturbing elements. I saw my first Laura Sheeran live show there, which was a revelatory experience for me. Other shows, like when Daniel Higgs played at the Camden Palace, were more ‘accessible’, but challenging in their own ways. I don’t mean challenging in a pejorative sense – I mean the sort of challenge that you willingly confront and push through to expand your mind somewhat. I can, like many others, be guilty of staying in my comfort zone, and I mean that in a musical sense too.
It’s easy to shy away from something different, or unusual; it’s easy to stay within your own cocoon. But Vicky has never been a person to do that. Knowing her as a friend since she moved to Cork has shown me that she’s one of the strongest people I’ll probably ever meet. We’re incredibly different in many ways (but share a bond over many things), and that, I think, makes our friendship richer.
Putting on a series of gigs using your own money and the help of colleagues and friends; bringing over to Ireland acts you know the potential audience may never have heard of; getting performers who use bodily fluids during their set to play in staid theatres; challenging people; welcoming people; bringing something new and different and unusual to Cork… that’s what Vicky did. That’s what Black Sun did (and will continue to do with its film programming). It is something that people will look back at in years to come and wonder “What was it like to be at those shows?”
It is sad to see Black Sun’s music element come to an end, but out of every ending comes a new beginning. As a performer herself – and a friend, a mother, a partner, a collaborator – Vicky has many other elements to her that she will be able to explore now that she has a little more time to herself. There are certain people who have a fire about them that’s different to everyone else’s, a spirit that’s more unique. Vicky is one of those people, so we can be sure that whatever she gets up to next will be something special.
If you are in Cork on Saturday, do head along to say goodbye to the music element of Black Sun. I only wish, in my own sentimental way, I could be there too. It would be entirely within Black Sun’s style if I was there in spirit…
Black Sun presents: With Lumps, Woven Skull, Aonghus McEvoy & Divil A’ Bit – Saturday June 16th / Plugd Records 10pm
Half-frame photos by me