Strange Brew - the alternative, indie, and up and coming bands’ gig and clubnight in the Róisín Dubh - will celebrate its 300th night on Thursday October 2 from 7.30pm.
The event will feature some of the very best Galway acts - The Ghostwood Project, So Cow, Disconnect 4, and Mirakil Whip - as well as Dublin’s Le Galaxie and Derry’s Fighting With Wire. There will also be plenty of treats for the audience with two free pints of Bavaria for the first 100 people, party bags, Rice Krispie buns, and lots of other treats. As The Beatles said: “A splendid time is guaranteed for all.”
Strange Brew takes place in the Róisín Dubh every Thursday but it began more than five years ago in The Warwick Hotel, Salthill. The man behind it is music promoter Gugai who was driven by a desire to have his own clubnight and bring to Galway audiences “indie beats, alternative rock, and good vibrations from the past, the present, and the not too distant future.”
“That’s the tag line for Strange Brew and has remained the guiding vision since then,” Gugai tells me as we sit for the interview on a Thursday morning. “It was about songs that I wanted to hear and to play songs that weren’t being played in any other club.”
The posters and flyers for Strange Brew reflect Gugai’s love of 1950s b-movies and pulp fiction. “I was tempted to use an image from the 300 film as it’s the 300th night,” says Gugai. In the end he opted for a man in sunglasses wrestling an octopus.
Octopuses are an ever present image in Strange Brew posters. The night’s logo is a one eyed octopus with headphones and clutching an LP in his tentacle.
“I got the idea for the logo from a poster for the 1950s film It Came From Beneath The Sea,” says Gugai. “The octopus on the poster looked as if it had only one eye so I asked Cherie to design a logo of a seven tentacled, one eyed octopus and it’s been used from day one!”
Taking the name for the night from a classic song by Cream, the night was complete, and ready for Gugai to DJ and play the music.
A change came in 2004 when Gugai, along with Kevin and Greg Healy, took over the Róisín Dubh. Strange Brew pre-parties were held in the Róisín to act as warm ups for gigs in the Warwick from The Redneck Manifesto, Snow Patrol, The Chalets, etc.
When the Róisín secured its licence to stay open until 2am, the Strange Brew nights moved there entirely and underwent the next phase in its evolution. The night now became devoted to new, promising, cult, and up and coming acts, which would be followed by a DJ set from Gugai.
Strange Brew has since become a must see for indie/alternative cognoscenti who want to check out the most exciting new acts before they break big - it’s a part of Strange Brew Gugai is proud of.
“It’s become one of the points in the manifesto - to stage bands a lot of people haven’t heard of,” he says. “Unless the act is very big or expensive we don’t charge and because of that we hope the public will come and see just how good these bands are.
“A lot of bands have ‘grown up’ at Strange Brew - Giveamanakick, Delorentos - The Blizzards played support slots here as did Foals. We had Battles just as they were taking off. They had never heard ‘Atlas’ in a club before until I played it!”
The 300th night
Gugai cites the acts who will take to the stage for the 300th night as “several of my favourite bands”. On the bill, for their first live show in a long, long, time, are the mighty indie/metal instrumental trio The Ghostwood Project. “Instrumetal,” quips Gugai.
Indie-rock/electro quartet Le Galaxie have played the Róisín Dubh numerous times. “I’ve seen the way they have developed from 66e into Le Galaxie and I’ve been blown away by how good they are on stage,” he says. “They are very clever in their image and the vision they have for the band. If you’re not yet convinced by them, put in the effort, it will be worth it.”
A band that has grown enormously in the last year are new wavers Disconnect 4. With songs like the mini-epic ‘The Rise’ and the furious funk/post-punk of ‘Say What You Said’, they have what it takes to go to bigger things.
“They have serious potential,” agrees Gugai. “They have a mainstream, commercial, viability that doesn’t affect their artistic integrity. Look past the haircuts and skinny jeans and it’s pure gold.”
Mirakil Whip, a electronic/guiar duo of Annemarie Deacy and Aaron Coyne, have been flying the flag for avant-garde and underground music in Galway as well as helping other musicians in developing their projects.
“The first time I heard Mirakil Whip’s ‘Yossarian Lives’, it just blew me away,” says Gugai. “It still does! They are doing great work with other bands and they have a dedication to innovation which is wonderful to see.”
So Cow (Brian Kelly ) cuts a delightfully eccentric dash on the Galway music scene with his chipper 1970s style pop-rock songs.
“While I’m loath to use the term ‘kooky’ about anyone,” says Gugai, “there is no one else I can think of who it can be applied to positively. He’s great and it’s nice to see people singing along to his songs. I think he built up his fan base on the sly!”
Completing the line up is Ulster band Fighting With Wire. “They’re heavy and intense,” says Gugai. “There are a lot of people putting faith in them and I think that faith will be paid off.”
Admission on the night is free so get there early for great music and good vibes.