Dude-Fest – Where have all the women gone?

We, as Irish people, love a good festival. Every year we wait patiently for the likes of Electric Picnic or Body & Soul to throw out their ever-expanding lists of who’ll be rocking the fields that summer, before spending the equivalent of a month’s rent on tickets, tents and tins of Carlsberg … a typical cycle which we are well accustomed to. However, have we ever stopped to take a critical look at who exactly is playing our festivals? Well of course not, we’re too busy trying to decide which low-cut vests to buy or whether or not Penneys is the best choice for high-quality wellies.

It’s a sensitive issue and one that has lead to vicious debates on certain online forums, but the notion of a gender gap within music festival line-ups is one that we shouldn’t actively ignore. Are less women being booked to make room for successful male artists? Are festival organisers conscious of this? In order to gauge this accurately, let’s take a look at the line-ups for the past five years of Forbidden Fruit, a popular Dublin music and arts festival which takes place each summer.


After a thorough examination of each year’s line-up, it was concluded that more than 260 male acts were booked for the festival, with only 34 female acts being booked within the same time. Bands and groups comprised of mostly male musicians totalled 19 while two groups which were comprised of mostly female members were booked during the same time period. Groups with a perfect balance of male and female artists came to 14. This shows, as displayed in the graph above, that over 79 percent of acts booked for the festival for the past five years have been solely male while only 10 percent have been female. The question lingers, is this acceptable?

“As someone who has had experience in working at festivals in Ireland, everything from smaller niche festivals to Electric Picnic, I am not shocked by the current stats on the lack of female performers at festivals,” explained Ellen Clarke, a BA Creative Cultural Industries graduate who has bountiful experience in festival production after working on the likes of Electric Picnic.

“In my opinion, even the smaller organisations that label themselves as conscious of these recurring issues are still falling into the trap of inviting more well-known male artists to be part of their events because they feel that it will give them the publicity they need. This is creating a vicious cycle which needs to be broken. I am not someone who believes that there should be a 50/50 split in male/female involvement but the representation of the female side is clearly extremely lacking and this, in my view, is not because the right people aren’t available. It’s more about organisers and management overlooking these people,” said Clarke.

Breaking a cycle such as this one can be a difficult task. Festivals like Forbidden Fruit have been going on for a number of years now, typically run by the same promoters, booking agents, stage managers, etc. What they believe to be the right way of doing things, from booking acts to deciding which style of barriers they’re going to use, will undoubtedly be hard to change. However, we are beginning to see conversation take place surrounding the issue. This can only be positive of course.

Last March, the popular Irish music blogger Nialler9 publicly voiced his concern surrounding the lack of female artists booked for Higher Visions, a electronic music festival which took place on St. Patrick’s Day in Bellurgan Park, Co. Louth. He openly tweeted his annoyance towards the festival promoters which in turn led to an open online debate with popular Dublin DJs such as DJ Deece and Kaily getting involved. Some praised the blogger for raising the issue, while others were quick to defend the new festival claiming that it wasn’t a conscious decision.

Recently a local house DJ, Conor Foley, experienced a similar situation when he reiterated Nialler9’s point in the Four/Four music group, an open forum which focuses on Dublin’s nightclub scene, on Facebook. His post wasn’t warmly welcomed and was received with mixed opinions from commenters.

“From my experience, most promoters are aware of the idea of a gender gap. Some choose to not believe it’s due to anything untoward or in their control such as structural sexism and whether that is due to convenience or not we’ll never know,” explained Foley.

“Promoters do have a tough job booking the right lineup at the right price as is and often the equality of the lineup is understandably left til the last thought. A booker for the Red Bull stage at Life festival told me recently that one year he had the lineup locked in for the full weekend and only realised then that he hadn’t included a single female, which he regretted deeply,” he continued.

A similar study was done in the US by Alanna Vagianos of HuffPost where she looked at the gender gap within American music festivals. To quote her, she believes…

“The root of the disconnect between the number of women on stage and the number of women in the crowd may lie partially in the male-dominated subcultures these festivals were founded out of.”

Should Ireland follow this example of ignoring the problem and pretend that everything’s all good? For the future of our incredible music scene, let’s hope not.

By Conor Shields

Access to music education on the rise

In 2016, then Taoiseach Enda Kenny pledged to have music education accessible to every young person in Ireland within the next five years. That might have seemed over ambitious to some; or to others, simply another case of the government making more false promises.

However, this claim may be proven to have a strong foundation based on recent data.

Since 2010, the goal to achieve national access to music education for young people has been taken on by Music Generation, Ireland’s national music education programme. In 2010, Music Generation began a six year long project to give as many young people as possible across the country access to free performance music education.

The programme, which is co-funded by the Ireland Funds, U2, the Department of Education and local music partnerships has the ultimate goal of ensuring that every child and young person in Ireland has local access to high-quality music education in the form of learning an instrument. The last three years of this plan have proved particularly successful.

2014 saw 26,000 young people participating in Music Generation programmes, a 25% increase from 2013’s 19,500, with 2015’s 38,000 participants representing a near 32% increase on 2014’s figures.

The successes of 2015 saw 38,000 children and young people participating in 99 different tuition programmes in over 640 different centres across the country.

Source: musicgeneration.ie

Perhaps what’s most impressive about Music Generation’s figures to date is that the initial projected target of spreading across twelve counties in the country within six years from 2010 was achieved in mid-2014, eighteen months ahead of schedule, representing a 25% improvement on the projected time that this would take.

Below is the initial projected expansion for the organisation over six years which aimed for a steady albeit slow consecutive growth and its actual geographical growth from 2011 to 2014 when the target was achieved, showing a much quicker expansion than what was initially forecast.

Source: musicgeneration.ie

Commenting on the early achievement of these targets, Aoife Lucey, Communications Manager at Music Generation said: “Successful early-stage implementation of the programme at each phase enabled us to reach those targets ahead of schedule. Throughout the implementation stage each Local Music Education Partnership would have worked closely with partners and stakeholders at all levels, and with the Music Generation National Development Office, to ensure successful implementation.”

As well as providing young people with music education on a national scale, Music Generation has also been responsible for the creation of 350 jobs and employment opportunities for professional musicians and staff alike since its formation.

Evolution of counties reached, source: musicgeneration.ie

Increased expansion into more areas of the country means increased demand for musicians to teach the local young people in performance music education, be it vocals or instrument tuition.

“Job opportunities are allocated based on local need and context, but the bottom line is that setting up centres in hundreds of areas across the country means that thousands of young people who otherwise would not have access to music tuition can now receive it from the professional musicians hired to give them excellent quality teaching,” said Aoife.

Music Generation has since released their strategic plan for 2017 – 2021, propelled by their success so far. The plan is centered around ensuring the programme’s growth, sustainability and quality and aims to expand into more areas of the country through working with new Music Education partnerships and investing in strengthening the existing infrastructure so that continued performance music tuition can be achieved.

By Killian Dowling


Ten things to do in Dublin for Halloween

In order to get into the spooky spirit, here’s a list of fun and frightening things to do in Dublin this eerily festive season.

1)  Samhain Tours & Tales at the GAA Museum


This family friendly event consists of a scavenger hunt through the grounds of Croke Park, searching for Séamus the Samhain Scarecrow, who guards the elusive Harvest treasure. Following this, visitors will be entertained by the renowned storyteller, Eddie Lenihan. The whole family will be enthralled as Eddie tells the tales of his own childhood Samhain adventures and recalls hurling with the fairy folk. Tickets for adults cost €16, for children €12 and students or OAPs, €14. A family of four ticket is €50.  Each ticket includes a hot Halloween drink for all adult ticket holders, a small gift for all children and late entry to the GAA Museum. This event runs from the 28th October to the 1st November.

2) The Macnas Parade

This is an annual spooky, elaborate, night-time parade, performed by the world-renowned theatre group Macnas. The city is transformed as the group showcase their enormous, creepy floats through the city centre, while actors jump out and walk alongside them in an unnerving manner. The whole event gives off a chilling, demonic vibe, especially as it takes place right after dark, to give it the full effect. This is actually the last event in the Bram Stoker Festival and is a free event, suitable for all ages. It takes place on Monday 30th October at 6pm and the starting point is on Moore Street.

3) Bram Stoker Festival


As we all know, Bram Stoker was the Irish author most famous for writing the novel Dracula. For the past few years during the month of October there has been a festival in honour of the man himself and the creation of vampires. This year is no different, in fact it’s bigger and better than ever. There are tons of events which the Bram Stoker Festival are holding between the 27th and 30th of October, including a screening party of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a screening and live score performance of Vampyr, the Irish horror expo, Al Porter’s camp Dracula, and many more. The festival includes a wide variety of events all held in Dublin, which are not to be missed.

4) The Nightmare Realm


mb nightmare realm 2017 01_preview

The Nightmare Realm is an immersive, haunted house like no other. It plays on your deepest fears and twists them into reality. It’s an extreme, horror filled walkthrough event which has been torturing its victims in Cork since 2009. However, this is its second year in the RDS in Dublin, and this year it’s even more petrifying, grotesque and thrilling than ever before, with three different scare attractions. It’s not for the faint-hearted, and strictly suitable for teenagers and adults only. If you book your tickets online they’re slightly cheaper and range between €16-€21 depending on if you’re a student or adult, or if it’s off-peak or peak time.

5) Movie Nights at the Lighthouse Cinema


The Lighthouse is one of Dublin’s most iconic cinemas with its vibrant presentation and unique programming style. This Halloween season it’s showing a variety of horror flicks, including Carrie and The Shining. The bar in screen makes this cinema experience even more pleasurable, as patrons can enjoy a craft beer, wine or even cocktails while watching a film. If you’ve got an itch for horror, then check out your local cinema to see what seasonal movies they’re showing.

6) Spooktacular Boo at Dublin Zoo

This year, Dublin Zoo are hosting a family friendly event for Halloween, including creepy arts and crafts, spine-chilling keeper talks, spooky face painting, monster music on the Great Lawn, as well as many other festive activities. So bring the youngsters down to Dublin Zoo in the Phoenix Park on October 31st to enjoy all of this spooktacular fun!

7) Halloween mid-term activities at The Ark


The Ark, which is a cultural centre for children based in Temple Bar, has created eight days worth of Halloween-themed workshops and events to keep the kids busy throughout the mid-term break. The first programme kicks off on October the 28th with a ‘Make your own Deadly Dance Track Workshop’, which is a music technology workshop that enables children to become a dance music producer. The Ark’s other workshops and events include ‘The Supernatural Pop-Up Choir Family Workshop’, ‘Dracula’s Disco’ and ‘Spooky Songs and Sounds Workshop’. The programme finishes on November 4th with the beautiful show, ‘Strange Feathers’, which is an engaging, humorous, interactive, non-verbal show specifically designed and created for young children.

8) Enchanted Halloween at Malahide Castle

This Halloween you can experience Malahide Castle like never before. They are holding a spooktacular storytelling and sound experience for all the family. Visitors can interact with some of the oldest paintings and should listen out for creepy surprises as their storyteller shows them around the haunted rooms. No matter your age, all visitors will have a chance to play with the live sounds throughout the interactive exhibitions. This event is running from Friday the 27th October to Tuesday 31st October. Adult tickets are €8 each and child tickets are €10 each. Bookings can be made through their reservation team’s number only, on 018169538.

9) Samhain Festival

The Samhain Festival is a fancy-dress music festival like no other and this year it’s back and better than ever. It will be held in a brand new location, a hangar in Weston Airport, which has never hosted a gig before. The weekend festival is taking place on October 28th and 29th and the lineup this year so far includes Liam Gallagher, to headline Sunday the 29th October, with special guests the Strypes and Touts. The Saturday night welcomes Annie Mac, Eats Everything, Melé and Kelly-Anny Byrne to this spectacular gig. With the location this year being a bit unusual, there will be a dedicated shuttle service available to all concert goers from the city centre. Weekend ticket prices start at €99.50 excluding service charges.

10) DoDublin Ghostbus Tour



This is a chilling and truly entertaining bus tour incomparable to any other you’ve seen before. Passengers enter the bus and explore the sinister maze-like corridors and rooms below leading up to a stark Victorian theatre above, where the show truly begins. Passengers will be enthralled by their storyteller’s compelling tales which may leave you shocked, repulsed or horrified! You’ll stop off at one of the city centre’s creepy hidden graveyards and visit a medieval vault beneath Dublin Castle. You will hear of menacing Dublin surgeon Dr. Clossey, learn all about the art of body snatching, hear about the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s famous character Dracula, and much more. The tour starts at Dublin Bus Headquarters, on Upper O’Connell street, at 8pm Mondays to Thursdays and 7pm and 9:30pm Fridays and Saturdays and costs €28 per person.

By Alison Egan





Interview of Interest: Leah Kelly

By Kieva McLaughlin

Leah Kelly, a 20 year old up-and-coming singer from BIMM music college in Dublin, sat down with The City’s Kieva McLaughlin to discuss where she is now with her music and to tell us her plans for the future.

Leah is currently the lead singer in the band ‘BASQ’ along with guitarist Enda Cahill, bass player Conor King, Jake Richardson on keys, and Colin Lyons on drums.

(Source: RuthlessImagery)


Leah has millions of views on YouTube from her days singing with well known Irish singer ‘The Eden Project’, but is now focusing on finishing writing her newest album with her band ‘BASQ’.

“We play all our own originals, we have written six songs for this album that we are happy with, but we want two or three more before it will be ready. We sing R&B, soul, funky kind of music,” Leah revealed.

Leah and Enda write the music and lyrics before bringing it to the rest of the band to see what they can all do with it.

“It is taking [longer] than we would like because we are all so particular. We took a break for the summer, and when we came back we even started changing one of the first songs we finished because we were hearing it with new ears. We just want everything to be perfect before we start recording it. We are hoping it will be ready in November,” Leah told us.

Leah became interested in music at a young age through her Dad, but was always really nervous about singing in front of people. “I would have to sing in school in front of my class, but I really didn’t like it up until I took part in a fourth year school musical. For some reason once I was on stage I wasn’t nervous anymore, it felt different somehow,” she said.

(Source: RuthlessImagery)

Leah explained how she met ‘EDEN’, formerly known as the ‘The Eden Project’, and how they started singing together. “I was singing in a play in school that Eden was a part of. He was in a band outside of school and asked me to play a few gigs with them so that is how we made friends,” Leah explained.

“After that he asked me to record a few songs with him, it was more for fun than anything else, he had a little recording studio in his room so I just went to his house to do it, it was all very casual at the time,” Leah recalled. Eden went on to gather a huge fan base and Leah began to notice her popularity spiralling as well.

“Our videos hits just kept going up and up on YouTube – it was so surreal to think [that] millions of people were listening to me sing. Even just my name being on the songs is making a big difference to my career,” Leah said.

“A lot of people send me songs asking me to sing on them, I just need to figure out which is right for me. One guy even sent me a whole album of tracks without vocals on them and told me I could choose any song to sing on, it started to get a bit messy with his label though so I said I would just leave it.”

It is not only musicians messaging Leah but fans as well. “I really love it; I always make sure to reply to everyone. Some people would just be like ‘I love you Leah’ but other people comment the most bizarre things under my photos. I remember one time I put up a photo of me and my friend (who is a guy) on Instagram and a girl just commented in big block capitals ‘YOU BITCH, EDEN FOLLOWS YOU’. I just have to laugh at that kind of thing.”

(Source: Leah Kelly)

Leah isn’t sure if she would ever go solo yet because she is really enjoying being a part of her band ‘BASQ’. “They are all so good individually, and I play piano but I don’t play guitar, so I feel I need someone playing with me. As well as that Enda, the guitar player, and I are very good at writing music together, so we just work.”

Leah not surprisingly finds her inspiration from singers such as Mary J Blige and Beyonce. “I am just really into all strong female singers like Tory Kelly,” she said.



Years and Years bring their infectious sound to the Olympia

At first glance, Years and Years don’t seem like the kind of band that will capture the hearts and minds of teenage girls. Their synth pop style is rooted in 90s R&B and they cite their influences as artists like Aaliyah and Blu Cantrell – a far cry from the cheesy pop sounds of the likes of One Direction.

Yet no one mentioned this to the thousands of screaming teenage girls at Years and Years’ gig in the Olympia who began chants of “Olly, Olly, Olly”, calling for the band’s lead singer at various intervals before the band came on stage. And it is Olly (Alexander, the vocalist) who they came to see.

Despite Y&Y being a three-piece group, Olly is the star. Bouncing and flailing around the stage as he croons through the band’s freshman album, Communion, he is seemingly boneless and much skinnier than the teen heart throbs of my youth. But he is also charming and talented so I can, to a point, see the appeal he holds for his fans.

Years and Years’ songs all mostly sound the same, but when their sound is as infectious and boppy as it is, it’s difficult to mind. The only low point of the evening were the ballads, without the synth beats, the band’s lyrics aren’t strong enough to stand on their own.

The highlights of the evening were Desire, and of course King, their debut single that everyone has had stuck in their head since the beginning of this year.

Years and Years were supported by Nimmo, a London band, who were a wonderful surprise. With a slightly heavier dance style than Y&Y they were the perfect warm up act.

Photo Credit: Siofra Dempsey 

Fall Out Boy fans prove emo’s far from dead

Fall Out Boy are not a name that you would necessarily associate with the music scene of 2015. For many, they’re a band consigned solely to the dead subculture of ‘emo’ which was at its peak in the years between 2005 and 2010. But if you were to survey the scene at the 3 Arena last Thursday you would be forced to admit that emo is very much alive and well. Black clothes and intense fringes were the order of the night and once everyone had endured a set by the puzzling choice of support act, Professor Green, the excitement was palpable.

After a three-year hiatus Fall Out Boy reformed in 2012 and have released two albums, Save Rock and Roll in 2013, and American Beauty/American Psycho earlier this year. It was no sure thing that their former fanbase would be there for them upon their reformation. The emo youth culture is associated with tweens and teens and with most of their original fans in college or their early twenties by now, there was a risk that they would be too mature to reconnect with their former heroes, but this was far from the case.

Save Rock and Roll debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 200 chart in America with Rolling Stone calling their comeback “a rather stunning renaissance”. Their show at the Olympia last year sold out in less than half an hour and tickets for this gig sold briskly too although ultimately did not quite sell out most likely due to the much larger venue.

Sold out or not, Fall Out Boy’s fans made themselves known in the 3 Arena only adding weight to my suspicion that former emos shout the loudest. Yelling and hollering at every roadie that appeared on stage I wondered if there’d be anything left for the band. How wrong I was. Opening with a classic, as soon as the first chords of Sugar We’re Goin’ Down rang out the cheers and screaming filled the arena and I was right there with them, “woo”-ing and singing my heart out.

As it turns out an emo’s crush on Pete Wentz never really dies, it may have lain dormant for a few years but as soon as I clapped eyes on him I was transported to my pop-punk past and he was once again my one true love. I wasn’t the only one who reverted to a former self. The group of friends are ones I met after their teen angst peak but with hands on chests singing about their “car-crash hearts” they were no longer PR professionals and science graduates but their fifteen-year-old selves belting out lyrics that meant everything to them. It was like a real life #ThrowBackThursday.

The set was a mix of old and new with acoustic versions of Immortals and Young Volcanoes right in the middle, followed by an impressive solo by drummer Andy Hurley which included a cover of Trap Queen which was as confusing as it was impressive. Singer Patrick Stump’s voice was at its pop-punk best and his diction has improved immensely since I first saw the band in 2008.

A cover of Beat It gave lead guitarist Joe Trohman a chance to show off his immense skills. Fan favourites Dance, Dance and Where Is Your Boy Tonight all made an appearance and were greeted with the expected mania. The encore was a perfect mix of old and new with the upbeat hit from their comeback album My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark’s slick production perfectly balancing the grit and vinegar of Saturday, a song from their first record with a huge nostalgia factor for a lot of their fans before an incredible screaming finale courtesy of bassist Pete Wentz. This was the first time they had the chance to bring their full show to Ireland and the pyrotechnics and huge screens made all the difference.

Post-show I talked to some fans to see what they thought of the gig and ask why they’re still fans in 2015. I first approached some younger fans hoping to find some for whom the new albums had been their introduction. Unfortunately my luck was out on that count as everyone who’d talk to me had been a fan since at least 2005 or so.

Olly (16) has been a fan since Sugar We’re Going Down was released in 2005 and had only good things to say about the band and their new work, “I actually like some of their new stuff better as it’s more my style… tonight exceeded my expectations, it was my first time seeing them and they were so, so good.”

An older fan, Sadbh (20) had maternal feelings towards the band as she saw them for the first time.

“I kind of felt like a proud mother, almost like they were my kids and I was like ‘that’s it boys!’,” she said.

Her pride was palpable if a little confusing considering she’s at least a decade younger than the band.

Her friend Kelly welcomed new fans discovering the band.

“I think fans have to be adaptable to change and I think it’s really great that there’s a whole new generation of Fall Out Boy fans and this is their first Fall Out Boy album and I think that’s so sweet,” she explained.

Robert (22) was the oldest fan I spoke to and had a lot to say about their new material and longevity.

“I think their new stuff is written for arenas and is a lot more sing-songy and that works live but a lot of their punch is in their older songs when they were more emotional but obviously they’re more removed from that now that they’re stars,” he said.

“I think their hiatus built hype unbeknownst to them and they’ve managed to keep it going although I don’t really know how. I think it’s nostalgia coupled with new music that’s pretty good so it’s that combination that’s kept them afloat so far.”