Just off Eyre Square lies a gig-hosting club known to Galwegians as Club Cuba. CitiZen chose the venue for their single launch, ‘C’mon, Go Rising’ – and otwo’s Emma Murphy and Colin Sweetman went to investigate
CitiZen are a punk/indie/bit-of-something-else trio, composed of vocalist/bassist Danny, captivating vocalist/guitarist Sayers, and animated drummer Ben. A dynamic ensemble together made for a fantastic live musical partnership.
Playing to this popular venue, which has hosted the likes of Pendulum, Calvin Harris and most recently Eric Prydz, CitiZen were described to otwo as a “new rock/punk-rock mixture close to a modern day Beatles” by some outdoor-smoking punter. This proved a somewhat distant comparison to the group, who otwo found closer to an altogether more modern phenomenon like The Killers (although they keep their style fresh and original of themselves).
On this Friday night however, they did not disappoint. Throwing themselves into the gig, they appeared to really enjoy the experience of playing live. As the gig progressed and the atmosphere began to flourish, it proved fortunate that the management had cleared the area and gotten people to stand up and dance a little. Despite encouragement from the charismatic band, only a few people obliged by actually dancing. Instead, they were treated to a truly eager crowd of listeners.
The ambiance grew more and more towards that of a typical live gig in a club. Mainly due to the fact that people began to loosen up and enjoy the sheer joy of entertainment that permeates any great performance, the band formed an inspiring relationship with its audience. Flashing grins and winking for many a flashing camera came from their UCD and Galway city entourage.
In true musical form the gig reached a climax at the execution of new single, ‘C’mon, Go Rising’ which proved itself a fresh balance of new-age rock-meets-Dublin city attitude. Leaving their listenership begging and chanting for more, and, eventually obliging, we couldn’t help but crack a smile and check where they’re performing next.
Backstage, otwo did just that – and asked them the obvious question: why Galway?
“Well it’s Rag Week here in Galway, and it’s always fucking brilliant… you’ve got [venues like] Roisín Dubh, here, the college – everytime the crowd have been brilliant, the vibe has been brilliant and we just said, ‘fuck it’, lets just do something different for our launch.”
Instead of just playing Whelan’s, as the band are normally inclined to do, they decided that it was best to “make an event” of it. The last time the band played Club Cuba, they were live on-stage when news of Jackson’s death came in, which they claim “made us feel real guilty about the whole thing”. So decisions were made to do it again, and do it right. The band relate to Galway as “their home away from home”, feeling that Dublin is a funny place (“at the moment anyway”) for up-and-coming bands. “We almost get a warmer reception going anywhere else than we do in Dublin”.
The band all met when they were touring together as a backing band for singer-songwriter Eamon O’Connor. “That’s when we realised that people were so much more enthusiastic and willing to listen to music, and actually follow it after they like it”.
But can the band provide a niche – an element of originality in the face of bands who are constantly trying to think of new ideas – all in the name of finding that untapped musical market?
“The pure element of what we do comes from the pure element of what we do,” claims bassist Danny McConnell. “I mean, the three of us went into a room and just started jamming and said ‘yeah, this is what we like’.”
However, they claim that people in Dublin don’t go out to see bands out of blue, that they’re “not willing to chance their arm” – a trait of the capital that is crippling to new bands, they believe.
How will CitiZen fare in the future though? It looks like a strict return to emigration for Ireland’s talent, so that other lands may profit from their music.