by Alex Millar

For the last thirty odd years, Connolly’s of Leap has played host to some of the world’s most influential artists. Nick Cave, Steve Albini, and some of Ireland’s most famous artists like the John Martyn, Frames, and Bell X1 have taken to its hallowed stage.

Well, last Sunday evening it played host to a few newer artists and thankfully, Connolly’s of Leap seems to be back on the gigging map. And none too soon…

On Sunday last it hosted Finnish trance rock group K-X-P, UK shoe-gazers Carousels, and two more local acts, Cork’s own Altered Hours and Terror Pop. The night provided an eclectic mix of light and shade, and it was definitely one of the finest gigging experiences this reviewer has had for a long time. The atmosphere of Connolly’s just seeps music heritage, and the attendees and bands couldn’t help but be affected by it.

First up were Cork’s own shoegaze outfit, Terror Pop. Formerly known as Agitate the Gravel, the band slinked onstage and threw themselves headlong into their short, sharp set. Comprised of their last two singles ‘Wilderness Years’ and ‘Wait’, mixed with a few new tunes, the band seem to be going from strength to strength. Some brilliantly catchy tracks, and some genuinely fine song writing, it’s clear that a new talent is in the making here.

Next up were the Altered Hours. They’re a strange mix of heavy, distortion-laden rock and bluesy folk, and they penned their set with serious vigour. The five-strong band blasted the crowd, who were becoming more and more jovial at this point, and their brand of alt-rock was a fine display. The vocal responsibilities were shared between their two front persons, one male and one female, and they weren’t short on emotion. A little more direction would have been nice, but sometimes sheer power and ferocity makes up for that.

Third on the bill were the imported UK shoegaze band Carousels. It’s nice sometimes to experience bands from other ‘markets’ and see how they’re fairing by comparison to our homegrown talent, and Carousels put on a great show. Like all good shoegazers, there’s a hefty chunk of melody behind their distortion and Carousels have such a complete grasp of the notion of melody. They produce a perfect blend of pop and grungy rock that brings one to mind of bands like Dinosaur Jr. The only problem was that their majestic set ended all too quickly.

Headliners were K-X-P and it’s hard to filter down what it was like to experience their set in person. The three-piece are made up of a sampled electronics and arpeggiators, a distorted and synthesised live bass, and one of the most talented and menacing drummers I have ever seen. Together they create a cacophony of noise that is both terrifying and danceable, unintelligible and melodic. They defy description. It may be sufficient to say that the venue was deaf, out of breath, sweaty and euphoric once they had finished their set. And there isn’t much more you can ask of a band.

Connolly’s of Leap has been a West Cork, and even a national institution for the last number of decades, and it’s shaping up to be that way again. If they keep putting on shows like this one, there is no limit to what they can do. Pure class.