Home Sweet Homebeat

homebeat 1NewsFour attended a musical event recently that was something very special, and unusual. It took place in a private house on Lad Lane, just off Baggot St.

The tickets were free and the two acts that played were exceptionally good new Irish talents. The crowd were having a great time and we felt like we’d just stumbled on a house full of old friends. This was HomeBeat; they were based in the Mabos Lounge in Grand Canal Dock (the building is being developed into offices and has now closed) and have so far staged over 20 of the events since they started up two and a half years ago.

We caught up with Emmet Condon of HomeBeat to find out how it started and where it’s going. Condon left college and travelled extensively before coming back to Dublin and wondered what to do. “When I came back it seemed like the music scene in Dublin was all about big business and established acts; if you weren’t connected, you didn’t get to play. Venues just weren’t booking or looking for new bands; if you weren’t big you were nothing,” he told NewsFour.

Condon pursued other careers but started to notice a burgeoning creative scene in the city, one that was largely driven by the economic crash, with people having to get out and make things happen for themselves. He found small venues popping up around the city, making the live music scene more exciting than it had been in years.

Then in 2009, he and a group of friends travelled to Caherdaniel in County Kerry on the October bank holiday weekend. “We rented a room upstairs in a pub and had our own festival. It’s now a successful annual event called Fading Light; we take over the whole village”.

This further reinforced his belief that if you want something done do it yourself. Of the beginnings of HomeBeat, he says, “We never planned out HomeBeat; we lived in a real party house so we thought why not just stage our own gigs? It’s snowballed ever since.” As for promoting the events, Condon says they’ve never had to, “It grew through friends, and friends of friends, and spread out like that”.

The obvious questions are how do people behave, and do things in the chosen home get broken or stolen? “Very well” and “they don’t” are the straight answers. “We’ve never had any problems with people misbehaving; because the event is free and in someone’s house, it seems to make everyone respect it more.”

Shauna Gillan answered a last minute SOS call from HomeBeat and hosted an event in her apartment. “I didn’t know them from Adam. I saw something a friend had liked on Facebook about them looking for a house, and thought ‘why not?’ A few hours later they showed up in a van with speakers, lights, candles and everything they needed; it only took 20 minutes to set up,” she told NewsFour. “They put a little sign on the door and at eight o’clock people started arriving. They were all so nice and grateful to me for doing it; I made a lot of new friends.” When asked if she’d recommend others to give HomeBeat a try, Gillan replied, “Absolutely! It was no hassle; there was very little cleaning up and everyone had a great time.”

Of the unique atmosphere, Condon said, “If you’re sitting in a strange person’s house it can be a little awkward at first but everyone relaxes quickly. When you’re in a setting like that it’s much easier to talk to those you don’t know, unlike a pub or club where it’s all a bit forced.”
Of the future, Condon said, “We’re trying to keep the heart of it intact; the house events will stay as they are but it’s gone from being just a project to almost a full-time job. Obviously, money has to come into it somewhere. We’re never going to stage big acts in the O2, so the plan at the moment is to find a middle ground.

We had an event in Whelan’s of Wexford St and it was exactly the same as the house ones; people came, sat and chatted but then actually listened to the music, because that’s what they were there for. It was great to see the atmosphere from the house gigs transfer to one in a pub. When you see people behaving in a pub as they would in someone’s house it’s really special.”
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By Steve Kingston