Over 115,000 students will graduate with undergraduate degrees in Ireland this year. To devote 4 years (and in many cases more) to full-time undergraduate study is a serious commitment, not to mention coping with the stress of exams and assessments. Ireland boasts competitive third level education and is ranked amongst the best in Europe alongside the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands. Completing an undergraduate degree is a noteworthy accomplishment worthy of celebration, a sentiment shared by BIMM Dublin staff and lecturers.
Since its inception in 2011, BIMM Dublin has seen over a thousand students pass through its doors. The Guardian recently published a study stating that graduates of music have better employment prospects than people might think. They state that the “seven skills that define employability: self-management, team work, business and customer awareness, problem solving, communication, numeracy, and IT skills…music students develop all seven of these. By this measure, music graduates are among the most employable of all”. This is good news for BIMM students who graduate with BA Honours degree in music at the end of 4 years.
BIMM Dublin celebrated its current final year students and their talents at BIMM Live, an event organised to honour and celebrate the class of 2017. Over 40 acts performed at the event across 4 stages close to the Francis St campus. Through torrential rain and icy winds, crowds made their way to Dublin 8 to join BIMM Dublin in celebration of their 4th year students.
It proved impossible to see all of the acts performing due to the large scale of the event but highlights of the night were plentiful nonetheless. The start of the night saw performances from St. Bishop, who debuted a set full of infectious electro-pop melodies and hooks to a packed-out audience in The Jug. Also Emily Gahan, who captivated her audience with her delicate, acoustic berceuses. The event exhibited an eclectic mix of genres and styles, ranging from soul to punk to alt-pop. Accompanied only by a piano, Melina Malone stunned the Liberty Bell with her elegance and soulful songs, reminiscent of Erika Badu and Nina Simone. Melina spoke fondly of her vocal tutor, Shelley Bukspan, and thanked the college sincerely for the last 4 years. While there was certainly an electric and charged energy in the air of the event, it was possible to sense the undertones of sadness resonating from the students as they performed at a BIMM affiliated gig for the final time.
The Fontaines were another highlight of the night. Their music is unapologetically punk-rock and their front man Grian Chatten is a hugely charismatic performer. He has a Pete Doherty-esque energy about him – and the music and band are not unlike The Libertines. Chatten sang with an unmistakable Dublin accent and is the only Irish singer I have seen to do so in recent years. They played an exceptional set of up-tempo, classic punk-rock on the Tivoli mainstage and rendered it impossible not to dance.
Akora have been creating quite a buzz in the Dublin music scene for some time now and this was reflected by the large numbers that filled the Tivoli at 11pm. Each band member is accomplished in their own right and together they showcased an impressive level of musicianship. Drawing on influences including NAO and Hiatus Kaiyote, Akora’s music is a unique brand of electronic neo-soul. Frontwoman Ciara O’Connor is a hypnotic performer and the set left the audience in a trance-like state. A definite highlight of the night, Akora’s performance at BIMM Live set a high standard.
I last saw LNT at their EP launch in the Odessa Club almost 2 years ago and so I was excited to see how their sound had developed since then. The band’s bassist Noel Perry (who was unable to play the gig) had been replaced by a cardboard cut-out holding a toy bass guitar. Despite Perry’s physical absence, LNT put on a powerful and impressive performance. Their music is an amalgamation of Overhead, The Albatross, and Radiohead, and their performance at BIMM Live proved that they sure know how to put on a show. The set was energetic and passionate with intricate piano melodies and soaring guitar lines. Their memorable performance was another highlight of the evening.
Having heard a lot about Rogue, I was intrigued to see what their set would entail and I was not disappointed. Their sound is a mixture of funk and rock, complemented by powerful vocals from Sadhbh O’Brien. The band is fronted by Sadhbh and Joe Hearns, and together they put on an energetic and upbeat performance. The whole band exhibited a high level of musicianship in a set that was both lively and dynamic.
As I reflected on BIMM Live and the superb performances displayed at it in the days following the event, it became apparent to me that the event had been a true representation of the current Irish music scene. Ireland is famed for its singer-songwriters and traditional musicians but the last few years have seen the types of music being created here expand and evolve. The genres and styles displayed at the BIMM graduate show were vast and expansive, and were excellently executed. BIMM Dublin’s class of 2017 are accomplished and proficient in their disciplines and their performances at BIMM Live affirmed that their futures after BIMM are assured.
Written by Ruth Cronin