It was the last weekend of the Galway International Arts Festival, 2018. Taking a cue from years gone by the Big Top this year hosted a series of stand out international and national artists. Opening the finale weekend was The Flaming Lips – who by all means blew our minds (see review) – however it was the opening act of the night which sparked the electric atmosphere under the marquee, and with just energy, passion and banging tunes gave us an outstanding performance. Le Galaxie could easily headline the Big Top.
Chest bursting bass and electro-pop
A crowd of us have been waiting at the front for the much anticipated performance, and as the lights illuminate Le Galaxie crossing the stage we cheer. At 8pm the gig begins.
Sometimes at the early stages of a gig – big or small – it can take a combination of time and an enthusiastic push to get people out of their standing skin and into a more fluid, headbanging rhythm. It doesn’t matter how ‘big’ the artist is. People might want to let it all hang out but they’re still jacked into the ‘normal’ day-to-day performance of being a person.
Clearly with the rhetoric of “Yeah, but those are just the laws of physics, we’ve got this whole other universe going on”, they stepped over all that. Le Galaxie rely only on their own energy and passion channeled through their instruments. And their bodies. No giant props and no crazy stage show. Their music and connection with us made those things irrelevant.
Le Galaxie began in 2008 (happy ten year anniversary) and soon became a regular feature of the live scene in Dublin and following from this success the four piece have played at Electric Picnic, Body & Soul, Longitude, and Sea Sessions, to name but a few festivals. Michael, David, Anthony and Alastair have featured in Irish Albums Chart top 10 with their second studio album Le Club, and in 2018 Le Galaxie received top reviews for the album Pleasure. Bringing the former Fight Like Apes singer MaryKate Geraghty (MayKay) into the mix has added another explosive dimension to the band’s music.
We are given a sampling of Le Galaxie’s finest as well as some new music from Pleasure including the single ‘Day of the Child‘. Frontman and lead vocalist Michael Pope holds nothing back as he takes ownership of every bit of space on the stage, bringing us with him in a haze of banging heads and leaps. David McGloughlin and Anthony Hyland are on the keys giving the music its synth body, and behind them is Alastair Higgins thrashing out beneath the transforming purple and blue lights. MayKay is singing and dancing with the deep electro arrangements, and there’s great synergy between herself and Michael as they sing together.
Really, words do very little.
At one point Michael climbs up the stage structure and sits about 7 metres above our heads. The high point of that moment is not actually the feat itself (sorry dude) but the expression on the face of the member of security standing beneath him, looking up wide eyed in horror at the safety hazard hanging above. I wish I had captured the moment with clarity.
Le Galaxie created an experience for us that night. There was a connection between the crowd, the band and the music. It doesn’t take any intense stage show to do that and their performance showed us that they really enjoy creating these experiences with sheer passion. At one point Michael decided to jump into the crowd and dance among us with body thrusting energy.
I say that Le Galaxie could easily headline the Big Top because it felt as if it was’t over when they played their last song. The feeling within myself, and the sense that I got from the crowd around me was that it could have, and should have gone on for longer. They can hold their own and I would expect that if they had another hour to play, the connection between them and the crowd would have sustained itself from start to finish.
The electro-pop scene in Ireland has some intense players (Le Boom, LAOISE, Elaine Mai), but as a genre it is one of the hardest to get traction from in the industry, as a gigging artist and as a recording artist. Making good decisions about band members, style, how and where to release music etc… absolutely matter. The obvious one is whether or not you enjoy it. And Le Galaxie fucking love it.