The gig, like so many these days, was not in a licensed venue, but one of those artists' 'spaces' that might have been an old shop premises or, in this case, as my friend Fergal noticed, an alleyway that had simply been partitioned into a vague, irregularly-shaped house with a roof thrown over it. I spent a lot of the night marveling at the quirks of this space, which had the brilliantly incongruous name of 'The Supafast Building'. Upstairs there was something like a living room, replete with recliners and a coffee table, but only if you imagine a living room furnished down the far end of an alleyway. Further upstairs still, was the temporary men's loo, which was basically an industrial ceramic sink with a person-sized plywood board placed alongside it for privacy. If you looked up on your journey to this extraordinary toilet, you would have noticed what is presumably the Supafast Building's conversation piece of interior decorating, a giant mock viking sword, about four foot in length, hanging from the ceiling like the sword of Damocles. Early in the night, I clownishly jumped and tipped the bottom of the dangling weapon to see if it was made of metal. Frighteningly, it was. Later in the night, I looked towards it with worry more than once as a group of No Monster Club fans (who I know) disco-danced their potential last beneath its swaying menace.
The venue was a good fit for No Monster Club. Like the Libertines (in this way only, mind you) and Dan Deacon, they are a band quite visibly fueled by a sense of camaraderie with their fans, a back-and-forth live experience that feeds off the room and often feels as much house-party as gig. The fact that they played in a place that loosely resembled a house simply emphasized this thing about the band. In naming his band a 'club' where the only requirement for admission is that you are not a monster, Bobby Ahern draws our attention to a welcoming sense of inclusiveness contained in his ongoing project. By specializing in songs to which it is easy to sing and dance, yet which often fall apart in a shambles to be reconstructed from the ground up using the help of a delirious call-and-response with the audience, he celebrates this inclusiveness again and again. No Monster Club is not just Bobby, Mark, and Paddy. It is practically everyone Bobby knows. In other words, everyone who has fun at these gigs contributes in a meaningful way to the No Monster Club story (on Saturday night, ways to do this included: dancing on the spot, crowd surfing over the front dozen people, hanging from the ceiling fittings like a monkey, and chanting "Bobby's Ma" for the benefit of the woman in question who may or may not have been there). It all adds material to a feedback loop that will eventually and undoubtedly produce further songs referencing these shared experiences.
No Monster Club's new album, beautiful vinyl copies of which were handed out at the door, remains a mystery to me at present as I do not have a record player. However, the fact that it is called Dublin already speaks to me, and makes sense in light of Saturday's gig. Ahern has a feel for the pulse of a DIY scene that is alive and kicking in the city at present (if not exactly rolling in money) and, in a way, he has become its bounding, puppyish, mascot. His mission on Saturday night was to get as many people (not monsters, of course) involved as possible. Get on board.