SILO x Smirnoff Is Creating a New Pipeline for Ireland’s Music Community
Words: Staff Writer
Photography: Cian Mac Coille (@ciannwwood)
The decline of club culture is no secret. Just over a month ago, we published a feature about the precarious future of Irish nightlife. In a nutshell, it showcased that despite increased interest in electronic music in Dublin, clubs are being squeezed out in a city at the mercy of big tech and extortionate rent prices. Unsurprisingly, venues are regularly closing their doors as punters and promoters are priced out of dancing in a cost of living crisis. It often feels extremely bleak, however, recently, there’s been some bright sparks. Just last week, reports surfaced revealing that Electric Galway is making a return to Galway after a two year hiatus which would serve to remove the city’s ‘clubless’ status. Elsewhere, SILO x Smirnoff was unveiled in The RDS becoming Ireland’s largest electronic music venue. Couple that with a delayed-but-forthcoming change to licensing legislation that would extend opening hours and take Ireland out of the dark ages and there’s reasons to be optimistic.
Speaking on the current electronic music landscape, SILO x Smirnoff promoter Donal McCarthy explains that a lack of different capacity venues means punters are being starved of variety and homegrown acts are missing out on opportunities to graduate to bigger stages. Despite this, in just the past couple of years, we’ve seen acts break through glass ceilings with blk., Belters Only and BICEP selling out the 3Arena which often hosts over 8,000 people. While of course, there’s still a need for more small grassroots venues, the new venue and partnership between SILO and Smirnoff provides an additional pipeline for acts to follow in the footsteps of 3Arena headliners whilst also providing a new space for punters to enjoy.
“So it’s acts that will sell out Index in a couple of hours that are ready for SILO x Smirnoff… Dublin and Ireland in general is obviously very, very strong with dance music right now” Donal explains. The new venue has three different layouts, with hall one and two capable of hosting 3,500 and 5,000 dancers respectively, whilst Simmons Court will hold up to 10,000.
“I just think Dublin badly needed it to be honest, if you look at the rest of the big cities in Europe, there’s Warehouse Projects or Drumsheds and in Amsterdam and Paris you have so many big promoters. You’ve got Brunch in Barcelona, and that’s kind of what we’re trying to do. We’re going to replicate that large scale dance space. We’re delighted Smirnoff came on board, it was really good for them to come in and help us achieve our goals with SILO x Smirnoff, so yeah it’s great to have them as a partner and we hope to have a long term relationship with them going forward”.
“You’ve got Brunch in Barcelona, and that’s kind of what we’re trying to do. We’re going to replicate that large scale dance space.”
Clearly, Silo can cater for the big room experience and hard, fast techno that Gen-Z are enamoured by, but if the bookings so far are anything to go by, they’re hosting diverse events. Take Annie Mac’s ‘Before Midnight’ on New Year’s eve, which as the name suggests wraps up earlier than other club nights and often draws older music fans who want to dance without compromising a good night’s sleep. Put simply, it’s carving out a space for dance music enthusiasts of all tastes.
While the acts vary, the through line is the scale and quality of production. “We want to have world class production. The best talent in the world, obviously homegrown and International. We want to create an amazing large scale venue and it’s starting to take shape. It’s been badly needed for a long time” Donal says.
The effects of the pandemic and technological innovations have made running electronic music events increasingly tricky. A COVID-induced increase in screen time and a boom in the TikTok economy means that documenting experiences often appears more important than being in the moment, posing a very real existential crisis to clubbing.
While a venue of this size could be seen as a threat to other smaller clubs in a relatively fragile ecosystem, the intent is to work in a way that allows all to co-exist and actually thrive. Instead of running until the late hours, the new partnership made the decision to until 11PM and only throws 10-12 shows on a seasonal basis.
“We wanted to bring something to the market that’s not going to really compete with the clubs, something that finishes at 11 o’clock and then the clubs fill up afterwards because that’s something we have to be very conscious of”, Donal explains.
So, working in harmony with the rest of the scene is more important than ever. Through events in the 3Arena, SILO x Smirnoff and BD Festival, the October bank holiday weekend saw over 20,000 people at electric music events showcasing that it is possible for the city to provide a variety of quality options that don’t come at the cost of other promoters.
“You know, everything has to kind of work together and if they all do work together, then there’s going to be a long term future in the whole thing”.