Last night, myself and YoCo went to TV3's Xpose party in Krystle (the programme was celebrating its first birthday and demonstrating a fine exhibit of art eating itself as the Xpose team were actually filming and reporting on the party as celebrity news, which no doubt will be broadcast on Xpose this evening.) We left after a drink because it was too jammers and also had both committed the unforgivable faux pas of not dressing in red as the dress code dictated.
After that, we went down to Fashion Evolution, a rather 'I'm-not-quite-sure-what-this-is' event, which combined a talk on ethical fashion (a lot about organic cotton according to those who paid attention), a guestlist full of fashionistas and some music.
It got me thinking about the concept of 'launch bands', as Dirty Epics were playing and as Lili recently mused, they have a habit of playing launches.
Playing launches is a tricky habit (Star Little Thing were also on the bill last night. They've played a couple of launches too, but this probably has more to do with their association with Thinkhouse PR who organise such events. Come to think of it, hi to Andrea and Matt who we bumped into last night.) A launch band needs the following thing; a cool factor, vaguely known (and by vaguely known, you need to be actually quite well known, as the audience you are playing to will generally be media-savy, but a little less knowledgeable on the grassroots music scene), and visually appealing. You need to get the crowd - and a launch crowd is generally a mishmash of magazine/music/feature journalists, PR people, liggers, socialites, models, promoters and 'media heads' - to think "this is a cool band. I'm cool because I'm at this launch listening to this cool band. This brand / event / product is cool because they have this cool band playing. I'm cool."
But where do you go from launch-ville? It is a bit of a Hotel California. Dirty Epics have played a lot of launches - in my opinion - because they ammassed a large amount of press attention in a short space of time, thanks to a pushy job done by their well connected managerial / PR machine. They have no doubt improved as a band (indeed, I complimented the lead singer last night when we were talking after their set about the performance of their rather catchy pop/rock number 'The Cure') from getting time playing live, but there's a huge chasm between entertaining liggers and entertaining real music fans.
Dirty Epics have found themselves in the position where they have had endless column inches (one female member of a popular Irish band told me it was a "fucking disgrace" that the Dirty Epics lead singer graced the cover of the Sunday Tribune magazine, saying that they had not proved themselves as a band, yet their image - and contacts - were irresistible to the mainstream media. Niall Stokes of Hotpress thinks they're great too, lauding the band to the extent that they featured on the cover of the Hotpress year book) yet an uncertain footing in the ACTUAL ('non-launch') music scene. Cue Laurel and Hardy head scratching: "what do we do now?"
"They're just a launch band, really," a music PR agency worker told me recently when we were talking about the band. And that person was not speaking with admiration that a new-ish band were getting the opportunity to play such illustrious gigs. No, that person was speaking with more than a hint of disdain.
Maybe they can get out of the launches and into the real scene. Maybe I'm over-thinking this whole issue. Maybe they will come out with great tunes that will win over a solid fanbase and not just more slots at fashion shows and product launches. Or maybe they've done things the wrong way round - gunning for press coverage without having their own product beefed up enough to withstand the attention at a credible level. Either way, it's an interesting sub-industry of fashionable bands. Personally, I wish them all the best.
Dirty Epics: 'The Cure'