Mustang Hobo at The Loft, Galway, 14 December 2017.

Madness comes in many forms: violence, corruption, politics. But on this wintry night on the westernmost tip of Europe, it came in the form, of a Christmas miracle.

Christ himself couldn’t have worked such magic. Comedy, craic, and of course, music, all came together in that mad concoction that is The Good Buzz. Supplied by the kind folks at Shkyup! Entertainment and delivered in the capable hands of Cúla Búla and Mustang Hobo, it was a smorgasbord of mutated genres both glorious and bittersweet…

For only one band would survive.

As if their necks were on the guillotine, Cúla Búla played a set of their trademark trad-punk-metal tunes that warmed the blood like an open fire. A master of audience manipulation, Bisckits Musicman – AKA Jeremy Jenkinson – led the crowd by the nose to the oasis. A pied tin whistle-ist taking his followers to the promised land.

Neil “Jesus” Farrell of Mustang Hobo stole the spotlight to lead the crowd’s swearing of the solemn oath “not to be remotely cuntish.” A pact that usually remains unspoken: to chase your own thrills but not to interfere with anyone else’s quest for the craic. And a Cúla Búla show is all about losing oneself in the vibe of the night. Surrendering yourself to the sheer fun of it all to a soundtrack of epics like the band’s magnum opus Cans At Dawn and their traditional Irish-style, classic heavy metal medley.

Cúla Búla’s music has all the magical atmosphere of trad and all the relevancy of newer genres. The half-moshing-half-dancing crowd were thrashing proof of that. Fun is the word to describe Cúla Búla. Trends and genres will come and go. But fun is immortal. And Cúla Búla are purveyors of 100%, grade-A fun.

Mustang Hobo were a many-limbed cryptid making many-limbed music. Alas, they were not destined to survive beyond this, their farewell gig. The last time Mustang Hobo would be seen in the wild was before a shamefully small but transcendently enthusiastic crowd of the faithful. A triumphant send-off to a creatively triumphant career.

Clad in a skintight black latex dress, the aforementioned Jesus slapped and battered and punished his five-string bass into submission, a complying instrument to Mustang Hobo’s musical ambitions. Guitarist Tuan coaxed and wrenched sounds from his Cort guitar ranging from demented funk to psychedelic howls. And Emmett kept their Zappa-esque explorations rooted and tied together with virtuoso drumming.

Mr. Finnegan, So You Think I’m Crazy, Fury Of The Lord, all deserve to be hailed as classics. And when delivered with such showmanship as was onstage in The Loft that night, they are given an extra fourth dimension. All slightly different from their studio-recorded alter egos: wilder, louder, rawer. The material Mustang Hobo produced over the course of their seven-year career could easily soundtrack a film version of Ulysses or Finnegan’s Wake. It may have been a bittersweet evening, but like any good wake, it was a joyous, celebratory send-off.

Bands like Cúla Búla and Mustang Hobo prove that Dublin does not have the monopoly on fantastic independent artists. Lying beneath the surface of the Emerald Isle’s farthest corners are secret troves of musical treasures waiting to be uncovered.

Unfortunately, very few appear to be willing to make the effort to dig them up and put them on their deserved pedestals. No matter how much noise these artists make, it is hard to be heard over the roar of The Capital. But that Thursday night at Shkyup! Entertainment’s party made a valiant effort. A true, mad, Christmas miracle.    

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