This year saw the introduction of the Trinity Summers Series, a set of outdoor concerts in College Park over the course of a week in July. In a bid to earn more funding for the “academic needs of the University”, the College partnered with MCD Productions, the concert promotion firm, to host six concerts on campus. From the grass of college park a venue grew to welcome some of the biggest musicians.
Although the series had to contend with worries from those concerned for the state of the park, gigs nevertheless took place from the 6th to 11th of July. Headlining the series was a mixture of the old and new, irish and international performers. Gregory Porter, James Vincent McMorrow, Bell X1, the Pixies, Two Door Cinema Club and, finally, Alt J all played over the course of the six days.
In College Park , overlooked by the historic Museum Building and Ussher Library, stood the venue for the gigs. The East Pearse St gate was manned by friendly ushers welcoming ticket holders into the college. The dome shaped stage was sheltered from uninvited eyes by corridors of white draped fences and yellow jacket guards that lined the far end of the park
As the music played, casual passersby and concert-goers alike were greeted by the ringing of sounds of the bands echoing along the usually quiet squares of college. As pedestrians were guided through the makeshift maze, checked for tickets and student cards, the sound of the center stage grew. Strolling through college, they craned their necks to catch a glimpse of the crowd or the band. A buzz of anticipation grew and a taste of an unexpected opportunity laced the air. Thus setting the backdrop to one of the more significant cultural events for college in the past year.
For concert-goers the venue could not have been better chosen. They were met with an unusual spell of calm weather for a typical Irish summer. The audience was sheltered from the wind and the noise of the luas works by the walls that separates the college from its urban surroundings.
There was a strange, mixed atmosphere during the event. The festival feel of the concert surrounded by the history of the college on all sides. The pale, 200-year old museum building and the glossy windows of the Usher library stood together, looming over the concert, untouched by the ghosts of exams gone and the students that had had populated the buildings only a couple of weeks before. This contrast stood as an unusual reminder of how the university has changed over the last century.
The sides of the venue itself was closed in by the sort of beer and food stalls usual at outdoor gigs. Meanwhile the center stage stood tall, facing the excited crowd. All the bands had to do was perform.
However for those of us unlucky enough not to get a perhaps expensive ticket to the concerts (€55 for Alt J and the Pixies), the summer series also accommodated the student and the lecturer alike. Although college was closed to the public early enough in the day, opportunistic members of colleges headed for the Pavilion. An unassuming climb to the terrace revealed the expansive view of the concert, spread out in front of the Pav. Refreshed by the sunshine and cheap beer the distant audience had an atmosphere of their own. Streams of students, part time workers and interns came to forget about their long days in the “real world” or to catch up with friends that had been busy seeing the globe. It worked for both the casual listener and the avid fan, either could sing along to their favourite lyrics or simply relax listening. The beer was good, the weather was better and the music shook the windows of an empty library. A novel way to enjoy summer nights, with music by some of the biggest musicians the country has to offer and the finest cheap, Czech beer that the Pav has to offer.
All the popular sets were played. For the unfamiliar, the music was a refreshing change to the usual choruses heard in pubs elsewhere. The styles were diverse. From Bell X1’s lively rock anthems, Two Door’s dance favourites or the smoke filled screams of Pixies’s indie classics most tastes were catered for. The first night attracted only those looking for an excuse to celebrate the sunshine. But by the time of Alt J, the word had gotten out on the social media grapevine. The Pav filled quickly with the large student crowds, to hear, even at the distance, the 2012 mercury prize winners. Alt- J released waves of their unique brand of catchy alternative music into Dublin’s crane-filled skies. The crowd cheered the indie songs that have, arguably, become the anthems of many people’s college experience. What better way to relive memories.
I thought the series was a sweet respite to a summer. Fears of damaging the grass or disturbing nearby residents disappeared after the well-organised event, because of the healthy compromises made by the rather experienced MCD Productions who organise Trinity Ball each year.
All that’s now left is the yellow shadow and some pleasant memories. I couldn’t help but like it. It felt like an event in term, a reclamation by students of their college from the tourists that take over during the summer. But the tourists have returned and the start of term approaches. One hopes that the university will build on this concert series to provide more for members and the public in the future. It was a reminder that with forethought and ambition the University could capitalise on its location and historic buildings. And maybe, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.