Why is Freshers Week in the second week of college and not the first? Is music just wiggly air? Who tailored that ridiculously oversized suit David Byrne wore in Stop Making Sense? I can’t answer these questions, nor will I even begin to try to. They’re far beyond my abilities. In fact, I’m here for something much more important – helping you survive your first year as a music fan.


Throw out your dad’s Beatles records and that faded Ramones shirt from when you were 12, because it’s time for you to act your age. You’re in college now, and this is a prime time for you to start cultivating an edgy identity. What better way is there to make new friends than by pretending that you actually understand music? You’ll likely start with faux-pretentious artists that exist in the bubble of being mainstream, yet simultaneously ‘underground’. Listen to OK Computer once and fool yourself into thinking Radiohead are a good band. Build a shrine to Ian Curtis in your room. Buy a Smiths t-shirt and try to forget that Morrissey is a terrible person – even I fell for this one in first year. This is all relatively normal behaviour for one just discovering the world of ‘alternative’ music. Dip your toes too far, however, and you may find yourself tumbling down the rabbit hole of becoming a music snob. As fun as it is to make jokes at the expense of certain fanbases, taste is subjective. Enjoy what you enjoy, whether it’s a bit of Ed Sheeran, a touch of Phil Collins or a Ukrainian harsh noise collective you found in the tangled depths of the web.


What’s better than a few sly cans and a Bluetooth speaker in the park? Not much else, but if you like your drink prices exorbitant and your options limited, you’re a bit of an outlier, but Dublin will be fantastic for you. If you’re on a student budget, your best bet is to work out what nights have drink promotions and plan around that, but you’ll likely end up in some grim places with that strategy. Do not be fooled by the relatively unassuming look of Harcourt Street in the daytime, as after 2AM it morphs into a reality-bending hellscape. The horrors you’ll witness will hopefully be softened by the nice buzz/near-death experience you’ll be having from those €2 drinks in Diceys – only available on Mondays of course, because who doesn’t love a weekday session. The music found on the strip can certainly can leave a bad taste – I recall encountering a certain DJ in Everleigh who was a big fan of Man’s Not Hot, to the point of playing it multiple times over the course of the night. For the self-identifying indie crowd (you know exactly who you are), you’ll hit the motherload with Workman’s – always a brutal competition as you’ll witness flocks of punters lock horns to see who can be crowned the biggest poser. Take a shot every time you hear Mac DeMarco or Tame Impala mentioned and you’ll end up in A&E getting your stomach pumped before the last bus has left. If you aren’t bothered by the overly pretentious clientele, the tunes certainly set it apart from your typical Dublin club. The Grand Social nearby also provides a lovely beer garden and similarly solid music.


The art of curating a perfect atmosphere at predrinks is no easy feat, but possible to achieve with a bit of trial and error. Take care to not stray any further beyond the top 40 and the classics when it comes to your prinks playlist, for some say if you play anything even vaguely abnormal an arts student in a vintage jumper will manifest in your sitting room and ask you for a lighter. In a pinch, you can’t go wrong with using one of the many cookie-cutter Spotify playlists available (what do you mean you use Apple Music, you absolute heathen?). They’re tried and tested crowd-pleasers, so try to resist the urge to flex your musical muscles. If you decide to take the risk, tread cautiously when it comes to adding anything spicier than usual, for it only takes one unfortunate shuffle for your carefully crafted house of vibes to come tumbling down.


There’s nothing like a bit of live music to spice up your nightlife. Your best bet for finding cheap gigs is to follow promoters and clubs religiously – if you have no qualms about selling your soul to Zuckerberg, Facebook’s events page is a brilliant way to discover upcoming concerts. Venues like the Academy, Whelan’s and The Grand Social tend to host intimate gigs for lesser-known artists at an affordable price, and in the case of the latter two, sometimes even for free. If you’re not averse to the idea of selling a kidney on the black market to pay for your ticket the 3Arena is also a viable option for bigger acts.


By Matthew Derwin – Music Writer