Experimental music venue The Cooler opens in Smithfield

by James Hendicott
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Over the years, there’s often been a bit of a cultural bustle about Smithfield.

The spot just north of the Liffey has Jameson’s popular museum, and the now twice-annual horse market. Indeed, before what can only be described as a fairly spectacular gentrification process, it also had a host of warehouse-style gigs that had become a hidden gem of the Irish music scene.

That slightly niche Smithfield scene has faded over recent years, but the opening of ‘The Cooler’ inside a space known as The Complex is hoping to bring a little of that atmosphere back. Situated in a unit formerly used to ripen Fyffes’ bananas before they went on sale, the new venue will open its doors for the first time with MusicTown festival, which starts on July 27th and runs over the weekend.

The venue is a collaboration between IMC (Improvised Music Company) and the current owners of The Complex, and hopes to support a jazz and improvised music scene that is growing in the city. This relatively niche angle will expand the feel of the Dublin music scene into new realms, though the four-day opening festival is a little more familiar in its scope, featuring Dublin scene regulars like Adrian Crowley, Paddy Hanna, Zaska, Junior Brother and Crash Ensemble.

The line up to the four day Musictown event is curated by IMC, Dublin Digital Radio and performers Crash Ensemble themselves, with no tickets priced at anything more than €15, and all on sale now. The opening of the new venue down the road from the popular trad-focused Cobblestone pub is a particular cause for celebration in a music scene that’s felt pressured for gig spaces in recent years, coming, as it does, in the immediate aftermath of the closing of popular central venue Tramline.

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