Live Reviews - Reviews

Jeffrey Lewis and Peter Stampfel w/ Shrug Life @ The Hub, Dublin


U:Mack absolutely spoil Dublin. The breadth and magnitude of underground artists they’ve brought into the city is unparalleled and the undeniably consistent quality of musicians they bring is frankly jaw dropping. U:Mack are one of the city’s unquestioned saving graces and this show, Jeffrey Lewis and Peter Stampfel is a testament to the group’s quality and mentality. It was a wise decision moving this show from it’s original venue, The Hangar, to the small, more intimate location of The Hub. With it’s amusements lighting and couches, it feels like a much more appropriate, friendly and homely setting for this kind of show than the Hangar’s colder stone walls and more spacious interiors.

The first group of the night is a Dublin trio by the name of Shrug Life (below). The group has this infectious mix of indie rock sensibilities and good clean pop music. It is a genuinely compelling show made even more impressive by the absence of a crowd to bounce off.


With less than thirty people in the room, they still seem to give it their all. The main issue with the show is some rather unfortunate technical difficulties involving dodgy amps and leads. It does somewhat derail the performance, but the songs are strong enough to overcome this, mostly. ‘Funderland’ is a particular highlight of the set as is lead singer Danny Carroll’s stage banter, which creates a rather intriguing juxtaposition between these incredible well crafted pieces and the nervous, slightly stilted voice that introduces them.  

Shrug Life exit the stage unceremoniously and Jeffrey Lewis (below), Peter Stampfel (pictured top) and their gang take the stage quite promptly. The set is primarily take from the duo’s last two LPs, but there are other cuts from Stampfel’s previous band The Holy Modal Rounders (‘Bird Song’), folk classics (‘Mule Train’) and a chaotic rendition of the The Trashmen’s ‘Surfing Bird’. But it becomes rather apparent that while the music is good, it’s not really the main draw of show.

21389714198_8c1a4cc4a9_z (2)

Peter Stampfel is a truly fascinating figure; an intelligent and charming man who speaks like a wackier, more fallible Henry Rollins. The best parts of the show are listening to him talk about the inspiration behind various songs, the records that inspire him and his own interests. There is a wide diversity of topics that he touches on including Snooki as an example of found art, Easy Rider and the death of the counterculture in August of 1967 and advertising jingles from the first half of the twentieth century. There is also a story of his bottle cap collection, of which there are 13000 caps, with visual and musical accompaniment to go with it. Lewis understands how excellent of a presence Stampfel is and outside of his musician duties mostly serves as the straight man to Stampfel comic foil. He goats the man for tales in a way that feels terribly organic and knows exactly when to reign him when the begins to to drift too far. The whole is terribly endearing. There is such a small crowd and the group are so modest and unassuming that you fee like you’re part of the show.


The evening fits that bill. It’s all just very charming and inclusive. Things are slightly rough around the edges, there are tech difficulties and during the second set the singing is hardly meticulous. But there is this deep DIY feeling that adds so much the intimacy and power of the performance. Really everything goes back to Stampfel, though. When every track finishes, the man lets this authentic, cheek to cheek smile run across his face; everyone is here, and everyone is having fun.  Will Murphy

Photos by Aidan Kelly Murphy