Slipping out of the hustle and bustle of South William Street and into the warm orange of the listening room in Hen’s Teeth on Fade Street is like stepping from day into night. Outside, Dublin city is beginning to emit that weekend pulse. Inside, the few lucky enough to have gotten tickets to Hennessy Sound Lounge: An Autobiographical Journey Through Sound are sitting in the shadow of a colossal high fidelity speaker system, doing their best to not look too curious.
It’s a purpose-built space. Every detail of the room has been conceptualised and constructed with the goal of creating the best listening environment possible. The organisers at Hennessy have worked closely with This Greedy Pig and Hen’s Teeth as well as obviously taking some sage advice from those with an eye for interior design to create a space which replicates the aesthetic of a ’70s Japanese listening room. Picture plush fabric couches, dark wooden tables set low to the floor and a smattering of visual art hung in asymmetrical groupings upon the sunset orange walls. Then there’s the speaker system, the figurative centrepiece of the entire room.
Designed and built by Toby Hatchett, who makes his living doing this sort of thing for festivals and Hang Dai, a notable Chinese restaurant, the two stacks demand your attention as soon as you enter the room. Each stack must be seven foot, comprised of three individual speakers. A bright yellow cone for your highs atop the main cabinet, supported by a powerful subwoofer at the base. Even with the volume rolled down and the playlist set to background noise the system produces the sort of crystal clear music that would make any audiophile smile.
Before the crowd assembled can get their collective listening faces on, we’re lead downstairs by Paul Tuohy, a brand ambassador for Hennessy, for a tasting. We spend about an hour learning about the rich history of the Hennessy brand, including its roots in Cork, a theme which will be continued throughout the night.
Back upstairs, DJ, Loose Joints cohost and event host Sally Cinnamon introduces the night and our co-host for the evening Aisling O’Riordan. Having cut her teeth as a member of the Morning Veils, as well as developing a reputation for hosting great gigs through the Quarter Block Party, O’Riordan seems like the perfect sort of music fanatic to lead us through a sonic autobiography.
The set up is simple and effective. Cinnamon and O’Riordan talk back and forth for a little while, then O’Riordan produces a record (vinyl of course) of her choosing for the crowd to listen to. Each of the records is chosen for its significance in the speaker’s life. So, we begin with all things Cork and some superb music courtesy of The Altered Hours.
There’s an excellent variety of music played throughout the hour and change the chat goes on for. We hop from Cork groups to Thundercat to early Blood Orange material. The sound quality is superb and the conversation even better. By the time we hit the final tune, the crowd has lost its inhibitions. Some are nearly prone, enjoying the comfort of the couches to the max. Others, including myself, are in the thinking man position, nodding along to the music. A few shoulders swing to the beat.
By the time we shuffle back out into the din of the night, there’s a tangible sense of an experience shared. It’s a novel experience, totally nailed by the organisers at Hennessy. Grab some tickets here for the remaining events this week, while you still can.