Illustration: Sean Ryan

People of a certain age will probably have fond memories of being 18, can of Carling in hand, or blue WKD depending on your preference, and screaming along to the opening lyrics of Mr Brightside in your mate’s kitchen at a house party. Those were the days: mid-noughties indie anthems were the soundtrack to many people’s teenage years. The Skins generation, growing up learning important life lessons from Arctic Monkeys’ Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, and the politics of youth from Bloc Party’s Silent Alarm, all under the guise of having a raging party with your mates. We may now say, ‘Oh, the nostalgia’, or ‘I wish we could do that again’, and sigh. Enter SHIT INDIE DISCO.

What started as a pre-drinks playlist full of ‘shit indie songs’ in a hotel room in Berlin, has turned into the ultimate night out for students and indie fans alike. Twin brothers and local lads Sean and Nic Ryan, under the alias of Shit Indie Disco, have brought their old favourites like Oasis, The Stones Roses and The Courteeners to the Liverpool club scene with no judgment, and a determination to recreate the good old days at Bumper and Le Bateau. Described by themselves as “a big party with all our mates but without the clear-up afterwards”, complete with party hats, glow sticks and some badly drawn posters, Shit Indie Disco is an indie disco, but it’s definitely not shit.

“We were in Berlin, just on a holiday,” says Sean, the oldest twin by seven minutes (important to get that in there), as he describes the moment of Shit Indie Disco’s conception. “We were meant to be going out but got a few bevvies in, put our shit indie playlist on and ended up dancing on the table in our apartment all night. We were like, ‘When we get back we are doing this with our mates’ – it was too good of a playlist not to. Bloc Party, The Killers, Oasis, The Stone Roses, all the classics. It was at that point we got in touch with 24 Kitchen Street about getting a night there.” The Baltic Triangle’s disco venue, also home to Sonic Yootha, was where the party started. “We had been to a few events [there] and just got in touch with them,” Nic recalls. “I was like, ‘Hiya mate, any chance of us putting on an indie night?’. They had a Friday night free, so just said yeh.”

" We were winging it... We just bought some glow sticks and some party hats and got stuck in there." Sean Ryan

Trying to sell old indie songs to students, with no background in putting on events, is no mean feat. But armed with a laptop, a subscription to Spotify and a passion for keeping the music going, the lack of experience didn’t stop the duo. “We had no idea what we were doing.” Sean laughs. “They [24 Kitchen Street] were like ‘Have you ever put a night on before?’ We were like, ‘No’. ‘Do you need a mixer?’ ‘Don’t know!’ ‘Have you got a float?’ ‘What’s a float?’ We were winging it, it was literally a learning curve. We just bought some glow sticks and some party hats and got stuck in there.”

Getting stuck in there ultimately turned their Spotify playlist into a packed-out Loft at the Arts Club. Over 300 students and indie fans dedicate every Thursday night to the indie disco, as a result missing Friday morning lectures. “We didn’t plan on it being a student night, it was mainly just for us and our mates to get together and dance to songs that we used to dance to at the likes of Mixed Bag or Double Vision,” Nic explains, “but then 24 Kitchen Street asked us to do a student night there. We did that… then we asked Arts Club if they had any space for us and they gave us every Thursday night.”

The student scene in Liverpool is currently overflowing with events and club nights, from gigs and album launches to Bongo’s Bingo and Liquidation. “Yeh, there is so much going on.” Nic reflects. “When we first started there would be queues round the block at Heebie Jeebies and we would be offering free pizza to get people through the doors. I think it’s about just doing your own thing – we are never going to be like Bongo’s Bingo but we just said, £3 in, party hats, glow sticks and just keep it at good times. People connected with that, keep it small, like a bit of a secret. Someone described it online as like being at a big house party with a load of mates. That’s what we want.”

You leave your pretension at the door for Shit Indie Disco, but when I asked if their Nickelback night went down well they thankfully replied with, “April Fools! No, that was a joke for April Fools’ Days. We put that poster out and everyone was like, ‘No, you can’t!’. We do have some exceptions, like with Kings Of Leon, everyone loves the first two albums but we’ve always said we won’t play Sex On Fire. We actually gave a money back guarantee saying if we ever played it everyone will get reimbursed.” With a setlist made of predominantly indie anthems from the last two decades, they do sneak in a couple of the old classics by the likes of The Smiths and The Cure. They also offer themed nights solely dedicated to celebrating anniversaries or new albums. “Arctic Monkeys and Oasis are the popular ones, they always go off. We do whatever people ask for, really. We had a lot of people asking for The Courteeners so we did a St. Jude special and it was one of our biggest nights.”

SHIT INDIE DISCO Image 2

The student scene in Liverpool is currently overflowing with events and club nights, from gigs and album launches to Bongo’s Bingo and Liquidation. “Yeh, there is so much going on.” Nic reflects. “When we first started there would be queues round the block at Heebie Jeebies and we would be offering free pizza to get people through the doors. I think it’s about just doing your own thing – we are never going to be like Bongo’s Bingo but we just said, £3 in, party hats, glow sticks and just keep it at good times. People connected with that, keep it small, like a bit of a secret. Someone described it online as like being at a big house party with a load of mates. That’s what we want.”

You leave your pretension at the door for Shit Indie Disco, but when I asked if their Nickelback night went down well they thankfully replied with, “April Fools! No, that was a joke for April Fools’ Days. We put that poster out and everyone was like, ‘No, you can’t!’. We do have some exceptions, like with Kings Of Leon, everyone loves the first two albums but we’ve always said we won’t play Sex On Fire. We actually gave a money back guarantee saying if we ever played it everyone will get reimbursed.” With a setlist made of predominantly indie anthems from the last two decades, they do sneak in a couple of the old classics by the likes of The Smiths and The Cure. They also offer themed nights solely dedicated to celebrating anniversaries or new albums. “Arctic Monkeys and Oasis are the popular ones, they always go off. We do whatever people ask for, really. We had a lot of people asking for The Courteeners so we did a St. Jude special and it was one of our biggest nights.”

But why “shit” indie disco? “We do like the music, we aren’t just playing it because we think it’s shit, but there was a time when it went a bit out of fashion. People called it ‘landfill indie’, so we just thought we would call it shit indie and turn it into a disco!”

“Also, when people come and they think it’s shit we can blame it on that, it lowers people’s expectations,” they humbly add, laughing. It’s not necessary, however, as hordes of students continue to descend on Arts Club every week. As seen on Shit Indie Disco’s Instagram, each week there’s inflatable swans and Morrissey-style gladioli flying through the air, with people on shoulders adorned in party hats clutching the famous Shit Indie Disco signs that people aim to steal at the end of the night. “We started with the flags and posters, just throwing them out and people loved them,” Sean says. “We didn’t make them one week and everyone kept asking for them, so we started making more out of old cardboard. People keep asking us to put ‘happy birthday’ on them, or there is this group, Flat 23, they always ask if we can put ‘afterparty at Flat 23’ and everyone goes mad.”

“It’s about doing your own thing – we’re never going to be like Bongo’s Bingo. Someone described it online as like being at a big house party with a load of mates. That’s what we want” Nic Ryan

“They have even started bringing their own, which we always encourage. We’ve had people bring ones with ‘Thank Fuck It’s Thursday’ on a massive Wetherspoon’s menu and one with mine and Sean’s face drawn in the Badly Drawn style, which was nice.”

The DIY element is what really brings together the whole ‘party in your mates’ front room’ vibe, which is topped off by their posters, produced by Badly Drawn Models, aka Sean. “It comes back to doing everything on a budget,” Sean explains. “It was something I was doing anyway, so we just did it with Shit Indie Disco too. We did it for an Oasis special, rather than use a photo we thought we’d put my drawing on there. People kept asking for copies so we kept doing it and it turned into our brand. People collect them as well and its great seeing them up in their rooms on Instagram.”

So, what’s next for Shit Indie Disco? “We want to keep on doing Thursday night at Arts Club,” Nic explains, “get a good student following, get a nice crowd to keep it going. We’d like to do a festival as well, try and get into Leeds Festival.” Keeping to their simple formula of indie classics, party hats, cheap beers and a packed-out Loft seems to be working, so it’s understandable why they want to keep going as they are. Their genuine excitement and love for what they do is infectious and I found myself recounting my own youth of listening to the exact same music at house parties and the famous second floor of ‘The K’, stumbling out at three in the morning with no voice and only a little dignity. They have ultimately turned their love for their own student days into a rave they get to call work every week, a genius idea I wish I had thought of myself.

 

The Bido Lito! Social with Shit Indie Disco takes place at The Jacaranda Club on Thursday 25th October. Attendees get free admission to Shit Indie Disco with a Bido Lito! Social gig ticket or hand stamp.

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