Hard Working Class Heroes 2010

HWCH has become a firm and important fixture on the Irish music calendar, showcasing the talents of over 100 emerging bands and artists from across Ireland. This year saw the welcome inclusion of ‘HWCH and the City’, a selection of free gigs in shops like Oxfam & Tower Records and the ‘HWCH Industry Conference 2010’. I wasn’t able to make either and instead concentrated on the nocturnal offerings – here’s a review, excuse the lack of photos but there’s some videos at the end (kudus to Moon for the KK vid).

Thursday was kicked off in Twisted Pepper with a show from Irish/Swedish duo Kill Krinkle Club. Unfortunately something was awry, it failed to transfer the nuances of their debut record to a live setting. The crowd seemed subdued and the stop start nature of the set didn’t help their cause. If they can iron out those live show wrinkles they may be a force to be reckoned with.

A short walk to the Grand Social for Enemies who blasted out some smashing post-rock and it was much the same from Richter label mates Jogging who’s blisteringly set of raw punk rock was hugely impressive. The evening was polished off  by Nouveaunoise‘s slick, lush and infectious electro beats – a nice touch.

Friday night began in Twisted Pepper where Derry native Conor Mason armed only with his guitar, harmonica, distinctive vocals and of course some beautifully, harmonic and uplifting songs. Hopefully the next time he travels from the maiden city to Dublin more people can be treated to his music – we’ve been promised the full band experience next time.

I caught Sacred Animals & Deaf Joe but the heat in The Mercantile detracted from the gigs so it was difficult to get a feel for things. It sounded interesting enough to check them out another time. Meanwhile, The Lost Brothers triumphed in Twisted Pepper as they performed an intimate set of meticulously crafted, plucky acoustic songs with gorgeous vocal harmonies to a hushed and respectful crowd. They aren’t going to break new musical bounds but they’ve perfected what is a timeless sound.

One of the largest crowd of the festival was in the Button Factory for Multi-instrumentalist R.S.A.G. He’s one of the most unique live performers in the country, nestled behind his drum kit, he and his ‘virtual band’ (on the visuals screen) fall somewhere between Talking Heads and Joy Division. He played most new material which I’m unfamiliar with but the highlight was definitely ‘Stick To Your Line’.

We Are Losers, the latest side project from Super Extra Bonus Party guitarist Gavin Elsted kicked things off on Saturday. It was hard to believe this was actually their first gig together and as the gig progressed they grew in confidence bashing out warm, scuzzy lo-fi – the future looks bright, watch this space.

I’d hoped to see Squarehead but had to give them a miss in favour of  Kid Karate, who for two guys make one hell of a racket. Their rather special blend of Rapture-esque disco-punk meets the gruffness of Arctic Monkeys and The White Stripes went down a storm. They are proving to be one of the most exciting prospects to emerge from the latest crop or Irish bands, keep an eye out for an EP in November. I stayed on in the Mercantile for Grand Pocket Orchestra, they do the whole insanely happy indie-pop thing very well but it just didn’t grab me, another time maybe? I unfortunately missed The Cast of Cheers because of the massive numbers outside The Workman’s trying to get in.

It was an impressive HWCH this year with a great standard of acts overall. It’s a very important and worthwhile festival which thankfully manages to drag bands from ‘scenes’ all over Ireland to one focal point. It’s a welcome relief from all the doom and gloom merchants in the music industry and elsewhere in this country – Irish music is alive and well, with a very eclectic mix of styles/genres, things are looking decidedly brighter today.

Check out music from all the bands that played here.

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2 Comments Hard Working Class Heroes 2010

  1. Eoghan

    Sounds like it was a good weekend. I dunno who the audience would be for Grand Pocket Orchestra. It is just noise thrown together in the hope someone might think it is cool. Saw them three years ago at HWCH and thought they were brutal, and supporting FLA in Cork last month, thought they had actually gotten worse.

    Not seen RSAG (somehow), or any of the other new bands you mention above which makes me feel quite bad. Feel slightly out of the loop on the Irish music scene. But they never come to Limerick/Cork. Apart from Cast of Cheers who i forgot about. Hmm…..


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