Hard Working Class Heroes 2016 Preview: 8 Must See Acts



Hard Working Class Heroes takes place in venues across Dublin this week.

Running from Thursday, October 6th to Saturday, October 8th and it will showcase well over 100 of Ireland’s most promising emerging acts. One of HWCH’s biggest draws (and festivals of its ilk) is rambling around, seeing acts you have previously been unfamiliar with. That said, there are a couple of names that immediately jump out and come highly recommended with the much sought after BarryGruff seal of approval*.

The full line-up / stage times for Hard Working Class Heroes 2016 is here. And as always, feel free to share your own recommendations in the comments section below. *May not be much sought after.

Eoin Dolan: Thursday, 19:40 – 20:10 @ Tengu Downstairs

Galway-based singer-songwriter Eoin Dolan is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the finest finds from the past 12 months. Dolan has a real flair for twinkly and whimsical, good old fashioned pop gems, with a healthy dose of Brian Wilson, Syd Barrett and Lennon/McCartney (moments) threaded through the fabric of his sound. His brand of surfy psych-pop is totally charming, entirely irresistible, easy-going and timeless. Dolan’s self-titled debut album was released last month, for a taste of that & what to expect at HWCH, check out ‘Dear Brian’; a playful blend of woozy, soothing sounds, sinuous melodies, SFA-esque synth work, giddy-pop-playfulness and reverb-drenched vocals. Not to be missed.

New Pope: Thursday, 21:40 – 22:10 @ Tengu Downstairs

Galway-based New Pope – fronted by Dave Boland – deal in truly beautiful, timeless and carefully crafted acoustic folk sounds. Passing with a whisper rather than a roar, New Pope’s songs are delivered with warmth and tenderness, as Boland’s distinctive vocal creates a warm, lush atmosphere – and an overwhelming sense of sense of nostalgia. Last year’s YOUTH EP & LP are wonderful and New Pope were excellent at Electric Picnic this year, and if that doesn’t entice you? Check out the layered, lush and beguiling beauty of ‘Love’ below:

Slow Riot: Friday, 20:10 – 20:40 @ The Hub

Limerick trio Slow Riot‘s ferocious, tense and searing post-punk, has marked them out as one of Ireland’s most promising guitar bands in sometime. Taking classic post-punk influences – Gang of Four, Television, Wire – and infusing them with more contemporary ones such as Girl Band and Future of the Left, they create an irresistible and thunderous modern take on a classic sound. Still need convincing? Check out the intense, insistent and menacing ‘Trophy Wife’ below. Peerless.

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Hard Working Class Heroes 2016 Line-up Announced


The line-up for Hard Working Class Heroes 2016 festival has just been announced today.

The annual festival will return to Dublin once again, running from Thursday, October 6th to Saturday, October 8th in venues across Dublin, incl. The Workman’s Club, Wigwam, The Chocolate Factory, Odessa, Tengu and The Mezz, with more to follow.

Having been away for the past few years, I’m excited to check out a whole host of acts I’ve not had the pleasure of seeing yet. And of course, discovering some new music too. On a first glance a couple of names immediately jumped out; Oh Boland, New Pope, whenyoungEoin Dolan, A.S. Fanning, Adultrock, Galants, EXPLODING EYES, R.S.A.G, Slow Riot & Rusangano Family.

The full line-up for Hard Working Class Heroes 2016 is as follows:

HWCH 2016:

A.S. Fanning / Adultrock / AikJ / Ailbhe Reddy / Alana Henderson / BARQ / Basciville / Beach / Birds of Olympus / Bitch Falcon / Black Wing Bird / BlueMusic / Brian Casey / Buffalo Woman / Callum Stewart / Chris Kabs / Clarence & The Winters / Comrade Hat / Cormac O Caoimh / Craig Gallagher / Cult Called Man / Dammy Ari / Damola / Daniel McDermott / Davina and the Messengers / ELE / Elephant / Ella Naseeb / Elm / Eoin Dolan / Erica-Cody / Evvol / Exiles / EXPLODING EYES / Fangclub / Fontaines / Galants / Ger Fox Sailing / HAIL THE GHOST / Half Of Me / handsome eric / Harbouring Oceans / HAWK / Hiva Oa / JAFARIS / Jealous of the Birds / Junk Drawer / Kid Karate / Le Boom / Loah / Maija Sofia / Maria Kelly / Miles Graham / moossmann / Naoise Roo / New Pope / New Portals / New Valley Wolves / Nocturnes / Oh Boland / Oh Joy / Orchid Collective / Paddy Dennehy & The Red Herring / Paddy Mulcahy / PALE RIVERS / Participant / Patrick Freeman / Paul Creane / Peppy / Petty Youth / R.S.A.G. / Rocstrong / Rosie Carney / Rusangano Family / Samyel / SARAMAI / Search Party Animal / Slow Riot / Soule / Stephen Robinson / Strength / Super Silly / swords / Tablets / Talos / Tara Lee / Tebi Rex / The Blizzards / The Ocelots / The Shaker Hymn / Tiz McNamara / TOUTS / Train Room / Tuath / Video Blue / Vulpynes / Wake America / Wastefellow / We, the Oceanographers / whenyoung / Whim / WOLFF / Wyvern Lingo / Yonen / Young Earth

Early bird tickets to HWCH 2016 are €35 via DICE until August 10th. After that, weekend tickets will cost €45.00 & €20 for nightly tickets (excl. booking fees).

Review: Hard Working Class Heroes 2014


Obviously unable to attend Hard Working Class Heroes this year, having relocated to Vancouver. In my absence there was a more than capable replacement in Johnny Feeney, who was there to sample the sights and sounds (along with the wind and rain) of HWCH 14, now in it’s very respectable 12th year. Thanks to Johnny as always for his time and insight, with that I leave you in his ever capable hands. 

Now in its 12th year, Hard Working Class Heroes shows no signs of slowing down and is deservedly recognised as a top-rate music festival showcasing a mixture of the best established and emerging bands plying their trade in the country today. Spread out over seven separate venues in and around Temple Bar in Dublin, there is certainly a wide variety of quality music on offer.

Weather conditions on Friday night were miserable. Constant, torrential rain and a cold evening meant getting from venue to venue was treacherous, leaving Meeting House Square feeling under attended as the crowds aimed for the warmth of indoors. Dublin five-piece Cfit played a rousing set on the Meeting House Square stage early on Friday evening. They carve out long, epic, grandiose indie-rock with further layers of violin and electronics added on top. Vocalist Noël Duplaa has a deep tone similar to Paul Banks of Interpol but the music surrounding him is a much more uplifting affair. Their closing song tonight, Plausible Deniability, is staggeringly beautiful and euphoric live.

Next up in Meeting House Square are VANN MUSIC – a band well established on the festival scene now having performed at the likes of Electric Picnic, Castlepalooza and Forbidden Fruit. The Dublin synth-rockers perform with a confident swagger and have highly danceable tunes, while front man Aaron Smyth is a magnetic presence on stage as he busts out serious dance moves. These feel like a band destined for bigger things.

Cork shoegaze/post-rockers Elastic Sleep deliver a blistering set in the Mercantile. Bruising, chaotic rock surrounds the minute Muireann Levis whose dreamy, otherworldly vocals are in stark contrast with what’s going on around her. Dreamy and captivating, these were the standout act of Friday night despite having some technical difficulties meaning they had to cut their set short.

Later on Friday in Bad Bob’s, Dott were a very interesting new discovery for me. The Dublin four-piece play dreamy garage-pop which reminded me somewhat of Veronica Falls. Bad Bob’s didn’t feel like the best venue to be seeing live music as there were restricted views and a layout not designed for this kind of event. This became even more apparent as a bigger crowd filtered in for Ghost Estates, the last act to perform on Friday across the seven venues. The four-piece Dublin indie-rockers delivered an accomplished set as usual and tried, with some success, to get some of the crowd out towards the back to fill out the front. Not at all the band’s fault, the issue with the venue made this feel more muted than it might have been.

London-based, Galway band HAWK were the first band I caught on Saturday evening in the Button Factory. The four-piece are a very interesting mixture. On one hand you have a pretty standard alternative-rock set up playing loud, pounding rock while on the other hand front woman Julie Hawk is a more eccentric, mysterious character with her acoustic guitar and haunting vocals.

Cloud Castle Lake were up next in the Button Factory. Playing with the lights way down, the Dublin trio play understated electronic rock. It all feels a bit low key and I can see lead singer Daniel McAuley’s falsetto vocals being tough going for people. With just a single EP to their name to date this may be a band still trying to find their feet.

A delay in the schedule meant Carried by Waves came on half an hour late on to the Workman’s Club stage as Metlybrains? were due to be on. This came as a lucky break to catch these guys playing a lovely brand of breezy, tuneful electro-pop, reminding me in parts of a stripped down Hot Chip. Lovely stuff and a band worth exploring further.

The aptly named Meltybrains? have been on my radar for a while as news of their explosive live shows piqued my interest but I’d never managed to catch them live. Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed with their pulsating live show – what I envisage And So I Watch You From Afar might sound like if they made electronica. Frantic, pounding beats with the band going wild on stage. Trademark freaky Meltybrains? masks are thrown into the crowd for revellers to cover their faces and join them in wild abandon. So exhilarating, so exciting. The perfect finish to a very enjoyable weekend.

Acts Announced for Hard Working Class Heroes 2013


Hard Working Class Heroes have announced the acts lined up to play the annual festival later this year, taking place from Thursday 3rd – Saturday 5th October in various venues in Dublin. 

At first glance, Anderson, Biggles Flys Again, Spies, Ships, Reid, Silverbacks, Tandem Felix & Lasertom all stand out. But, with a hundred or so acts playing, there are bound to be plenty of hidden gems in there too. Earlybird weekend tickets are €35 (ending August 23rd). Normal priced tickets will be €45 for weekend tickets or €20 for nightly tickets. Get your tickets online from here

There’s a full list of acts playing after the jump, with links to their Breaking Tunes page so you can gander at their music ahead of HWCH.

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Hard Working Class Heroes 2012 | A Brief Preview

While not without it’s criticisms (what the fuck doesn’t?) there is nothing to brighten up the onset of a dreary Irish winter than Hard Working Class Hereos. Now in it’s tenth year, HWCH, has introduced me and many others to a lot of great new Irish artists and bands year on year. 

Anyway HWCH returns to Dublin tonight & runs till Saturday with shows taking place in The Button Factory, The Mercantile, The Grand Social, Meeting House Square, Twisted Pepper and The Workman’s Club. While I wholeheartedly suggest people venture into uncharted territory in the hope of new musical discoveries, I still have a number of suggestions.

Weekend tickets priced €45 and nightly tickets are €20 (+ fees). Here’s the full schedule


SertOne (Meeting House Square | 9:20-9:50):

With out doubt one of Ireland’s most promising talents; prodigious, prolific & easily one of my favourites. SertOne’s latest EP, Shapes In The Sky, (his fifth release in just over a year & a half) demonstrated every bit of this brilliance. Armed with an astonishing array of head-nodding beats and slick samples he takes us on a journey through a subterranean world of 8 bit sounds, beats and a hip-hop influenced grooves. The live show is every bit a winner too, this Portadown-born producer is surely destined for great things.

Spies (The Grand Social | 10:30-11:00):

Dublin based five piece indie band specialize in an epic kind of indie, dramatic almost & full of feeling, emotion. If you were looking  for comparable acts it would be somewhere between Interpol and The National. Both times I’ve caught Spies’ live show, I didn’t leave disappointed.


Kid Karate (Meeting House Square| 8:40-9:10):

Dublin ragged rock/punk duo Kid Karate are long time favourites round these parts. Over the past two year’s they’ve become such a formidable force. As a live band, few come anywhere close to their shows of gritty riff-laden rock n roll, or in terms of volume and energy. The have an unearthly knack for scuzzy rock n roll jam filled with furious riffage and thunderous drums, not to mention throat zapping vocals. Kid Karate’s debut album will soon be upon us, this is one show not to be missed!

Ghost Estates (Meeting House Square| 10:00-10:30):

Ghost Estates have already carved out their place on Ireland’s musical landscape. With three songwriters in the band, stylistically it’s diverse, taking in a mix of new wavey sounds, reach for the sky guitar anthems and straight up indie rock. This amalgam has seen them arrive at their own distinct sound of hazy electronica edged indie which send a shiver down the spine. It is said two heads are better than one, well, judging by Ghost Estates’ debut, three are certainly better than two. There self-titled debut is the best Irish indie album in a long, long time!


Conor Mason (The Grand Social | 7:50-8:20):

With three albums under his belt, Mason has now found his space on the musical landscape, not dissimilar to that occupied by luminaries Matthew Jay or Elliott Smith. His latest album, Standstill, is a masterpiece in song writing, flowing gently by, amid a sea of soft lilting vocals, whispering lyrical poeticisms and subtle instrumentation. His music is permeated by an air of richness, comforting tranquillity and shrouded in melancholy. One definitely not to be missed.

The Mighty Stef (Meeting House Square | 10:40-11.10):

Consistently one of the most impressive Irish musicians over the past few years, three great albums, the last of which was ambitious  and brilliant projects yet. A fiery folk-punk attitude and a predilection for the darker side of life have always permeated his songs but of late, some more uplifting nuances are coming through. Live, The Mighty Stef is different class, he approaches every show with the same intensity and dedication, punters are never left short changed.

There’s plenty more on show too. I hope to swing by and see, if possible that is; Biggles Flys Again, The Casanova Wave, White Collar Boy, Faws, Heritage Centre, CLU, Solar Bears, REID, Girl Band, Jogging, The Depravtions & We Cut Corners.

A Quick Review of Hard Working Class Heroes 2011

Now in it’s ninth year, Hard Working Class Heroes hit venues across Dublin over the weekend (October 6th – 8th). As well as  many of Ireland’s best and brightest emerging talents playing there was a whole host of panels, talks and free shows but for me, it’s about the gigs.

On Thursday Sounds of System Breakdown kicked things off in The Button Factory with a solid set of genre hopping electro. Spies were next to take up the mantel. Even if the sound seemed a bit off to begin with, their was no holding them back. Epic is a much over used word these days but that is surely the best way to describe their brand of rock. Thursday’s high point was undoubtedly We Cut Corners. The Dublin duo are stunningly tight performers, what they lack numerically they make up with volume and excellence. It is indie-rock done right while flirting with post punk, hearing their new single ‘Leopard’ live is quite something. With an album due soon these guys are definitely ones to watch out for.

Friday began back at The Button Factory with Tenaka. Opening a perfectly tailored set of soft ambient beats and atmospheric sounds before taking things up a notch with bigger thumping beats from his stunning EPhemeral EPNext up was No Monster Club a short distance away in The Workman’s Club whose lively to the point speedy punk sound draws quite heavily from The Strokes and The Libertines, but if they were much cheerier. You can’t help but love this Dublin trio and hearing the likes of ‘The Last Bottle In The World’ and ‘Electric Picnic’ is always a treat.

Staying put in the Workman’s we awaited We Are Losers. They have steadily grown into one of the best live bands in Ireland since their debut live show at last years HWCH. While that was a nervy (but impressive nonetheless) this was an assured and impressive show, proving bands need time to grow. ‘Cheerleader’ and ‘Sunset Song’ went down particularly well with the packed crowd. What makes Losers different to most of their contemporaries is they can take things to another level, and they aren’t finished yet.

Saturday and it was back to the Workman’s to see The Depravations who were the new discovery of the weekend. The soothing sounds of their rootsy indie folk had me gripped, echoes of ’50s/’60s masters at play with a touch of more modern acts like The Coral. It was back to The Button Factory for Ghost Estates where the Dublin 5 piece’s tight indie sound took things up a notch with singles ‘Paris’ and ‘Forever or Never’ being notable high points. They have presence and a well honed sound, it is going to be interesting to see what direction they take over the next twelve months or so.

Saturday was turning out to be a ever improving feast of new music and House of Dolls were it’s (and possibly the weekend’s) pinnacle. Their’s is a mixture of dark, dirty and atmospheric psychedelic rock played with a confidence and maturity of a world conquering group. Their set was stunning and with a debut album promised soon, expect to hear much more from these guys. Next it was over to the Mercantile sharpish to see Ginola who didn’t disappoint. Short, sharp and to the point punk with a serious bite is what they do – it’s loud, feisty and shout-a-long punk at it’s very best. If you get the opportunity to see these guys, do your a massive favour and do! A scintillating performance to bring the curtain down on another glorious HWCH.

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Hard Working Class Heroes 2011 Preview

It’s Hard Working Class Heroes time again in Dublin this weekend (October 6th – 8th), with many of Ireland’s best and brightest emerging talents playing in venues across the city. It has become an important part of Irish music now, not only for allowing artists to showcase their talents but there’s always a great buzz too.

The festival kicks off on Thursday and takes place in The Button Factory, The Mercantile, The Grand Social, Shebeen Chic, Twisted Pepper and The Workman’s Club. Tickets are still available with weekend tickets priced €45 and nightly tickets are €20 (+ fees).

Every year involves lots of new musical discoveries but I’ve taken some time to list acts to be considered. If you would like to do the same why not leave a comment or two?


We Cut Corners (9:40 The Button Factory)

The Dublin duo’s latest single ‘Leopard’ received many plaudits and rightfully so, it is one of the finest slices of indie rock this year. With their debut album out in November I’m interested to hear more from these guys.

We Cut Corners – Leopard


Tenaka (7:35 The Button Factory)

Limerick producer Ronan Carroll recently released the stunning EPhemeral EP; a brooding blend of chillout electronica mixing deep and dreamy atmospherics with subtle, crisp and shuffled beats. As a recent convert to his music I’m very excited about this one.

 Tenaka – The Alaskan (featuring Sacred Animals)

No Monster Club (9:30 The Workman’s Club)

This Dublin trio are always an exciting live prospect live, chaotic, high energy performances are their forte. It suits their mixture of sunshine surf-rock and hyper rough-a-round the edges Strokes-esque sound perfectly. They took time out from polishing off their forthcoming album to play the last Barrygruff gig and lets just say no one was disappointed.

 No Monster Club – The Last Bottle In The World

Squarehead (9.35 The Button Factory)

The Dublin trio have rightly received plenty of praise for singles ‘Midnight Enchilada’ and ‘Fake Blood’, as well as their excellent debut LP, Yeah Nothing. Squarehead have something of a knack for snappy sun soaked indie pop songs which should be a treat for Friday night punters.

 Squarehead – Fake Blood

We Are Losers (11:00 The Workman’s Club):

It has been remarkable 12 months since the band’s first live show at last years HWCH, gracing stages at Leeds Festival and Castlepalooza (*cough* and the last Barrygruff Presents) and releasing their sizzling double a-side ‘Sunset Song / Cheerleader’ on Leeds Indie label ‘Dance to the Radio’. No matter how many times I see them live I keep coming back for more of their fuzzed-up lo-fi indie. With out doubt one of the most exciting emerging acts in Ireland right now.

 We Are Losers – Sunset Song


Kid Karate (9:50 The Mercantile):

Like you music loud? Look no further than Dublin ragged rock/punk duo Kid Karate who have impressed greatly over the past 12 months or so. As a live act few come anywhere close to their gritty riff-laden rock n roll, or in terms of volume and energy.

Kid Karate – Black + Beige 

House of Dolls (9:50 The Button Factory)

I caught these guys toward the end of last year and thought they were fantastic. So far the band have only released a double A-side single ‘Gimme Some Glory’/’Before She Wakes’, but  a debut album has been promised soon. Their sound? A mixture of dark, dirty, atmospheric and moody psychedelic rock. You won’t be disappointed.

House of Dolls – Gimme Some Glory

Moths (10:15 The Workman’s Club):

The 18 year old Newbridge native sent blogs across the world buzzing with excitement about his fresh, chilled electronica. This year has seen the rise and rise of this guy and his music. I’ve caught a couple of his shows and well, you won’t want to miss this. His is an especially prodigious talent, no doubt about it.

 Bon Iver – Babys (Moths Remix)

Ginola (11:15 The Mercantile)

Everything so far about these guys has been impressive; double a-side You Never Met Someone Like Me, split release with Turning Down Sex (who are well worth seeing too), It’s A Disagreeable Thing To Be Whipped and live. Lot’s of loud feisty shout-a-long garage punk is to be expected.

 Ginola – Dark & Handsome

You can check out the full schedule here.

Hard Working Class Heroes 2011 Lineup Announced

Hard Working Class Heroes have just announced 100 Irish bands to play at this year’s festival in Dublin city centre on 6/7/8 October.

This year the festival takes place in The Button Factory, The Mercantile, The Grand Social, Shebeen Chic, Twisted Pepper and The Workman’s Club.

The line-up looks good. I’ve just had a quick glance and these have all caught my eye; Ginola, House of Dolls,  No Monster Club, Moths, Kid Karate, Tenaka, Toby Kaar and We Are Losers.

Weekend Tickets are €45 plus fee and nightly tickets are €20 + fees. Tickets on sale now from entertainment.ie/tickets and usual outlets. 

The full list is below.

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