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Hard Working Class Heroes 2016: Day 1 evening roundup (part 1)

 
By on Monday, 17th October 2016 at 1:00 pm
 

With my first afternoon at Hard Working Class Heroes out of the way – feel free to catch up with part 1 and part 2 – it was time for my first evening at the emerging Irish artist music festival. The Chocolate Factory was a good shout for all 3 days, as it was pretty much one-stop shopping: two stages of music, with acts taking turns to grab the crowd’s attention.

Yonen (Dublin) @ Chocolate Factory Stage 2

Yonen HWCH 2016

Interested in an instrumental rock onslaught reminiscent of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Mogwai? Then locals Yonen will be your poison. They say on their Bandcamp “we want to tell you a story by making noise.” If we are to take them on their word, a book written by Yonen would be filled with both epic tales and considered, softer, slower numbers. I appreciated the latter, as it was proof that they’re not entirely about beating your brain into a bloody pulp. Thinkers are they.

aYIA (Reykjavik, Iceland) @ Chocolate Factory Stage 1

aYia HWCH 2016

2016 is the first year of a 3-year project Hard Working Class Heroes is working on to bridge the big physical distance between Ireland and Iceland by helping build audiences each other’s acts. aYia was one of two acts from the volcano-laden country to play at the Dublin festival, raring to go following the exit of Yonen. The stage was weirdly well above our heads, requiring punters to crane their necks upwards to watch.

This strange position of the stage caused their female leader singer to crouch down and as close to the ground of the stage as possible. In a breathy singing style like her famous countrywoman Bjork, she was the focal point of their performance. With a sinister electro edge full of buzzing and darkness, it’s a foreboding sound, especially considering the long evenings only lit by twilight from where this music was made. There’s a lot of competition in this genre, so only time will tell whether they’ll be able to break out of the pack.

Search Party Animal (Dublin) @ Workman’s Club

Search Party Animal HWCH 2016

Formerly known under the name Bagels, Search Party Animal have rechristened themselves after a song by Belfast band And So I Watch You From Afar to prevent any confusion with the New York food specialty. A band name with the word ‘animal’ in it is appropriate for this group: crazy, loud, raucous – all members banging on drums at one point – and a whole lot of fun. At home, they sounded tighter than I witnessed at CMW 2016, which suggests they’ll be a force to be reckoned with as they go forward and the day comes that they break out of Ireland.

Hawk (London via Ireland) @ Workman’s Club

Hawk HWCH 2016

Post punks Hawk have already made a name for themselves in their base of London, as well as in Dublin, if the fans assembled for their appearance at Hard Working Class Heroes Thursday night was any indication. Frontwoman Julie Hawk has a deceptively sweet voice than can turn into a wailing scream at a moment’s notice. Premiered recently on The Line of Best Fit, who describes them as a “gothic pop” group, she describes their newest single ‘Mirror Maze’ as their attempt to bring attention to female body image issues and destructive societal pressures.

Video Blue (London via Dublin and Dundalk) @ Tengu Upstairs

Video Blue HWCH 2016

Coming to Ireland, I think I had an entirely reasonable expectation that many of the acts I’d be faced with at Hard Working Class Heroes would be a single man or woman playing a guitar. Irish born and raised but now London transplant Jim O’Donoghue Martin went beyond that conventional mould. He played early at Tengu Yamamori, just north of the river, where the upstairs stage was used to host to a host of interesting electronic acts and Martin was no exception.

I feel like his music isn’t compelling enough to grab your attention in a dark club but you can hear it soundtracking a tv advert or film. Maybe it has to do with him having to be so busy on his various controllers while also singing and playing guitar, so maybe this would work better if he had a band behind him?

 

Hard Working Class Heroes 2016: editor Mary’s best band bets

 
By on Friday, 30th September 2016 at 11:00 am
 

Please note: as we recommend with all of our festival previews, the information we post here on TGTF on Hard Working Class Heroes 2016, including my past preview of the event, is current at the time of posting. But we encourage you to check in at the event’s official Web site closer to the start of the event to confirm venues and set times. Weekend tickets are still on sale for €45, with nightly and individual venue tickets priced at €20 and €10, respectively. Weekend student tickets will be available for purchase for €25 upon proof of photo ID on Thursday 6th October from the box office at Film Base, Curved Street. To purchase your tickets, visit this page on the official HWCH Web site.

2016 North American emerging music festival alums: We’d be missing a trick not to give a shoutout to the artists we’ve already covered and enjoyed at this year’s SXSW 2016 in Austin (March) and CMW 2016 in Toronto (May):
Comrade Hat (Derry; 10:10 PM Thursday, Tengu Upstairs)
Elm (Dublin; 9:40 PM Saturday, Workman’s Club)
Fangclub (Dublin; 9:30 PM Thursday, Hub)
Jealous of the Birds (Portadown; 9:00 PM Friday, Tengu Downstairs)
Rosie Carney (Downings via Portsmouth; 10:00 PM Saturday, City Hall)
Rusangano Family (Limerick; 9:30 PM Saturday, Chocolate Factory Stage 2)
Search Party Animal (Dublin; 8:30 PM Thursday, Workman’s Club)

Let me introduce you to a lucky seven acts that caught my eyes and ears upon my research of the 100+ strong bill for Hard Working Class Heroes this year:

Orchid Collective (folk / Dublin; 1:30 PM Thursday, Accents Café Lounge [free show]; 10:30 PM Thursday, Wigwam)

The incredible success of Fleet Foxes in the late Noughties opened the door for the march of the alt-folk genre, paving the way for artists like Bon Iver, Family of the Year and Of Monsters and Men to garner global popularity. From one of the traditional bosoms of folk music of the world, Ireland, and with new EP ‘Courage’ out in late October, Orchid Collective look to be the next stars of indie folk.

New Pope (folk / Galway; 3:30 PM Thursday, Gutter Bookshop [free show]; 9:40 PM Thursday, Tengu Downstairs)

It’s easy to suffer from electronic overload and overproduction. So let’s take a step back and strip back to the basics of folk. New Pope is West Country singer/songwriter David Boland, proving that as long as you keep things simple during a thoughtful writing process, it’s possible to write a compelling song. Close your eyes for a fuller sense of the power of ‘Love’ below.

Update 16/05/2020: ‘Love’ is no longer on New Pope’s Soundcloud.

Exiles (electronic / Carlow/Kilkenny; 10:50 PM Thursday, Tengu Upstairs)

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for synthpop, so Exiles are a no-brainer on my Hard Working Class Heroes schedule. This month, they released a new EP ‘Red Lights’, already receiving loads of attention from domestic radio. Given the current music climate for everything synthy, I can see this band going far beyond the ‘80s influences that have been so important to them.

Slow Riot (post-punk / Limerick; 8:10 PM Friday, Hub)

Naming themselves after a Godspeed You! Black Emperor EP, Slow Riot takes the best of those who have come before and puts a unique Irish stamp on it. Having already played a sold-out show in the Capital, they will return to gig in London on the 10th of November at the Sebright Arms after this appearance at Hard Working Class Heroes.

Callum Stewart (pop / Belfast; 12:30 PM Friday, Nine Crows [free show]; 8:40 PM Friday, City Hall) – as of 2020, Callum Stewart now goes by the name JC Stewart

You know that feeling you get when you listen to a new artist and the chills run down your spine? Like I felt with Liverpool’s BANNERS in my SXSW 2016 research, I got that same kind of moment upon hearing Callum Stewart’s pop single ‘Parachute’. Despite being only 19, Stewart has already managed to achieve a poignancy in his songs that much older songwriters have difficulty with. Expect a major label snap-up in the coming months.

Hiva Oa (electronic/rock / Belfast; 8:20 PM Saturday, Tengu Downstairs)

Stephen Houlihan and Christine Tubridy have returned to Ireland after a spell in Edinburgh, and they’ve just released a new EP. ‘mk2 (part 1)’ illustrates well their sound described on a press release as “marrying primal, dizzying electronica and a swelling bass hum, with minimal guitar patterns to create a tightly wound, suffocating and intense atmosphere”. Intrigued? Check them out on Saturday night.

Kid Karate (punk / Dublin; 8:30 PM Saturday, Chocolate Factory Stage 2; our past coverage on them on TGTF here)

Kid Karate are veterans of past SXSW events and this year, the noiseniks really have something to shout about. Their newest and also self-titled album was released in April. Single ‘Louder’, with its unrelenting, thudding backbeat and punky swagger, should give you a good clue what you’re in for if you pop into the Chocolate Factory’s Stage 2 Saturday night.

 

Preview: Hard Working Class Heroes 2016

 
By on Monday, 12th September 2016 at 10:00 am
 

Just under a month to go now before Hard Working Class Heroes 2016 kicks off in Dublin. Ireland’s annual massive music showcase and industry conference will take place 6-8 October across venues in the city centre, both north and south of the River Liffey. Since its first year in 2003, the music showcase portion of the event has played host to rising stars who have since become household names, including the twice Mercury Prize-nominated and Choice Music Prize and Ivor Novello award winner Villagers, Hozier, Girl Band, Fight Like Apes, The Coronas and The Strypes.

This year’s line-up featuring amazing homegrown talent looks to be Hard Working Class Heroes’ strongest yet. There are several names on the over 100-act strong bill that will be familiar to regular TGTF readers. From Portadown, SXSW 2016 alum Jealous of the Birds will no doubt be playing her single ‘Goji Berry Sunset’, which became a playlist staple for BBC 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne and Radio 2’s Jo Whiley following her appearance in Austin. Limerick’s Rusangano Family proved to be one of the most exciting draws at SXSW 2016, stopping (foot) traffic down 6th Street during their performance Friday at the full Irish breakfast. Other names that might ring a bell include CMW 2016 showcasing acts Comrade Hat (Derry), Elm (Dublin), Fangclub (Dublin) and Search Party Animal (formerly known as Bagels; Dublin). 2016 also sees the beginning of Hard Working Class Heroes’ 3-year project to build audiences between Ireland and Iceland. Wesen and aYia from the Nordic country will be showcasing as well.

For those of us who work in the industry, the convention will continue its long-running tradition of events and activities to help further our goals in supporting talent include mentor sessions, workshops and much more. The convention will be a fantastic opportunity for international delegates, Irish bands and domestic music industry professionals to meet face-to-face and make important contacts. 2016 will also be the inaugural year for the Conor Walsh Memorial Bursary in honour of an alumni and friend of the festival who died suddenly earlier this year. All 100 bands participating will be asked to vote for the act who most embodies Walsh’s talent and bravery. The winning act will be awarded €2,500 toward a recording or tour bill.

So what are you waiting for? Weekend tickets are currently on sale for €45, with nightly and individual venue tickets priced at €20 and €10, respectively. Weekend student tickets will be available for purchase for €25 upon proof of photo ID on Thursday 6th October from the box office at Film Base, Curved Street. To purchase your tickets, download the DICE app for your phone or visit this page on the official HWCH Web site. The stage splits for the 3-day music showcase have been announced, and you can view each day’s lineup in the video below.

 

CMW 2016: the first half of Music from Ireland showcase Thursday night at the Rivoli – 5th May 2016

 
By on Monday, 23rd May 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

If you recall reading in my introductory post about Canadian Music Week 2016, this year’s festival had a Focus on Ireland, which meant there was a great turnout of acts from the Emerald Isle. All said and done after the event was over on Saturday the 7th of May, I managed to catch nearly every single Irish band who had come to Toronto, save one. It helped that most of the Irish bands and the many Irish who had emigrated to and were now resident in the city descended on the Rivoli pool hall on Queen Street Thursday night for a full night of bands as part of Music from Ireland’s brilliant showcase during CMW. Counterintuitively, I did not eat anything remotely Irish for dinner, instead downing a massive, entirely from scratch chorizo arepa in Kensington Market to keep me full until I returned to my bed that evening.

I knew that many Irish bands successful enough to cross the Atlantic for our continents music festivals would naturally take to one another. But it was at CMW 2016 that I felt the incredible strength of bands and artists’ ties to each other, bonded together by the fact that they are Irish and they are all about making meaningful music. They showed up to each other’s shows to cheer them on and to hug and high-five them after their gigs, and I started to get emotional. It occurred to me that we have supported so many Irish bands over the years, starting with Two Door Cinema Club in my early blogging days, through to all the Music from Ireland showcases at SXSW and The Great Escape. So I am now on the hunt for an Irish contributor or two to join us at TGTF. If you or someone you know lives in Ireland (north or south), is keen on independent music and would like to write for us, please contact us / me on Twitter with your interest.

Bagels Search Party Animal CMW 2016 Rivoli Music from Ireland showcase Thursday

Young lads Bagels (now rebranded as Search Party Animal) were first up on the bill, starting things off at the 8 o’clock hour with plenty of energy. If you hadn’t heard his accent, you’d have no way of knowing frontman Adam Redmond wasn’t a surfer dude from the West Coast, which is a roundabout way of saying he’s got the boy next door good looks that I expect young girls all over the world to swoon over in due course. But let’s get back to the music. They’ve got that bouncy guitar liveliness that Northern Irish trio Two Door Cinema Club made their name with. You know, remember that sunniness that Two Door used to bring into venues that would light up the room? There’s even a bit of pounding rhythm with jangly guitar that Foals have made famous. If you’re going to sound vaguely similar to other bands, you could do worse, right?

However, the night belonged to MKAI, a band of brothers (literally, not figuratively) from Cork. Evidently, their reputation preceded them, as even before the tall, dark and handsome figures of Cian, Conor, Eoghan and Colm MacSweeny took the stage, there was an excited mass of fans down the front, patiently waiting for them. They have a debut EP out now, ‘Waiting’, which was released last autumn and led to the selling out of their hometown venue Crane Lane Theatre for the EP’s launch party.

MKAI CMW 2016 Rivoli Music from Ireland showcase Thursday

Just a wild guess, but I’m pretty sure every one of those excited fans already have it, as I haven’t seen people jumping up, down and sideways so enthusiastically at a show in a very long time. I’m being serious. My impression of them was as a folk-less Kodaline, with a pop sensibility and massive anthemic builds featuring synth swells and memorable guitar hooks. I (well, we) were not left disappointed. Their new single ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ is out this Friday, and you can read Carrie’s review of it from earlier in the month here.

As I was busy watching Icelandic singer/songwriter Axel Flovent at Drake One Fifty early Wednesday afternoon, I missed Elm’s performance at the opening Canadian Music Week party at Google’s Canadian headquarters in Toronto. No big deal, as they were part of the Music from Ireland lineup. They describe themselves as an alternative baroque-pop band, but that would seem to suggest they sound like Neil Hannon and The Divine Comedy. Which they do not.

Elm CMW 2016 Rivoli Music from Ireland showcase Thursday

Truth be told, while I find some things in common with this band with other bands that have a cellist, like Wooden Arms or Passport to Stockholm, I actually found singer Dylan Walsh having an Eddie Vedder, Michael Stipe-like presence, except with a lighter touch. The main concern with a less bombastic vocal is having it get lost in the instrumentation, yet Elm manage to avoid that with thoughtful composition. I will say that Elm are a much more visceral proposition live, as when I saw them this night, they were much louder than I expected them to be, which I wonder if it has to do with the venue’s sound mix for the night. I saw them in conversation with some important looking folk on Saturday at the Sheraton, so I hope that means they have some kind of signed deal in place.

Stay tuned for the rest of my Thursday night at CMW 2016, which includes more from the Music from Ireland showcase, following tomorrow on TGTF.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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