For the first half of my coverage of Thursday afternoon at Hard Working Heroes 2016’s In the City, go here.
Orchid Collective (all over Ireland) @ Accents Café Lounge
Are you ready for my first big tip? Orchid Collective, made up of Irish musicians north and south of the border, appear to be vying for the harmony-filled folk pop slot vacated by Fleet Foxes (or at least as long as Robin Pecknold holds off on releasing album #3). There is probably nothing greater than a collectively massive harmony from multiple voices coming at you, and these four guys know exactly what they’re doing. They’re not brothers but they might as well be (I think it’s an Irish thing?) because their harmonies are on point, which makes sense for a band who idolise Crosby, Stills and Nash. Check out their newest video for ‘Courage’, premiering last week on Hot Press, which exhibits the reverb not possible when playing a stripped-back set in a coffee shop. ‘Courage’ is the lead single from their upcoming EP out next Friday.
Black Wing Bird (Dublin) @ Pitt Bros
I guess it’s because I grew up with it and it seems normal and boring, but I don’t really understand the appeal of all these burger and barbecue joints popping up all over Dublin and London. Situated on Georges Street, Pitt Bros mentally threw me for a loop, especially since Black Wing Bird (real name James Walmsley) was sat on a chair with his guitar directly adjacent to the restaurant’s pass, where wait staff would pick up orders. It was further awkward when staff tried to get me to order food, and I had to gesture to my camera that I was only there for the music and not for the barbecue.
Walmsley’s voice has that gravelly edge that Bruce Springsteen has made his name with, and he looks like he could be Jon Bon Jovi’s twin. His was one of the stronger single male voices I heard during the festival. I was going to grab him for a chat after his brief performance, but one wonders if he had to run off to the dentist…
New Pope (Galway) @ Gutter Bookshop
David Boland, aka New Pope, arrived to the Gutter bookshop out of breath and just in time for his set following what I’m guessing is the 3-hour coach ride from Galway to Dublin. His observations on life through song are cynical (“I don’t care about refugees, I don’t care about China”) but like any good Irishman, he’s quick on the mark with self-deprecating humour. One of the highlights was ‘Amsterdam’, a sweet number appearing on his 2015 ‘Youth’ LP about a real trip he took with his mum (I think?) to the Dutch capital city. After his set, he was quick to point out to me that he’s not related to Kodaline’s Jason Boland, though I think it’s safe to say no one would mistake one act’s music for the other!
BARQ (Dublin) @ Dublin Ink
This is the kind of loud, raucous band that you would never imagine would work in an acoustic (or almost acoustic) setting. Even less so in the front portico of a tattoo shop with curious music fans peering over a wall to see the band. Not exactly ideal. Even under these challenging conditions where she said it felt uncomfortable for her to be sitting and not standing to perform, frontwoman Jess Kav showed off her admirable, soulful vocal chops, so even if you weren’t getting the whole band experience, you still could definitely feel their vibe.