Hard Working Class Heroes 2016: Day 1 evening roundup (part 2)

By on Monday, 17th October 2016 at 3:00 pm
 

It’s a good thing that at this year’s Hard Working Class Heroes, the venues were relatively close together. Well, at least Tengu Yamamori and Wigwam were. It also helped that like the Chocolate Factory on King Inn’s Street, Tengu had two stages, which meant easy passing from upstairs to downstairs easily and catching more bands in an evening at the emerging music festival.

New Pope (Galway) @ Tengu Downstairs

New Pope Tengu HWCH 2016

Following the unintentionally humourous set by David Boland earlier at the Gutter bookshop after he’d run from the coach station (yes, so rock ‘n’ roll!), I was curious to see what he’d be like live and with a backing band. The gruff but strangely lovable Boland is the kind of guy you would expect would be laughing over traded shots of whiskey with Dylan, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen.

I generally doesn’t like the sad, miserable singer plus acoustic guitar setup. Usually, I find this way too boring. Oddly, I actually preferred Boland’s stripped back session back in the bookshop. Maybe it was because the downstairs Tengu venue was full of alarming Japanese décor to match the food and drink on offer (for one, the huge, big-nosed wooden face of a demon came out of the back of the bar), or the continuous red lighting that shaded the artists performing there and made me think I was on the set of The Hunt for Red October? Just goes to show that sometimes simplest is best.

R.S.A.G. (France via Kilkenny) @ Chocolate Factory Stage 2

RSAG HWCH 2016

It was time for some electronic, even if it was for a short time. Damn you, Hard Working Class Heroes clashes! R.S.A.G. (“rarely seen above ground”, real name Jeremy Hickey) was playing the ground level stage 2 at the Chocolate Factory. Hickey is a celebrated drummer, and he wasted no time during his moment at HWCH to show off his frenetic drumming style. Of course, being a multi-instrumentalist, he had all kind of electronics running while he was stuck at his kit. Behind him projected on a screen were fast action videos of traffic in cities, matching perfectly to the sexy high energy of his beats. It was unfortunate I could not stay longer to absorb more of his set so I could go on to another venue, but my interest in his music is certainly piqued and should interest electronic fans.

Orchid Collective (all over Ireland) @ Wigwam

Orchid Collective Wigwam HWCH 2016

Wigwam is the new name of the refurbished former Twisted Pepper, where I attended a reggae night last year put on TGTF friends Meltybrains? Okay, so I’m going to put it out there, it’s a little weird coming into a Latin themed bar in Ireland. But the venue downstairs used during Hard Working Class Heroes provided a nice, intimate setting for folk acts during the festival. Like downstairs at Tengu, the only problem was the distracting red lighting focused on the acts that performed there.

Orchid Collective, who wowed coffee enthusiasts at Accents Lounge earlier in the day, closed out Wigwam’s performances for the night. Similar too to New Pope’s evening performance, the band’s set here didn’t wow me as much as I had expected it to. I think it’s testament to the power and tightness of their combined harmonies and the strength of the songwriting that the music can stand in a stripped back fashion.

They were the band on many folks’ lips the next day, especially people who had arrived late and missed the first day of programming. While I had to disappoint them and tell them they had already left for a show in Waterford Friday night, that word of mouth is proof that they’re ones to watch in the coming months.

Exiles (Carlow / Kilkenny) @ Tengu Upstairs

Exiles HWCH 2016

If I had a time machine and I could revisit a decade, I’d either go back to the ‘60s or the ‘80s. For my love of new wave and the birth of mainstream electronic pop, there’s no contest that the ‘80s were the place to be. As previously discussed, the stereotype I think most people have about Irish music involves sad songs, guitars and fiddles. However, Exiles, a three-piece comprised of producer/musicians Darragh O’Connor (guitar and synths), Johnny Smee (keyboards and electronic drums) and Jack O’Flaherty (lead vocals and guitar), do their part to turn that stereotype on its head.

I felt Exiles ‘won’ Tengu Thursday night with their catchy tunes, taking us back in time when every man was wearing a pastel suit ala Sonny Crockett or, I suppose, getting on the dance floor to New Order. While there are so many acts these days who have a token synth player onstage with them because it’s assumed you will have one if you’re ‘with it’ in terms of technology, this is a band who use electronics adeptly and smartly and in a way that is entirely accessible and has the potential to go mainstream. I recommend you checking out their ‘Red Lights’ EP that came out last month, especially the title track.

Tablets (County Waterford) @ Tengu Upstairs

Tablets HWCH 2016

Poor Tablets. The crunches and squealing of feedback while the duo were setting up sounded like some of their equipment might be suffering from a power surge. Hopefully not. After what seemed like an eternity of setting up and testing out and replacing their leads, the weird was about to begin.

What a stark contrast from Exiles just before them. This is an industrial, experimental electronic sound that proves challenging to people who run from electronic. There is a purposeful darkness to their music, too, that makes it sound like what you’d hear at an alien goth dance night.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3H1L5BC2fvc[/youtube]

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TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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