Hard Working Class Heroes Festival 2017: Friday Roundup

By on Wednesday, 18th October 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

This year, the Hard Working Class Heroes Festival based in Dublin turned 15 years old. After starting back in 2003, it has since grown from an event at a single venue to a highly anticipated and buzzing music event, including live performances from a wide range of artists and a music conference.

As we made our way to the Workman’s Club to collect our tickets on Friday, we seemed to come across a busker or musician on every street corner, particularly on the bustling Grafton Street and by the famous Molly Malone statue. It was a reminder that Dublin truly is a city alive with music.

With our passes and lanyards in hand, we headed to the first venue of the night, the brightly painted Tara Building, where we saw the first couple of tracks performed by the teenage troubadour Curtis Walsh. Singing about themes and experiences seemingly beyond his young age (he’s a mere 16 years old), Walsh stood on stage armed with just his guitar and belted out the tracks ‘Drunken Love’ and ‘Bury the Hatchet’. Jake Bugg or Ed Sheeran.

Next we made our way to Tramline, the cool new underground venue and bar on Hawkins Street. Here we saw Erica Cody (pictured at top) perform onstage with her band. With vocals reminiscent of Dua Lipa or Zara Larsson, Cody was a commanding and confident presence onstage. After performing a few of her own tracks, including the single released earlier this year ‘Addicted’, she talked about her how influenced she had been by ‘90s r&b, evidenced by her great cover of the iconic ‘Pony’ by Ginuwine. She was all in all a great performer and had a set filled with funky hooks and electric guitars aplenty.

We next headed back to the Workman’s Club, where we saw perhaps the most captivating act of the weekend, BIMM Dublin graduates The Fontaines [not to be confused with Los Angeles sibling-led group of the same name – Ed.]. Musically Buzzcocks-esque while also reminiscent of The Vaccines and The Hives, it was difficult to keep your eyes off their frontman Grian Chatten, who was swaying about onstage and staring intensely out into the audience like he was the only person in the room. Opening with ‘Rocket to Russia’, an old-school rock ‘n’ roll-sounding number, other highlights were the two recently released tracks ‘Hurricane Laughter’, which the band closed their set with, and ‘Winter in the Sun’, with brilliant lyrics like “I want to feel it winter in the sun / I wanna feel my soul coming undone”. Definitely one of those bands that you’ll want to see live.

After The Fontaines, we stuck around for a short while to catch the start of Other Creatures’ set, which was a much more mellow affair than the riotous act that had come before. The Dublin trio opened with ‘Luxembourg’, which was released as a single earlier this year. Subdued and cool, the trio’s songs are somewhat haunting and edgy, emphasised even more by their lead singer’s unique vocals.

I’d seen Loah (Sallay Matu Garnett) before at the RTE Choice Music Prize show in March, so I knew her performance would be a good one. She features on Bantum’s excellent track ‘Take It’ and on Friday evening, she was on at Tramline. There is something about the underground venue and its hazy lighting that created a fantastic vibe, Loah’s smooth, deep vocals suiting the cool environment. She was clearly having a great time onstage and comfortable as she performed and danced. Garnett talked about how she was from Crumlin, as well as her Sierra Leonean roots, singing in a language from Sierra Leone on ‘Cortège’ (Sherbro and Mende according to her YouTube account page). EP title track ‘This Heart’ is gentle yet powerful, summed up Garnett’s self-described genre ‘ArtSoul’. She finished the set with final track ‘Nothing’, which she described as being about “total destruction of the ego”. [She also appeared at SXSW 2017; catch all our coverage on the Irish/Sierra Leonean soul singer here. –Ed.]

After Loah, we stuck around for the headliner of the night. Dublin-based singer, rapper and poet Jafaris performed before a packed-out audience, telling the crowd with a hopeful tone, “I hope you guys connect with me”. Standout tracks from his set were ‘Love Dies’ and ‘If You Love Me’, which sum up the young songwriter’s chilled-out hip hop/pop style. Jafaris is sure one for fans of Frank Ocean.

Stay tuned for Becky’s review of Saturday night’s showcasing artists at Hard Working Class Heroes 2017, posting here on TGTF tomorrow.

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