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Hard Working Class Heroes 2016: Day 3 evening roundup (part 2)

 
By on Thursday, 20th October 2016 at 3:00 pm
 

To read the first half of my Saturday evening at Hard Working Class Heroes, follow this link. To have at your fingertips the entire HWCH 2016 archive here on TGTF, go here.

Tiz McNamara (Dublin via Cork) @ Tengu Downstairs

Tiz McNamara HWCH 2016 2

Joined by his bandmates from his hometown of Cork, Tiz McNamara built on the strength of his relaxed afternoon show at Urban Picnic with his evening performance. Dressed in a flowy white shirt (channeling Jesus, a higher power or Sting, perhaps?), he looked like he could have been performing in the Caribbean. But the subject matter of his songs are on a more everyman level. Admittedly, some of his songs were of the more melancholic, sad variety. But they’re a joy to hear in McNamara’s voice, in the way that sometimes you want to hear a song that will break your heart, because your heart’s been broken before and yet somehow, you’ve survived.

Despite the two being probably around the same age, McNamara strikes me as a more grown-up version of Lewis Watson: clearly lovely, lovable and writing songs that are entirely relatable. ‘I Hope You Know’ was a standout of both his acoustic afternoon and with band evening sets and showed great potential as a breakout singer/songwriter.

Elm (Dublin) @ Workman’s Club

Elm HWCH 2016 2

Following their stripped-back performance at the HWCH box office at Filmbase Saturday afternoon, I was excited to see the contrast to Elm’s full five-piece band show that night at the Workman’s Club. They didn’t disappoint me, or anyone else at the club for that matter. They have a loud and large following already built up in Dublin; I felt squished like a sardine down the front for the band to start. Cat-calling for specific members of the band even before they took the stage and then while they were actually on the stage indicated without a doubt that their fans already have strongly associated each of their band members’ individual personalities, as if they were the Beatles or One Direction. I was floored. It feels like Elm have already outgrown an emerging music festival like this and whenever they’re ready to release a debut album, they’ve got legions of fans in Ireland chomping at the bit to buy it.

As for their performance, the band were tight, feeding off the energy of their excited fans. Their self-described “alternative baroque pop”, the instrumentation full of pomp, yet not overwhelming to frontman Dylan Walsh’s powerful vocal delivery, is a winner. Their unique sound is definitely something different to offer the often boring mainstream and I can see both UK and U.S. audiences warming up to their tunes.

Participant (Dublin) @ Tengu Downstairs

Participant HWCH 2016

Steven Tiernan and his ambient project Participant ended my Hard Working Class Heroes 2016 on a rather unusual note. Tiernan himself commented after the festival that no live set he’s done as Participant is ever repeated, as he likes to experiment with what he’s playing with onstage, the songs he’ll play, the loops and samples used, even the song arrangements. He was creating his live sound with a friend performing with him, and to go with a voiceover of a mindfulness seminar. Not exactly what you might expect or want at a Saturday night show, but it seems rather appropriate for my state of mind and what I took from this music festival as a whole.

You’re never going to be able to predict what gems you’ll uncover at Hard Working Class Heroes, but there’s so much to discover here over the 3 days, whether you want to dance, to be touched emotionally, to be challenged, to feel blissfully chill. Open your ears, heart and mind, and you’re sure to find an act (or three) to fall in love with.

 

Hard Working Class Heroes 2016: Day 3 afternoon roundup (part 2)

 
By on Wednesday, 19th October 2016 at 3:00 pm
 

For the first half of my coverage of Saturday afternoon at Hard Working Heroes 2016’s In the City, go here. For the entire HWCH 2016 archive, use this link instead.

Dammy Ari (Carlow) @ Mary’s Bar

Dammy Ari HWCH 2016

I think the proprietors of Mary’s Bar on Wicklow Street must enjoy a bit of hip-hop. While I missed AikJ there on Friday afternoon owing to convention activities, I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to visit a bar with my name on it. I wasn’t disappointed. This will have clearly been the only time I’ve ever watched a rapper perform in a bar slash hardware store, so thank you, Hard Working Class Heroes!

I’m not going to pretend that I know all the nuances of hip-hop, so I’m going to review Dammy Ari on his charisma as it came through his words. He describes his artistry like this: “each song is a blank canvas for a new story, with my thousand words painting a vivid picture”. On the particularly arresting ‘Mama’, he summons the strength of his mother to propel him forward (“mama didn’t raise no fool” / “mama taught me to go for the win”). It is difficult not to sound patronising when you don’t mean to be, but as a fellow person of colour who has had to fight tooth and nail for certain opportunities in this life, the subject matter hit home.

While an acoustic setting with nothing but a guitarist accompanying him, the rhyme shone through as one of Dammy Ari’s strengths. The music listed and streaming on his Breaking Tunes page suggests that with further backup, he’s more than capable for a more pop sound, which should interest more than a few labels snooping about.

Elm (Dublin) @ HWCH Box Office (Filmbase)

Elm HWCH 2016

This could have been very odd (the band were literally feet away from the sometimes bustling ticket check-in desk) but somehow it worked. In a three-member configuration from their usual five, the stripped back version of Elm played for an attentive crowd, some of whom including myself watched from the vantage point of a comfy couch directly opposite. They’re quite a compelling presence live, as I witnessed firsthand at their CMW 2016 appearance at the Rivoli at the Music from Ireland showcase there in May.

Okay, so here we had singer Dylan, guitarist Aidan and cellist Gary. Pretty standard line-up for a rock band, right? Er, wrong! After Gary fretted about digging a hole in Filmbase’s floor with the pointed end of his cello but was then waved off by Hard Working Class Heroes’ staff, Elm finally began. Dylan Walsh is the kind of frontman you can’t take your eyes off of. The guy just exudes charisma. ‘Concentrate’, whose promo video we featured this summer, is looking likely to be the showpiece of this band’s live performance for many years to come, as it combines Walsh’s powerful vocals that are elegantly accompanied by a maelstrom of instrumentation. In the stripped back form, the vocals become even prominent, showing a different dramatic side to the group. Stay tuned for my review of their full live band performance from Saturday night.

Galants (Dublin) @ Wigwam

Galants HWCH 2016

I think I missed something in translation when I saw Galants close out my Hard Working Class Heroes In the City experience. Watching their promo video for ‘Evergreen’, I think I made a major mistake missing them at the Workman’s Club Saturday night in favour of catching them in the afternoon. Too bad. I wasn’t feeling their sit-down performance in the basement of Wigwam. I wonder now if they were limited in how loud they could be, or maybe they’d just decided they wanted to challenge themselves to do two entirely different shows?

Either way, focus on their usual, harder noise pop ethos when their debut EP is released in November. I just have this feeling a lot of important people will be listening to that EP when it sees the light of day.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQQrCU-1l_Q[/youtube]

 

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.

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.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJoBdRmek0o[/youtube]

Callum Stewart (pop / Belfast; 12:30 PM Friday, Nine Crows [free show]; 8:40 PM Friday, City Hall)

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.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ik1aTXfmP8Q[/youtube]

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.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0pqMgLDnsY[/youtube]

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.

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

 

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.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rED0XiO93c[/youtube]

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.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8m-6W4Xmh-U[/youtube]

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.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrX_F2uEOFs[/youtube]

 

Video of the Moment #2109: Elm

 
By on Monday, 6th June 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

Artists who are a household name, from Bruce Springsteen to Bryan Adams, have taken a stand on North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law, vowing not to tour in the American state until the new law is reversed. Dublin self-described ‘alternative baroque-pop’ band Elm have tried a different approach in lending their collective voice into the general fray of transgender rights with their latest single ‘Concentrate’, and ahead of the first anniversary of Ireland’s Gender Recognition Act on the 15th of July. This is a band that has something to say, and that’s important – not to mention wonderfully unique – among the kind of music that’s being pumped out and lobbed towards top 40 these days.

Premiering the accompanying music video on The Last Mixed Tape on the last bank holiday Monday, frontman Dylan Walsh said of the video, “The discrimination that people in the transgender community are experiencing, especially now in some parts of the U.S., is heart-breaking to us. We wanted the video to show the isolation and inner struggle that some transgender people face. Cellist Gary Molloy added, “We realise everyone’s transition is different but we wanted to make a video which would show the audience that sometimes the journey can be harrowing and sometimes it can be liberating. At the end of the day, we’re all just people trying to live our lives.” Have a watch and listen to the powerful ‘Concentrate’ below. The band appeared last month at CMW 2016 and I covered them at the Music from Ireland showcase Thursday night at the Rivoli. They had been given the momentous privilege of officially opening the music festival the night before at Google’s Canadian headquarters in Toronto.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bSK90Ohhy8[/youtube]

 

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.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8m-6W4Xmh-U[/youtube]

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.

 
 
 

About Us

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 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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