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

 
By on Friday, 14th October 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

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

Orchid Collective HWCH 2016

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.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_-2izR8TtY[/youtube]

Black Wing Bird (Dublin) @ Pitt Bros

Black Wing Bird HWCH 2016

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

New Pope HWCH 2016

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

BARQ HWCH 2016 2

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.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=508_G2qBbyM[/youtube]

 

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

 
By on Thursday, 13th October 2016 at 3:00 pm
 

Funny how I wrote in my introduction to my coverage of Hard Working Class Heroes 2016 earlier that it’s the antithesis of SXSW, because how my first HWCH started was in a way that makes SXSW convenient for music journalists. ‘HWCH in the City’ is daytime programming that occurs in bars, cafes, tattoo parlours and shops around Dublin city centre. It’s entirely free, like SXSW’s daytime shows, and these appearances offer the opportunity to catch bands that you might miss due to evening showcase clashes. However, I’d say HWCH definitely chooses better, more unusual venues with charm, often of the Irish variety. While some of the bands I encountered along the way Thursday afternoon thought I was mental for covering this many bands, Carrie and I can tell you that you’re freshest on the first day of a festival, so you might as well strike while the iron’s hot!

Maria Kelly (Dublin) @ Winding Stair Bookshop

Maria Kelly HWCH 2016

My first act of the day on Thursday was, fortuitously, just steps away from my accommodation, making my appearance here a no-brainer. The Irish’s well-known love for craic is probably only rivalled by their consumption of books and their keenness for reading, and there are bookshops all over Dublin. The Winding Stair, across from the famous Ha’penny bridge, provided an adorable backdrop to the music of Maria Kelly. The raven-haired, doe-eyed guitar player has a voice of a songbird, with the kind of preciousness you associate with china dolls on a song of hers like ‘Pretend’. A softer, less subversive Daughter, if you will. The 405 recently premiered her new video ‘Stitches’, so I think we can expect her to make inroads into the UK with her soft-spoken, gentle style.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MetyJx0r108[/youtube]

Eoin Dolan (Galway) @ Irish Design Shop

Eoin Dolan HWCH 2016

It was then over the river, through Temple Bar and down Drury Street for a visit to a cutesy little shop. Disappointedly, the Irish Design Shop was not awash with claddagh rings and Celtic crosses as I erroneously predicted but instead plenty of artwork and crafts made by Irish artists. Wearing a flat cap that made him look more like a Yorkshireman than a Irishman and less likely to sing the songs he did, the shop proved to be an ideal venue for the beardy Eoin Dolan and his thoughtful tunes. His sunglasses are a better indicator of his music: there’s a feel good, Beach Boys-ey, slightly lo-fi approach on songs like ‘Ocean Girl’, which I guess makes sense for a lad from Galway.

Whim (Portland / Galway) @ Urban Picnic

Whim HWCH 2016

For a young musician, Sarah DiMuzio (stage name Whim) is especially well-travelled, having spent time living in both Portland and in Ireland. There’s a tangible chilliness to the notes of her music, and not in a bad way but instead in a Fleet Foxes / country feel. You’re fully aware that she’s singing songs from her life and instead of it feeling like any other singer you’ve seen with a guitar before (and trust me, I’ve seen a lot who make me yawn), you want to pull up a chair and listen to these tales. DiMuzio’s sweet voice pulls you in, and now I’m wondering how quickly she will manage a tv advert song sync, because her voice is that good. Although she did not bring her beloved ukulele with her to Dublin, you can hear songs on her Bandcamp where you can it makes welcome appearances. She’ll be releasing her debut album soon on Galway label Citóg Records, so I’ll definitely be looking forward to that.

After her lovely performance, I had a brief chat with her about her music. I would highly recommend this laid-back place for reasonably priced, excellent food: I had probably the best risotto I’ve ever had in my life there (thank you Vinny for also finding my necklace!) before going on to my next gig.

 
 
 

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