After a day of foolish behaviour and sunshine in Dublin, there’s only one logical thing to do: Go to several instore gigs and seek out free chips, pizza & beer. Luckily the good people at the Hard Working Class Heroes festival know exactly what we want and they deliver with their unusual but welcome launch event for the 2009 festival which will take place October 16 – 18 in six Dublin venues (they’ll be ditching the difficulties of Meeting House Square in favour of the Twisted Pepper and Think Tank, which I don’t remember being used last year either).
I got into the back of The Secret Book & Record Store, which shares a cozy, retail double-bed with Freebird Records these days, in time to see most of Biggles Flys Again‘s set. It’s nice stuff, jumping from ukelele to guitar to synth during the duration of the set. He’s set up in a corner with two little cube amps perched on top of a nearby rack of CDs and has continuing problems with dreadful hisses of feedback which unfortunately make his whistling efforts seem a little half-arsed. He deals with it pretty well, but the songs are a bit too familiar for this first-time listener and my attention wanders to the titles of books around me. I wisely turn down Angela’s offer of carrying the cardboard W on a stick so that I can photograph others looking silly. The crowd follow the H W C and H in an obedient manner that suggests they really want the chips which have been promised at the Road Records leg of the tour.
There’s already a crowd there when we arrive. Greedy folk that thought they’d skip to the chips. Shame on you, you know who you are. As the shop is already quite full, we hang around outside in the sun listening to The Ambience Affair playing on the counter of the shop inside. They play some songs that I don’t know, which I presume are their own and one I do know, which was a cover of Grizzly Bear‘s ‘Knife’, not unlike the version done by Born Ruffians. Eventually, chips arrive and are distributed within special HWCH conical contraptions and new troops burdened with the weight of cardboard leadership lead us back to Wicklow Street where Tower Records are attempting to contain And So I Watch You From Afar.
I had not yet caught the much-hyped, ear-blasters from Northern Ireland and, by the looks of the crowd, neither had most of them. They put on a seriously loud and impressively energetic show, unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a record store. The two guitarists buck around like wild horses and aren’t content with the large floor space marked off by their equipment and both venture into the crowd to strike fear into a few punter’s hearts and have a browse through the compilations. It’s been quite a while since I listened to music like theirs but they’ve got something about them that makes you forgive the irreparable hearing damage and will them on to try and knock you flat on your back with the intricate power of the four-piece’s songs. They allow Angela a few ribbon-cutting words and also play an encore, though much of the crowd smelled pepperoni and beer vouchers towards the exit so the numbers unfortunately dwindled towards the end of the set. Shame on you, you know who you are.
I have other un-fried fish, so I head off. It’s not a bad start for a festival that has sprouted limbs and dyed it’s hair a few times in it’s 7 short years and hopefully the weekend in October will have a similar, if much larger, buzz to it (something it’s “spiritual” home of Temple Bar is supposed to supply). I’m sure I’ll see you there, when these glorious days of eye-squinting, builder-toasting sunshine are but distant memories.
A few sample photos below, more on the Flickr.