Festivals! We might not actually be all that good at them in this country but, by God, we sure have a ton of them. 67 outdoor gigs/festivals this summer! Fringe! Theatre Festival (featuring Playhouse)! DEAF! Darklight! Red Line Roots Festival! A fucking Chocolate Festival in Temple Bar! And this weekend we have Ireland’s annual showcase of rock n’ roll hopefuls. Hard Working Class Heroes, now in its seventh year has gone from a Jools Holland-style revolving gig in Project to a swarm of gigs around Temple Bar, to a hectic band orgy in the Pod complex and back to Temple Bar again. They say they consider this their spiritual home, but returning there last year and dealing with the awful Meeting House Square issues hardly felt welcoming. For my money, the whole thing was at it’s best in 2007 down Harcourt St way. The location made it possible to see a stupid number of bands each night and I felt the line-up that year was the strongest and most exciting.
Now, the fact that quite a few of the acts from that year’s list are still present doesn’t exactly help the line-up and realistically it hinders it quite a bit. I’m not that excited about this year’s bunch because the 99 acts seem to consist largely of a mix of bands I’ve never heard a peep out of before and ones that have been round this block so many times they have their own bus route. What purpose the inclusion of bands like Ham Sandwich and Angel Pier serves I don’t know. These are the kind of bands that have done this gig every year and had plenty of media exposure before. It might not have worked so far, but this can be put down to the fact that they’re just not good enough to make the next step. I understand the reasoning behind established acts headlining some of the venues: SEBP who are always great live are still really touring their excellent second album while Fionn Regan is returning from a long absence and it’ll be interesting to see what he plans to do. But are bands like those mentioned previously going to bring anything new or worthwhile this year to justify their inclusion? And are bands like Sweet Jane and Robotnik going to stop being so insufferably shite?
Obviously, I’m hoping that some of these new names are going to knock me on my arse and I’ll be singing their praises next week, but for now I’ll leave you with the ones I know can cut the mustard. My picks of the stuff that might be worth a dash across the cobblestones/Liffey/Dame St is below, but first the science bit: Tickets for HWCH are on www.hwch.net (€40 for a weekend pass, €18.50 for a night). I’m sure they’ll be on sale in the Info Centre or something on the night too. Don’t forget about some of the discussions and seminars taking place during the days too. They’re got a really interesting crowd of people in to talk at various panels and dish out obvious advice to young hopefuls.
[Note: I’m not bothered to link to all these bands. Go to the HWCH Schedule where you can click to each band’s Breaking Tunes profile which includes 3 or more tracks to listen to.]
FRIDAY 16TH OCTOBER
Friday, I’d likely stick in ALT* for the early part of the evening to catch We Cut Corners & Subplots. I saw We Cut Corners supporting Joan As Policewoman last week and they’re definitely ones to watch. As the night wears on, you could stick around here for The Ambience Affair and the brilliant Villagers (you probably should), but if you feel like getting some exercise, you probably won’t be disappointed by Heritage Centre, Tallulah Does The Hula or Heathers.
8.10 – 8.40 – WE CUT CORNERS
8.50 – 9.20 – SUBPLOTS
10.10 – 10.40 – THE AMBIENCE AFFAIR
11.00 – 12.00 – VILLAGERS
THE ACADEMY 2
10.55 – 11.30 – HERITAGE CENTRE
10.45 – 11.15 – TALULAH DOES THE HULA
10.15 – 10.45 – HEATHERS
SATURDAY 17TH OCTOBER
On Saturday, I’d recommend dropping into some of the talks chaired by Jimbo in the afternoon, but either way getting an early start on the gigs is a good idea. Ollie Cole kicks things off in the Button Factory having just released his rather good debut solo EP the other week. Just after that, Rory Grubb will be dazzling anyone smart enough to clamber down the steps of Think Tank with his exceptional experimental folk. The On The Record night in Twisted Pepper is the best of the bunch and if the Banter discussion upstairs isn’t your cup of tea, there’s The Holy Roman Army, Spook Of The 13th Lock and The Dying Seconds downstairs. In the middle of that lot however, a ton of people will probably be heading to Adebisi Shank. And rightly so, these guys are 3/2 favourites to melt your face over the weekend.
11.15 – 12.00 – ADEBISI SHANK
7.10 – 7.40 – OLLIE COLE
(ON THE RECORD AT HWCH)
9.35 – 10.05 – THE HOLY ROMAN ARMY
12.30 – 01.00 – THE SPOOK OF THE 13TH LOCK
01.15 – 01.45 – THE DYING SECONDS
7.30 – 8.00 – RORY GRUBB
SUNDAY 18TH OCTOBER
It’s tough going, I know, but everyone is in the same boat (well, it’s not forecast to rain this weekend so that’s a plus). Get down to Academy 2 reasonably early and Armoured Bear will get you all warm and fuzzy inside their glow. I’d stick my neck out for the Twisted Pepper again tonight with the truly mental sound of Jogging and the unstoppable electro-funk of Sounds of System Breakdown. If you don’t like dancing, then don’t go to see SOSB. You could go see Pocket Promise. I don’t know much of their music, but I met one of the lads over the summer and he was a lovely guy from up north and people say good things about their tunes. To close your weekend, you really only want to be in one place: ALT*, where the Super Extra Bonus Party brigade will no doubt give themselves a suitable send off before they head to CMJ in New York the following day.
11.50 – 12.30 – SUPER EXTRA BONUS PARTY
THE ACADEMY 2
7.30 – 8.00 – ARMOURED BEAR
8.50 – 9.20 – JOGGING
10.10 – 10.40 – SOUNDS OF SYSTEM BREAKDOWN
10.10 – 10.40 – POCKET PROMISE