So it began. The 2010 Hard Working Class Heroes festival, notable mainly for its notable absentees, began presenting their showcase of the new breed while I was still at home. That didn’t matter though, I had a list and it started at 8pm and, by god, I was going to make it. Arriving at Filmbase to pick up my pass, the place was already buzzing with activity. Journalists were yapping away at incredible speed while bands wandered in and out looking dazed. 2XM were set up in the corner broadcasting live and Junah were on their way in to do a live set for them. I decided it was time to get started and made a move towards The Grand Social to catch New Amusement. The new venue is a delicious place to watch a gig and the redesign of the old Pravda is impressive throughout the building. It is, naturally, still quiet at this stage of the festival but there is some sort of crowd gathered at the back of the long room by the time the band start their set. New Amusement have their debut album coming out the following day, they sheepishly tell us, but you wouldn’t guess it from their performance. For a band that normally trade in bristling indie tunes, they were lifeless and disinterested tonight. Maybe it was dissapointment at their slot or the attendance, but it really wasn’t a good time for an off night. Walking into The Twisted Pepper, my timetable said The Dead Flags would be onstage. Walking into the stage room, one young man stood alone with an acoustic guitar, belting out “Nothing Compares 2 U”. Not what I expected to say the least. For a moment I thought I had ended up in Fitzsimon’s by accident. I find out that he is representing The Dead Flags on his own due to an injury sustained by the drummer. Admirable though this is, it does come across as haphazard and uncomfortable, the solo Dead Flag a bit of a fish out of water. His acoustic renditions of their songs end up sounding like someone covering 70’s rock tunes at a party. He’s not bad, but this clearly isn’t The Dead Flags show that it should have been.
On the way out the door, a group of young guys thrust a CD into my hands. They’re The Kapitals. They played first in The Twisted Pepper, presumably to a small crowd. But almost 2 hours later, they’re here, hustling. And they’re the only band I meet all weekend with that kind of attitude. So I like them, if not for their earnestness, for their inappropriate use of the letter k. Back to The Grand Social where Yeh Deadlies are attempting to lure the slowly growing crowd up from the rear of the venue. Their messy sound is a little muddy tonight, but despite somewhat solemn expressions, they’ve got so much spunk in their delivery that it’s irresistable. They’d work better if they played gigs in a circle, surrounding their audience. In the Mercantile’s new venue, Goatboy are a little more brash and slick than their sample songs and profile image would suggest. They’re likeable and they’re clearly enjoying themselves in front of a good crowd. Their late-night folk songs are delivered with precision and they seem to come fully formed. They just need to raise their songwriting game ever so slightly and they’ll soon have a repertoire to match the frontman’s spiffing guitar collection. After a nice, quick change-over, Ivan St. John and his band launch into their strange mix of bouncy acoustic guitars, rowdy rhythm and vocals that hop from a breathy Antony Hegarty to a restrained Caleb Followill and an out-of-breath Paul Weller. It’s such a multi-faceted affair, it’s hard to decide if you like what they’re doing to you but it’s certainly interesting. Sleep Thieves have been on my list to see live again for quite a while, having caught one of their early shows at the Ruby Sessions a good while ago. Now they stand behind a wall of keyboard stands, just about ready to hurl glittering electro-disco grenades at the eager crowd. It’s music made for the lights in dark places. It’s disco ball reflections, street lamp glows, intergalactic lasers. And it’s probably the best set I see all night. So good I stay for the whole thing and put my feet up afterwards to watch the room fill up again for Halves.
They take a while to get themselves ready but once they start feeding out those spacious arrangements, there’s no complaints. The songs are so defined, warm and structurally sound, you feel like you could comfortably raise a family inside these achitectural wonders. At this stage, we’re running behind schedule so I watch only a couple of songs by them before heading to The Grand Social only to discover they’re running even later. So I catch the last few songs of Jogging‘s set, having heard plenty of good things about them but being left slightly underwhelmed by their recorded output. Their acerbic string abuse is much better live and the crowd love every minute, goading them on to more visceral heights. After a break in the ridiculously large smoking barn, I’m not the only one confused to see only one half of the usual Nouveaunoise duo onstage. There’s few things more awkward than being alone on a stage playing mostly on a laptop and a few sampling bits and bobs, but he copes well without his accomplice. It helps, of course, that the music is criminally good. A fast-paced, beat-heavy masterclass in patchwork dance tunes. I’d say it sounds like every channel on Sky Digital playing at once, only that’d sound horrible, wouldn’t it? Clever enough to leave the television evangelist samples at home, he dishes out a non-stop feast of brave but emminently enjoyable mixes that remind me of Minotaur Shock at his finest. The music even fools me into thinking I can handle the State vs AU club back in the Workman’s Club, but I slowly come to my senses and go home to sensibly stay up all night drinking and talking shite about music. Nice one.
Full set of photos from Thursday night are here.