After a solid start with Thursday’s fine selection of music, Hard Working Class Heroes upped its game, with stripped-down sets around various venues around town during the day – bookshops, tattoo shops, cafes – as an appetiser for the night ahead. Fresh from their forays on the previous night, we sent Niall & Justin back out to see what Friday had to offer…
New Valley Wolves
“His name is Baz Joyce and he can play the fuck out of the drums” Jonny Lucey informs us. He’s not wrong. Joyce is a hard hitter, and his bluster behind the kit is matched by his colleague on guitar. The duo kicks off Friday’s Hangar selection, a muscular run through of heavy rock and beefed-up blues. There’s heft behind these songs, with Joyce’s segues into tribal tom punishment and Lucey’s often close-to-metal riffing, and a brief instrumental section slows the tempo – a breather before they launch into a final rocking head-nodder. It’s a modest crowd – early days on a Friday night – but the foundation is laid for the bands that come in their wake. Friday night is Hangar’s rock-the-fuck-out party. New Valley Wolves kicked it into life. JMD
Ailbhe Reddy has been on our radar for quite some time. Last year we had her perform a song down on the shores of Blessington Lake during KnockanStockan. Then, she was joined only by Callum Orr, and tonight he’s back(on bass) along with Gypsy Rebel Rabble’s(and many others) Katie Lynn on violin, “Keith” on keys and a drummer whose name we didn’t catch. Alas, their names don’t matter, it’s the music they play that counts.
Except, they don’t. The first two songs are performed solely by Reddy and Lynn as the male members of the band look at their feet shyly as they wait their turn. Coffee opens the set and is beautiful from start to finish. “I used to buy coffee just to watch you.” There is an obvious connection between the Lynn and Reddy and it elevates the song as they exchange knowing glances. “These gorgeous men weren’t just for show,” jokes Reddy as the rest of the band finally get the chance to play on a re-worked rendition of Flesh And Blood. Whilst Reddy is clearly talented, one can’t help but feel that there are a few similar acts doing the same thing at this festival and doing it better. It’s up to Reddy to continue improving and prove us wrong. NS
“There’s not a lot of us here but we’re gonna have a good time.” Bo Diddley said that to a meagre crowd who came to see him in Letterkenny some years back. And there wasn’t. And we did. Lie Ins are not Bo Diddley. Mike Stevens’ blues are delivered in a more bittersweet pop parcel, tongue-in-cheek reflections on personal events past and present. Anyway, there’s not a lot of us here in The Mercantile, but that’s okay. Lie Ins now have a bassist in tow, expanded from their guitar and drums formation into a power pop trio. Back On The Clock ambles amiably along – there’s a whistling section, like – and Sweet Galway slows things down, but We Were Born Into Corduroy is rumbling and raucous, and The Undertones seem stamped all over Love In The Arctic. There are a few more of us here by the end. We had a good time. JMD
The Academy plays host to one of the more talked about acts playing at this year’s festival. Joni has gained some momentum in recent months after an impressive set at Electric Picnic last month and the release of her excellent single Running in July. Tonight, however, something wasn’t quite right. The set almost didn’t get off the mark at one stage as a laptop stand collapsed sending Joni’s laptop crashing to the ground. Luckily, it was rescued. The set however, was not. The Bray vocalist appeared unprepared for the vastness of The Academy’s Main Room and it showed. Her usually soulful vocals were sub-par and seemed lost in the mix. A poor light show meant that not only was it difficult to hear Joni but it was near impossible to see her either. It seemed like a case of too much too soon for Joni on Friday night, we expected so much more. NS
If you want a reference point here, it’s pretty much Lenny Kaye’s ‘Nuggets’ compilation faithfully transposed to present-day Dublin. Hangar’s hard-edged guitar-heavy selection continues with the garage rock three-piece, starting loud and sticking with that decision. Robert and Al alternate vocals while Brian is a powerhouse behind the kit – these guys are a tight-knit unit onstage, more organically together than most bands of this configuration we’ve seen in a while. There’s rarely a moment of silence. Groaning feedback and drums bind the songs together, lumbering Sabbathian riffs at one point, slow but sludgy – like a trash garage 45 played at the wrong rpm – then full-blooded rocker at the next. Exploding Eyes – good band, good name, good honest-to-fuck garage rock. JMD
The Cork-based quintet are the closing act in The Mercantile, instantly conjuring Kevin Shields and Hope Sandoval with their guitar assault and high, dreamy vocals. Singer Muireann Levis’ eyes are almost perennially closed, her voice floating atop a heavy, distorted rumble – many a band work in the same vein, but Elastic Sleep have substance enough to dispel notions of derivation. Things get that bit heavier as more bodies file in from surrounding venues, and Violent Green sees Levis and the guitarists turn towards the drumkit to bring it to a noisy crescendo. The shoegaze label is…well, fair enough, but Elastic Sleep have an edge that brings something more to the table. It’s a set that switches between honey-toned introspection and noise-rock workouts, and there’s little better way to be sent into the Dublin night. JMD
The Grand Social is the home of the singer/songwriter this year with its wonderful circus-like venue providing a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere to soak in some excellent tunes. And that’s exactly what current ‘internet-sensation'(at least in Ireland) Anderson brings. His debut self-recorded album ‘Patterns’ has been talked about in all corners of the media in recent weeks after he embarked on a journey of self-promotion involving making a video of him selling the record door to door around Dublin.
In the video he strikes the viewer as a humble yet charming character. Unfortunately, on stage, it’s an entirely different Anderson that we see. “I thought these Ones To Watch(sic) gigs were always jam-packed,” he grumbles as he takes to the stage. In terms of his music, Anderson has a plethora of catchy tunes, none more so than the eponymous track Patterns and the toe-tappingly infectious Cecilia’s Sister which is both fun in its make-up yet sad in its lyrical content. “What is it with Irish crowds and standing so far back, what’s wrong with yiz?” Anderson exclaims before his final song. Show a little bit more humility in future Mr. Anderson, and the crowds will come. The songs are there. NS
What more is there to be said about Bitch Falcon? The most anticipated set of the weekend from one of the most talked about bands of the year, it was never going to disappoint was it? Hangar had seen some heavy rock already this evening but nothing could prepare those in attendance for the room-shaking onslaught of noise (to the point that this reviewer’s drink hopped off the table and smashed on the floor) that was to come.
Wolfstooth kicks things off in style. Lizzie Fitzpatrick introducing themselves in her faux-super-friendly manner before unleashing a barrage of snarling, growling vocals. The ferocious Syncope follows and it’s not long before Fitzpatrick has the crowd eating out of her hand. Drummer Nigel Kenny hits so hard that he has to ask for a stage-hand to place an amp in front of his kick-drum to stop it from moving so much. Some unreleased tracks follow that slow things down a little, although the noise levels remain cranked up to 11 throughout.
Bitch Falcon aren’t ever going to be everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, it’s evident that some people are at Hangar based on a recommendation only and appear to be visibly taken-aback by the brash, unforgiving grunge-filled show unfolding before their eyes. Did they leave, though? No. And if that’s not a testament to how good Bitch Falcon are at what they do, we don’t know what is. NS