Gig Reviews, Dublin, Festivals

14

Frightened Rabbit, The Vinny Club and Bats at HWCH (night 2)

Review Snapshot: Night 2 of 2008's HWCH saw the cream of the festival's lineup all crowbarred into a single night. A nice complaint to have I guess as there was pretty much always something worth seeing.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:
Night 2 of 2008’s HWCH festival threw up its own set of problems that were far more pleasing to deal with than those on Friday night. That being that most of the best bands on the festival had been given Saturday slots so there were all sorts of unfortunate clashes between bands that were worth seeing. What makes it worse is that tonight’s lineup is a little thin on the ground when it comes to quality and could have done with some bolstering. The lineup in particular in Andrew’s Lane was so good you could have stayed there for the whole evening and had top night’s entertainment.

And that’s where the night began for me with Carlow brother and sister duo The Holy Roman Army. Mixing glitchy laptop beats and samples with live guitars and synths the pair make music (including a cover of “Wave Of Mutilation” a million miles away from the Pixies original) ideally suited for late at night or extremely early in the morning. Unfortunately I couldn’t get it out of my head, even in the darkened ALT, that it wasn’t even 8 PM when they wrapped up their set. Well worth seeing in more suitable circumstances though.

Next up was Grand Pocket Orchestra. I don’t think there’s a band in Dublin that elicits a greater range of opinion from me than GPO does. Some of their kids TV lo-fi pop is as dumb sounding as anything I’ve ever heard. On the other hand there are times, especially on the songs from their first EP, when they strike gold. As for them last night, there was more good stuff than bad.

The Vinny Club, a solo project from Adebisi Shank’s bassist, was probably the most entertaining thing I’ve seen or will see all weekend. Using a laptop to play songs constructed out of 8-bit video game samples from his recent Rocky IV Rekyrd (inspired by the movie in which Sly Stallone avenged the death of his former nemesis turned best friend by beating up a giant Swede in Moscow and ended the cold war with the phrase “I guess what I'm trying to say is, if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change.”) If you’re wondering why a guy with a laptop and a midi controller can manage to be more entertaining than “real bands” are I should point out that the midi controller is a Guitar Hero guitar and that Vinny came to stage dressed as Bono circa the Zoo TV tour and mid-set press ganged a member of the audience into being his Edge by plonking a skull cap on his noggin and handing him the axe to rock out on.

As great as all that was I did want to catch some of Bats in Meeting House Square. Fortunately the sound issues that plagued the previous night in the venue had been remedied somewhat. But Bats are a band that do require volume to work best and the levels, while not low or muddy enough to spoil things, didn’t do them any favours. Less reliant on volume was the dreamy, ambient sounds of the elegiac Halves. Though they had their own sound problems, namely the house music remained playing though their monitors for the first few songs of their set.

With those 2 wrapped up it was back to Andrews Lane for what had been my most anticipated appearance of the weekend, and pretty much the whole reason I bothered going to the festival at all, a set by Selkirk’s Frightened Rabbit. Their second album, this years’ The Midnight Organ Fight is a little gem of a record addressing for the most past typical Scottish indie rock fare; drinking too much, falling in love too easily and taking too many pills. They’d had a bitch of a day and had to play using borrowed equipment as theirs never made their flight but Scott Hutchison’s anthemic songs carried through in spite of that. As good as I’d hoped that they’d be. They’ll return to Ireland in November opening for Death Cab For Cutie in Belfast and Dublin but hopefully they’ll be back here soon on their own and not playing support to annoyingly wimpish inferior bands.

Ian Wright

In addition to Steven O'Rourke's Festival Diary for Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 of HWCH 2008, check out the following CLUAS reviews of bands who played:


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