The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


One Day International, Mackerel the Cat and Others at HWCH (Sunday)soundsofsystembreakdown

Review Snapshot: Despite dreary drizzle, HWCH made it through the night with stunning, passionate performances by both established acts and newcomers to the scene. 

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:
It was not an evening to leave the house. Horror movie rain beat down in all its forms - spitty rain, drizzly rain, monsoon rain, torrential rain, showery rain, Dublin-here-I-come rain. But I braved it. Left the house. Hopped on a 38. Having originally planned to see geek rockers 'We Are the Physics' at Meeting House Square, I instead opted for the warmth of The Button Factory and the sounds of Mackerel the Cat. Love of the name (which is taken from a Haruki Marukami novel) was enough to sway me towards their breed of indie ambience. They had so much potential, incorporating a multitude of fancy-schmancy instruments like the glockenspiel and the double bass, and even a guitarist using a bow instead of a plec. Potential wasn't enough though. Both singers' voices were flat, the range of notes within tracks was too narrow, the bass was far too loud (thundering through my ribcage), and most songs never progressed musically. Wrong, off-key, and disappointing.

One Day International were up next and blew me away. Their climactic performance was certainly the most polished and passionate of the entire festival. I've already put aside a couple of yo-yo's to buy their album, to be released in October. Each band member was immersed and focused, and seemed to be in the midst of what spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle describes as 'flow', a higher level of consciousness. It's been a long time since I've seen such a tight set. The music itself falls somewhere between Keane and Broken Social Scene in terms of influence, seeping with explosive build-ups and beautiful cello notes. Track of the evening had to be 'Sleeping on Trains,' delivered with vivacity by the lead singer's expressive Thom Yorke style voice. I'm still a bit dubious about the band name, but their music lifted me out of Dublin for a half hour with its beauty.

Hyper electro rocker, Sounds of System Breakdown, had a long-winded soundcheck at Eamonn Doran's, but it was worth it. Our other CLUAS reviewer didn't enjoy the performance but for me it was an electrotrip that gave me lots to smile about. Despite a few technical problems and false starts, our dude took it on the chin and jumped around, multitasking between laptop, guitar and singing. The audience loved it too and there was even a bit of mild dancing (the first I've seen at HWCH). At around the second song I developed a penchant for SOSB's main man who had plenty of stage charisma, especially when he sang a track that included the line 'Can I please take you home? It's dangerous out there for a girl on her own.' Yes, it's never professional to be attracted to a musician but it certainly makes the performance even more enjoyable. And SOSB's dirty bassy electro rock charmed me too, reminding me of Hot Chip, Metronomy and The Rapture.

My final trek to Autamata was well worth it, if only for the track 'I Spy' (which bizarrely features on my Top 25 Most Played in iTunes). The music was a savage pop-feast and the performance had a high energy that unfortunately the audience didn't catch wind of.

I'm so glad the temptations of a warm lit fire and hot whiskey at home didn't take hold, because the final night at HWCH was definitely the best.

Niamh Madden

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 the festival:

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Nuggets from our archive

2004 - The CLUAS Reviews of Erin McKeown's album 'Grand'. There was the positive review of the album (by Cormac Looney) and the entertainingly negative review (by Jules Jackson). These two reviews being the finest manifestations of what became affectionately known, around these parts at least, as the 'McKeown wars'.