posted on September 14, 2008 06:50
Crayonsmith, The Parks and A Lazarus Soul at HWCH Day 2
Review Snapshot: After a little timetable confusion, Day 2 of HWCH '08 proved a slight disappointment after yesterday, but with a few outstanding performances
The Cluas Verdict? 6 out of 10
Strange things have been happening at this festival: between some serious organisational miscommunications, poor sound and last night’s timetable mix-up. Having turned up at the supposed starting time of Hybrasil’s set in the Button Factory (7.45 according the HWCH schedule booklet) and waiting a twenty minutes before heading, a little let-down and confused, toward Andrew’s Lane and Grand Pocket Orchestra, I was more than a little annoyed this morning to double check the online schedule and discover that Hybrasil’s set was in fact timetabled to start at 8.15.
Although I missed out catching one excellent band, I was lucky to catch another. Earlier this year, GPO released their debut EP this year – an interesting but apparently misleading work, giving the impression of a quirky, poppy, jittery and melodic group having fun. Grand Pocket Orchestra live is a totally different beast: though still undeniably jittery and quirky, it is wild, aggressive, and loud. At its heart is a girl, obviously starved for attention but with an interesting collection of instruments, and a guy, a singer who throws shapes a little like Ian Curtis, or a little like a mime artist with a geometry obsession. Although the sound was at first muddy and indistinct, making it impossible to distinguish one instrument from another, a blinding set of songs emerged from the confusion and swept the crowd along with it.
Then the frenzied rush over to A Lazarus Soul in the Button Factory. And after the band started, an equally frenzied desire to rush back out again. Not familiar with the band before last night, I have been assured by Key Notes that when not bereft of their keyboard player as they were last night, A Lazarus Soul are quite a band to behold; yet I remain unconvinced. In a world where story-telling and sentimentality in lyrics are out of fashion and obscurity and allusion are in, A Lazarus Soul write impassioned songs that read sometimes like a Roddy Doyle novel with the humour stripped away, accompanied by dull crunching rock and some very 80s synth. With that deep and arresting voice their only redeeming feature, this was performance that was more dull than you can believe.
And so I was ready to be impressed by the Parks, Ireland’s favourite new wünderkinder. Having just finished their Leaving Cert, they are unseasoned and nervous, but all the more likeable for it. The Parks are a power trio with potential, but they have yet to shake the sound of a teenage garage band. Although still a little loose around the edges, each member of the band is an excellent musician with the air of a teenage heartthrob, while singer Ciaran has a voice that is as yet young but can easily become one of the most distinctive in the Irish circuit. The Parks are good at what they do, they’re just not quite there yet.
Crayonsmith proved to be the last gig I could make: the last 66 bus of the night leaves at 11.30, leaving me with less than five minutes of Le Galaxie. Much saddened by this state of affairs, I believe Crayonsmith must have been aware of my predicament, and gave one of the best shows of HWCH 08 so far to make me feel better. Songs from this year’s excellent White Wonder album were given a new injection of life and dirtied; far from the clean sounds of the album, a greater concentration on guitars and bass gave the band crunch and power, with no sacrifice in melody or sound. Not just that, but the Crayonsmith gig proved to be the busiest and most fun gig so far, with close to a full house of obvious fans.
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: