posted on September 13, 2008 07:42
Nakatomi Plaza, Half Cousin, Lines Drawing Circles (live at HWCH Day 1)
The first night of Hard Working Class Heroes 2008 seemed a little quiet, whether because of the poor timing of the festival the increased price of tickets, or just because of the intermittent rain. Reports so far have been mixed, but this reviewer found Day 1 to be a brilliant night.
The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10
Most of the talk surrounding this year’s HWCH event has centred on the change of venues after last year’s concentration around the POD complex. While this brought its fair share of difficulties for the festival, I did not encounter quite so many organisational problems as another Cluas reviewer; in fact, Day 1 proved to be a great night out, where running from venue to venue added to a (probably misplaced) sense of adventure and discovery and where Meeting House Square hosted one of the most entertaining, if not necessarily best, acts of the night.
Running a little late and not wanting to face the epic journey across the river to the Academy, I opted to catch a disappointing Heartbreak Cartel at Andrew’s Lane Theatre. Playing to a mere thirty-odd people, their almost-famed stage antics – replete with in-jokes, wigs and cheap costumes – seemed nothing more than a cover-up for an as-yet underdeveloped live performance. While respect for their attempts to provide that extra entertainment factor must be given, it is obvious that it may be a while yet before their show will really involve their audience, until that germ of an idea will develop into something worth catching. Unfortunately, peel away the showmanship and you’re left with nothing memorable: each song washes past you leaving you with no definite recollections of it, only a sense of something rhythmic and bouncy and vaguely Modest Mouse-ish.
Next to Meeting House Square and Fred: a Cork quintet who had never before played in Dublin and who proved to be the biggest surprise of the night. After a few minutes of slightly awkward chatter with that slightly quirky Cork humour the band launched headlong into a set that rocked and bounced and jerked its way along, with a sound that was so remarkably tight and together it came as a shock. Suffering from few of the sound problems which apparently afflicted other acts at the Square (and having unfortunately to contend with an alarm going off throughout their set) Fred were entertaining, funny, extroverted and talented and are without a doubt a band to watch for the future. If nothing else they prove that the Irish Times occasionally get things wrong: “like Sly & The Family Stone in a swordfight with the Flaming Lips, refereed by Brian Wilson” is in fact almost entirely inaccurate, and any review which fails to mention the influence U2 have had over singer Joseph is an inaccurate one.
Lines Drawing Circles, also in Meeting House Square, proved to be one of the biggest disappointments. Every track appeared to have a similar structure and sound, as if they had one idea and stuck to it, but were unable to develop it properly. But what was most disappointing was that on listening to the tracks of the debut EP release in March this year, Lines Drawing Circles songs are in fact really, really good. Unfortunately their multi-layered sound seems only to suit records and possibly smaller, louder and more intimate venues.
Half Cousin, in Dame Lane, came as another surprise. Part of the Scottish invasion, Kevin Cormack has two albums and a number of EPs/singles to his name: releases which this reviewer has already ordered since seeing his awkward fumbling set. After a long soundcheck, Half Cousin began as if he didn’t want anybody to notice, and looked throughout as if he was frustrated and confused that he was unable to control his drum machine and synth, play guitar and sing at the same time. While most songs appeared to have little or no structure apart from the underlying glitchy homemade beats so that it was sometimes difficult to tell when one track ended and another began, each contained enough ingenuity and originality for an album by a lesser artist. A set in the Sugar Club can only be hoped for.
Last was Nakatomi Plaza at the Button Factory. Anthony, an ex-66e, who together with Le Galaxie (playing the same venue on Day 2) is looking to get over the giant name of that lost band…although this doesn’t stop them mentioning 66e in all their descriptions and press releases. The force behind 66e’s characteristic guitar/electronic sound, Nakatomi Plaza has turned to the heavy beats of house, but with all the dense layerings expected of an ex-66e: this set had the feel of a club, but one where you stand still and try to sift through the ear-bleedingly loud and crowded sounds. Manning a single synth and laptop, and with Predator projected onto the back of the stage behind him, Anthony’s constant smile made Nakatomi Plaza a slightly off-kilter show.
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: