- 30 Sep 18
The Irish music industry is strong if this year's Hard Working Class Heroes festival is anything to go by. Saturday proved an exhilarating showcase for many up-and-coming bands.
The night began in The Workman's Club with Navan two-piece pearly. Delivering soothing and dreamy alt-pop, they turned their setting temporarily into a David Lynch movie. Partly this was down to the venue's aesthetic with its red curtains, lamp shades and candles. Yet, singer Saramai Leech's smoky voice coupled with the band's floaty and delicate keyboard and guitar driven melodies created a dream-like feeling - beautiful but haunting - recalling Angelo Badalamenti's work.
Proceedings dipped with Dundalk grunge band Just Mustard. This could be down to organisers having only 15 minutes to set-up the band's equipment but lead singer Katie Ball was completely lost in the mix under loud, screeching guitars. However, even giving the band a pass in this respect, they lacked performance energy, just standing still for the majority of the show.
Northern Irish singer-songwriter Sonja Sleator got things back on track. While her melodies are rootsy and simple, she is a great storyteller - drawing audiences in with lyrics about drunken crises and boyfriends 'who pissed off to London.'
Crossing the Liffey to The Grand Social, Hot Press caught the final few songs from Armagh rockers Hunkpapa. Dressed in mostly blankets and at one point whipping out a didgeridoo, they could be mistaken for a 60's psychedelic band. However, they also shred - pumping out pounding rock anthems. At one point, the lead guitarist jumped off stage but kept playing among the crowd. It's that type of energy one wants at a show like this.
Next was Tallaght rising star Sean OB. Combining catchy choruses, blistering guitars and spoken word odes to his home town, he is like a cross between early Alex Turner, Jamie T and Mike Skinner. He will be huge.
Saving the best for last, the night closed with ferocious Derry punk band The Wood Burning Savages, who with tracks like 'Living Hell' play like Ash x 10. Fronted by Paul Connolly, the singer is a live-wire, manic presence, looking possessed as he contorts on stage screaming and playing guitar, as well in between songs making non-sequitur jokes and political statements to the crowd. Like many artists who played the festival, their set was exciting, unexpected and alive. The future of Irish music is in good hands.