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Come And Have A Go If You Think You’re Hard Enough!
From August 26th to 28th, Dublin will heave under the weight of exciting rock’n’roll bands.
Phil Udell, 15 Aug 2005
Early September 2004. Three days when Dublin’s music community reclaimed the streets. Temple Bar – a, let’s face it, pretty uninspired place to be around most weekends – was transformed into what it once was, a place where artists and audiences could hang out and take their pick of an almost bewildering array of music. It became a place to swap ideas instead of bodily fluids. The stag and hen nights never stood a chance. That is the beauty of Hard Working Class Heroes; it changes things, and for longer than just a weekend. Indeed, it’s become such a fixture on the calendar that it’s hard to believe that it was only in 2003 that twenty odd bands came together over two days at The Project in an attempt to provide an overview of and some kind of direction to a domestic music scene that seemed on the verge of unleashing a whole new wave of exciting bands. Two years later and HWCH has turned into its own bona fide festival, as vibrant and stimulating as the bands that make up its bill.
Organiser Angela Dorgan has overseen this development and is approaching this year’s event with enthusiasm.
“What has surprised me most is the number of really good bands out there,” she enthuses. “There were at least another hundred bands we could have picked if we had the slots. I don’t know if that’s because there’s a festival like this now and people are upping their game or it was happening anyway and we’re just focusing on it. The bands more than anybody else have responded to the challenge.”
The biggest area of debate last year was the inclusion of established bands on the bill, invariably pitching them against some of the newer names. Angela is adamant that the approach works.
“It adds to it in a number of ways,” she maintains. “Last year The Frames came off stage and went into the Music Centre and saw Waiting Room, went backstage and invited them onto their tour. It works on a very practical level in getting people gigs. The bigger bands enjoy it because they’re putting something back but they also capture a new audience. We want every venue to be full all the time and the only way to do that is to sell more tickets. This year more than last year people are buying tickets because the idea of it has captured them. It was a fantastic experience and feeling to be part of it. It’s become easier to get the bigger bands because of that.”
For Angela the biggest thrill is the turnover of new acts: “There are 78 brand new acts out of 117. You should hear them, there isn’t a bad band in there. You wouldn’t feel that you’d wasted one cent of your E25 if all you saw was one of the bands.”
As well as a fine weekend out, HWCH also serves as an industry showcase.
“The bands should approach it as a really good opportunity,” reckons Ken Allen of Faction Records. “There aren’t many times that you actually get to speak to people working in the industry and ask them direct questions. One of the things with bands is that they find it frustrating when they send out demos but never get any feedback. Something like this is a great opportunity to meet up with people and demystify the music industry a little bit.”
How you should approach this as a punter is debatable. With 40 bands a night to choose from, you’re pretty much spoilt for choice. You could of course embed yourself in one of the venues and stay there, nursing a few pints. Or you could dash around trying to catch all the bands that you’ve heard of. Both approaches are fine but kind of miss what this is all about. Perhaps the best way is simply to throw the rule-book away altogether and just go where the whim takes you. Stick your head in a venue at random, if you like what you hear, stay, if not, move on. That’s how you’ll come across some of the biggest treats of the weekend. Quite a few of the bands playing will be unknown to everyone outside of their immediate family, yet they could be the best thing you’ve heard in your life.
That said, the programme below does throw up some obvious highlights. Friday’s Rags/Radio/Fred/Sack/Rulers combination looks pretty tasty, as does the chance to see Jape and Messiah J & The Expert on the same bill on Saturday. The whole weekend is dotted with the names most likely to, from Fair Verona to Delerentos, Mainline to 8Ball, Giveamanakick to Ann Scott. But then, do you really want to miss the opportunity to see a group called Scuzzi Port Sound System or The Bleedin Bleedins or Blood Red Mountain Band? The list, as they say, is endless, so just make the most of this unique annual opportunity and we’ll all see each other on the other side.