Now in its 18th edition, Hard Working Class Heroes is now an Irish music institution, an annual showcase of the best of the underground and a chance for Irish audiences and industry heads to get an overview of the scene in a concentrated format.
While the early years had established international headliners, the festival now has a theme of discovery, and is an Irish-only affair. Over 50 acts will be performing tonight and tomorrow, at The Workman’s Club, The Grand Social, Yamamori Tengu, Tramline and Doyle’s, while the conference aspect of the festival started last night and runs to tomorrow. Guest speakers at the conference in the Chocolate Factory include Paul Jones of Rough Trade Records, Anne Marie Shields of BIMM Dublin, James Byrne of Any Other City Records and discussions as varied as mental health in music, industry advice, tech talks and social media management.
All the acts on the bill obviously made a mark on selection judges, but most are also already accomplished performers, and many have just made waves on the Irish summer festival trail. A few – such as Roe, Maria Kelly and Malojian – are also playing this weekend’s Other Voices in Ballina, Mayo, while Roe was even selected to represent Ireland at Eurosonic in January this year.
Elsewhere, Bad Bones is one of the most captivating performers in Ireland at the minute, equal parts dark electronic pop and performance art. AeMak is another electronic pop pop with an emphasis on flamboyant presentation.
Derry act The Wood Burning Savages have released one of the most assured Irish debut albums of the year, with the Stability channelling Queens of the Stone Age and the punkier elements of the Manic Street Preachers – so they’ll be a definite tick on the programme, headlining the Workman’s Club tomorrow night.
Elsewhere, try to catch the wistful folky electronica of Feather Beds, Damola’s reading of Kendrick Lamar street poetry and trap, and the next-gen electronic explorations of Wastefellow.
With the venues spread out you’ll be back and forward over the Liffy loads of times over the weekend, and you’ll inevitably miss something that everyone raves about later. But you won’t need to worry that much, as most of the bands here are on the beginning of a journey, and HWCH is really only a big milestone along the way.
- Hard Working Class Heroes runs from tonight (Thursday) to Saturday. See hwch.net