New festival is Eastbound and down with the kids

Introduced as a less hectic and laser-focused showcase city festival such as Hard Working Class Heroes (now Ireland Music Week), Dublin series Eastbound kicks off next week on a next big thing vibe.

The new venture by Aiken is running at a perfect time – most of the summer festival line-ups are out, so we’re starting to think about lost weekends up and down the country, while many of the European showcase festivals have taken place, with The Great Escape in Brighton on in two weeks.

Granted, there’s no conference aspect to Eastbound, and it won’t generate as much media and industry interest in the other showcase, but as a six-day series of gigs in various venues around the capital, there’s plenty to discover, or in some cases, see what all the fuss is about.

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The festival runs from next Tuesday to Sunday week (May 7-12) at The Sound House, The Workman’s Club, The Grand Social, Whelans and The Button Factory, all venues that have played their part in shaping the Dublin music landscape over the years.

Eastbound has curated a line-up that skews towards indie, punk and left-field singer songwriters, from Ireland and the UK, without going too middle of the road, and many of the acts will be on the festival trail this summer, so this is a good chance to catch them in the club before then.

One act who probably won’t be playing clubs for too long is Dublin act The Murder Capital, who hopefully won’t fold under the weight of hype after they were lumped in with Fontaines DC and others as saviours of punk by the NME. Of course the NME have previous, and after its article last December, ‘The bands proving Ireland is the new home of punk’, a month later they ran a feature headlined: ‘Never mind the Buckfast! How Glasgow became the new capital of punk’.

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Despite only having two singles out, The Murder Capital feel like the de facto headliner of Eastbound, with a sold-out show in Whelan’s on Saturday week, and a buzz building on the back of their wiry, krautrock grooves and pressure cooker intensity.

Another band thrown into the NME punk bundle are the not very punk but still very excellent Just Mustard from Dundalk, who instead aim down a more heady noise-rock and shoegaze path with a heavy focus on reining in caustic distortion and contrasting serene minimalism.

Limerick natives – along with both of the above – are hitting The Great Escape in Brighton next week, with their 90s-flavoured alt-rock shimmering with pop hooks and a few nods to The Cranberries, who they’ve called a big influence, while covering Dreams live.

BILK cite an odd pair of references in The Jam and Eminem, but what they’re probably getting at is a brash, jagged take on punk with half-spoken, half-chanted verses – and if we’re being very generous they’re more like a modern version of Pink Flag-era Wire, without the genius abstract lyrical detours.

Gwenno lands in Dublin for her first Irish headliner, arriving with a trail of praise for 2015 debut album Y Dydd Olaf, which won the Welsh Music Prize. She was picked by fellow Welsh natives the Manic Street Preachers as support on their 2019 tour, and her dream-pop grooves have an extra layer of intrigue as she’s the only modern pop musician to sing in the Cornish language.

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Meanwhile, Steam Down seem to be the outlier in the line-up that’s falling down with guitars. The UK act infuse their future soul and R&B with cosmic, spiritual jazz themes and a general deft lightness of touch missing from most of the other acts.

In saying that, singer-songwriter Maisie Peters’ simple fingerpicked acoustic folk is sparse and raw, and her latest single Favourite Ex is a disarmingly honest hymn to lost love that swims against the current of always having to come out on top. Sometimes it takes a while for the empowerment to kick in. Her previous singles Place We Were Made and Worst of You are already viral phones-aloft moments, and she’s another artist who won’t be in a club as small as the Sound House for very long.

And with plenty more rising names where the above came from, hit for more details…

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