All pictures by Bríd O’Donovan.

I wonder who saw the most acts at Hard Working Class Heroes this year. About 104 artists were on the lineup (though there were one or two cancellations, such as Affleck). I wasn’t up in Dublin for Thursday (here’s who I would’ve gone to see) so I had some catching up to do on Friday and Saturday, managing to see about 15 acts in all. With seven venues in use, all featuring at least four bands, it felt a little like quantity over quality. But when the quality was there, oh my was it there.

I always think of Hard Working Class Heroes as a festival of new bands, though I dunno where I got that idea. On its website, it states that HWCH is “an information and advice resource for musicians at any career level. It delivers initiatives to help artists at key points of their development.” Hence the advice sessions, of which Nialler9 was a part and said, “I’ve been heartened by the fact that bands have been more clued in than ever before”. Jim Carroll echoed such sentiment: “Over the weekend, several people who participated in the speed sessions part of HWCH (where bands get to meet and pick the brains of bookers, agents, managers, bloggers and industry professionals from home and abroad) commented on the fact that the bands were a lot more savvy than they were a few short years ago. There was less stupid questions and more forensic awareness of what they actually wanted as a band from an event like HWCH.” So for the bands, it sounds like you get out of HWCH what you put in, but for the punter, it’s all about the music, so how was it?

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Maria Somerville @ the Button Factory, 9.20pm Friday:

Maria Somervillw and I Have A Tribe in the Button Factory on Friday night blew me away, easily my highlights of the weekend. Maria has such a wonderful Anna Calvi-booming voice while Patrick O’Leary of the latter group – I was expecting a solo performance, not a masterful, five-piece outing, including backing vocals from Maykapes – cooed his way through a gorgeous set, with his recorded output sounding lightweight by comparison.

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I Have A Tribe @ the Button Factory, 10pm Friday:

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Participant @ the Workman’s Club, 8pm Friday:

Earlier in the night, Participant played one of his first shows, having released his excellent debut EP the day before. While interesting, the set was just the five songs off said EP and on the timid side. It was a similar story 24 hours later, catching the Dead Sea Fleet opening the Grand Social. Clad in creased gold jackets, it felt like they had no idea where they want to go. Alas, the crowd did.

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Silences @ the Button Factory, 8.40pm Friday:

Silences are my tip to do big things in the next year. They have the sound and the look, and just need a bit more confidence to really take the audience on a journey – hopefully they won’t choose the path to Kodaline-alike, though. They’re just about to release their second EP. Here’s the title track.

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Elastic Sleep @ the Mercantile, 10.40pm Friday:

Elastic Sleep in the Mercantile, and Hags a day later in the same venue, brought the Cork rock. I’ve seen the former loads of times in the past year but their power hasn’t been diluted: Muireann Levis’s calm demeanour and stellar vocals providing a nice contrast to the smorgasbord of chaos going on behind her. Hags, meanwhile (also pictured at the top of this post), only have one song to their name and it’s my first time seeing them. They’re thoroughly entertaining, playing loud and fast but always with a fun pop hook underneath: and frontman Jonathan Horgan looks like he’s having the best time up onstage.

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Hags @ the Mercantile, 8.40pm Saturday:

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Imploded View @ Twisted Pepper, 8pm Saturday:

Imploded View has some good, funk-infused dance songs but plays to an indifferent Twisted Pepper crowd early on Saturday evening. Would probably have killed it if it had been 1am.

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Cloud Castle Lake @ the Button Factory, 10pm Saturday:

Later, Cloud Castle Lake play to a chatty Button Factory, but Daniel McAuley’s voice could silence an Ed Sheeran crowd which, if you listened closely, you could hear screaming all the way down to the 03 Arena. I found the four piece utterly beguiling, but then I would say that as I’ve fallen for ‘Sync’ hard.

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Fight Like Apes @ Meeting House Square, 11.10pm Satuday:

Saturday was finished off in the wonderful Meeting House Square by Fight Like Apes, whose live show should be familiar to us all by now. There aren’t any real surprises: ‘Jake Summers’ is still a choon and Maykapes is a great frontwoman (of Hare Squead, the group who preceded FLApes on Saturday, she announced: “We need to talk about your name afterwards”).

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So HWCH14 ended with one of its favourite bands. If you looked hard enough over the weekend you probably found a new Irish band to fall in love with over the weekend. I know I did. Well done to all the Hard Working Class Heroes. More pictures of bands I didn’t see but Bríd caught are below.

Galants @ the Mercantile, 9.20pm Saturday:

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The Vincents @ the Mercantile, 10pm Saturday:

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Carried By Waves, the Workman’s Club, 10.45pm Saturday:

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