Day two of Hard Working Class Heroes began, for us at least, in The Button Factory where Owensie took to the stage shortly after 7pm. With the previous night having been mostly electronic music, it was a nice change to see one man and a guitar on stage. A backdrop projection behind Owenise plastered pictorial accompaniments to his music, everything from Mr Benn to tornados, and Owensie has cultivated quite a charismatic stage manner – but it’s the music which does the real talking. His debut album Aliens was released earlier this year (to rave reviews) and witnessing him on stage, it’s easy to see why. His brand of folksy, finger-picked music is slightly reminiscent of Jose Gonzalez and immensely satisfying, especially when coupled with his engaging stage presence.
Next it was back to the Twisted Pepper for Carried By Waves, an electronic audio/visual project from Cork. The duo have previously been selected by First Music Contact as one of the support acts on last summer’s FMC tour and their thirty minute performance was met with much approval from the reasonably sized Abbey Street crowd. Again, the band made great use of projected imagery to accompany the music – as seems the fashion nowadays – and seem certainly to be a band to keep an eye on in the future.
Miracle Bell have been on the receiving end of some widespread praise since the release of their first album last year and their set at The Grand Social was one of the most anticipated shows of the day, judging by the large crowd packed into the Liffey Street venue. The band, centred around the excellent vocals of Dave Prendergast, were one of the more polished acts of the festival up to this point. Excellent.
The undoubted highlight of the night, though, was Enemies, the last band to take to the stage in the Button Factory. Irish music has carved a very significant niche for instrumental bands, with acts like The Redneck Manifesto and And So I Watch You From Afar being at the top of the tree, and fellow HWCH act Alarmist being on the rise, but last night’s performance solidified Enemies as being one of the most engaging acts in this burgeoning musical genre. Their excellent musicianship was equalled by the arrangements and unpredictability of the music and the Button Factory was filled to the rafters. Was this Enemies’ coming out party? That may well be the case.