By the time support act Heathers step on stage and twiddle their guitar strings at Galway’s most infamous venue, State have been enjoying Roisin’s plush, redecorated ambience for some time. We’ve slurped our way through several Galway Hookers (note to the uneducated: that’s a beer) and watched the backroom gig venue go from empty to only half empty. When they arrive, Heathers bring a smile to our face.
Their act is a brave one: two girls, two microphones, one electro-acoustic guitar and no attempt to hide. High-pitched harmonies are the focus, and the giggling two-piece deliver them at pace to a backdrop of simple, infectious and pacey guitars. The strong Irish twang that forces its way into their lyrics is charming, and adds a depth to their sound the faux-American of many of their peers would have snatched away. ‘Remember When’ is a special moment, with seductive vocal peaks and clashing melodies, but Heathers seem to lack one thing: confidence. They’re prone to apologizing to the crowd for their perceived deficiencies, oblivious to the fact the room around them stands mildly spellbound by their lively vocals and tuneful resonance.
Hooray For Humans are a far less subtle proposition, playing off a lilting electro backdrop to create an of-the-minute sound spattered with -na na nas’ and -hey heys’. The co-ed vocals squeeze together well, with timely alterations and octave-split choruses, but H4H’s set is blighted with technical problems, and they never really get going. Sadly, problems spread to indifference amongst the crowd, which thins out substantially over the course of the set.
The infectious ‘Signature’ is a glimmer of brilliance amongst a somewhat thrashy live backdrop, while ‘Chevy Chase’ (accompanied by some witty asides by guitarist Alan on the man himself) brings a rare smile to band and crowd alike. The high point comes with a loop-heavy new track, which H4H claim to be struggling to play (it’s the fault of a well-known Cork guitar shop, apparently), but whip out in a moment of tuneful, happy-Kasabian inspiration nonetheless. Despite its glittering moments, however, Hooray for Humans frustration with technical difficulties leaves them off form and playing a set that only occasionally hints at their undoubted potential.