Word Up Collective - Dublin Quays Festival

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Music and poetry sit side by side. A widely held belief, however one on which Word Up Collective’s Annette Udell places a great emphasis as she muses on the organisation’s decision to include spoken word as well as musical acts in its catalogue of artists. In the downstairs bar of Dublin’s Workman’s Club, as the latter end of soundcheck booms in the background, Annette explains the artistic symbiosis between the two forms: “Hip-hop is, by its very nature, a collaborative genre. It’s the biggest genre in the world, and it is poetry to a beat.”

Annette, along with partner Phil Udell, has been at the helm of Word Up Collective since late 2015, after building relationships with many emerging artists of the time and wanting to provide them with a platform in which such artists could develop not only as individuals but as part of a wider community of performers. Tonight’s showcase is in association with the Dublin Quays Festival, and its line-up is surprisingly diverse while still managing to maintain a flow which mirrors Annette’s observations about music’s relationship to poetry.

Kicking off the event was spoken word artist Natalya O’ Flaherty, whose dulcet tones and sharp delivery allow her work to blur the line between intricate composition and free-flowing and soulful ballad. She is followed by Jake Hurley, accompanied by Local Boy, the catchy and refreshing dose of indie the audience didn’t know they needed, serving as a cool eye of the storm before the entrance of Evans Junior, whose high-energy performance gets people on their feet and in front of the stage. Lastly, Sean X delivers a brilliant vocal performance, continuing to entertain and engage for the entirety of his set with his self assured yet humble stage presence.

While each of these acts brought something different to the showcase, the prevailing atmosphere throughout was one of mutual support.The artists gave their performances everything while still reminding their audience that they stand alongside their Word Up labelmates, with each act praising the one that went before and getting the audience excited for the next. Overall, the event proved to be an intriguing snapshot of the talent and diversity for which Word Up Collective has become known.

Written by Ellen Murray

Melanie O'Donovan