Body & Soul Festival 2017 Review.

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I set off myself on the Citylink commuter bus from Galway to Kinnegad, Kevin couldn’t drive me in the camper this year as he wasn’t due on site till the following day.  When I got to Kinnegad I asked some people for directions on the correct road to hitch on to get me to Ballinlough Castle, I was advised to take the Trim Road and then the Athboy Road from Trim.  The first lift came after twenty to thirty minutes and as luck would have it, one of the people I asked at Kinnegad spotted me on the road hitching, so he took me directly to the festival site.  The pre-festival shenanigans begin.

Setting up my tent in the crew camp and grabbing a coffee from Kev’s Kitchen, I spotted another volunteer who I worked with at Gate F last year, Barry from Dublin, so a few tins were had and a catch up in blether, also caught up with Danyl Hartshorn and a few others.

Tuesday 20th June.

I was more or less working in the same area as last year, but this time with Jennie rather than Charlene.  It was a fairly quiet day with staff arriving in trickles onsite, my job to point staff traffic to the next volunteer in the staff car park area.  It was fairly hot today and I reckon I got a little sunburn on my nose, face and neck.  This year advance stewards got a choice of a lunch or dinner, the details of your dietary requirements was contained in the chip in the temporary wristband which was simply scanned at the staff cafeteria.

Wristbands

The Temporary and Weekend Wristband.

It meant after your feed you returned to the 12 hour shift with a renewed vigour.  Things were so quiet at the Gate F area that Jennie sent some of us to other areas to help out other gaffers.  I was sent to the Walled Garden to help out some of the lads there, they were putting cabling into the ground, called ‘Trenching’.  Electrical points were established to help light some of the installations, so from the nearest power point, a straight line was dug into the ground (using shovels) leading up to the installation and cable then tucked in under the ground and the sod trod over so that you would hardly notice the cut line.

I phoned Kevin to find out when he was arriving, he was still on the road and wouldn’t get in till about 9.30 – 10 pm, I was subsequently told by someone that he would have trouble driving his vehicle into the area after 8 pm as the accreditation staff finished and closed their office at 8.  He arrived at the site and security wouldn’t let him in Gate F or Gate E, so I suggested that he ring one of his bosses.  Eventually he got it sorted out and Natasha came to meet him at the Production Gate and led him on a buggy through the festival site into the crew camper van camp site.  Met up with my other great buddy Simon Outram (who was starting Thursday) where we caught up with the events of the year.

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Trenching had to be done to serve this installation.

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Installation in the Walled Garden.

Wednesday 21st June.

It was a bit busier today at Gate F but could still be quiet and dull at times, that is why I come prepared with my speaker and ipod, blasting out the sounds and hopefully creating the vibe for arriving staff too.  The choice of sounds was the audio of Aphex Twin’s concert from the streamed Field Day show, which I couldn’t stop listening to.  Jennie made us swap places at the car park just to keep the job interesting and man, it was really hot at times, I’m glad I put on sunblock today.  I opted to take the dinner today rather than lunch, lunch was about an hour between 12 and 2 pm alternating with another volunteer and dinner was at 6 pm.  So come 6 pm I had the hunger in me and enjoyed a slap up meal of green Thai chicken curry which was wolfed down.  My shift finally completed, I was free to roam the festival until the following Monday, yippee!

Thursday 21st June.

Had a wee lie in today and resolved to take as much photos of some of the stages and installations dotting the landscape.  Took out the Sony camera first and took one photo of the Woodlands stage and my battery ran out, damn.  It turns out that because I couldn’t find the case, I had packed it in tightly into the rucksack and inadvertently flipped open the slip case which turned the camera on, by the time I got around to use it, the battery died.  Ah well, off back to the tent to get my Nikon camera.

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The beautiful patterns of the Woodlands Stage.

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The Woodlands Stage ready to go.

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A new brickwork stone shelter or installation, don’t know really.

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Some volunteers working the Thursday shift.

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The Arbutus Yarns Area.

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Lights in the wood.

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Lights in the wood.

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One of the creations from Jeff and his friends.

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The impressive new wooden Main Stage.

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Thursday night fire in the Walled Garden Area.

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Cool pyramid installation near Absolut Stage Thursday Night.

Friday 23rd June.

First thing today, get that weekend wristband, usually they are issued on either Wednesday or Thursday night, but because of all the weekend volunteers arriving it can be pretty busy.  So decided to just pop down to the volunteer headquarters to get the new wristband plus I would need this to get back onsite again as I planned to do a beer run with another bunch of volunteers as we still had to get our drink allocation for the weekend.  These were all lads working in Soul Kids with Kevin, so off to Athboy Centra to stock up.

The music and arts didn’t kick off properly till 5.00 pm, so off I queue to the Midnight Circus tent for the start of Kelly-Anne Byrne’s set.

Kelly-Anne Byrne   – Midnight Circus Tent    5.00   – 7.30 pm.

Kelly put on an excellent set as per usual, having only discovered her last year and her Today FM show The Beat Goes On on Saturdays and Sundays, her music is an exuberant mix of happy house, funk and soul, the perfect beat and never too cheesy, more ambient and atmospheric.  Her live show would be more reflected on her Saturday playlists whilst her Sunday radio show would deal with more rock and pop classics.  She is one of the biggest Electric Picnic enthusiasts and of festivals in general and she explores the line ups of all the events and highlights artists that you may otherwise be not aware of.  More power to her and I will avidly boogie to some of her Electric Picnic shows too, godwilling I make it there this year.

https://www.todayfm.com/TheBeatGoesOn

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Kelly-Anne Byrne kicking off the Friday at the Midnight Circus Tent.

The next few hours were spent milling about various stages and occasionally up to the ring of fire in the Walled Garden which became a great focal point for randomness and banter.  I worked out that all the mad electronica shit usually came from the Midnight Circus tent, where you could hear earth booms and buzzing bass dubsteppery drones at times.

Katie Laffan  – Woodlands Stage     9.30  –  10.10 pm.

At the wonderful Woodlands stage (The original Body & Soul main stage), Dublin lass Katie Laffan had a sizeable audience wooed by her infectious blend of rock, blues, funk and pop sounds and she has a damn fine crooning voice too.  Described on her Breaking Tunes page as being influenced by Bob Marley, Chic, Destiny’s Child, Joss Stone and Kool and the Gang, you can’t get as eclectic as that, check her out.

http://www.breakingtunes.com/katielaffan

I sat on the hillside for a while overlooking the main stage, I think Anna Meredith was playing who had a fair crowd and was playing some nice melancholic ambient music. This was one of my favourite spots throughout the weekend, not too far from the main stage and you have a seat overlooking all the visuals and lights.

http://www.annameredith.com/

The Bug Featuring Miss Red  –  Midnight Circus     9.30   –   10.15 pm.

Caught the last three songs by this act and wished I’d caught it all, they were absolutely magnificent, electrifying noise dubstep and rap, Miss Red reminding me of the singer from Alo Wala a few years back but the music being a much grimier heavier sound and they had a packed tent full of people who couldn’t believe their eyes and ears.  One of the highlights of the festival and that was just the last twenty minutes of the gig, will be looking out for them in the future.

http://bodyandsoul.ie/project/miss-red-bug/

I wandered over to the Absolut Stage and found some nice seating that overlooked the ribbon umbrella yoke and the stage area that housed the DJs.  Loosysmokes is a troop of dancers dressed in white dresses with white umbrellas, they are also very good at acrobatics too and would often put on shows under the umbrella to the sounds of the DJ, it seems they preferred the funky house sound to the pumping techno beat.  They were one of the many lots going around adding colour and vibrancy to the festival.

https://loosysmokes.com/

Metronomy  –  Main Stage      11.30   –   12.30 pm.

I wandered back to that same spot on the hillside to watch the Metronomy set at the main stage but by now it was getting cold and it was quite exposed there out on the open. This was my first time catching this group, they seemed to have an interesting quirky electronic indie energy, they had bits of Talking Heads and bit of Devo in their sound, so a lively enough festival sounding band.  I realised to the left of the main stage there was a vantage you could enter to get up real close to the action if you pleased, much like the same work out for the Electric Picnic main stage.

http://www.metronomy.co.uk/

I retired about 12.30 am as I was tired and a bit cold, I wanted to keep the energy for a fuller Saturday, so wrapped up in the quilt, I sipped a few beers and listened to some sounds and dozed off.

Saturday 24th June.

Got up about 11 pm and went up with Simon to the crew camper van area to see if Kevin was up, we gave the door a knock but no answer.  We decided to check out the security catering area where your man was doing breakfast baps for five euros which sounded pretty appealing although his coffee machine was broke and he had run out of bacon, go on sausage and eggs will do and it hit the spot, nicely priced I must say for a festival.

Quite a lot of time was spent milling about the the fire area, although unlit, it was a great meeting point or a place to just sit and chill in the sunshine.

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Simon

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Fire Area at Walled Garden.

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The Walled Garden.

 

 

Occasionally there would be a quick visit to Natasha’s Kitchen to see if there was being any reggae blasted, a quick hello to Louise Borre who was working there and Simon raving about the cinnamon cakes which I tried a few times and have to agree, they tasted delicious.

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Natasha’s Kitchen.

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Natasha’s Kitchen.

Lambchop   –  Main Stage     6.30   –   7.30 pm.

I felt sorry for Lambchop as they had a good mellow chilled sound and they were quite hyped on the headline poster bill, but the group were lucky if they had about a hundred people at the front of the main stage, there was probably another two hundred scattered about the general area, some sitting on the hillside who were appreciating it overlooking the stage and others milling in different directions.  Lambchop’s sound could be described as alternative country, a kinda bluesy Americana, if you like.  It seems like the festival installations and chill areas won over on the band this time.

http://www.lambchop.net/

Various stages we passed and peeked at occasionally had some mad sounds, Weval from Amsterdam was making a beautiful psychedelic racket in the Midnight Circus, whilst  La Femme from France made a great punky pop sound on the main stage, well we couldn’t get Air (Fairplay to the Beatyard and I may just do that) but we got a whole bunch of French and Dutch excellence this weekend in these two bands, didn’t have the camera for video clips at the time.

https://weval.bandcamp.com/releases

https://lafemme.bandcamp.com/releases

Sleaford Mods   –  Main Stage         9.30   –  10.30 pm.

Some of Simon’s friends from his area was visiting the festival for the first time and they had their two year old daughter who was lapping up the festival.  We sat on the hill and watched a bit of the Sleaford Mods, an enjoyable English punk beat poetry crowd who had that raw energy of the early Jam, The Ruts and a kinda of cursing John Cooper Clarke style.  Was quite surprised at all the cursing, ha ha, with it being a family festival like, the Sleaford Mods were quite free and easy about using the curse word in their Nottingham brogue, found it pretty amusing myself but then I suppose we were after the watershed hour. 🙂

https://sleaford-mods.myshopify.com/

Went wandering about with Simon and his friends for a while taking in bits of the woods, needless to say we were getting our Dub Reggae fix with some serious IRIE emitting from the Woodlands Stage.  I never mentioned it till now, I seriously miss the Port Royal area especially when it was cold in the night, it was one of the truly enclosed areas of the festival that oozed that Jamaican warmth.  I reckon it might have been Cian Finn’s set at the Woodlands stage or maybe another reggae guy in the adjoining stage, but that dub bass hit home how much I love my reggae.  I decided to split after a while as I didn’t want to miss the Bonobo set, so we said our good byes for the night.

Bonobo   –   Main Stage         11.15   –   12.15 pm.

Was quite surprised that we were only getting an hours set from Bonobo but I suppose Vitalic is the headliner so he gets the longer one, nope I’m wrong, timetable says he played an hour set too.  Anyway back to Bonobo, they had a fantastic sound, mix a bit of Massive Attack with the bell like sounds Four Tet uses, mix in a dash of Sun Ra Arkestra, a bit of the Orb, some soul and some funk, oh, and some Sub Saharan music too and you have the fantastic, uplifting and ambient beats of Bonobo.  Highlights were Bambro Koyo Ganda (feat. Innov Gnawa), Cirrus, No Reason with Szjerdene on vocals I much prefer her to the studio version featuring Nick Murphy from their more recent album Migration from last year.  Kong was another from 2010’s Black Sands album that got the feet moving, such a great act I wished they could have played longer though.

http://bonobomusic.com/

Vitalic   –   Main Stage      0.45    –   1.45 am.

I just sat on the same spot on the hillside and waited it out, Vitalic took a while but he eventually appeared, it was getting cold up there though on the brow of the hill so I needed beats to keep me preoccupied.  What can I say about the Vitalic intro, twas fecking nuts, electro frapps, surges, gobbledeegook voices and a thundering pulsing beat, he’s as mental as the crazy Modeselektor, demented inter-glacial electronica mind phuck!  And another slice of French techno/electroclash/electro house madness unfurled by Body & Soul, quite a cool way to blow out the early hours of Saturday morning don’t ya think.

https://www.vitalic.org/

After a bit of Vitalic I wandered back into the woods, couldn’t find Simon, couldn’t find Kevin and wherever I was sitting or walking about, I didn’t really know anyone, so it was weird, the randomness of conversation had disappeared, perhaps it was a couples night I don’t know, but I thought, go back to the tent, might as well get warm again and wrap thy own self in thee quilt and went out like a light, time possibly approximately about 2 am or thereabouts.

Sunday 25th June.

Was feeling a bit rougher today and the feeling was made worse when I heard about the tragic death that occurred at the festival, my condolences to the family and sorry for your loss, it seems is the first case ever at Body & Soul festival, let’s hope its the last one.

Trying to think of something healthy, aah, Natasha’s Kitchen, lovely smoothies and cakes, a beautiful soya lemon cheesecake I think and a gooseberry smoothie does the trick for a while, I’m hanging about with Simon and he is off to the only ATM onsite which has a fairly big queue and the good bones of over an hours wait.

I troupe off to film the dancing ladies and lads of Loosysmokes during a nice sunny spell around the Absolut stage.

Was back at the tent for a while when I heard this powerful traditional music booming out of the Woodlands stage, just around the same time I see a missed called from my mate Anders, so I call him back and he tells me that his friend, box player Charlie Harris is playing with the Tulla Ceili Band.  I quickly deduct that, this is exactly who I’m hearing so I ran to the Woodlands stage to capture some of their last set.

I think Simon wanted somewhere to sit down and eat, so we went into the Arbutus Yarns area where some nice old time mountain banjo music was playing, courtesy off Ryan McAuley, Eamonn Travers on piano, Sean Conway on guitar and Darragh Brannigan on drums.  Someone commented on youtube that they are a mixture of two now defunct bands, Hatchlings and Tashka.  It was a pity as they built up a nice amount of listeners with their gig and some drumming troupe beside the venue completely drowned out their sound.

And speaking of which, another video has surfaced of said drummers, David Gerulis upped this lovely eight minute clip of floating into the woods from the main arena and walking towards the drumming party, they create an amazing buzz and a nice dancing crowd.  They are called The Hit Machine Drummers and this was their very first festival outing.

https://www.facebook.com/TheHitMachineDrummers/

Quite a lot of time was spent around the Walled Garden area, one of the best places to be in the sunshine, I was with Kevin, Simon and his friends, Barbara and daughter Abbie Nolan and Janice Topley.

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Kevin, Simon, Janice, Barbara & Abbie.

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Myself next to Kevin.

There was quite a few cancellations over the weekend, Parcels the main stage closer for Friday night, A Tribe Called Red who cancelled due to one of the members getting an ear infection, Songhoy Blues who were replaced by The Beat and Birdy Nam Nam who was replaced by the Midnight Circus closer Mykki Blanco.  I heard later from a friend, Kate Bandia, that some of the cancellations were due to a bomb scare at some airport in Europe, so nothing the festival can do about that, how the festival managed to whirl up The Beat out of the blue has to be commended.

The Beat   –   Main Stage     7.45    –     8.30 pm.

It was a surprise to see The Beat as I had no idea they were in the line up, I realise they were a last minute replacement for Songhoy Blues, but I was delighted as I missed them at Electric Picnic in 2013 when they opened up the main stage.  It was great to hear the classics such as Ranking Full Stop and Mirror in the Bathroom, perfect Ska music to usher in the sunset at Ballinlough Castle and for Sunday night in general.

So with the way things were going and the amount of cancellations I was in no rush to go back into the main arena or main stage area so stuck around the fire area of the Walled Garden as it was getting chillier with the gathering shade and down to Natasha’s Kitchen for a spot of reggae sounds courtesy of William Softly.

Simon split for the night retiring at midnight, so me and Kev hung about the tent for a while and decided to go in for the last hour into the woods.  The last act we were to catch was Ships on the Woodlands stage.

Ships  –   Woodlands Stage      11.15    –   2.00 am.

Ships had a ambient folk rock thing going with sensuous singing, glissando guitars and atmospherics, they were a perfect closer for such as stage, gloriously bathed in blue and purple lights reflected on the small square glass frames dotting the top and sides of the stage.  Sorcha McGrath and Simon Cullen from Dublin weaved a magical spell with their sound, I hope to see them crop up again at Body & Soul at the Picnic.

http://bodyandsoul.ie/project/ships/

I headed back with Kevin to the camper as it was colder tonight than previous nights, stayed up and had a few tins and the banter before we crashed out, last thing that could be heard was a bongo player in the distance playing for life, fair play to him.

Monday 26th June.

Twas nice having a proper bed last night and a bit of a fry this morning, my job now to disassemble my tent and pack everything into a few bags and say my goodbyes to people at the campsite.  I needed to get a lift from Ballinlough to Kinnegad to catch the 4.50 pm Citylink bus to Galway.  The time about 2  – 2.30 pm so I thought it wouldn’t be a problem, I managed to get a lift within an hour to Athboy and then eventually another to Trim.  By the time I got to Longwood I was still about 30 km away from Kinnegad and it was about 4.20 pm, didn’t get a lift till about an hour later getting into Kinnegad for about 6pm.  I managed the get the 6.50 pm Citylink where your man let me on when I explained the situation trying to get the 4.50 connection and finally got into Galway for 9.20 pm. just ten minutes spare to make it in time.  Thanks to Simon, Kevin, Ger, Jennie, William Softly and everyone else who made my week and weekend magical at Body&Soul.  Roll on Body&Soul Festival 2018 and Electric Picnic Body & Soul Village 2017. 🙂

 

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Forbidden Fruit 2017 Sunday 4th June Review.

AFX Green Logo

Up at eight in the morning myself and Kevin took the Citylink to Dublin to get in for nice time and the start of the second day of Forbidden Fruit festival, sunny spells and scattered showers was the general forecast and everyone at the event seemed to be on a good buzz.

Exploring the arena I discovered there was not really any seating areas until we spied a bunch of seats down near the big wheel and one of the Bulmer’s Bars, enjoying the sun one minute and wrapping up in the next minute, the weather being that interchangeable.  DJ Deece was the opening act for Sunday’s main stage line up, he had a hard enough job as some of the heaviest rain fall of the day fell during his set, so apart from the odd isolated dancer who braved the wet, he played mainly to an empty field although some braved sitting on the sloping hill to watch the set.  The music being kind of House, with bits of disco and funk, so a nice easygoing vibe.  Its the hardest time to do a set as three quarters of the audience hasn’t arrived onto the site as yet.

I went for a wander myself to see if I could find the festival merchandise stall but there didn’t seem to be one this year, I was hoping to pick up a decent t-shirt of one of my favourite artists, Aphex Twin, but no joy.

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Forbidden Fruit Main Stage Early Afternoon

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Kevin

Eve  – Outcider Tent  2  – 3.30 pm.

Eve was was a trio of female DJs who were playing some nice lively pumping techno and they had a few throwing shapes on the floor, the clip I took sounds like a Paul Kalkbrenner track that I heard him play at Electric Picnic in 2015 I think, anyway Eve was doing a great job getting folk warmed for one of the later headliners for that tent, namely Moderat.

I went and bought a pint, Five Lamps lager for six Euros, not too bad for a Dublin event compared to the prices at Electric Picnic last year and the beer, fairly palatable so it passed the test.

Monolink  –  Main Stage  3.15  –  4.15 pm.

Monolink from Berlin had mostly onlookers sitting on the hillside appreciating the sounds, he at least got some prolonged sunny spells for his set and occasional ones getting up for a boogie.  His music quite dreamy and catchy, its quite hard to describe his style, he is a DJ but also a musician.  He had programmed beats and samples and he played alongside the music with his electric guitar and sang, he had a nice voice too.  It would be fair to say his music was a kind of electronic dance pop, but more pop/rock than say, something like Calvin Harris.  Nice easy going ambient pop with a bit of funk. You might notice that I call him Monolake on the video, this was just me misunderstanding.

Myself and Kevin went back up to the Outcider tent to see who was playing up there, I wasn’t too sure if the act was Hybrazil or Kink, but I’m pretty sure by the time it was Kink.

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Kink at the Outcider Tent Sunday 4th June Forbidden Fruit

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Kink  –  Outcider Tent   4.45  –  6.45 pm.

Kink, a DJ from Bulgaria had a fairly packed tent, the crowds starting to pour into the festival grounds, he was playing some pumping techno which is exactly what the tented audience was wanting and it was pretty lively in there, so what can I say, he was doing a bloody good job.

As Mura Masa was starting up on the main stage myself and Kevin went to meet an old festival buddy, Cork Dave at around 6 pm, we waited around for about forty minutes but no sign of the man.  I enjoyed what I heard from Mura Masa’s performance which had a bit of a Little Dragon vibe to it, this was also the first act to have a bit of a crowd in front of the main stage.  Right time for a bite to eat before we head into the Outcider for the Moderat set.

Moderat  –  Outcider Tent     7.15  –  8.30 pm.

Moderat had an absolutely rammed tent and as it was raining outside the heat in the marquee was incredible.  They kicked off with a new track from III which was released over a year ago in 2016, the sound was fantastic but the tent had a very chatty lot that took away from the music a bit, kind of like having Moderat play at Coppers or something like that.  Some of the classics from the debut album got an airing such as New Error and later on Rusty Nails which had a little reworking.  The biggest reaction was to Bad Kingdom which I had to leave halfway through as I thought I was going to collapse with the heat, Kevin left earlier because of the heat too, so I lost him for a bit.  So my second time catching this most excellent act and they just keep getting better and better.

Aphex Twin  –  Main Stage    9.15  –  10.45 pm.

A buzzed up to hell audience was standing waiting patiently for the reticent Richard D. James to take to the stage and to transport us into his electronic minefield.  The speakers start rumbling, its like the white noise that usually accompanies the end of his set, I suppose he is tuning up the deafener machine, industrial glitches and bass rumbles.

Around the second or third track I hear a familiar beat, aah he is revisiting some of his 2011 set, he drops that lovely track from his recent Souncloud dump, 14 Floating (Swimming in God Mix), he is actually testing us out for our memory from his last Irish outing, a nice touch.

As the tempo ups a bit he drops another nice track from that Soundcloud dump of his,     1 Chink 101, a nice lucid happy ambient track that sounds like it has touches of or perhaps an earlier outtake of Fingerbib in parts.

After that there is no messing with the man, its straight into acid techno with one of his Analord numbers Cilonen and into some crazed Gabba and earth rumbling audio squelches .

There was mad experimental moments where I didn’t know what was going on, mad thumping drum samples, I thought I heard the remote car activation lock sound. The Untitled 7 Mark Fell and Gabor Lazar track  and 3000000 (W3C Remix) track were pure experimental musique concrete tracks that used drum samples and sounds you could imagine hearing as an end of the world scenario, but enthralling they were, I don’t know if the D4 snowflakes liked though ha ha.

We got some of his obligatory juicy jungle and DnB moments too, he dropped the Spiritual Combat Pro Black track which got the feet pounding the floor.

No doubt some Paradox was dropped (Who opened the Lighthouse Stage on Saturday), Hellfish, Squarepusher and nameless other bass music heavyweights and no doubt some of his own workings too.  Finally it was all over too soon, we had reached the white noise ending where Mr James must’ve switched on everything, man, my ears were ringing after that.  An incredible gig by an incredible electronic musician.

The only drawback being that we only got an hour and a half set compared to the two hour set from the night before in Field Day festival, it also seems like he used only a quarter of the lasers or was it just bad visibility here.  Its my own fault, I watched the Field Day stream twice now and I seemed to be always comparing them, when it comes down to it, Field Day is a much much larger event and the stage for the Twin was larger too.

Myself and Kevin didn’t bother with the After Parties, it had been steadily raining so we were quite wet and just wanted to bundle into a taxi to my friend David.  It took us about forty minutes but eventually we managed to flag down a bloody taxi out of the rain.

I might be back next year depending on what is announced for the line up or hopefully Electric Picnic might get Aphex Twin for a change, if they do, get him to play the late set in the Electric Arena and for the two hours duration too.

 

 

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Electric Picnic 2016 Festival Review

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New Order on the Main Stage Sunday 4th September.

Stradbally Hall, Stradbally, County Laois, Ireland.   September 2nd – 4th.

Sunday 28th August to September 1st the week before the big party.

Met the lovely Eilís Ní Laighléis, her daughter, Shannon and friend, Shauna at Kinnegad off the Galway bus to Dublin and we set off for Stradbally, I couldn’t believe the time had come around again for that annual pilgrimage to wonderful sights and sounds and true friendship.  We met Catherine Kehoe at the volunteer HQ and got wristbanded with the temporary pre-event wristband.  Our shifts were from 2 pm till 8 from Monday to Thursday and I was going to be working at the crew camping and campervan area much like Body & Soul festival this year.

Entertainment was covered by Campervan John aka John Dooley, he had brought his DVD player, projector, screen and some films to show at 10 pm each night from Monday to Wednesday of the week, he also supplied the whole crew camp at times with copious amounts of hot beverages, tea and coffee which was a life saver any time of the day.  The films of choice seemed to be about junkies and their adventures, Adam and Paul, a tragicomedy about Dublin junkies with the late Tom Murphy on the Monday night, and Scottish junkies from Edinburgh the following night with Trainspotting.  Some of the music in that film reflecting acts that played in previous Picnics.  Wednesday there was no film as John had to do something and couldn’t make it to set it up.

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John’s cinema screenings for last year at the crew camp. Photo by John Dooley.

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Campervan John.

Kevin arrived in the campervan on Tuesday night with a pal from Galway, Gary, also working at the festival, we had a few drinks and listened to some of the music we were going to be viewing over the weekend, Kevin was doing Soul Kids again with Craig Peggs and a bunch of others.

Basically my job for the four days was to sit on a seat at the crew camp entrance and direct people to the car park and to where they would be wristbanded at the Body & Soul office, I had to make sure that all traffic stuck to the one way system, the exit to the place being at the car park end.  It was fairly quiet for the first few days so I brought my little speaker and ipod blasting sounds of some of the weekend artists and hopefully creating a welcome vibe to people entering the crew area.  I had great chats about music with my supervisor Dan Traynor about previous EP line ups and on the Thursday shift with security guard Kevin from the Northern Ireland.

I quickly come to realise that Electric Picnic is not just about the music and the craic on the weekend but since I’ve volunteered in 2011, its like meeting an extended family of friends, mostly all of them on an annual basis although I have met John and David Curran at Body & Soul and I also have met John at various Fleadh Cheoills as well as he like myself is a bodhran player, musician and singer of ballads and Irish traditional music.  And some who do the advanced volunteering agree that some of the best craic happens at the pre-event build up.

Which brings me to the Thursday night, we were all sitting outside John’s camper having a drink and a bit of a sing song, my bodhran was down in the tent so I borrowed John’s for the odd song.  I spotted a fellah walking about with what appeared to be a banjo case, I called him over and asked him if that was a banjo and did he fancy a tune as we had bodhrans.  His name was Fergus Costello and he sat down and pulled out a Joe Foley mandola, he had an unusual style of playing, he didn’t use a plectrum but hit the strings with his fingers and parts of his hand and he had the strangest most comical Irish ballads that he self composed and had us in stitches laughing.  Songs such as Keep building hotels and The best traditional music shop in world.  Fergus who is based in Nenagh, Tipperary would be up there with such greats as Galway man Brian O’Rourke, Tim Lyons and Fintan Vallely as composers and singers of hilarious traditional Irish ballads.  It turns out that Fergus was booked by Body & Soul to play a gig on one of the smaller stages over the weekend, so it was by wonderful coincidence that he wandered to our gathering.

So I want to say an extended thanks to everyone who made my week and weekend at Electric Picnic 2016, John, David, Coyle Carina, Jenny O’Mahony and Aiden Mac McCarthy, Eilis, Shannon and Shauna, Catherine, Olga, Ross and the other Ross, Diarmuid and all the lads from Cork (Diarmuid and myself have similar electronic tastes in music and he turned me onto a guy called Max Cooper who I hope plays either Body & Soul festival or EP next year), Chloe Wong, Kevin Keehan, Craig Peggs, Adam Coburn, Susan, Dan, Laurie Purkiss and many, many more, you know who you are, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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Shannon and Shauna.

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Volunteers setting up at crew camp on Sunday.

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David Curran and Chloe Wong and various other volunteers.

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The ladies heading off to work.

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The hole in the wall staff entrance.

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The new Electric Ireland Tent.

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A cool thatched archway in the Green Crafts area.

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Catherine Kehoe hard at work in the Volunteer HQ.

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The tree house above Volunteer HQ.

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The crew road ways that split through the intersection of the festival site.

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The main stage taken from the festival production side.

Friday 2nd September.

My Community Employment wages were paid into the bank today so when I woke it was up to the town centre to make a withdrawal, buy some breakfast, some booze and the lanyard timetable as, as per usual the Picnic is very late at releasing the information and my smart phone was too old and not compatible to download the timetable app.  I headed up to the main arena in the late afternoon with David, no music in the actual main arena had kicked off quite yet so we headed for the Salty Dog and Other Voices area as they had music on earlier.

Booka Brass Band  – Other Voices  4  – 4.40 pm.

The Booka Brass band had a packed out tent, the venue is tiny and because of its proximity to the Oscar Wilde campsite it would be the first sounds campers would hear and why the place was heaving, grooving to the funky sounds.  The 8 piece band played lots of classic hits and famous melodies and have guested on many famous artists records such as Imelda May, Lisa Hannigan, James Vincent McMorrow and Jerry Fish among others.

http://bookabrass.com/

There was many punters already in fine tipsy form as Other Voices and Salty Dog were places to drink your own booze before going through security into the main arena and in some cases unsuccessful booze smuggling, causing folk to turn back and go to the nearest periphery music venue to drink it there.  And can you blame them, at €7.20 for a pint of Heineken and €7.40 for a pint of Tiger lager you would need a mortgage to get through the festival weekend.  Festival prices now matched prices of the Temple Bar Hotel in Dublin.

I was supposed to meet Cork Dave here an old festival buddy of mine I met at Liss Ard festival in 2012 but he didn’t seem to make it.  Myself and David Curran hung around for the next act as the Other Voices tent emptied after the Booka Brass gig.

Skipper’s Alley – Other Voices  5 – 5.40 pm.

Skipper’s Alley, normally a seven piece band was playing today as a six piece and the fiddler Danny Diamond who I know from sessions in Galway and Dublin was standing in for the normal fiddler Ultan O’Brien.  The band had a Bothy Band/Lunasa feel to their sound possibly because of that uilleann pipe and fiddle combination, but they were lovely and lively and the place filled up again with tipsy revellers tapping their feet to the tunes, great selections of jigs and reels ensued and some lovely songs from John Flynn.  Skipper’s Alley have a CD out that is self titled and most of the tunes and songs featured on the set will be on that. I took a few video clips and the audience sounds noisy and chatty but it wasn’t actually that full, probably people over excited about day one of the festival.  Check them out if you get a chance.

https://skippersalley.bandcamp.com/releases

 

 

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David Curran near the Other Voices stage or thereabouts.

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Myself and David decided to stay in the woods as we still had a few cans and I had a bit of louched Spanish absinthe in lovely spring water to drink and we weren’t in the mood to be searched yet or to take the long way round to the metal gate.  Besides it was still early enough yet, we wandered into the Trenchtown area where we met Kevin and Craig and hung about there enjoying the ambience.  We also checked out the new area called The Hazel Wood which seemed like a quieter Trenchtown with one stage, some lovely art and the really cool horse drawn gypsy caravans.

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Hazelwood Stage. Photo Kevin Keehan

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Hazelwood. Photo Kevin Keehan

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Hazelwood. Photo Kevin Keehan

Myself Kevin and Craig thought we took the correct path towards the iron gate but we took the crossroads before and realised we didn’t have access through this way so we tried to take the shortcut through the Hendrix campsite which was absolute carnage by this stage, tents absolutely everywhere, no emergency lane enforced there like it used to be, the nearest lane being the string of light bulbs that seemed ages away, even worse it was dark and a guide rope hell, we lost Kevin in the process when we ran into a crowd of people.

When Craig and myself headed back in we were about to get searched by Specialised Security who were mainly Scottish (Lads and lassies from the T in the Park security) and mostly from Glasgow, when they heard my accent they just waved me through, they seemed to be happy when I addressed them as ‘awright big man’ which is the Glasgow way of saying hello to another fellah.  We took the volunteer short cut to the Electric Arena as I’ve never saw Todd Terje before and I wanted to catch a bit of his set.

Todd Terje – Electric Arena   9 – 10.15 pm.

The Norwegian DJ and electronic musician had a nicely packed tent bouncing to his house nu-disco sound, a happy pulsating beat with lovely airy synths and the audience singing and humming along to the noodling.  It was light, poppy and commercial but had a strong bass beat that gave it a nice stomp and refreshingly it didn’t have cheesy type Xfactor female vocal overdubs.  Classics such as Inspector Norse, Srevie Nicks and Whitney Houston remixes got an airing, he was the perfect early night set to either set people up for the Super Furry Animals or perhaps the rampant progressive rock techno of the Chemical Brothers.

http://toddterje.com/

 

The Chemical Brothers – Main Stage   10.30 pm  – 12 am.

The Chemical Brothers audience was bizarre, half looked like they were on another planet licking the moon and the other half weren’t and wishing they were, every second person asking ‘Any yokes!’  The Chemical Brothers always, always have an amazing visual spectacle and a fantastic sound, they had some lovely sky scraping lasers and retina bursting LED visuals in their back screen, but they are not obvious techno like say Ben Klock, Paul Kalkbrenner they are more like a progressive rock experimental techno with cool vocal and spoken samples alternating between techno and hip hop.  This is just my own view for as long as I’ve been listening to them and after seeing them at two other Picnics, I’ve not been able to accurately describe what I’m hearing sometimes.

The visuals were really magnificent but they started to give me a bit of a headache so I decided to retreat to where the mixing desk was as it was really rammed and hot down the front. I met Kevin to the left of the mixing desk and stayed there a while.  The Chems played quite a bit of back catalogue including a few numbers from their most recent opus from last year Born in Echoes, Swoon and Escape Velocity from Further, some classics from Push the Button.  One of my highlights was Setting Sun where they used really cool lasers and that track is so funky, wacky and weird.  The lights though were still giving me a bit of a headache so I decided to split from Kevin and get a coffee, I was probably dehydrated from boozing a bit and I think a caffeine injection was what I needed.  I watched the last few numbers from the seats at the main stage and wasn’t able to locate Kevin again. another great show by the Chemical Brothers and a nice way to close proceedings on the main stage for Friday.

Since I couldn’t find Kevin I decided to go for a saunter through the Body & Soul village, the headache now dissipated I felt great again, I wandered slowly through the site taking in everything around me and enjoying the different sounds coming out of the stages.  At one point I became transfixed by a string of triangular lights and whisked out the small Sony camera to capture this cool decoration.

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Some cool lights in the Body & Soul Village.

I headed for Trenchtown as I thought I would definitely bump into Kevin there, but no sign of the dude, I wandered around looking at the various stages there, I settled for a while at the Treasure Beach area I think and I think maybe Rootsman Wurzel was playing a set there as I heard the Eek a Mouse track Ganja Smuggling he dropped at Scrobarnach Festival a few weeks back, he also played a nice dub reggae dubstep version of Nina Simone’s My Baby just cares for me remixed I think by London Zoo.

I just called it a day after that in went back to my tent about 3.30 am, I had done a lot today and wanted to get some nice rest so I was in good form for Saturday festivities.

Saturday 3rd September.

I awoke about 10.30 am and wandered up to John’s for a coffee, a few were already sitting there, John, Corina (I always called her Corina rather than her first name Coyle, just a daft habit I have and don’t know why), David and Lisa.  Kevin got up a little bit later and he cooked up a bit of a fry for us, some sausages and beans which set us up quite nicely for the day. I heard a nasty story about the spiking of some volunteers within one of the festival crew areas, this was not welcome news in my history of Picnics and it meant you had to be aware of what drinks were being handed to you sometimes.  It was a bit of a wet one this morning many of us staying in our tents until the rain somewhat subsided and there was a wee bit of a gust at times, although warmer than last year.

Myself, Kevin and Craig headed of into the arena about 2.30 pm, through the iron gate and went through the specialised security search, why was the festival doing this now I ask, its not like the crew was taking the piss with bringing or sneaking a bar into the festival, just a few cans of beer and a mixer decanted bottle.  I mean why does the festival think we a volunteering for?  Firstly we love this festival, secondly some of us volunteer as its our only foot in the door.  Some folk are lucky to have the €165 Euros to buy early bird tickets at the time, the reality is most of us don’t have that and even more don’t have the €240 odd Euro to pay the full price, so what makes the festival think that we have eighty odd Euro to spend on 8 pints during the day.  My point, leave the crew staff alone, they have been down all week and the same goes for anyone working the festival for just the wristband, life is expensive enough, how much does this successful sell out event need to cream from the festival workers.  Anyway I charmed the Scottish lads with my Glaswegian and they let me through as they know very well it will affect them in their time off too, they realised I wasn’t trying to smuggle a keg of beer into the venue.

We headed for the Body & Soul area and wanted to find some place to sit and chill, the Bog Cottage seemed the perfect place, sheltered in case it started raining again plus it had plenty of windows to people watch the Body and Soul Village and best of all a cool wee session going on in the back of the house, I had my bodhran and joined in and its good for my soul to play.  It turns out I knew one of the tin whistlers, Liam Lyons, who is the nephew of Tim Lyons who I’ve played many a session with in the Crane Bar and Taaffes in Galway city.  I also took a photo of Craig and Kevin, the Body and Soul Village area and a wee video clip of inside the Bog Cottage.

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Craig and Kevin in the Bog Cottage.

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The Body & Soul Village looking onto the Earthship Stage.

Time for an evening meal myself and Kevin settled for some burritos from the Mexican stall, there was regular size at €8.50 Euro and the larger one at €10 Euro.  I settled for a pork and beef one at the 10 Euro price and, man was it worth it, my big mistake was unwrapping the foil packaging as most of the contents starting falling out over my light blue jeans making them slightly psychedelic, I had to get a fork from the stall and eat it from the table or it would basically become my jeans.  But it was a meal and a half and set us up proper for the night.

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The Mexican stall in the main arena.

The lads headed off back to the crew camp but I hung around the arena and called into the volunteer headquarters to say hello to Catherine and Susan and have a coffee or two.  I could see that a large crowd was gathering at the Electric Ireland stage and realised that it was amassing with old Bananarama fans and curious alike, I went up to take a look myself.

Bananarama – Electric Ireland Throwback Party  (No time is given in the booklet but about 7 – 7.30 pm the gig started.).

Now back in the days that Bananarama were in the charts I was a staunch metal fan and would’ve baulked at the thought of going to a Bananarama gig but in retrospect I always remember them quite fondly as an airy summery sound, especially the stuff they done with Fun Boy Three (with Terry Hall from the Specials).  My sister Alicia was always fond of Bananarama so I was doing this for her too, hopefully she will get to see them at some point too.  But it was a hit packed set starting with Cruel Summer, which couldn’t have being more appropriate at the time as there was a downpour during it.  I met Coyle Corina who was loving the set and managed to successfully rush the stage when they invited members of the audience to join them.

https://www.bananarama.co.uk/

Corina was off to the Comedy Tent to see Dylan Moran, I ran into the volunteer HQ as another shower was taking place but I fancied the comedy tent for a change myself, believe it or not it was ten years since I went near the comedy tent at EP in 2005 or was it 2007 when I went to see the headline act, Tommy Tiernan and again like this year the tent was packed out so I watched the performance on the screen outside.

Dylan Moran – The Comedy Tent   8.15  – 9 pm.

Dylan Moran was on a rant about the state of the Irish economy, politicians and how our current generation perceives those who run our country and he had a go at American politics too giving a special mention to Donald Trump and his rival Hilary Clinton.  The comedy tent was lapping this up and I enjoyed a bit myself, but it felt like I was looking at an RTE broadcast rather than being in the confines of the tent.  It meant you would have to been there about 40 minutes earlier to get an actual place inside the tent.  Some people had mixed views to whether his stand up was funny or just an angry sarcastic rant but I enjoyed what I seen nonetheless.  The folk who weren’t impressed preferred the comedian from the day before, Abandoman who I would’ve like to have seen, remembering him from the RTE coverage from last year, a rapper who made up raps on the spot from peoples suggestions.

http://www.dylanmoran.com/

I bumped into Kevin again at Trenchtown, he had just come back from the crew camp and was restocked, I never bothered myself, I still had a drop of absinthe and some cans and I was drinking fairly slowly and pacing it, mainly just drinking coffees in the arena during the day.  I took a clip of the Trenchtown area as night time had settled in and the beautiful fairy forests lit up with lights and colours and to the booming lively soundtrack of The Hacklers who were playing on the live stage with some great ska music.

https://thehacklers1.bandcamp.com/releases

This time I put my drinks into my jacket as security were only searching the bags and I handed my bodhran bag over which they just gave a light squeeze and handed back to me, the protocol being just checking for glass like when you first enter the festival site.

DJ EZ – Rankin’s Wood Stage  9  –  10 pm.

Went to the Rankin’s Wood stage to check out a bit of DJ EZ set, having watched some of his Boiler Room set a week before I was interested to see what he would come up with, the Boiler Room stuff reminding me of DJ Nu-Mark’s set from Life festival in 2015, a bit of funk, house, techno and scratch hip hop thrown into the mix and he is a show man who is great to watch when performing.  This particular set though to me fell into a more niggly Ibiza sound with the dreaded female Xfactor vocal overdubs type dance music and is far too cheesy for an old rocker like me and the starting of the gig didn’t really grab my attention so I moved on.  Whether he started playing the funkier harder style stuff from the Boiler Room set later was anyone’s guess.

http://www.djez.com/

We went for a saunter into the Body & Soul area and a bit of slightly windy drizzle had set in, I was quite taken by a band on the Body & Soul main stage.

Blaenavon  – Body & Soul Main Stage  10 – 10.45 pm.

Blaenavon from Hampshire in England had a cool dark melancholic sound that complimented the drizzly damp atmosphere around the Body & Soul Village, the singer had bits of a Syd Barrett / Ian Curtis vibe about his demeanour and the main stage was suitably darkly lit to suit the doom-laden feeling.  The music gave a balance to the other uppy uppy happy stages sound bleeding slightly into their performance.  I wish I had filmed more of their set but Kevin had an agenda to get to the main stage for Noel Gallagher.

https://blaenavon.bandcamp.com/

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Main Stage   10  –  11.15 pm.

Noel was just about going into his third number when we arrived, he had a lovely tight band on stage and played a selection of his High Flying Birds and the Oasis classics for the latter part of his set.  Some of the solo stuff stands up there with the Oasis back catalogue, tracks that stood out were You know we can’t go back and If I had a gun.  When it came to the Oasis classics he messed up Champagne Supernova but handled the mistake with superb professional aplomb turning it into a humorous parody.  At the end it was rather emotional when he played both Wonderwall and Don’t look back in anger to an amazing singalong.  I fairly enjoyed the gig and Kevin too despite being more of a Blur fan myself.

We wandered about the main arena for a while until we settled just at the Cosby Tent entrance as the place was jam packed for the King Kong Company set.

King Kong Company  – Cosby Tent   11 pm – 12 am.

Its great to see this Waterford electronica dance rock band go on to greater things having just released their debut self titled album a few months back.  It was only last year that they closed the Salty Dog stage on the Sunday to rapturous applause from adoring fans and it was nice to see them make it to one of the marquees in the main arena.  The Cosby actually this year seemed to have a strong Irish flavour of acts whereas before there used to be more international acts playing the stage.  The band covered some of their classics spanning their career and done an ace version of Blue Monday that got the tent pumping. So now I know where Mark Graham and cohorts were going to be on Sunday night, rocking it out with New Order on the main stage.

LCD Soundsystem – Main Stage  12.05 – 1.45 am.

The Lcd Soundsystem were one of the massive draws to the main stage, this was my fourth time seeing them, my previous three times were the subsequent Picnics they had played before, so in a way kind of like their 2010 show without the really fast numbers like Drunk Girls and North American Scum.  It was Kevin’s first time seeing them and I think he was impressed.  When Us and Them kicked off in the intro they used the glitter ball during the electronic overload bit and it looked amazingly effective and trippy, but I have to say they nicked the idea from Pink Floyd, Floyd using it for the second half of Shine on you crazy diamond but still, LCD were back bigger and better in sound too.  The back catalogue choice was nicely put together.

Having recently got hold of This is Happening I was loving some of the tracks from that such as I can change and You wanted a hit and some of the old dizzbusters like Tribulations, Movement and Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I had planned to leave half an hour before the end of their set as I wanted to go to the Little Big Tent to see Daniel Avery and I feared it would get too jam packed there to get into the gig.  I wasn’t to bothered about missing the last part as I have saw them three times before.  But only after Someone Great.  I was so happy to see Someone Great performed, it is without doubt my greatest and most favourite LCD track of all time and when they reached the lyrics ‘when someone great is gone’ I had tears in my eyes as there is such an emotional depth in that track, I dedicated that moment to my parents who were long gone by that stage, Kevin’s dad who passed away a few years ago and to the recent passing of one of the comedy greats, Gene Wilder.  I looked at the time 15 minutes before Daniel Avery was due on so we split for the Little Big Tent.

‘…When someone great is gone
When someone great is gone
When someone great is gone
When someone great is gone

We’re safe, for the moment
Saved
For the moment.’ (Lyrics James Murphy)

Daniel Avery – The Little Big Tent   1.30 am  –  3 am.

The anticipation for this guy was unbelievable, I had been waiting for an Irish festival to announce him for the last two years now and was milling that I couldn’t make Boxed Off festival last year as I had to go to a wedding, although I didn’t regret that as I knew he would visit Ireland again sooner or later.

He kicked off with the Nice intro that I’ve heard on previous youtube clips and his most recent Boiler Room set and boom!  Straight into Naive Response, one of his seemingly Underworld influenced  numbers from the amazing Drone Logic album.  From then on it was a relentless pounding of some of the heaviest intense techno I have ever heard and some serious retina scraping visuals on the back screen.  There was a really young crowd at the gig, younger than the usual Electric Picnic standard.  I noticed this throughout the weekend, but I must be just getting older and the new crowds getting younger.  What with the proliferation of tacky looking nightclub stages such as Logic and Heineken Sound Atlas the Picnic seems to be catering for a younger crowd these days.  Anyway some of the lads at the front started slagging me and calling me granddad, I didn’t really bother me at first but they kept on at it a bit so I moved back to where Kevin was to try and enjoy the rest of the gig.  Just as I thought Avery was going to leave the stage to a round of applause I turned around to Kevin and said, ‘The fecker didn’t play Drone Logic when BOOM! Drone Logic kicked off and the crowd went mental, that was a gig and a half and must be about an album and a half of new material that he dropped tonight.  I wait in anticipation for his next new album.

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Daniel Avery taking a photo of the audience.

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Daniel Avery in action.

Myself and Kevin decided to head for the crew camp after that as that was a fairly action packed day with nine acts and a session too, we just wanted a good rest so we would be in top form for the early afternoon gig of Toots and the Maytals tomorrow.

Sunday 4th September.

Both Kevin and John were cooking up fries this morning, twas like having our own personal cafe in the campsite, bacon, sausages, toast and coffee, we must be in heaven. Craig came up to join us as well and we all tucked in, it beats eating cereal bars and fruit in the tent.  It had rained overnight and the sun had come out so hopefully it would stay out for a while to dry the ground and that we wouldn’t have a mucky ground, the festival site was actually coping quite well with the rain and there was no major mucky quagmires.  I had intended to take a shower but looked at the size of the queue waiting and it being 1.30 pm Toots was due on in an hour so left the shower queue and just changed my clothes, used wet wipes and deodorant and set off with the lads to the main arena to get a good spot for the Toots show.

Toots and the Maytals – Main Stage  2.30  –  3.30 pm.

This was the third time seeing this amazing reggae group who continue to keep blowing me away with their sound and vibes.  Its really hard to believe that Toots Hibbert will be seventy four in December, he still has a most amazing energy and a voice so pristine and like velvet, he can still hit all these notes I have nothing but incredible respect for this man.  I’m so, so happy that Kevin got to see this group for the very first time.  At his age he may never tour again and we would respect him for that.  The band went through classic after classic and the massive crowd gathered boogied and skanked through the whole set.  Hippies, rastas, metallers, punks, two tone rude boys, granddads like myself. flags with Jamaican colours and a colourful crowd comprised the Toots audience.  This was Craig’s first time seeing Toots too and he must of got fed up with me raving like an apostle of the Toots temple through the whole weekend, by the end of the gig though I think he knew what I meant.  We got to hear Monkey Man, Country Roads, Funky Kingston and 54 46 was my number among other amazing ditties.  The sun didn’t come out though like in his 2005 EP show but who needs the sun, it was dry and warm and the sun was up in the stage, the sun was in fact Toots.

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Craig at Toots and the Maytals.

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Kevin at Toots and the Maytals.

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Toots and the Maytals on the Main Stage Sunday 4th September.

Straight after Toots set myself and Kevin headed to the Casa Bacardi stage to catch most of Kelly Anne Byrne’s set.

Kelly-Anne Byrne  –  Casa Bacardi Stage   4  –  6 pm.

It was a delight to catch this lovely lady playing a DJ set at the Bacardi stage, Kelly-Anne Byrne is probably mine and Kevin’s favourite Irish radio DJ at the moment and The Beat Goes On our most popular show which we listen to religiously every Sunday night keeping us psyched up leading to the Electric Picnic, she has impeccable taste in music and we have made so many discoveries through her show.  Her set today was more based on her Saturday show on Today FM, where she played liberal doses of soul, funk and pretty cool deep house music.  I asked someone else to describe the sounds to me and they came up with uplifting house music, which I think is quite apt.  I’m usually more a techno fan than house music but the stuff she was playing was incredibly funky and kept us rooted to the spot, no cheesiness whatsoever. Everyone else there seemed to be gorgeous and in their late teens whilst myself and Kevin must have stuck out like sore thumbs, the elders going crazy to her music and I think she may have noticed too, with me in my psychedelic waistcoat and wild hair looning about with my arms.  Saying that Kevin is still a young one in his early thirties but I must look quite gonzoid myself.  Anyway a fantastic set from Kelly-Anne Byrne.

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Kelly Anne Byrne at the Casa Bacardi Stage Sunday 4th September.

We headed back to the crew camp for a rest up and a restock of our final booze for the night, Kevin went back to the camper for a power nap whilst I went and sat in my tent for a while listening to the New Order concert from Electric Picnic 2006.  The rain had come on again in a heavy drizzle and I feared it was there for the night now, I wasn’t too bothered the weather could have been a lot worse and we got mostly dry spells for the last two sets we attended.  Kevin said call up to the camper in about an hour so we could set off for the New Order set.

Adam called to my tent when he heard the sounds blasting out, his tent was leaking badly and he was mainly soaked to the skin, so I lent him my lovely pink jumper that my sister Alicia got me for my Christmas, it was dry and hopefully made him a bit more comfortable. Sorry Alicia, I will get it back eventually at some point.  Adam was also telling me that he was spiked too and ended up in the medical tent, which has got me thinking, what the fuck is wrong with some people, stop messing with peoples brains you lowest of low.  I took a daft wee video clip of my tent with Blue Monday playing in the background and showed a view of the wet dreary crew camp, I sight I had not seen at the Picnic since the Sunday of 2010.

I went up to Kevin’s camper, woke him up and we set off for the main arena, in our haste I slipped and fell in the wooded path and bruised my left shoulder and chest, thankfully there was a few folk around who helped me onto my feet again, we could have done with some wood chipping or hay there as it was very mucky.  I tried the same trick as before carrying the booze in my jacket and handing security my bag, but it was a frisk this time and the pretty Scots female security guard was not having the, ‘But I’m fae Glesgae’ routine.  She was probably pissed off having to work the night shift in the rain and thought why should anyone else have any cheap fun.  I retrieved my bottle of absinthe (louched of course, which just means weakened with water) and a can of Guinness off her and walked back out of the main arena to drink them rather than sacrifice them to the Heineken guards.  Needless to say I was slightly inebriated after that and recorded a slightly comical video of me entering the main arena and ambling towards the lighted cubes to New Order on the main stage.  Absinthe is too expensive in Ireland to be giving away to the Heineken overlords.

New Order  – Main Stage   8.45  –  10 pm.

New Order’s indie urban electronica was pretty dense and melancholic and madly it suited the driving rain that fell upon us, still it would have been better if it was dry but what can you do there.  The band played some of their classics and Joy Division’s Love will tear us apart.  Some of their newer stuff from Music Complete (Released last year) sits nicely with their eighties material and I loved the way they have updated the older stuff like Waiting for the siren’s call into a nice electronica version with absolutely stunning visuals.  The bands light show and backdrop screen showed some amazing visuals and art that suited their sound down to the ground.  Classic after classic, True faith, The perfect kiss among other. When that familiar drum beat of Blue Monday kicked off the audience went bananas.  The band put on an amazing show and I’m really glad I got to see them for the first time even if Hooky is not there, they can still pull it off big time.

Skepta – Electric Arena   11 pm  –  12 am.

British grime hip hop artist Skepta had a nice crowd gathered in the tent despite the huge crowd gathered for Lana Del Rey at the main stage, it was mostly a very young and fit crowd who were pumped for some cool bassy British hip hop.  I don’t know too much about Skepta but enjoyed the clips from Glastonbury of him and thought, hell, why not, go and check someone new out.  I was fairly tired at this stage so lasted about 35 minutes of the gig, I just couldn’t keep up with the audiences energy, they were just too wild.  I will probably check out some of Skepta’s catalogue though as I missed my rap injection this year, missing Joey Badass’s set and Nas’s sets, although I did catch Nas touring Illmatic at Life festival 2015.  I enjoyed Skepta’s set but I had enough for the night and was quite happy with my lot.

Out in the open again I started getting soaked right through and the thoughts of finding somewhere under cover in Body & Soul or Trenchtown disappeared, I cut my losses and was fairly content with all the acts and sights I seen.  I didn’t know where Kevin was so I made for straight back to the crew camp.  I knew I still had a dry tent, dry towel and some fresh clothes so back I went and got changed and dried up.  I didn’t see the point in going out and getting all wet all over again and crashed out for the night.

Monday 5th September.

The roads round the crew camp was a sight to behold the following day, thankfully the sun dried it off a bit but not before a few vans and campers gut stuck in the muck.  I took down my tent and went up to John’s camper to ask for wee coffee, it was sad to see everyone go off again.  John taking his awning apart, Kevin and Craig going away for their breakdown shift and myself going back to Kinnegad with Eilis, Shannon and Shauna to catch my Galway connection and make it to my Monday night session at Tigh Cholis with Anders and Geoff.  Till next year have a good one everyone and thanks for a great week, will see ya all at the pre-event for Electric Picnic 2017, that’s if the Picnic will have me again ha ha. 🙂

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Scrobarnach 2016 Festival Review

logoFriday 12th August – Sunday (Early Hours) 14th August, Tudenham Park, Mullingar, County Westmeath, Ireland.

Friday 12th August.

I got a lift from Galway at 7.15 pm bound for Scrobarnach festival in the company of three lovely people, two French girls, Cécile Robin and Soléne and a Canadian chap, Brian and we made it to the festival site in no time at all, out of the wind and heavy drizzle of the West and into the drier windless Westmeath, although drizzle was setting in a bit here too.  It was quite cool going to security, ‘I’m on the guest list as a journalist’ and then receiving my wristband.

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Brian and Cécile Robin in the Bush Bar on Saturday.

The festival was a nice compact size taking in one meadow with stages evenly placed apart to minimise on sound bleed, it was nice to see Gabriel Marques’s Reshape stretch tents being put to good use here as with Townlands about a month ago and the range of music on offer was fairly varied.  Irish rap, rap and grime, techno, house and deep house, disco, drum and bass, psytrance, dubstep, reggae in all its forms, bass music, live bands (Anything from metal, punk to wild gypsy style music) and the open mic stage and a few nice food stalls, clothes stalls spread throughout the site.  Another cool thing about this festival was that some of the music would swap stages over the two days so it was a little adventure to find your particular genre.

Boss Level Series – IUS Stage    7.30 pm – 11.30 pm.

The first music to catch my attention was the Boss Level Series that was happening in the IUS Stage (Irish Underground Sounds), Irish rap spoke in Dublin accents, this arrested my attention immediately as I’ve never seen a stage dedicated to this before, it was a blast and the Boss Level Series had a nice curious crowd lapping up the words and sounds.

http://www.breakingtunes.com/bosslevelseries

 

Jobseekerz – Spiorad Óg Stage   10.30 – 11pm

I wandered over to the Spiorad Óg tent which functioned as an open mic tent by day and afternoon and became a venue at night for live bands.  Jobseekerz, a band from County Cavan was just kicking off their set, a mix of metal licks, social commentary, comedy and general all madness around, an enjoyable fun act with a crazy front man who wrote ditties about, of course, job seeking and being on the dole.

https://www.facebook.com/dontpayyourdebts/?fref=ts

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Jobseekerz at the Spiorad Óg Stage, Friday night.

From there I heard the first strains of reggae music coming from the tent opposite the Spiorad Óg tent so wandered over for a listen.

World Bass Culture   – IUS Stage   11.30 pm – 1.15 am.

World Bass Culture from Cork had a clean crisp dubby sound and a lovely comforting bass and some fine toasting, singing and rapping from MC Rungus aka Brendan Evans (Galway).  A nice wee crowd had gathered and were skanking away to the sounds.  Most of the tents were using Funktion-One sound systems so crystal clear audio sound, they can create a phenomenal volume but at the same time you can have a clear coherent conversation with the person next to you without roaring into their ear, that’s the sign of a good quality sound system it will not deafen you like some.  I also caught some music from the following act, Ras Tinny who had a very interesting slant on the reggae music, he was singing what sounded like Rastafarian hymns to the dub music, which sounded quite unusual and refreshing.  I hope to catch some of his set at Trenchtown at Electric Picnic as he had sound problems with equipment ten minutes into his set at the festival.

I spent quite a bit of time around the Blue Mountain Cafe area with Donal Finn, Brendan Evans and Ruby Tuesday, we were soaking up the techno sounds from the main stage which was now in full flow.  Because of the rain and wind earlier the main stage hadn’t opened up or there was complications that prevented it from been opened earlier.  I soaked up the sounds from the main stage anyway courtesy of Eric Moore, Jamie Behan and Noid the Droid while milling about there at times.

I took another walk around the arena, having spotted the Doppler Lab tent earlier and liking what I heard from it when checking out Noise Agent’s set, I went for a closer check, the music for this stage ranged from DnB, psytrance and bass music in general.

Noise Agent 11 pm – 12 am, BadManDeego 1 – 2 am   The Doppler Lab

This was one of my favourite stages, the thought that went into its design was incredible and although my camera doesn’t pick it up clearly or do it any justice you could have stayed there all night just staring at the stage.  It was very futuristic looking with triangular lit shapes flecking around the sides of the stage and a very subtle or minimal use of lasers that were truly complimented the sounds.  And the music, as ever DnB is an energetic music that truly has you flailing like a wild animal and the crashing pounding beats are an absolute pleasure.

I can’t really remember the rest of Friday night/Saturday morning, only that it became daylight and that the acts I seen were a blur by this stage probably not helped with no visible timetables near the stages so most of the time you were wondering who the hell you were looking at.  I only remember fleetingly glancing at the timetables whilst in Galway through Facebook, but I had no credit for internet usage on the phone and no one seemed to know who they were looking at, at the stages.  Maybe the organisers will be a bit more adept next year with timetable information near all the stages.

I started getting a bit peckish so decided to go for the Home Fries place, I went for the chorizo and home fries dinner at a reasonable seven Euro, which was delicious and filled the hunger spot quite nicely.  Worth checking out, real slow fried potatoes and a nice mixture of sauces, meats and vegetarian options too.

http://mobilehomefries.weebly.com/

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Home Fries hot food stall.

 

I must have called it a day about 5 or 6 am in the morning as I didn’t really want to do an all nighter and I wanted to get up at least in the early noon to get some daylight shots of the festival venue.

Saturday 13th August.

I was awoke at about 10 am by the sound of an engine, I peeked out of the tent and saw the toilet cleaner truck cleaning the only portaloo that was in the smaller campsite at the top, was feeling a little refreshed anyway and just lay awake a while in the tent, Cécile my next door neighbour brewed me a coffee so absolutely perfect and we sat around the campsite listening to sounds.  I eventually went into the arena about 12.30 pm and up to the Blue Mountain cafe to talk to my friends and to take some photos.

The Blue Mountain Cafe had a nice range of food on offer, Jerk Chicken with salad in baps or with rice and peas and goat curry along with various other niblets, beverages, coffees and teas.  With the culinary skills of Ruby, a Londoner living in Dublin, Brendan and Donal, Galway based but from Jamaica and Dublin respectively they make a damn fine Jamaican eating house.  Brendan also ran Jamaica Joe’s, a Jamaican restaurant in Galway for a while, concentrating more now on festival catering and impromptu appearances on reggae stages at events as well as, of course playing gigs there.  Donal also being a dedicated producer of both techno and dub reggae and running sound systems and playing gigs at festivals too.

 

https://www.reverbnation.com/musician/mcrungus

 

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Donal in the Blue Mountain Cafe.

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Brendan, Ruby and Donal.

The Blue Mountain Cafe had an extended space opened today with excellent DJs and a few milling about and dancing, you also get to see the lads and lassies at work in the Blue Mountain cafe.

I took a wander around the arena the first time really appreciating it in the daylight, I tried to give a sense of perspective and space when I took this video clip, taking in from the IUS Stage, then by the Spiorad Óg tent, the Doppler Lab, the little avenue up the top with the drum stall, cool wee seated areas with DJs and some shops, the Bush Bar bubble looking stage and finally the main stage and area around there.

I had my bodhrán with me and I heard there was an open mic stage at the Spiorad Óg tent during the day and afternoon, so I headed up there with Speedy, a fellow Scot I met the night before, he also had a drum with him.  We went up to the tent and watched a few acts, one them being the guitarist and the singer from the Jobseekerz doing some rap numbers, there was a poet going on a rant about Enda Kenny and all sorts throwing their lot out there.  I done three songs with Speedy joining me on the first and third song, I done my usual repertoire of Christy Moore songs, Home by Bearna and As I roved out and we got a nice round of applause.

I popped over to the Bush Bar to check out the change of music, today it was changing to reggae music from house and techno, I avoided the place on Friday as it was too packed and it was really warm in there too.  Today there was a bit more space in the place and Jaheire was just kicking off his fine selection of reggae sounds.

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Jaheire at the Bush Bar.

I went over to the Blue Mountain cafe for a while and had a coffee with Donal, Ruby and Brendan. Techno, disco, funk and house music was blasting out from the main stage and Blue Mountain had their own reggae smash hits playing too so things were livening up.  I took another walk over to the Bush Bar to see who was playing there now.  Rub A Dub, who I first met at Life Festival 2015 were playing a nice selection of obscure dub reggae ditties that were keeping the crowd skanking, Rub A Dub, always a festival crowd pleaser and an absolute necessity for laid back reggae areas.

https://www.facebook.com/rubadubcrew/photos?source_ref=pb_friends_tl

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Rub A Dub at the Bush Bar, Saturday 13th August.

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Ewa Miernik and Martin Ras Tinny Naarendorp at the Bush Bar.

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The Blue Mountain extended area.

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The Main Stage.

A/X  – The Doppler Lab   1.15 – 3.15 pm.

Took a look at the Doppler Lab, A/X was playing to an empty tent with some nice energetic DnB apart from seven people sitting on the grass outside the tent, I suppose most of the festival was still hungover from the night before, the arena filled up a bit more as the day wore on.

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Brian relaxing at the Doppler Lab.

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The Doppler Lab.

I went back to the campsite a while to rest up, get a few cans and listen to some of my own playlist with my ipod and speaker and grabbing a few snacks.

I went back to the Bush Bar to check out some more reggae sets, the place was filling up a bit more and the weather drier and fairly warm but not sunny.

Rootsman Wurzel – The Bush Bar  4 – 5 pm.

Rootsman Wurzel or Sean his proper name had a nice selection of classic reggae, but some of the vinyl was occasionally skipping but it was down to the tools and not the state of the vinyl, possibly the deck slightly lop sided or something, but I liked the carefree way he handled the set.  I heard some classic Marley, Eek-A-Mouse among others.  I requested some Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry but surprisingly he didn’t have any, he hinted he might have some Upsetters but was doubtful,(Edit: Having talked to him since he had in fact played the Upsetters so my bad there for not noticing this) I enjoyed his set anyway and will probably check out a bit of his Trenchtown set at Electric Picnic 2016 as well.

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Rootsman Wurzel at the Bush Bar.

I went back to the campsite for a power nap as I felt a bit of headache come on, I put it down to not getting a proper nights sleep and the dehydration from drinking cans of beer, thankfully Donal had some aspirin and gave me two.  I got up again about 8.30 and headed for the main arena armed with a few cans and feeling that bit more refreshed, I could hear nice dubsteppish roots reggae emitting from the Bush Bar so headed for there.

Dubtrash –  The Bush Bar  8 – 9 pm.

Dubtrash had some really cool electronica weaved into his instrumental dub reggae, he really was like reggae for the future, mad electronic bleepy reggae, exciting and adventurous.  But the thing that gave his music the wow factor was his manipulation of the dubstep.  One of my highlights of the weekend.

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Dubtrash at the Bush Bar, Saturday August 13th.

I think I wandered back to the tent for more cans my memory slightly foggy at this point in time and not actually having timetables made it harder to identify certain acts, I’m looking at the timetable that was on facebook and realise some changes were made to that too, such as the Bush Bar becoming house and techno again instead of the advertised reggae, not that, that was a bad thing, the music was good.  At some point I went up to the main stage to see what was going down there, a nice crowd was gathered and the music belting.

Maedbh O Connor – Main Stage   10 pm – 12 am.

This girl was a beast, she had a nice audience going loopy to the music and you could hear some of the sounds pulsating around the arena where ever you were but not in a noise bleed way.  Hard driving techno and fantastic lasers from the stage set up made this a memorable set.  I got a bit carried away at filming the lasers as I couldn’t really get a view of the stage as I haven’t worked out how to tamper with the ISO ratings to take pictures of installations or gigs with low lighting so I couldn’t really see the DJ.  But I did try to capture the lasers etching of peoples dancing bodies, I don’t know if the camera really picked this up well.

At this time my phone battery was flat so I didn’t really know the time now, it could have been midnight or 1 or 2 am, I went exploring the arena again, for the moment I had my fill of electronica and wanted to seek some live music so I headed for the Spiorad Óg tent.

Grand – Spiorad Óg Stage (Time ??).

Grand blew me away with their brand of gypsy infused folk rock, they also had a touch of American old time, blue grass elements and Dixie jazz about them too.  The seven piece group from Drogheda had a steady growing audience pulled in by the trumpet and trombone playing of Kiefer Wilton who was the shining star of the group and his charm could be heard from all around the arena.  I hope they show up at Electric Picnic, a really good time sound and another of my highlights of the festival.

I wandered across to the IUS stage which was fairly empty but it seems that DJ Teknonotice was just starting his set so he still had to pull in some numbers.  The music was laid back ambient techno with a steady beat and you could tell at some point it was going to liven up pretty soon, the IUS being at the opposite end of the field to the main stage it meant that the techno heads would be balanced out evenly.  The brilliance of Grand was sound bleeding into the IUS stage and was the only example of sound bleeding I heard at the festival over the weekend.

Ian Hart – The Bush Bar  1ish, 2ish am.

I decided to check out the Bush Bar, I would have put the time about 2 or 3 am in the morning, there was house music playing and it was Ian Hart manning the decks, he was spinning some Chicago house music and had a nice packed audience grooving to the beat.

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Ian Hart at the Bush Bar, Sunday (early hours) August 14th

I wandered up to the main stage, I figured it might be Exit the Void and John Hussey, was just milling about the main stage enjoying the beats and was about to go off exploring again when they dropped the Aphex Twin track  Curve – Falling Free (Aphex Twin Remix) from the album 26 mixes for cash, which made me linger for another fifteen minutes, enjoying the Forbidden Fruit 2011 euphoria all over again.

Luke PSY and McKenna – IUS Stage    3ish, 4ish am.

These lads were giving off a good drum and bass energy with grime, rap or hip hop, I couldn’t understand a word of the rapper, it sounded like spouted Cockney but perhaps that’s intentional, that we are not supposed to understand the lyrics, its the feeling of the way they’re pronounced almost like swear syllables that are punctuated by the beats.  It looked like they were starting their set as the place was fairly empty but a few were milling about, I enjoyed them anyway, check them out if you get a chance.

 

The final few acts I caught at the Doppler Lab, I’m not sure if I caught a bit of Psytori, I remember that at the Doppler the music changed from DnB to psytrance in the early hours and I cannot remember if I was tuning into the end of Psytori or the starting of Bandia’s (Kate Bandia) set, unfortunately my camera battery ran out in one camera and I ran out of space on the other so none of these artists were recorded.

 

One thing was in the back of my mind but I couldn’t put my finger on it, then I remembered, Kormac?? I remember walking up to the Spiorad Óg Stage when I heard the horns from the group Grand and initially thought it was Kormac as he does have barber shop quartet music and a little Dixie jazz in his electro swing ska style.  Anyway I heard later he had cancelled  as he couldn’t access the av screens needed for the performance.

It was around 4.40 am when I hit the hay as I was fairly tired and pummelled by sound, so I bowed out for the night.

Sunday 14th August.

Well what can I say, that was a neat little event and celebration of the Irish underground music scene and refreshing to see one avoiding the installation art thing although the constantly changing floodlight effect on the trees was subtle and brilliant, unfortunately I couldn’t capture it properly on my cameras.  I saw no trouble over the weekend although Ian said some local nutbags broke in on Friday but were dealt with swiftly by security.  All the collectives that comprise Scrobarnach give a nice balance of sounds and vibes for the event.  Galway Basement Project, Irish Underground Sounds, Puzzle, Boss Level Series, World Bass Culture, Jaheire and Will Softly and their motley crew of DJs, Blue Mountain Cafe, Homefries.ie and everyone involved my hats off to you.  I wish this festival all the success and I hope they achieved a near capacity of visitors to make it worthwhile, I would also like to point out that there was a nice balance of male and female DJs and musicians taking part in this event.  The thing I like about the smaller festivals is that quite a lot of people involved comprise the same  people running the periphery of the Electric Picnic areas.  So look forward to seeing some of you again and roll on Scrobarnach 2017.

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Cúla Búla – Is It?CD Review

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Cúla Búla – Is It?

  1. Stick The Kettle On (Intro)
  2. Cuppah Tae
  3. Pirates
  4. Enchantment
  5. Bella Ciao
  6. Fair Little Child
  7. Spanish Misfortune
  8. March Of The Frisbees
  9. Karunga
  10. Follow Me Up To Liddle.

Cúla Búla are a bunch of Galway city based musicians, who play a bit of traditional Irish music, but they are also clearly influenced by rock, punk, Klezmer, gypsy, reggae and ska music, they have this archaic Celtic punk energy culled from years of busking, gigging and playing at festivals.  They aptly describe themselves on their Facebook group bio page, “…It was clear from the start that we worked well together and after just one week of practice in full, we opened a festival. It worked, by the end of the first song we had everyone dancing their socks off…”  Cúla Búla have just released their first full album called Is It?  And I will take you through a track by track review.

Kúla Búla are:

Bisckits Musicman – Guitar, Whistles, Vocals.
Henry Egan – Violin, Fiddle, Guitar. .
Ricky Brown – Guitar, Keys, Fiddle. ..
Luke Longarms – Bass, Occasional Shouting. .
Tadhg Kelly – Drums, Percussion.

Track one Stick the kettle on (Intro) is exactly that, you hear a radio playing traditional music in the background and you hear the kettle boiling, fancy some cha man.  Cuppah Tae (2) This is a chirpy number about the joys of drinking tea.  A tight band with whistle, electric bass, fiddle and guitar rocking it out in a nice uptempo number.  Pirates (3) A rollicking set of self composed jigs that slips into a bit of spacey dub reggae and comes cartwheeling into the jig again, spacey Celtic rock, a nice combination.  Enchantment (4) This a slow moody reflective piece that starts with some lovely picking on the guitar, building when an accordion (played by Luca Verga) adds to the sound giving it an almost Eastern and Parisian feel in parts.  The tune picks up tempo into Balkan and Klezmer territory with a ska undertone until it races to a dizzying height and finishes softly again.  Bella Ciao (5) This has a slow jazzy type of intro with lovely strings and sung in Italian, it breaks into an upbeat reggae number in a Balkan Ska style, a build and slow, build and slow track.  Great experimental folk rock.  Fair Little Child (Air) (6) A lovely soft exultant piece of music with fiddle and strings.  Spanish Misfortune (7) This is a set of three jigs, the first Morrison’s is more the pure drop style with just the whistle, fiddle and mandolin, when the tune comes around again a guitar joins in filling up the sound, Banish Misfortune the second jig brings the drums and bass rocking out the second tune and onto the third the Mooncoin Jig where the group has merged into a space rock sound with Celtic overtones kicking proper ass. March of the Frisbees (8) This would be the groups progressive rock piece, with some nice stick work from the drummer Tadhg Kelly on the intro to the track, a proper proggy anthemic march, lovely slow sections with the fiddle building up into a space rock fusion, I also heard some nice funk in this track too.  Karunga (9) Starts off with an Eastern or maybe klezmer inspired shimmering fiddle etching an ambience across the strings, this to me even sounds like Turkish music at the starting and builds into a slow steady rock piece and eventually builds uptempo into the Tamlin Reel, in Cúla Búla fashion this rocks out into a headbanging reel. Follow me up to Liddle (10)  The final track is a punky growly send up of the traditional song Follow me up to Carlow, Bisckit’s comedic inspired rant about the price of drink and beckoning everyone to follow him up to Lidl, culminating in a breakneck speed of punk and crashing out to the sound of sirens.

Yep Cúla Búla can play the oul trad, rock, reggae, gypsy klezmer and psychedelia to a fine charm, get yer hands on the CD or visit the bands Bandcamp webpage to find out where you can buy it or download from there.  If you get a chance watch the lads in action on the streets of Galway when they are out busking or gigging, also watch the odd festival listing you never know where they may spring out.

https://culabula.bandcamp.com/album/is-it

https://www.facebook.com/culabula/home

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Cúla Búla in the streets of Galway City.

 

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Scrobarnach Independent Music & Art Festival 2016 – Preview

12th – 14th August, Tudenham Park, Mullingar, County Westmeath, Ireland

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Scrobarnach Festival 2016

Scrobarnach festival will be on its second year now, having entertained a capacity of 600 people in 2015, the second edition of the festival will cater for 600 to 800 people.  Scrobarnach literally translated from Gaelic to English means Scrub or as the Scrobarnach website says, Undergrowth, the festival being about celebrating some of the top electronic talent emerging from the Irish underground scene, from playing other festivals and club nights nationwide.  The event is a BYOB (Bring your own booze) event with a free flow to all the stages at the festival.

The brains behind the festival are Ian Hart, Tim Dowling and Jasper Mathews, Ian, a DJ and musician himself has a good grasp of the electronic scene and plays regularly around Galway city.  The lads have booked a bill of sounds ranging from roots reggae, bass music, electronica, punk and rock music, a feast of festival sounds.  There will also be eye catching installations and art on display at the festival.  Acts that will be gracing the five stages will range from Kormac who will be presenting a special AV show, Stray, RSCH14, Noid the Droid, Jon Hussey, Richard Entropy, Revelation Soundsystem,  Jamie Behan, World Bass Culture, Lionpaw, Stray, Bandia, Jaheire and Sionnagh among the many others appearing over the weekend.

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Night time at Scrobarnach 2015

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One of the stages in full flow 2015.

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Forest lit tent. 2015

There will be five stages hosting events, the Doppler Lab handling bass music, jungle, DnB and techno, the Bush Bar catering for fans of electro swing, disco, ghetto and more.  Puzzle stage being the psytrance stage, but also with DnB and Neuro sounds, the main stage will host sounds ranging from disco, house, techno and electro music and finally the Irish Underground Sounds Collective which it seems will function like a Trenchtown or Riddim Shack (Townlands) hosting some of the best Irish reggae acts and alternative sounds floating around, Jaheire curating the big reggae takeover all day Saturday.  The stage will also host some alternative bands over the weekend too.

Also don’t forget to visit the Blue Mountain Cafe with the finest of Jamaican food on offer and some sizzling roots reggae sounds too.

There is not much more I can add to this, just get yourself along to the festival to check it out, I’m very much looking forward to it myself and hopefully the weather will stay nice for the weekend.  Look out for my review next weekend.

https://www.facebook.com/events/116267492068631/?active_tab=posts

http://www.scrobarnachfestival.com/

 

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Townlands Carnival 2016 Festival Review.

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8th – 10th July, Rusheen Farm, Macroom, County Cork, Ireland.

Friday 8th July.

We set off at 1 pm onward bound in Kevin’s camper for Townlands Carnival, a festival happening on Rusheen Farm near Macroom in County Cork, stopping off in Limerick to see a friend and get some beers and camping supplies.  We took the wrong road out of Limerick and got caught in a tailback for the good bones of an hour.  Back through Limerick we eventually saw a sign for Buttevant which was somewhere near the possible festival site but also avoided driving through Cork city as well.  I eventually got in touch with a friend already onsite as I was buying a ticket from them, they said either go for Mallow, Ballincollig, Macroom or Coachfoard, we chose the Coachford route as it was the only one that had a sign going to it, no Ballincollig, Macroom nor Mallow signs.  In fact quite  a majority of County Cork has no signs at all, leading to many WTFs!  When we eventually got to Coachfoard, the Centra dude directed us to the next village about 8 kilometres away, still no sign posts for this blasted festival and no idea where we were really, after driving through the first village and then a second village, I got Kevin to stop, ‘there is a pub’ I said, ‘I’ll ask there.’  The directions I got were to go right then take the left fifteen seconds later and then a right, I was warned it was steep so basically we were going up bumpy mountains.   Eventually we came to a sign on the other side of the road its back turned to us, I jumped out and had a look, Townlands Carnival Main Entrance and an arrow pointing down the road, it was just a matter of spotting the day glows of security and volunteers and we were there.  Woooo Hoooo!

By the time I had my tent up, wristbanded and cans of beer, clothes and camping necessaries together it had turned 10 pm, so we must of drove about in circles for about two hours or something, we did have a dinner and coffee break on the way as well, campers are great that way.

By the time we actually hit the arena it was 10.30 – 45 pm, so late enough for Friday’s proceedings but we did get to see a bit of Cork.  Just in time to catch the Jerry Fish closing set on the main stage.

Jerry Fish – Main Stage 11 pm.

Jerry has a gothy jangly thing going on in his music, definitely influenced at some point by Nick Cave, I only stayed for a few tracks as I was mad for exploring the place but the clip I recorded Hole in the Boat reminded me of the Cramps, Tom Waits and Screamin Jay Hawkins, punk psychobilly music, its sounds dated but at the same time twisted and new, Mr Fish and Cohorts sure put on a fine show.

I also wanted to take in a bit of festival scenery so took shots of the fake town come alive by projections, fantastically creative stuff, mesmerising to look at, a neon lit town centre with night clubs and bars, the only thing missing was door men.  Here is my suggestion Townlands for the craic, get some of the event security to dress up as doormen to make the night club thing more authentic, just for show, no ID asking or stuff like that.  This clip I’m posting, play it at a low volume as its atrociously loud in Samsung audio or even mute sound and take it in as a visual document.

Myself and Kevin wandered up to the top part of the site, this area had three stages, stalls, a Red Bull tent and most importantly, three portaloos.

Sim Simma Soundsystem were playing some nice roots reggae, hip hoppish, drum n bass and jungle sometimes and some of the coolest densest dub.  This was all happening in the Riddim Shack (red tent), at the next stage there was a techno being made out of ska and Balkan music, well that is what it sounded like anyway courtesy of DJ Kyem in the Cirque De Freakout tent (white tent) and into the Sub-Atomic Stage, the big looking castle building with a tent inside blasting out hardcore techno courtesy of Jamie Behan.  Of course my recording won’t sound anything like their music as it was also taken on the Samsung phone, so play low volume and enjoy my stagger about the top of Townlands.

Eventually all these three stages and the main stage were shut down by 2 am, so like you do when you get kicked out of the pub you go clubbing, so off we went down to the town centre of Townlands and into the Gramophone Disco, twas grand enough classic oldies and ancient tracks but we wanted something more thumping.  So into the Minus tent where Greg C was blasting out some tight techno, the Minus stage is quite a cute white tent with red ball lamps, twas the place to come during the day to hear Deep House, disco and funk and probably more techno later.  I remember looking through the tent entrance and saw torrential rain, so we stayed in the tent till close down and security told us to go, this was just after 3 am.  I could still hear banging music, frantic drum n bass verging on gabber dance music but couldn’t work out where it was coming from, like a fenced up area or something, I found out on Saturday where that sound was coming from.  Security eventually cleared us out of another three stages in the main arena and eventually we went to the campsite cafe where they were showing a film which I didn’t know but at least we could stay dry as it was lashing.  We ended up going back to the camper as I didn’t fancy opening my tent in that downpour, it was a great decision as Kevin has a heater in the camper so we could dry off too, a final night cap of a can of beer before we conked out for the night.

Saturday 9th July.

Saturday I woke up early enough and sat in the drivers seat for a while smoking a few cigarettes, eventually I heard a voice say are you making the coffee, so went to the cooker and made the coffee.  Kevin got up and cooked us a fry, a smashing way to start the Saturday at the festival.

It was a very drizzly day so kind of dampish, that kind of mountain mist that soaks you, not ideal weather but at least six of the stages were covered areas so not so bad, it was nice to see the arena in the daylight, the Riddim Shack beckoning, the hum of dub roots bass vibrating of my temples.  The last quarter bit of the hill before you get to the reggae area always catches me, I have to take a few deep breaths before I continue, you can also see the older folk arriving and composing themselves getting their breaths back before launching into some timely skanking to the reggae beat.  Met Dolly, Somhairle, Gavin and Caroline who all share the same love for the reggae, tuned into Worries Outernational with Mikey Joyride Soro, Community Hi Fi and 1 Ness from London who played some amazing music, some of which I never heard before, real earth moving dub reggae.

1Ness

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1 Ness – Riddim Shack, Saturday.

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1 Ness – Riddim Shack, Saturday.

The sounds of 1 Ness.

 

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The delightful Dolly and Blakey Blake.

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Kevin enjoying the festivities.

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The arena beginning to wake up.

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Decoration.

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The Sub-Atomic Stage (Hardcore Techno)

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The Cirque De Freakout Stage.

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This is basically the main stage mixing desk area, where the people mixing the live sound and their friends hang out.

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The Main Stage.

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The town centre.

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Mixing desk area for main stage.

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WOB! Fourth opening act on the main stage, Saturday.

Watched a bit of the early evening main stage act Magnus Major, a ska, rap and punk band from Bristol who played an energising music, I sensed they were all Beat fans as they had that pummelling energy similar to the Beats Mirror in the Bathroom sound and the Dub Pistols too, they drew a nice wee crowd no matter how heavy the drizzle was this band won a fair few devotees, check them out, worth a watch.

http://www.magnusmajor.com/

I took a look into the Minus stage, Efa O’Neill was playing a sweet set of disco electro ambient techno buzz if that makes any sense, but it was definitely a chill dance music that was very mellow like the charming Efa.

Efa O’Neill

I went back to the tent for a little rest and to get some Guinness, it was then Kevin told me about a forest area, yippee some more secret parts of the festival, it was getting mucky making it to the entrance, but solid ground on the muck when you reach the lights in the trees, you pass a small wooden shack, will come back to this after, onward you see a glimmer of red lights in shapes and a wooden stage, the Sibin Stage, impressive but dark enough for the camera not been able to focus properly, still a very chill area like Trenchtown or Port Royal. Aine Duffy and her band were rocking out a nice set, of melodic rock and pop songs, I am probably worse for wear to actually remember to describe her sound, but I got a Polly Jean Harvey/WolF Alice vibe, so take what you will from that, I enjoyed it and hope to see them at another festival or venue soon.

http://www.aineduffy.ie/about.html

There was another chill space through the other path from the Sibin stage that led to another white tent/cocktail bar with a DJ, the stuff blasting out of here was incredible, DnB, Jungle, Gabber, sky scraping dubstep, but mainly frenetic drum n bass and bass music in general.  The area around was covered in luminous decorations and dream catchers, a chill out area where you could dance like a loon to crazy electronica.

More gabber and drum n bass started coming from the small wooden shack I mentioned earlier, crazy music and a bunch of nutters squeezing into the shack area and going loopers to the music.  Now I worked out where that source of sound was coming from in the early hours of Saturday morning.  We stayed there for the rest of the night until I could not support my body anymore and I hit the hay, Kevin falling into the tent an hour or two later.

Update 26th July: Some folk have got back to me on the Townlands event Facebook page about the small wooden shack.   The area is known as the Goat Shed and some of the DJs featured over the weekend was, Liver Lifter, Welfare, Jonezy, Shiv, Sensar, Inflatable Fuhrer, Gash and Slev.

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The small shack with banging music, The Goat Shed. Photograph by Debra Mac.

Dance terms: Gabber: Known as Rotterdam Techno, Murder House, Gabba House also called Early Hardcore.  To me on Saturday and Sunday, a very fast kind of punk techno sound expertly mixed with DnB and Jungle and can move between these genres quite fluidly, well that was the buzz I got from the forest area, sometimes it could be explosive and at others times beautifully chill, the best of both worlds.  Gabber is also characterised by the last ten or fifteen minutes of Aphex Twin’s live sets for the last ten or fifteen years of him touring, possibly longer.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabber

 

Sunday 10th July.

Woke up at noon and headed into the arena to the Riddim Shack to catch the last of Revelation Sound’s set and a bit of the next one courtesy of Warren Roots, catching up with a few friends and dancing to the music.  The weather still being niggly drizzle so moving a bit further into the tent.  Somhairle called me over to one of the half cars and gave me one of the seats, lovely and comfy and most of all, sheltered.

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The cool half cars seating areas.

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Inside the Cirque De Freakout tent.

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Cirque De Freakout tent art.

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The arena.

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The devil playing pan pipes.

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Myself in fine form.

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Fugitive Dreams.

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Townlands Town Centre Art.

After getting a slice of pizza at a reasonable 3.50 Euros, I went wandering about the arena bumped into Jeremy, Danyl, Gavin and Caroline and a few others, investigated the Gramophone Disco that was having a bit of a trad day with Planxty’s Cunla and various other classics and a well steamed merry audience baying for more.  Into Minus for some electronica and then I started to feel really tired, worn out a bit and that feeling of being constantly damp so I decided to go back to the tent for a lie down, Kevin done likewise going back to the camper.  I didn’t get up again till about 9.30 and just in time to see Kevin and Joe and get some cans together.  Joe is an old mate of Kevin’s from working the festivals who lives in Wicklow, we all headed into the main arena which would be the last time till 2017 I suppose.

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The Gramaphone Disco.

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Kevin and Joe.

Mungo’s Hi FI – Riddim Shack   9 – 11 pm.

Having caught Mungo’s Hi Fi at Life festival in 2011 I was well impressed with their sound and now the Glasgow collective were back to play Townlands on Sunday.  Their music has a very dub rootsy feel but incorporates dubstep, drum n bass, jungle, a gorgeous kinda bass music, I think they might be in the soundtrack to the fire show clip as well. They describe themselves on their website as ‘Forward thinking reggae music’ I go with that term myself reggae music for the future and the now.  This clip was taken on the Samsung so keep the volume down.

Mungo’s Hifi

I talked Kevin and Joe to come with me and check out Cula Bula who were starting up in the Sibin stage at 10 pm.

Cula Bula – Sibin Stage     10pm.

Cula Bula have a take on the rock trad style aka Horslips meets the Pogues meet Willie Clancy, having seen them many times on the streets of Galway busking they know how to kick off a grand party.  Tonight’s gig when I arrived the band was having sound problems, some sound levels were needing adjusted and took a little time.  But things kicked up a few notches when the lads kicked off with the Butterfly and into the Kid on the Mountain jig.  A fun show and a good act to bring the spirits up at any festival.  I would have stayed for more of the set, but I was grabbed by mates to go near to the reggae stage in the arena, some sort of fire display was going to take place.

https://www.facebook.com/culabula/

A wicker two headed effigy had been built where the Earth Circle fire was previously, the whole area around there was cordoned off, as fire acrobats and security gathered around and the overpowering smell of paraffin, you just knew you were going to see something rather epic.  Well, guess what, they set fire to it and it went up in flames and we all gawked in wonder at it while sweetly being soothed by a tin whistle playing in a piece of reggae music I think Mungo’s Hi Fi were playing from the stage.  But it was a lovely spectacle, and a grand heat from it too, fire acrobats, people with skeletal rowing boats with lights on them walking around in a semi-circle around the spectacle added to the depth of the show with Townlands town centre illuminated in the background.

I forgot to mention the food stall and forgot to take photos of the places selling food I had sampled but after nearly 72 hours of partying, a good square meal works wonders.  I had about 8 Euro left of my festival finances, I settled for the peanut and chicken vegetable curry dinner with rice, it was also served with optional rice or noodles.  I can’t for the love of me, remember the name of the food stall.  I appealed on the Townlands facebook event page and Toby Hatchett got back to me, the place was called Wokabout which sounds like a distant relation to Wok n’Roll, but Toby explained they were a local crowd from Bantry.  Anyway Wokabout done a fantastic peanut and chicken vegetable curry with either noodles or rice or mixed together if you so wished for 8 Euros, the perfect medicine to help wind up the festival blues.  I’m glad to say that the rain and drizzle stayed mostly away for Sunday night.

https://www.facebook.com/Wokabout-163114367044640/

Gentleman’s Dub Club – Main Stage     11 pm.

The Leed’s based dub band gave it socks tonight as the closing main stage act for Townlands 2016, crisp sound, lovely brass section and a few charismatic front men singers and a very tight rhythm section.  A perfect closer for the main stage and a nice audience gathered grooving to the sounds.  A band well worth checking out, I have done no research on this group and I would link their website but as with Mungo’s Hi Fi, If I link the site it for some reason creates a blank space in my blog so I will add the Wikipedia link which should link directly anyway to their website and a short clip I took of their performance on my small Sony camera.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentleman%27s_Dub_Club

We departed the arena for the last time and headed for the forest area, Sibin stage and dance tent in the woods.  Kevin and Joe stopped off in the tent on the way to pick up the last of our cans.  Aindrias De Staic and his band The Latchikos were the closing act and the final live act we would see for Townlands 2016.

The Latchikos – Sibin Stage      11.45 pm.

The Latchikos are a trad/rock band that can get a good stomp going, De Staic, raconteur, storyteller, fiddler and general all, mad chap had a great banter that was avidly received by a nice tidy gathered audience who could easily transform into a ceilidh as soon as the fiddle started jigging and reeling away.  Yup, De Staic had plenty of reels and jigs but he also had lyrics he composed with the tunes.  Some crazy Eastern European gypsy sets and a tight band ensuring that the Latchikos are a damn fine closing act for any festival going.

https://www.facebook.com/TheLatchikos/

The other stage at the back was playing a fine minimal chill drum n bass set as if it knew it was Sunday night and that it had to be chiller than Friday and Saturday.  Joe said that an artist called Wiggle was due to start a set there at 4 am, but myself and Kevin had, had enough at this stage so we made tracks for the camper and I’m glad we did, otherwise I would be too tired tomorrow and would’ve probably got up late.

Monday 11th July.

Kevin eventually drove back with the camper to Galway and I’m sorry I sort of ruined his plans to visit a bit of West Cork, but I never thought through the journey back to Galway plans, I thought that with there being a few from Galway there I could’ve chanced a lift back to the city, but these plans never materialised and we quickly found out that it was a hopeless case of relying on Bus Eireann to connect to Citylink in Cork to get me in time for my gig at 9.30 pm in Galway.  So out of the goodness of his heart Kevin decided to drive me back to Galway to make the gig and thank you Kevin for that.

About Townlands, I might volunteer for this one next year, Townlands is like the halfway house between the dance of Life Festival and the cool alternative vibe of Body & Soul festival.  I would go as far to say that the dance music on offer at Townlands was more wide ranging that both Life and Body&Soul, two stages dwelt with house and techno, Minus and Fugitive Dreams, whjlst the Sub-Atomic provided hardcore techno and on Sunday they were playing Warp sounding music aka Aphex Twin, Squarepusher.  The Riddim Shack and Cirque De Freakout tents dwelt with drum n bass, dubstep, reggae, techno, jungle, Eastern European folk music, World music.  And then there was the forest stages one for live music and two for banging gabber and DnB music.  Danyl, a mate was explaining to me that he was a big Boomtown Fair fan, an English festival that occurs in early August, a 4 kilometre area built like a fake city, all the stages are represented as districts or boroughs of the city with awe inspiring building structures all around and a mouth watering indie, electronic and reggae line up.  Some of the Townlands organisers have been inspired by this festival too and hence, Townlands have just completed their second year as a fake fantasy town transplanted into some fields in County Cork.  Unfortunately the elements were against them this year, had it been the heatwave that Life Festival enjoyed it could have sold out, but many people probably looked out of their bedroom window looking at the drizzle smeared and just went no.  Which is a real pity as this festival has fantastic potential.

Roll on Townlands 2017.

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