Normally around this time of the year I would’ve made my way to the Ballinlough festival site and set up my tent in the crew camping area and would complete the two twelve hour shifts to earn my festival wristband for the coming weekend, but not for 2020 as the Covid-19 Pandemic has changed the face of socialisation for the general public. Every festival, fleadh and near enough every public event has been cancelled this year and rightfully so. I shall take you through a guided tour of the Body&Soul festival site through the years from 2012 my first one to last year in 2019.
This was my Body&Soul virgin year and the festival site amazed me, I came down with the Galway crew, who were working from Wednesday onward. Work was mainly at the festival car park for the weekend when it sold out on the Sunday. a lot of my friends were at it this year and there was a great lineup of Reid, The Herbaliser, Django Django, DJ Kali, St Vincent, Little Dragon, Donal Dineen and M83 among others. Cute stages like the reggae area Port Royal, the Upstage Marquee and the old original Body&Soul main stage.
Art installations such as the webbed area and the Mandala Nature area. The Reckless in Love stage, my vox pop with some of the crew and the crazy one way system from one end of the campsite to the other entrance and getting hopelessly lost in the first year at times.
This was the first time I done the advance week for this festival and I was teamed up with some cool festival heads from Dublin and Galway in the crew who were Aphex Twin and Gong fans also so all the better. Work was mainly helping with the preparations for the car park, putting up posts, fencing around trees and traffic directing for the boneyard and production area.
My good friend Ciaran had turned me on to Jon Hopkins, first his Boiler Room set and then his album which had just come out called Immunity, so that was my number one must see, but what a lineup for 2013, the fabulous Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Jon Hopkins, Nicolas Jaar, Charles Bradley, Mmoths, The Congo’s, James Murphy among others. The debut of the Gameltron installation, the Fusion marquee
2014 was a scorcher of a year, hot blazing sun on the week build up. This year my volunteer duties involved booking in crew, security and festival traders who came in at gate C take note of their vehicle details and direct them to the accreditation office. The lineup was great again with the return of Jon Hopkins for a headline Midnight Circus set on Saturday night and Nicolas Jaar with his group Darkside, Caribou also played a blinder and a host of others such as Goldfrapp, John Grant, Max Romeo, Gary Numan, Tom Vek, Buraka Som Sistema and Mount Kimbie amongst others. The arrival of such installations such as the Glowhole, great venues like My House and the original Kev’s Cafe when it was in the stables.
2015 was another reasonable summer for Body&Soul although there was occasional drizzle, by now I was getting to know some of the crew well. For this year I mainly done Stop and Go duties, two way radio communication with another volunteer at the other end looking out for traffic coming their way and making sure the road was clear for vehicles to pass. The music for this year was quite eclectic, the Savages, Lamb, Cian Finn, Asgeir, the brilliant Alo Wala, Clark, Twin Headed Wolf, Soak, Matthew E. White, James Holden and Leftfield among others. This was the year the Leftfield audience refused to go back to the campsite at the end of the show and Avril had to step up and say that the main stage entertainment was over for this year.
2016 was without doubt the wettest year for every festival I went to that year and was probably the wettest Body&Soul, Kevin Keehan my mate was also working the build and had purchased a campervan, so I was in great comfort this year with Kevin looking after me well. This was the year I done the least amount of exploring, practically spending most of it in the Port Royal enclosure, the driest part of the festival.
This was the year The Gloaming headlined the Friday night, a superb atmospheric trad band but I felt was the wrong headline act, the Afro Celt Soundsystem would have been a better choice. others acts to play the festival were Bitch Falcon, Saint Sister, Cassy, Batida, Hudson Mohawke, Santigold, St Germain, Floating Points, Mercury Rev and David August among others, this was the last year of the Port Royal venue as well.
2017 was a great year, some new installations, decor and my duties were helping with the staff car park and accreditation area, also done some trenching which involved laying electric cables underground, made some great friends with the volunteers and provided cool sounds during our shifts, This was also the first year that volunteers and stewards got a voucher for either their dinner or lunch. This was a very eclectic lineup this year with Metronomy, Sleaford Mods, Bonobo, Austra, Vitalic, The Bug featuring Miss Red, King Kong Company, Kelly-Anne Byrne, La Femme, The English Beat who replaced Songhoy Blues when they cancelled over the weekend due to airport problems, French band La Femme, DBFC, Lambchop and Optimo amongst others.
Because I was on a ETB course this year I couldn’t do the advance week so was back to being a weekend volunteer this year. This year was undoubtedly the hottest summer on record for the festival. For the first time I was scanning tickets and someone with me distributed the wristbands, we changed roles through time for the Friday. Saturday I was on Stop and Go duty just on the road leading up the hill behind the main arena. Sunday I was working the Castle Camping area near the accreditation tent, basically guarding the entrance to the staff campsite and the artists and musicians playing the festival that day, I think I may have scorched my scalp in the process from the hot sun.
Music this year was the most excellent Fever Ray, Olof Dreijer, Panthu De Prince, Neil Flynn, Jon Hopkins headlining the main stage Saturday night, Baxter Dury, Chronixx, WhoMadeWho, James Holden & the Animal Spirits and Bon Voyage among others. sorry there wasn’t much to this one as I was working through the weekend and only caught a handful of acts and photos in the end.
The 2019 festival the weather was OK a bit of rain and a bit of sunshine, it was an early start as I just came from a gig in Galway and had to get up in a few hours to catch the bus in Loughrea and be picked up by Kevin. Aaron Cleary and Catherine Kehoe were the coordinators for the volunteers this year. Was working at the accreditation office for festival caterers, I done scrimming of fences with Kevin, done Stop and Go with Kevin in one of the festival routes on Wednesday. It was nice to be doing the advance week again as I was free by Thursday. The lineup was as eclectic as usual with Modeselektor, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Santigold, The Blaze, Kate Tempest, Monolink, Cian Finn, Sleaford Mods, Tulla Ceili Band and Meltybrains among others.
Body&Soul 2020. (Cancelled)
The festival had just announced the first part of their lineup with Metronomy, Roisin Murphy, King Kong Company, Princess Nokia, Kojaque, Kneecap, Mango X, Sampha the Great and Marc Rebillet among others but the Covid-19 pandemic came along and on April 21st the government was forced to bring in a ban on gatherings of more than 5,000 people so this basically affected all the festivals I would be working this year. All I can suggest to fellow festival freaks is use these festival weekends to go camping like you would at the festivals anyway. I’ve been down in Bandon, County Cork social isolating with my sisters family for the last three months, during that time I’ve made online videos with a number of musicians in Ireland and in Canada as part of the social isolating process and helping the family with their plot in the allotment. Hopefully a vaccine will be created for this virus and we will return to normality and festivals, and hopefully the Body&Soul Xmas event might take place and be a reunion of a sorts. On Wednesday I tweeted John Creedon to dedicate Are Friends Electric by Tubeway Army to Avril and the Body&Soul crew, remembering the Gary Numan slot in the 2014 festival.
Stradbally, County Laois, Ireland 30th August – 1st September.
Build and Break ( 25th – 29th August).
Got a lift with Kristian from Tyrrellspass to the festival site on Sunday 25th August and was surprised about all the back roads that led to Stradbally, arriving just after 4 PM it wasn’t long till some of the other familiar faces arrived, Anne Delaney had already put a tent up for me the same one I used at All Together Now and had mats, sleeping bag, pillow and lights all set out, so this was absolutely perfect, just a matter of moving into the tent. Aaron Cleary and his friends kindly gave me a lift to the Festival production area where we met Catherine and got our build and break advanced orange band and John Dooley gave me a lift back to the crew camp.
John had the cinema up and running, some lovely dinners cooked and a plenty of hot caffeine beverages on the go and whenever I met Jenny and Jill I would scream ‘wave your hands in the air.’
For our shifts myself and John were working in the traders accreditation area, where we issued temporary vehicle passes and wristbands to the arriving workers, we were supposed to also help them in doing an online health and safety induction via downloading a QR Code and they would take a picture of the Festival Republic code which they were then supposed to open and complete a questionnaire to email back to FR, but half the traders couldn’t get wifi or else their phones were too old and not smart phones. Jenny, Jill, Anne and John had some run ins with some of the FR production staff and a phrase that came about coined by John Dooley and JD called ‘Beautiful People.’ You meet them in a walks of life
Monday was a fairly quiet day and for the following afternoon shift of Anne and Clídna. Tuesday a little busier with a load of traders arriving in from the Reading And Leeds festivals in the UK. John was working the crew camp for Wednesday and Thursday so I got JD and Anne to help me for these days too which were the busiest of the lot and the RSA fellows were involved too, to make sure the queue of vehicles didn’t block the main road and to keep things moving. Some familiar faces at Body&Soul festival showed up such as Arthur from Belfast although I didn’t get to see him again for the rest of the festival.
I took the opportunity to explore the festival site on Wednesday after my shift bringing a yellow bib with me as I had to hand back the pink one and because of the health and safety rules about festival build being basically a building site, security could be ratty if you didn’t stick to the rules. I explored the new Freetown area and noticed some of the main arena marquees had changed as well.
There was a face missing from the festival crew this year, Declan Jordan, Eventsec supervisor and Guardian of Gate 6 for many years. The first time I volunteered Electric Picnic in 2011 I worked with Declan, a humble man. He died tragically in 1st November last year and will be remembered fondly as the smiling security boss who helped his colleagues keep their cool in heated situations such as ‘guess the wristband’ during the festival workers lunch break. RIP Declan you’ll be sorely missed.
Our Thursday shift flew in and I was now free to enjoy the weekend. First of all I had to meet an old friend Dave O’Connor from Cork at 4ish who was buying a ticket from Kevin, security didn’t seem to have a clue or were briefed about early entry or the gates to do with early entry on the Thursday, so I had to text Dave to find out the gate his early entry pass said. It was the green car park entry point which was about a kilometre or two away, I eventually found him and he made his sixteenth Picnic. He said it was practically next to impossible to procure a ticket until I saw Kevin post on Facebook and managed to get it for Dave.
Thursday night was spent chilling with Dave in the Hendrix campsite believe it or not, the Thursday night was mellow there and felt like the Picnics of old. Dave still had his trusty late eighties ghetto blaster and a vast selection of CD classics, recordings from the Later with Jool’s so similar to 2012 EP, felt no need to go exploring the site just chilling and catching up with old friends and making new ones with the neighbours.
Friday 30th August.
Went into Stradbally for a filled roll and to pick up a two litre of spring water to mix with my favourite drink later, had a shower and just chilled around the tent as John was away at a family wedding for the night. Kevin arrived in the afternoon after being misdirected twice by the Gardai because he didn’t have the crew band at the time.
Music in the arena started at six so we made tracks about seven as I was curious about this emerging new artist Billy Eilish. When I arrived at the main arena all I could see was a entire meadow of youth moving, running in mass towards the main stage, I remarked to Kevin ‘Jeez there must be about 15,000 – 20,000 people already gathered down there’ and it was only the second main stage act of Friday. A quick decision to watch from the very back for five minutes was in order and then go off to another gig, with her green hair jumping about like a monkey on a elastic the roars of the audience was insane. Eilish certainly has the confidence of an up and coming pop star and through her tour she has been quickly bumped up in the festival listings around the world on the strength of her Coachella and Glastonbury appearances. She has a pleasant enough voice and no auto tune on sight which is refreshing, but not for me, I wanted something a bit rockier. She certainly had the audience in the palm of her hand and at the age of seventeen must have matched the ages of most there. The new main stage screens are pretty decent, very large and you can see quite well the action from way behind the seating stands. There is reports emerging recently of crushes that occurred before and after the gig, I will add the photo of the crush coming from the Hendrix camp to the main arena as this needs to be looked at if Mr Benn is thinking of adding another 20,000 people.
Miles Kane – Electric Arena 7.15 – 8.15 PM.
English musician Miles Kane also a member of The Last Shadow Puppets gave a spirited enough set, my mate Dave likened him to a sort of Oasis/Noel Gallagher buzz and I think he hit the nail on the head. He had a decent backing band keeping a solid rhythm and pleasant enough melodic alternative rock. You might like Miles Kane though, check out his solo stuff in his album’s Colour of the Trap, Don’t Forget who you Are and Coup de Grace as well as The Last Shadow Puppets back catalogue.
This was my third time seeing Jarvis Cocker, having seen him at EP 2007 and with Pulp in 2011, he always puts on a good show, standing aloft on his monitors he exudes a powerful charisma and stomps through a catalogue of classics such as Further Complications, House Music, Must I Evolve, a funky You’re in my eyes and a brilliant cover of Pulp’s His’n’Hers among others. Cocker has one of the finest voices in alternative rock and he and his band were in fine fettle tonight.
After the gig myself and Dave somehow lost Kevin, which kind of happens at festivals, Dave phones him, he’s at the Heineken bar, we walk up to there but no sign of him. We decide to go for a wander up to Freetown and the Salty Dog area to explore the different sites. The Spike Island house is a impressive area made of wood and illuminated in cool lights, a cool looking cottage area with a small gig space inside. I took a short video taken in the structure from outside and into the gig area where folk band Rake the Ashes had a decent crowd cheering them on.
Dave was going on about an area he visited earlier in Freetown that was a burlesque circus so we trooped about till we came to a smaller marquee in the Freetown area, with raucous girls performing burlesque dances to rock music and hoop tricks, it reminded me of the Lost Vagueness area from the earlier Picnics and that other circus crowd the Lucent Dossier Experience. I found out later that the performers formally worked at the Jerry Fish tent during the intermissions between music acts but that now they had their own marquee in Freetown called The Dirty Circus.
One of the fastest rising stars in the minimal techno dance scene, Belgian Amelie Lens probably put on one of the most riveting shows over the festival weekend, The venue itself, Terminus deserves a mention with freight containers built into the structure to contain the sound and absorb any noise bleed and holding up to 6,000 capacity within. This was the perfect venue for Lens and she must’ve had at least three quarters of the tent full of techno disciples worshipping at her altar. Post event I notice that my Amelie Lens video clip has the most likes on Facebook so she must be one of the youths main highlights of Friday anyway.
We walked back to the Salty Dog area and checked out the new seating area that overlooks the stage taking in some of the music of Khartoum who had a delightful old school indie, punk and new wave sound. There is always something about the Salty Dog that brings you back to the roots of rock n roll and punk.
Now a few people recommended me checking out this act, especially Dave, reforming after an absence of fifteen years on St Patrick’s Day this year, the Irish hip hop pioneers from Dublin made for an interesting gig, especially now that Irish hip hop these days is becoming fairly big with the likes of Mango X Mathman and Jafaris among others. What I also liked about Scary Éire was they used old school dub plates and had a DJ scratching records to their sound which you don’t hear so much these days and was more of an early nineties thing. The band comprising of members RiRa, DJ Mek, Dada Sloosh and Mr Browne had a nice crowd tonight enjoying the sounds when they played their classics Thief and the Liar, The Dole Q and Truncheon Song among others, an interesting and entertaining gig.
This next clip is taken from the seating area of Salty Dog overlooking the Scary Éire gig.
It was just after 2.30 AM that the heavens opened, rain had been predicted to start late enough, so it was a rush for us to get back to our tents before we got soaked and the close of Friday night for me.
Saturday 31st August.
Got up and into Stradbally for a sandwich and a few other groceries, chilling at John’s camper with himself, JD, Clídna and Ross. Kevin was shattered and staying in the tent as he had just come off a night shift on Friday so only had a few hours sleep since. After a shower and a chill around crew camp I started decanting some absinthe, the choice for tonight was some La Capricieuse Suisse La Bleue (Clear) absinthe from Val De Travers in Switzerland and some Serpis Spanish red absinthe, two shots each louched with chilled sparkling water into 550 ML bottles, two for myself and two which I placed into Kevin’s tent for him. I studied the timetable and worked out who I wanted to see, Kneecap, Christine & the Queens, Yankari and the Viagra Boys before turning electronica for Richie Hawtin and Four Tet at night time.
Firstly I wanted to check out Global Green and Green Crafts just for a little sit down and chill and maybe take some photos. Maybe someone can correct me I believe the first three photos are from the Global Green area.
This was the second time catching this controversial Northern rap act and they had a fairly packed out tent for this gig, I wanted to catch them again as I only caught the end of their set the last time at Body&Soul Festival this year. They had accompanying visuals on the backdrop this time of their slogans and a smattering of singalong classics as Sniffer Dogs, Cearta, Bouncers and the very incendiary HOOD culled from their album or mix tape 3CAG. I hope they keep at it as the rap scene in the North and Ireland in general seems pretty healthy and with the likes of Scary Éire and Kneecap floating about.
Christine & the Queens – Main Stage 7.35 – 8.35 PM.
Having being watching a bit of Christine & the Queens on television at Glastonbury and various other performances, I was intrigued about this show, not knowing much about the band I know that Christine is trained dancer and that her backing troupe are incredible at their choreography in dancing along with her. I’m trying remember who else does this, yes, Madonna would put that same effort into dance moves with a dance troupe sometimes. This French group is interesting, It looks like they might be influenced in bits by eighties and nineties synth pop and funk, experimental pop and dance art. Christine has a sweet voice and the Queens are a nice early evening act to start the party going, with selections culled from their two albums Chaleur humaine and Chris. Christine kept affectionately referring to where she was as Dublin even when her band corrected her in saying Laois, she sill brazenly referred to it as Dublin, a wonderful interesting act to catch if you can.
How could I miss this act after they blew me away at All Together Now, Trenchtown in general was fairly empty at this point I may have counted about fifteen people spread out between the two DJ stages but the Kingston 12 stage had a decent gathering for Yankari, the ten piece Afro Beat. Now I have already talked about Yankari in depth in my previous review at ATN and I was delighted to have the Nikon with me this time so I’ll let this HD video clip do the talking this time. Alas I never made it in time to catch The Viagra Boys as I was trying to do twenty to thirty minutes of each act but didn’t take in the time it would take to get to each venue.
It was seven years since Richie Hawtin had last played Electric Picnic and it was amazing the difference in the size of venue, in 2012 he played the Little Big Tent which was clearly too small as half his fan base were milling about outside trying to get in. This time he was in the Electric Arena which is about four times as big as the Little Big and a sizeable chunk of it filled by ravers mad for his minimal techno. With seventeen albums behind this techno legend he put on a damn good show of bass heavy beats and throbbing lights and strobes, a kicking performance from Hawtin.
This was my second time catching Four Tet and I was looking forward to this one, Kieran Hebden had a fairly basic setup this time around and like his Coachella performance all he had in forms of light was the two desktop lamps each side of him to light up his equipment so that he could see what he was doing. It was strange looking at an electronic dance gig in the inky blackness, but I grew accustomed very quickly and had to admit I liked it. It was like being placed into an isolation tank with the most delightful orgasmic electronic sounds, Hebden’s idea being it was all about the sounds and not the visuals. There was a great banging cover of Malin Genie’sBulbocavernosa and some nice new numbers in the mix from his most recent album New Energy (2017) such as Lush and SW9 9SL and finishing with Lion from Pink (2012) among others that guarantee’s Four Tet is one of the best when it comes to experimental dance grooves.
After this I took the short cut to Body&Soul Village where Lamb was blasting out Gorecki from the B&S main stage to a packed out audience, it was a sight to behold and a nice blast from the past to walk into. I was in search of the Haunt but it looked like it was moved to another area, I eventually found it and got a bit of a seat, the DJ playing some nice obscure Irish folk stuff. I eventually met Kevin again and we went back to the Body&Soul main stage for the close with Kelly-Anne Byrne.
Kelly-Anne Byrne – Body&Soul Main Stage 2.00 – 3.45 AM.
It was nice to have Kelly-Anne Byrne with this closing slot and some people made note that this set was more beats heavy than the usual happy soulful house, but still damn good party music, Kelly was a big hit at Body&Soul festival this year when she closed the Reckless in Love stage on Saturday, I also met Aaron my Body&Soul coordinator from Body&Soul festival this year who was down with a load of his mates. Good times galore and a nice way to blow out the Saturday night.
Sunday 1st September.
Another classic hangover today and off to Stradbally for a pouch and a sandwich, funds was low enough so I was avoiding eating at the festival site as it was just too expensive. Quite a lot of people went into the festival site early, but nothing seemed to be grabbing me from the bill earlier in the day. And that’s the difference between ATN and EP, the walk from crew camp to ATN was a mere five minutes whilst with EP it about half an hour depending on what state you were in. After a bite and a shower and louching up some absinthe, this time one of the green French ones and the stronger Spanish Serpis red we made tracks to the arena for 5.20 PM.
We headed for Trenchtown going by the big wheel route as it was better than entering through the one way system at Freetown, it was still very quiet in Trenchtown for this time of day with maybe 25 people spread around the two DJ stages, but it was nice to hear some Toots & the Maytals and Bob Marley and to have a wee bounce to the sounds.
Johnny Marr – Electric Arena 6.00 – 7.00 PM.
Having caught Johnny Marr at EP 2013 but in the outside of the Electric Arena as the tent was wedged this time around I was near the front and middle of the arena. The ex-Smiths guitarist put on a great show with a selection of tracks from his most recent album Call the Comet, some Smith’s classics in How Soon is Now, Bigmouth Strikes Again and This Charming Man as well as covers from other groups such as Depeche Mode and New Order. Marrs packed out the tent with his performance and when there was technical glitches such as the sound cutting out the guitarist wasted no time in doing a stage dive while technicians repaired the problem. An excellent concert by an excellent musician.
I was looking forward to this one as I always liked The Verve and Richard Ashcroft didn’t disappoint, he still has a marvellous voice and a very tight backing band, he also helped bring the sun out with his optimism. A selection of tracks from his back catalogue including his more recent album Natural Rebel released last year. Myself and Kevin noted though that there wasn’t as big a crowd as we anticipated for this iconic singer and the applause after his newer material seemed a bit muted. This picked up when he played some of his Verve classics such as Lucky Man, The Drugs Don’t Work and closing his set with the powerful Bittersweet Symphony. Yep Richard Ashcroft has still got it and a very pleasing gig for the Sunday evening it has to be said.
I was at a loss then of where to go or who to see in the lineup plus my energy was flagging, I could have went to catch the second half of Roisin Murphy but didn’t, I wasn’t too sure on tonight, should I check out Florence & the Machine or The Streets, none of them were grabbing me really or maybe I was just tiring of the main arena, it was mostly more busier today as well because of the Sunday day tickets crowd that adds a fair few extra thousand people. I headed with Kevin over to the Today FM Soundgarden to catch the last 40 minutes of Kelly-Anne Byrne’s set. Her music tonight more akin to her Casa Bacardi set of the last few years, noticeably she wasn’t doing the Casa set this year but on that wee bit later in the Soundgarden stage. It was nice to hear some of her happy soul house funk and she had a decent content crowd dancing away, Byrne even came out for a dance herself to her last number and a beautiful lady is she.
Now I’m not too keen on Kodaline but Kevin wanted to catch a bit of them, so I tagged along, the crowd was absolutely massive gathered for the group, stretching to the very back of the main arena and right up to the sides of the food stalls. Described as alternative rock, indie pop. Irish band Kodaline has a very melodic FM friendly rock sound that I suppose was easy to sing along too hence much of the audience singing along to their tracks. I wouldn’t be too familiar with their material since I would be too busy blasting my ears with dirty rusty Aphex Twin beats but to give the band their dues they paid a lovely tribute to Dolores O’ Riordan from the Cranberries (Another band not too high in my listening pleasure stakes) and done a nice rock out of the Limerick group’s smash hit Zombie which was impressive. The band finished their set with their popular hit High Hopes, which had the entire audience singing along to it and after the gig too I remember.
Now to get out of this Kodaline crowd was next to impossible and a situation I regretted, the same with Kevin, we were standing behind a couple of people chatting but the crowd en mass were moving every which way and we went into slight panic mode for a while and hoping we didn’t fall. I eventually moved toward the fencing near the stalls until the crowd ebbed after half an hour. This where I made the decision I had to get out of the main arena and into somewhere safe, Body&Soul beckoned, so we made straight for the staff short cuts straight into the Body&Soul area. It was straight up to the Haunt for me and it couldn’t have been more perfect timing, a lone couch beckoned me to sit, I sat down and remained there for the night. Various friends came and joined me from time to time, the lovely Clidna, John Dooley and random characters, Kenno, a grey haired and bearded hippy fellow from Dublin who played his bones and clapped to the music. I remember Kenno playing the bones to Paddy Keenan’s gig at the Body&Soul main stage at Body&Soul festival a few years back. When the music turned Irish trad for while at the Haunt I couldn’t resist taking out my bodhran out and playing along and tonight I recognised some of the DJ selections.
Here are some of the selections I heard over the night.
Kevin and Clídna headed off to see The Streets at one point and then to see King Kong Company at the Body&Soul main stage, but I was fairly content where I was and when they DJ switched to the Irish traditional for a while he played this little gem featuring one of my hero’s Johnny ‘Ringo’ McDonagh from Galway city on the bodhran and I played happily along.
Alas I fell asleep there and was woke up by security at 4.30 AM and kicked out of the Haunt, so for the last thing I decided to take a photo of the Body&Soul Village on my way home.
Monday 2nd September.
Hungover to hell today the lovely John Dooley served me up a life affirming coffee, I was actually going home with more clothes than I came with, Jenny giving me a t shirt of her Wild Alantic Tattoo event which is absolutely gorgeous and Ann giving me a spare pair of jeans. Kevin was going home to Clare so I went back with him and then onto Galway after where he was starting his night shift at 10.30 and me to my session in Tigh Cholis. Thanks everyone for looking after me, you know who you are, you will always be in my heart. Special thanks to Catherine, Susan, John Dooley, Anne Delaney, Jenny the Pink Lady and Kevin Keehan amongst other fine people, thanks for putting up with me Kevin, I’m not the best for communication sometimes by phone. Roll on next year for Electric Picnic 2020. I don’t know if I’m getting too old for this now but if Aphex Twin is announced next year I’ll be charging to the head of the queue with my lightsaber. See ya all next year. 🙂
Curraghmore House, Portlaw, Co Waterford, Ireland 2nd – 4th August.
The Pre-Event 31st July – 2nd August.
Got an email only the week before that Catherine needed an advance team, which I was delighted with which means I could go exploring most the weekend with my cameras. The bus at Noon from Galway, changing at Limerick for the Waterford bus which brought me to Carrick On Suir on the Tipperary / Waterford / Kilkenny county borders. The fabulous John Dooley picked me up from there to the festival site in his camper van and a few other crew who were walking the seriously long road from Portlaw to Curraghmore House.
Ann Dun Delaney kindly lent me a tent to save me carrying the extra weight and was much appreciated and John served a lovely chicken curry to settle us in for the first night in the company was the lovely Jenny the Pink lady, Lucy, Ann and her niece. Of course, we dropped into the volunteer HQ where we met Catherine and Susan and I got my cloth crew wristband, the crew area sitting behind the main stage and Something Kind of Wonderful tent area.
Thursday 1st August.
Myself, Jenny and John turned up for our shift at 12 PM at the HQ, but we weren’t needed as yet so we went for a wander around the arenas, Aiden, Jenny’s boyfriend was due onsite about five where he would join our team as we worked the camper van, caravan and family camping sites.
Thursday was a kind of easy going day as the first arrivals are only camper vans and the camper van family areas, firstly I was working with Lucy from Sligo for a while to stop regular camper van people from walking into the boutique and family camping areas. Megan then put me at the family camping entrance with one of the orange dayglo parking workers, Rory originally from County Monaghan but living in Galway city. He was delighted that I brought the beatbox and speaker, pumping the Orbital EP 2012 set and a selection of Jon Hopkins, Aiden was working further up from me, his job to direct family campers to us. When we got through the shift we all landed up at John’s where he cooked some lovely quarter pounders, I also met Cathal who had just arrived onsite at the HQ and we had had a hug. 🙂
Friday 1st August.
Now although Friday was official opening day, I had to do twelve hours from 10 AM to 10 PM in the camper van field with John, I direct the camper vans to the parking staff and John the caravans to the parking staff. The day started off relatively easy, a few vans arriving here and there. I met fellow boardsie Pablo and Roy and who brought me a much needed coffee which went down a treat, in fact a lot of the camper van folk were giving me cake, biscuits, hot beverages and breakfast so all good.
To think it was only a year ago I was working in this very field with Cathal Flood and John Reynolds, God rest his soul, a mighty man and festival entrepreneur. It was a shock when I heard of his passing and remarkable what he has done for the Irish festival legacy. ATN was a number one hit last year and it was an absolute buzz to be part of this.
With a good area covered now I asked Rowan the parking supervisor how it was coming on, he seemed concerned, he said all this work could go to pieces in a minute. The more columns of vehicles parked up, you could visibly see all the green spaces disappearing. It was now getting to about 7 PM and I was getting tired, speaking of which myself or John never got a break in that long shift. We had to shift positions again as the columns increased further down the field. The onslaught of campers and caravans was relentless they just kept coming and coming. What happens if you run out of space, do the lads have to commission another field for overflow parking, who knows.
It was around this time that I had to halt the flow of vans, as there was so many queued up at the parking staff and it was in danger of choking up emergency exits and the like. Some of the vehicles I halted the people within looked stressed to hell, this is where I started hearing stories of people stuck in festival traffic for up to eight hours. All I could do was smile and empathise with them saying don’t worry we’re feeling this stress too. Another thing that was hard to do was having to split up groups that travelled together, especially if it was a mix of camper vans and caravans, as both kind of vehicles had to be parked separately because its a health and safety issue otherwise. When our shift time came to an end it was offsky and out of there, time to relax and enjoy the festival.
I had to sit at HQ for a while for a rest and a coffee, I enjoyed listening to the Fontaines DC from the main stage, the volunteer HQ section was separated by two fences from the back of the main stage, its nice to see them get good billings and they had a great rocky sound tonight, a perfect atmosphere. I went up to my tent for some decanted absinthe to louche with some chilled spring water using these 500 ml Ballygowan plastic bottles before heading for the main stage, the choice of some Spanish Serpis red absinthe and some Valote Martin L’Originale La Bleue absinthe from Val De Travers in Switzerland. Now I’m talking about 5 or 6 shots from the glass bottles into the 500 ML bottles and the decanting funnel to put a shot and a half or two shots into one empty bottle and louche up the rest with water, I consider this a nice festival drink anyway.
Orbital – ATN Main Stage 11.30 PM – 1.00 AM.
This was a nice wee coup by ATN after Orbital’s rip roaring gig at Galway’s Big Top at the Arts Festival the week before, billed as their only Irish gig, so fair play to the festival in booking one of the more visually arresting dance acts and a great way to kick off Friday night. Their festival set was a musical feast of peaks and hits from the past as well as some tracks from the recent album Monster’s Exist. Classics like Tiny Foldable Cities, Wonky, Chime, Halcyon among others from their various albums got an airing. The stage was a really cool setup with a screen beneath the band and a very large rear screen showing mind blowing visuals, plus this year the ATN main stage had side screens too to emphasise the groups visuals. The sound a crisp clear ambient techno and house sound, smooth and silky, the main stage audio sound system impeccable. A great way to get the festival party started.
Erol Alkan played a nice bouncing set at the Afterburner, the electro house producer and musician had a nice crowd gathered around the place dancing away to their hearts content. Alkan has been DJing now for 26 years and is one of the masters of mammoth DJ sets, he is a favourite for putting on exhilarating dance sets at festivals and events. He certainly put a good impression on the ATN crowd tonight judging by the sweaty masses pumping away.
I wandered about the wooded area that had the All Kinds of Everything stage with Good Name Vs Manma Soar trading break beats and jamming, nice bass music and then over to the Belonging Bandstand with Stevie G doing some strange cool music with a hip hop flavour. I met Danyl Hartshorn (Hotbox promoter) his girlfriend Moon Dart and Kate Bandia down there and we went wandering up to Arcadia again. I knew Kevin was coming but I had no idea if he was in the arena, he told me he was putting up his tent at midnight so it must have been a long five or six hours on the road for him. I set back to the crew camp to get some rest and prepare for the next day.
Saturday 3rd August.
Awoke with a bit of a headache today, after working nearly 12 hours yesterday and not having a square meal as I was desperate to catch a bit of the Friday festival action or what was left of it, I hit the alcohol and was paying for my sins this morning. Up to John’s for a coffee and thankfully he had some aspirin’s. He also showed me how he blagged his way onto the main stage and got some nice clips of Orbital from the side of the stage, John how did you do that? 🙂
I set off to the main arena to see if I could find Kevin, David Curran or Lisa Lawless, former crew workers who were coming for the weekend to the festival, As I wandered by the main stage the RTE Concert Orchestra were performing the songs of Leonard Cohen, it transpired that this was just a soundcheck and the gig was to start at 3 PM, David Keenan and Saint Sister were among the special guests performing the vocals with the orchestra.
I went for a wander to check out the Global Roots stage and was surprised to see no bins whatsoever in the area, this was also a magnet for wasps as folk were dumping food on the ground. There was some nice jolly African style music playing on the stage, it could have been The Curly Organ or John Coneely I had no idea of the time at the time. I got a text from David saying to meet him at the lawn in front of Curraghmore House, so only a few minutes downhill. When I met up with them we went for a wander through the woods up to the Belonging Bandstand stage.
The Booka Brass Band – Belonging Bandstand 3.00 – 4.15 PM.
Its looks like there had been a reshuffle of acts today as the Galway Street Club had been billed for this time, but the Booka Brass Band was playing instead, not that I was complaining, it was nice to see the Booka Brass on an open stage as I had became used to them playing the tiny stage and venue at Other Voices when at previous Electric Picnics. The Bookas had a lovely dancing audience gathered and their music, funky jazz, was the perfectly chill type of music one could expect for the middle of the afternoon, always the exceptional festival party act
David and myself decided to stay around this area for a while as the vibe was really nice, plus it wasn’t raining yet. Today had been patchy drizzle and some showers but for the moment a dry spell. We hung around to watch a bit of the next act the New York Brass Band who were equally as lively as the Booka Brass Band and creating a lovely atmosphere.
I also got a bite to eat as was famished, I chose Bear Grillz again as I couldn’t spot a Charcoal Grill and they served to satisfy my hunger cravings once again with the bacon topped quarter pounder for 8.50 Euro.
It started raining again and I made a suggestion we head to a marquee, I looked at the timetable and saw that Australian songwriter Angie McMahon was about to start her set in the Road to Nowhere tent.
Angie McMahon had a strong bluesy vibe to her vocals, the music a rocky, folky, downbeat style and a strong backing with a tight drummer and guitarist. The sound of West Coast blues rock and pop with a touch of melancholy croon to her beautiful vocals. McMahon pulled in a decent crowd into the marquee for her Irish festival debut and she was one of the lucky few musicians to have a fairly peaceful audience before the rain got heavier and brought in the Fomo crowd who love talking the whole way through gigs and who haven’t a notion or care of who is playing on the stage. Hopefully we will see more of McMahon back in Ireland, a truly original refreshing sound.
Lisa Hannigan & Stargaze – Something Kind of Wonderful Stage 6.00 – 7.00 PM.
Now I’ve always wanted to see Lisa Hannigan but have always missed her at various times in the past at the Picnic and Body&Soul festivals, so this was the first time catching her, my sister and niece are big fans of her and At Swim her last album is on constant rotation sometimes on my sisters stereo. She had a multitude of musicians on stage that weaved a lovely sound behind Lisa’s vocals, the gorgeous Prayer for the Dying wafting about like a magical throwback to the nineteen forties era, lovely and authentic old fashioned style country and blues.
The only thing annoying my ass is the fact that half the audience there wouldn’t shut up and have a complete disregard for anyone else actually listening to the gig, the result of heavy rain and lack of covered areas. I’m not too actually familiar with her material but she done some lovely numbers like Swan, Nowhere to Go, Fall amongst others, this is more so taking a guess and checking out some clips and vaguely recognising them from the set, but I loved the show. Two criticisms not to do with Lisa or band was crowd noise and the malfunctioning microphones creating annoying feedback that you could see visibly affecting Lisa but she is an absolute pro who just got on with it. Met Kevin halfway through the gig, so he caught her for the first time too.
And here is my first criticism of the festival site itself, last year was absolutely perfect as the sun shone the whole weekend, but this year there was some very wet showers. When you get to the main stage there is a huge space until you hit the Something Kind of Wonderful tent and then another huge space until you hit the Road to Nowhere tent. Over them spaces could be at least one, two or even three covered seating areas. The fact that the seating areas near the eateries wasn’t covered at all, not even flag-mounted umbrellas made for a pretty wet experience and the marquees can be in danger from seriously overcrowding. Just something the organisers should think about for next year.
I repaired back to crew camp to gather more supplies and jump up to John’s for a coffee and to get my knapsack I left behind as I have two rain macs that would come in handy. After a bit of a rest and hearing Father John Misty finish up in the distance, having quite enjoyed what I heard, I made tracks for the main stage, texting Lisa, Kevin and David to meet right side of the mixing desk tent.
Patti Smith – ATN Main Stage 9.30 – 10.45 PM.
I was champing at the chance to get to see Patti Smith for the first time, although I should have moved a bit closer to the stage to get a good video clip shot. The fact we were in front of the mixing desk barrier meant no one could shove in from behind us. My sister has been a lifelong fan of Patti Smith, so I was already familiar with some of her material.
I always thought Patti was more punk but when I heard her live it was more of an old school blues hard rock but with an alternative feel. She is a very powerful and emotional singer and in her spoken passages during the music it was pure fire and brimstone stuff. She had a few inspired covers in her set, Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Experienced, Lou Reed’s Walk in the Wild side and a lovely cover of Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush. She was the only musician out of the lot I’ve seen over the weekend who paid tribute to the Late Great John Reynolds and dedicated her song Beneath the Southern Cross to him, I found this very touching and very important for the festival, we need to be reminded who started it all.
For the encores she done some of her time old classics, Because The Night and her interpretation of Gloria which positively rocked. For a 72 year old woman she looks amazing and can still rock with the best of them. A smashing gig by all accounts.
It started to rain again so we made for the nearest marquee, oddly enough I had intended to go and see Kiasmos and that’s apparently where we were headed.
Kiasmos – Something Kind of Wonderful 10.45 – 11.45 PM.
The marquee was rammed, myself and Kevin could not see the performers yet as a there was heras fencing along the inside of the entrance, presumably protecting the side of the stage and equipment, but all we could see was a mass of people so far. Saying that the music was mighty, sharp crisp techno beats but with some of the most mesmeric synth keys I’ve ever heard, total dream-zone ambient music. I suppose some would call it downbeat trance I’m more inclined to think they would appeal to fans of James Holden, Four Tet, Jon Hopkins, ambient Aphex Twin, The Orb and the likes but after the gig and listening to the Kiasmos CD, they are their own original sound palette and make gorgeous uplifting forward thinking techno .
The act hailing from Iceland have been growing in popularity since their appearances at Body & Soul Festival and Electric Picnic over the last few years, although for a lot of people they will be an unintentional discovery because they ran in out of the rain. This is my first time catching them so I’m not really familiar with their material, but do intend in procuring some of their albums rather soon. We eventually managed to get by the fencing a bit and I could see one of the musicians from the stage now, Kiasmos make really nice soundscape cinematic ambient techno, lovely invigorating energetic music. I met another boardsie who identified himself as more a lurker than a regular poster but he presented me half a pouch of tobacco as a gift represented by all the posters from Gigs and Events in Boards,ie, so thank you very much as I’m still using this pouch now as I type. 🙂
Well that was an interesting afternoon and evening spent with three quite diverse woman of rock, I had now switched on to electronica mode with Kiasmos kicking this off, I was debating now whether to go and see Jon Hopkins for the fifth or Hot Chip for the third time, but a few said to me that I should go and check out the US techno legend Josh Wink at the Arcadia Afterburner, so off to the Arcadia Afterburner I went. Also after all my festival reviews you would probably be getting tired of reading another Jon Hopkins review which probably is an identical set to the Body&Soul one last year anyway.
Josh Wink – Arcadia Afterburner 12.00 – 2.00 AM.
Josh Wink is a US techno legend who has been on the go since the early nineties, famous for big hits such as I’m Ready, Don’t Laugh (as Winx) and Higher State of Consciousness which he aired at Arcadia tonight. His music very mind bendy, twisted electronica with a thumping crunchy techno and some super squelchy acid house. His madness reminded a bit of Tinfoil’s set at Fuinneamh festival in 2017. His music is that addictive I could not even leave the place to go to the loo it was that wonderful, I dare say it, if Hopkins gig was cancelled that night he would have be in the audience here gurning too and the same with Ben UFO. What can I say, check this legend out.
Hammer aka Rory Hamilton from Belfast put on a nice closing set for the Arcadia, in a set ranging from tough hitting techno to funky house grooves Hammer retained a strong core of the audience in a tightly locked groove, he handled the set well considering who he was following up on. And he is no stranger to the scene himself having worked up a reputation in Glasgow and finally in London. His close friends in Belfast are none other than Bicep, a legend in dance quarters and festivals too. Hammer was a great way to go for blowing out the Saturday night into Sunday morning. I had to dash to the loo near the Something Kind of Wonderful Tent, Leftfield, well Neil Barnes was doing a DJ set and had started playing Phat Planet, on my way back to Arcadia the track was going through its squelchy phasing stage, which had me suitably gurning.
When the music finished for the night I headed back to Kevin’s tent in the main campsite which surprisingly was exceptionally chilled for a smoke and a few cans. I set off for crew camp about 4.30 only to discover that the actual arena was closed up and I had to do at least a 2 kilometres walk to the blue gate to reach the crew camp, was a right tired bunny after that.
Sunday 4th August.
Surprisingly no hangover today and having woke up at the late time of 11.30 AM I headed up to John’s for a coffee, Jenny and Aiden were up and Ann too and we were talking about all the acts and shenanigans we had seen. I looked at the timetable, mapping out today I was hoping to catch some of Saint Sister who received a nice compliment from Lisa Hannigan the day before, where she stated they were one of her favourite groups and then for some Sunday evening reggae with the Wailers. I planned to visit some of the smaller stages too dotted around the festival site instead of the big stages and also hoped to go for a tune at Greencrafts with one of our neighbours, a whistle player.
First thing first, find a food stall and eat in the main arena, I couldn’t decide what to get so settled for fish chips from the chipper truck at the end of the second set of food stalls. Was disappointed when I saw it was a Donegal Catch frozen fish although cooked, still it done the job but pricey for 10 Euro for fish and chips, the Donegal pack that fish comes from holds four of these fish for 5.50 Euro.
Saint Sister ATN Main Stage 3.15 – 4.15 PM.
It was nice to catch Saint Sister again and the band is getting bigger, they looked impressive in this main stage slot considering the last time I saw them they were on the Woodlands Stage at Body&Soul. Saint Sister could be described as a modern electronica rock version of what Clannad and Pentangle were doing in the seventies. Morgan Macintyre and Gemma Doherty have the most beautiful angelic voices out there, like two Liz Frazer’s and a very tight crafted band weaving a steady organic thud to the music. A nice ambient start to the morning with Saint Sisters thought provoking pop. a downbeat, synth and folk laden sound with the strings of the harp, it looked like two drum kits on stage, guitars and electronics, perhaps a keyboard. Performing songs from their album from last year, Shape of Silence, I assume they made some new converts at this gig. I always thought they came from Belfast but their Breaking Tunes page says they are from Dublin so perhaps I’m misinformed. I enjoyed the gig anyway and a nice way to start the Sunday afternoon.
The Wailers put in a great set despite the downpours, classics such as Exodus, Three Little Birds, Is This Love,Jammin,I Shot the Sheriff, Could This Be Love among others. It was just hit after hit impeccably delivered, Josh David Barrett sounds like Bob Marley and gave it his all and with a nice backing of drums, guitars, bass (very important) and keyboards and the fine female backing singers brought all these classic tracks alive. At one point during a downpour the suns rays came through but sadly the rain never abated. Still a splendid gig by the Wailers by all accounts. I didn’t take any photos or clips as I was afraid of soaking my cameras.
The rain wouldn’t relent so we made our way to the nearest shelter the Something Kind of Wonderful tent, its a pity everyone else thought of doing this at the same time, hence a very dangerously packed marquee. This brings me back again to that argument of having a few covered outdoor seating areas, it would help that crowd to level off anyway. It looked like a lull in the rain, myself and Kevin made a dash to the food stalls but the bloody rain started getting heavy again, still we pushed on, I went for a lamb doner from Berlin Kebab with feta cheese while Kevin when for Wok n’ Roll. We scurried back to the marquee again as the next act was due on soon.
Now it seems that the large marquee wasn’t coping too well with the downpours, Olafur was threatening to cancel the gig as the tent was leaking in bits, so stagehands had to bring a large gazebo onto the stage to help protect his equipment. I noticed this yesterday too during Lisa Hannigan’s gig that the tent roof was leaking in bits. The other main problem being an uninterested audience talking away as if they were in a pub in Templebar because they were in out of the rain and not necessarily there to support the act coming on stage. You could see a problem when Olafur was trying to fine tune his instruments but he couldn’t hear anything because of the conversation level of the marquee.
It only dawned on me later that Olafur is effectively one half of Kiasmos, the amazing group I watched the night before and I really hoped it worked out for him with this gig. The music eventually got going and was quite different from Kiasmos, more like a prog rock style gig with the drum kit and violinists involved. Again, a nice dreamy ambient form of rock music, Olafur seems to have bags of talent and I will be checking out his catalogue along with his Kisamos stuff too.
I thought it would be nice to explore some of the smaller stages for Sunday night time, it always happens at festivals, I’ll either concentrate on the main stage and marquees and regret not checking out smaller stages, so this time I was consciously avoiding the main arena as I wanted to check out acts at All Kinds of Everything and Global Roots.
Toby Kaar – All Kinds of Everything 8.00 – 9.00 PM.
I enjoyed the Toby Kaar set as it was electronic music but it was varied from the usual house and techno buzz, I was in search of bass music, drum n bass, jungle and maybe dubstep. The Cork man definitely had some of those genres covered as does the Sim Simma lads who were hosting the stage, having heard various sounds coming from the stage in my travels. I’m sure I have saw Toby before at the smaller stages at Electric Picnic, possibly Life festival and at Body&Soul festival too, but a very good beats man and worth checking out.
Yankari simply blew me away, the ten piece Afrobeat band played up a storm and filled the entire Global Roots arena with amazed admiring fans, myself and Kevin included. The blurb from their Breaking Tunes page describes their sound, ” Combining rhythms, melodies and lyrics from Yoruba and Igbo tribes Yankari have a sound reminiscent of the Afrobeat greats of the 60’s and 70’s… Yankari aspires to advance the original Afrobeat genre by incorporating contemporary western sounds such as, electro-jazz/funk, rhythmic-dance and African rock and roll sounds whilst keeping the traditional groove elements of Afrobeat music at the core of the music ” the group has about three or four vocalists, a serious brass section, excellent electric lead and bass guitarists and percussionists and beautiful sounding African Xylophone type instruments, they had such a marvellous buzz and so refreshing to hear, a perfect festival band, I also hear they are going to be playing the Electric Picnic, so will be looking out for them there.
Well I more or less ended the night around here and because Arcadia are mainly English crew, their choice of playlist was liberal doses of drum n bass, jungle and roots reggae which was absolutely perfect for me, don’t get me wrong I love my house and techno, but apart from acts playing at the All Kinds of Everything stage, you didn’t really get too much bass music. I got an energy rush here dancing to this music as it does combine reggae elements to it too and I find drum n bass/jungle music to be generally underrated in this country compared to say festivals in England and Scotland. Nite-Fleit followed with some crunchy techno and house music and I come to the conclusion that the Arcadia Afterburner is one of the best stages out there, not only is it a visual splendour of the Gothic with its high reaching flames, its got one of the best sounding sound systems out there.
Here’s what I think of what All Together Now 2019 is like, take some of the best daytime elements of the Electric Picnic, the main stage and tents and all the arty stuff and smaller stages, from 10.30 PM onward it turns into the best dance elements of Body&Soul festival and the old Life Festival (2006 – 2015) period as far as electronica and roots music is concerned.
Well by 1,30 I was fairly dead on my feet whilst Kevin seemed to be finding more energy to keep dancing, I decided to repair for the tent as I didn’t want to end up locked out of the arena again and having to do that 2 kilometre walk again around the arena, so I gave Kevin a hug and headed off to crew camp, I suppose I just had to remove myself from loud amplification, which kind of happens when you feel its getting too late for your body clock and your ears are bleeding. 🙂
Monday 5th August.
Surprisingly no hangover today after 3 different absinthe’s last night but I still welcomed that morning coffee from John, as we parted I gave him a hug. The same with Ann when I gave her back the tent, sleeping bag and mat, sorry I couldn’t get the tent into the bag in the end. Thank you, John, Jenny, Ann, Catherine, Susan and Kevin. all of you for looking after me.
Just to rephrase what I said earlier in the review, the festival needs to look at maybe putting at least one or two covered sitting areas in the main arena, for people wanting shelter to eat food or just to be basically keep dry from the rain, yeah, I know we could just dress for the weather but we would’ve looked like right pillocks last year walking about in rain gear in the sunshine and Irish weather is just so unpredictable. The festival also needs to look at their traffic management policy and make sure there is no repeat of the traffic chaos that occurred on Friday this year.
I walked to the red camp with my gear and met Kevin and he drove me back to Galway safe and sound for my session at 9.30 PM, so thank you buddy. 🙂
I had a truly great 5 days at Curraghmore House and would do it all again in a blink, looking forward to ATN 2020 already and maybe I’ll see some of you at this years Picnic. Bring it on and goodbye.
21st – 23rd June. Ballinlough Castle, County Westmeath, Ireland.
The Pre-Event 18th – 20th June.
Nope, there was just no way of getting any shut eye after playing a gig at Tigh Cholis when I got home at 1 AM Tuesday morning and having to get the Citylink bus at five getting picked up by my mate Kevin in Loughrea and driving on to the Body&Soul festival site to start a twelve hour shift at eight in the morning. Belfast man, Aaron Cleary greeted us warmly and made us feel at home, he gave us time to set up our tents and we met up in an hour again to get assigned our shifts at the Volunteer HQ. Unbeknown to me, Aaron is also the organiser of the Sunflower Fest in Lisburn, County Antrim and most of his followers and crew were in the volunteer crew team, so there was a nice Northern Irish and Scottish feel to the team as well as some of the beloved Body&Soulers I have been used to working with for the last seven years, sadly Robert Murray was missing from the crew this year as he passed away in January. RIP Robert.
The work wasn’t that hard, I done a bit of everything, worked a bit with Corina and others at the Traders Accreditation office helping with the pre-event wristbands and ticking off the businesses from the sheet who were sorted, make sure that they read the health and safety brief and jot down their vehicle details in case they need to be contacted by the festival to move their vehicle. I also helped Kevin with scrimming some of the fences. I worked the Red Route with Kevin on Wednesday, Stop and Talk two way radio duty and later in the evening we gave the car park setup guys a hand, stringing posts and putting red and white tape in the centre between posts, basically routing the car track for the parking.
The Volunteer HQ was a lovely white tent with comfy couches and the admin at the other end of the tent, a coffee filter machine and a lovely supply of fresh delicious sandwiches. One of Ireland’s greatest ladies, Catherine Kehoe came to help Aaron for the weekend and there was a few lovely Scottish girls helping with the admin too. before I can fill in the missing details of everyone’s name, I need to make a bunch of Facebook friends and reminders hahaha.
Thursday was spent slowly exploring the site and parts of some of the arenas around the festival site, Kevin went back home to sort some things and replenish, he texted me in the afternoon to ask if I needed supplies, so sorted for the weekend for my scoops. I took some photos of the Decor folk working on art and installations, the main stage and the Midnight Circus tent.
Friday 21st June.
Up at 10 AM because of the heat, man, its hot in the tent after a shivery enough night sleeping in two sleeping bags with all my clothes on, so I was a sweating fecking mess in the morning. Fair play to Aaron, he had a coffee filter machine on the go with two practically full jugs of hot coffee, an absolute life saver, you just had to remember to bring yer reusable cup as the festival has a strong stance against single-use plastics on the festival site.
Straight away the agenda was to find a food stall that done a brunch sort of thing, this was about 2 in the afternoon so some of the food stalls were not ready yet. I went up to the Cheesy Bread place as I wanted to try it out, but they said another twenty minutes, so sorry, hunger pangs. On to the next place, Berlin Kebab where I ordered up a lamb kebab and Kevin a chicken one. It was massive and gorgeous served up with lovely salad and lashings of feta cheese, this was my main meal for the day and absolutely worth every penny at eight Euro. A great food stall worth investigating.
The first thing I explored was the Living Lab Tent with Kevin as it had some of the earliest activity of the festival, there was some funky happy house playing from the sound system and we met Danyl Hartshorn who revealed to us that the tent was powered by solar panels behind the tent.
We would come back to this place over the early Saturday and Sunday afternoons as there was going to be talks about ecological and waste issues, the tent being run by Native Events and Young Friends of the Earth among others.
KNEECAP – Midnight Circus 6.00 – 6.45 PM.
The first act I had planned to see on Friday was KNEECAP, the Belfast punk rock/electro rap group, ever since I saw their video H.O.O.D on Youtube I wanted to see them. They are going to go places they are taking the leaf out of the Sex Pistols book by simultaneously getting banned from RTE and BBC at the same time, establishing their notoriety, building a solid fan base of wedged tents like the Midnight Circus tonight and selling a pile of records, good luck to them I hope they go far. They put on a great rocking show anyway. Belfast’s Beastie Boys 😉
You might hear the odd swear word.
Kevin was intrigued by something that was happening in the Sanctuary area in the early evening, Celtic Shamanism given by John Cantwell and Karen Ward from County Clare. There was a circle of people in the centre seated whilst John and Karen at the head of the circle gave a talk about nature, about the elements and the blessing of the festival. I was merely a bystander observing the ritual and Kevin stayed out of the circle but sort of participated. John and Karen gave a bunch of blessings and banged the drum to emphasise the elements in the North, South, East and West. A different way to kick in afternoon and a refreshing experience.
A trip back to the camp for more supplies and myself and Kevin made for the Reckless in Love Stage, the pulsing techno beckoning from the distance.
Aoife O’Neill The Hennessy Sound Stage 8.00 – 10.00 PM.
I stopped off for twenty minutes at the Hennessy Sound Stage to listen to a bit of Aoife O’Neill who I reviewed at Townlands Festival in 2016, today she was on a sort of Kelly Anne-Byrne buzz playing soulful funky house music. Pleasant chill out music for a sunny evening. It was the strangest dance venue that was adorned with bean bags and large cushions everywhere, so a kind of chill lounge. Formally the site for the Wanderlust Stage.
Jafaris – Midnight Circus 20.30 – 21.30 PM.
I forgot to add this when first writing the review, we stopped of to listen to this guy for a while, Dublin-based rapper Jafaris. I found the backing music to be a little cheesy myself but Jafaris had a nice charisma that sorta won me over, he has a great stage presence and had a nice crowd gathered at the Midnight Circus tent.
Automatic Tasty (Live) Reckless in Love 9.00 – 10.00 PM.
This lad had some seriously scrunchy techno with a bass that could kill and he was slaying it with the audience, frantic, heads down, wagging and pulsing to the beat, Automatic Tasty had it in slabs, long may he continue to make music, sorry there is no video clip for him as I was enjoying the music too much.
Neil Flynn Reckless in Love 10.00 – 11.30 PM.
Neil Flynn put in another superb set, hard hitting techno and hard house, the lad just keeps getting better and better, Homebeat should have their own club nights, as they always have a fine calibre of electronic producers and DJ’s. I hope Mr Flynn is playing at Electric Picnic too, maybe he might turn up in the Arcadia Afterburner at All Together Now, I hope so anyway.
This brought myself and Kevin nicely up to 11.30 so a perfect gradual walk to the next arena to sit on the hillside overlooking the main stage to watch the technicians put together Kruder & Dormeister’s stage rig and maybe plan to walk to the front 15 minutes before the start of their gig.
Kruder & Dorfmeister Main Stage 12.30 – 1.45 AM.
Right up beside the barrier the lights and PA kick into life, two silhouetted figures on stage behind laptops and keyboards. A mumble of voices and then the familiar keys of Bug Powder Dust from the K&D Sessions album (1998), a slow brooding downbeat rap number, the perfect comedown after the frantic techno of Restless in Love. Kruder & Dorfmeister are more akin to Brian Eno, Massive Attack, Boards of Canada rather than just a pair of dance DJ’s the sounds they pick are unreal and unlike many others.
The producers Peter Kruder and Richard Dorfmeister hail from Austria, I am so happy to witness this act as they rarely tour as it is. having studied their gigography, they tend to do their gigging in November and October sticking mainly to Germany, Austria, Scandinavia and other parts of Europe, they have barely played the UK but a few times and even less in Ireland. Its only recently they have been playing a handful of festival dates. Anyway on with the review, the lads had some nice crunchy ambient techno on the go and shocked the hell out of me when they went into Pink Floyd’s Breathe (Reprise) from Dark Side of the Moon doing a lovely job mixing beats behind it. There was some lovely down-tempo jazz moments in their music that screamed Body&Soul, it was so perfect. Then came that guitar sound reminiscent to Julee Cruise’s Falling from Twin Peaks, sounds like the vibrato effect on a Rickenbacker guitar through old valve amplifiers. Of course, it was a downbeat intro to Speechless, also from the K&D Sessions. The tempo sped up to the original DnB version when the sampled vocalist hits her high note and there was no stopping the audience bopping away to a classic. The band finished with a final ambient chill track putting me in a fine mood to investigate Fish Go Deep next. The sound at the main stage was massively good, the best I have heard yet.
Fish Go Deep – Hennessy Sound Stage. 12.00 – 03.00 AM.
Fish Go Deep from County Cork had a nice chilled crowd at the Hennessy Sound Stage, he was playing funky soulful house which sort of complemented Kruder & Dorfmeister’s previous set. The tent was nicely lit on the inside with small lights giving a lovely otherworldly glow and the beautifully lit woods in the Walled Garden.
We headed back up to Reckless in Love which had music on till 4 AM but no one was listed in the schedule after 3 AM so I have no idea who was manning the decks till 4 but enjoyed the beats anyway. I think we headed back to crew camp before the daylight fully kicked in, making sure to get some shut eye before it became too hot to sleep in the tent.
Saturday 22nd June.
Woke about eleven in a sweating mess again, the only complaint at this festival this year was the crew showers, I had been trying to take one since Tuesday but every time I went up there right up to yesterday the boiler to heat the water was broken so only cold showers, they finally got it fixed for Saturday. Was queuing at 12 and they shut at 2 so was glad I had a place in the queue, twas worth it even though I started sweating buckets when trying to dry myself. Got a poke of garlic cheese and chips from the vendor there, the Dublin couple who set up for the security and crew, very handy and a nice wee number for them as they will always have someone up there looking for coffee or something to eat.
Myself and Kevin went up to the Living Lab tent in the main campsite to hear what the talks would be like, Claudia from YoungFriends of the Earth and another girl was giving talks about the food we eat and some amazing facts about the amount of water and sugar used to produce certain foods. The two girls then decided to engage some of the audience in a game of Food Bingo where could you could win prizes if you could guess the food, fruit or vegetable. It was all a bit of fun and the girls were delightful. It seems the Clashfinder tells me the talk was called Climate Queens Live Podcast (2.00 – 3.00 PM) .
The next set of speakers gave a talk about what happens to our waste, the programme was called Trash Talk: What Happens to our Waste. Unfortunately some rather wired individual wandered in from the campsite and tried to strike up a conversation with us, while we were trying to listen to the talk, he was incoherent and couldn’t keep up a conversation, he had no interest in the talk and started asking the speakers irrelevant questions. Myself and Kevin made our escape and watched in the distance while your man scampered back into the campsite and we scampered back to the talk.
We headed up to the Reckless in Love stage as Kevin said that Mother DJ’s were down there for Pride Anthems, the place was very colourful for the celebration of gay pride. My camera homed in on these girls trying to do a dance routine or choreography with the music, it was fun to watch and the weather absolutely perfect in every way with the shining sun.
I think we adjourned back to the crew campsite for a while, mainly to just chill, talk to Aaron and Catherine and everyone else and have a coffee or perhaps a drink. A lot of folk were heading to see King Kong Company on the main stage and as much as I love them, I’ve seen them so many times now, so I opted for Confidence Man at the Midnight Circus.
Confidence Man – Midnight Circus 21.35 – 22.30 PM.
Confidence Man were unreal, so, so good. The Australian pop electro dance act are going to be huge, judging by the reactions from the audience. They have that crisp production sound so beloved of Daft Punk, that sure house pomp beat that is addictive to your dance sensibilities, the band is a four piece formed in 2016 with one album behind them called Confidence Music for Confident People released in 2018. The band basically has two acts, one is the electronics guy (Reggie Goodchild) and a live drummer (Clarence McGuffie) who flesh out some ravey instrumentals and funk, in the other act the band is joined by two vocalists, Janet Planet and Sugar Bones for a bunch of songs as a foursome. Sometimes the vocalists take a break and the other lads go into instrumental mode for a while again. But Confidence Man make refreshing original forward thinking dance music that is a joy to hear, go and check them out if you get a chance.
I wandered over into the Main Stage arena where I sat on the hillside a while overlooking the main stage before the Sleaford Mods started.
Sleaford Mods – Main Stage 22.45 – 23.40 PM.
the Sleaford Mods always put on a good show, they were on later this time than the last time they played Body&Soul in 2017, so it was darker and they had some nice graphics going on in the back screen. They describe themselves as ‘electronic munt minimalist punk-hop rants for the working class’ which to me seems pretty accurate. They are electronic but have a raw energy that reminds me of the energy of the punk/new wave era from the late seventies with bands like The Jam, The Ruts, Dr Feelgood, the Inmates at the like, I get the sense they are from they same era or perhaps its offspring in the music world. I left the concert for about twenty minutes joining Kevin at Reckless in Love to see Kelly Anne-Byrne play her last track and to probably one of her biggest audiences yet. We then jumped back to the main stage to watch the rest of the Sleaford Mods set for which they killed it in a most excellent way.
While sitting on the hillside in my inebriated sort of mellow haze, various things flying about inside my head, I homed in like a finely tuned antenna into the sounds emitting from the main stage speaker system, this didn’t seem like the usual sort of playlist that would be playing from the B&S main stage sound system, so I thought possibly its the Modeselektor technicians playlist that was probably playing from the system. But I was going WTF! What the phuck is that, its amazing and trippy as hell, clanky, metallic unthinking Aphex Twinny type rhythms with bell sounds, I had to take out the phone and Shazam it and what came up but Autechre – Dael, Warp label mates of Aphex Twin. A very hypnotic track.
Modeselektor – Main Stage 12.30 – 1.45 AM.
This was my third time catching Modeselektor as well as seeing Moderat two times too, so well used to seeing these guys in action. Modeselektor started off with some dizzying bangers, tracks from the new album Who Else and a few from Monkeytown (2011) with Blue Clouds, Berlin and German Clap. One United Power and Wealth among others from the new album. But an unexpected power cut put out their sound for a good ten minutes. They came back though and played a few more whopping bangers and were joined by a strange female dancer with a mohican. Unfortunately the sound blew again for another maybe five or ten minutes and they returned to complete the show but sadly the momentum got lost in the end, I still enjoyed what they put on though.
Went back to the Mother DJ set at Reckless in Love for a while but I was loosing energy and stamina to stand, after standing or sorta dancing for the last 4 or 5 hours, I had to sit somewhere and Reckless was just too way packed by this stage, so all I wanted to do now was lie down in the tent and relax, which I did, I was happy I had an action packed day so can’t complain.
Sunday 23rd June.
Woke about 9.30 this morning drenched in sweat again, it was a clammier day today with a steady drizzle of rain building, off to the Volunteer HQ for a caffeine fix and a blether about the previous nights shenanigans.
Kevin had a light bulb moment, he remembered that Cian Finn was opening the Midnight Circus with a two hour set at noon, so we sped off to there in search of some roots reggae and jungle.
Cian Finn – Midnight Circus 12.00 – 2.00 PM.
Was dreadfully hungover this morning and the musical act to bring me out of it again was the very splendid Cian Finn in an early set opening the Midnight Circus, which can be a tough enough task to attempt. Alternating from Lovers Rock to dub reggae and then onto Drum n Bass and jungle, he even threw in a bit of Jon Hopkin’s Open Eye Signal where I completely lost my marbles to the music. The lad went from 4 or 5 people standing or sitting around at the starting of the set to at least 150 people by the end of his set, such is the pulling power of this gentle giant.
The Tulla Ceili Band – Main Stage 14.30 – 15.30 PM.
Kevin also had this on the agenda, being a Clare man himself, we trooped up to the main stage to welcome the Tulla Ceili Band and their set dancing instructor. A nice crowd had gathered to hear the traditional music of County Clare, jigs, reels, slides and polkas and the ushering of the instructor on how to dance the Clare sets, many enthusiastic people joining in to have a dance, it was great to see this energy at the time of the day. I spotted the farmer Michael Murtagh, who’s house sits next to the Boneyard Festival Production area, he was out with his family dancing and a fine dancer too. I took a few clips of the action.
we took a walk into the woods area, I still hadn’t checked out any acts in the Woodland’s Stage this weekend, so it was nice to see some spoken word, urban beat poetry and rap from Dublin on the stage. I think the programme we were watching was called Emmet Kirwan’s Beats and Rhymes, which was very interesting, funny and poignant.
Back to the crew camp to replenish a while and say hello to our fellow neighbours, we made tracks again to one of our favourite haunts, the Hennessy Sound Stage area, Kevin wanted to dance in the rain, I wasn’t too keen so sat in the wall next to the security stone shelter out of the rain. The music playing was great, pumping sounds from Sally Cinnamon & Friends, the Hang Dai Soundsystem and later onto hard driving drum n bass and Jungle with the Sim Simma Soundsystem, the lads who run the reggae roots and jungle area at Life Festival. I was just saying to Danyl Hartshorn earlier in the day that there was maybe too much techno and house music and a serious lack of bass music such as Drum n Bass and jungle, but Cian Finn and the Sim Simma Soundsystem remedied that situation just nicely.
Another quick trip back to crew camp to gather the last of my cans and a brief rest, off to the main stage now in the steady increasing rain to catch a bit of the Blaze’s set, I messaged Kevin I was going there but my phoned died when he replied he would be beside the mixing desk.
The Blaze – Main Stage 22.15 – 11.45 PM.
French based duo The Blaze took to the main stage and despite a steady heavy rain pulled a very decent crowd to their electronic avant garde show. As well as being electronic producers they also have a dab hand at video production techniques which was in evidence on the side screens during their act. It was a fairly interesting show with their melancholic electronica and visuals but alas I was just getting a tad too wet so repaired to the Midnight Circus for shelter and to catch the end of Monolink’s closing set there.
Now I caught Monolink two years ago at Forbidden Fruit in 2017, he was the second main stage opener on the Sunday (Aphex Twin Day) with a completely empty barrier and space in front of him and maybe about ten people watching him sitting on the hillside. I was so happy that this time round he had an absolutely wedged and heaving tent getting down to his sounds, probably more so because it was raining too but he got a very positive reaction from the audience. He is much like R.S.A.G except Monolink from Berlin sings and plays guitar over his arrangements rather than the drum kit. A very nice finish for the Midnight Circus.
What better way to close the festival for me, Cian Finn, the lad who opened the festival for me on Sunday, book-ending the Sunday with a mammoth three and a half hour set at the Arbutus Yarns, the man must have the energy of the gods. Basically Alec was looking down from heaven onto him and giving him that much needed stamina, his father having passed away a few months ago, Cian guaranteeing that the Finn name remains in sonic music history of Ireland. I love the way Cian merges traditional ballads into the reggae weave such as Will you go Lassie Go, I inched toward the stage front which offered a little shelter from the dripping drops of rain through the trees, the Arbutus Yarns is a lovely session space that was teaming with people craving for that old Port Royal area where reggae had found its place for the time that was in it. But after forty minutes I realised I might get pneumonia if I didn’t change into some dry clothes soon and I knew when I left the venue I wouldn’t be coming back, but man, what a party and an amazing weekend.
Monday 24th June.
Woke up to the sound of the fear, that sound you hear when tents start to be taken apart and wrapped up, slowly but surely starting to pack up my own ruck sack of used and unused clothes, bits and pieces. Went down for a coffee and discovered to my dismay that the festival had shut off the water to the crew camp area. This has happened for the last few years now, WHY? I know you want people to pack up and go home, but its not very fair to volunteers and workers who have to work the festival breakdown on the Monday, how would you like to go without water or a coffee in the morning. Are we supposed to march to the Castle camping or the main campsite to get our coffee or water, a bit ridiculous there. I had two cans of Guinness left in my stash and I knew Aaron was going to be working today so I gave them to him, so he could relax with a stout after the final volunteers completed their shift.
Kevin gave me a lift to Loughrea where I just missed the Citylink and Bus Eireann buses and I thought I would be waiting an hour, but luckily there was another Bus Eireann bus ten minutes later that got me to Galway in good time. I had a hot shower and a good shave removing the festival grime from my body.
I bid you adieu and will see ye all at ATN and Electric Picnic this year or perhaps next year at Ballinlough Castle.
Aphex Twin is a bit like The Beatles at this stage; whether you are in deep or have just a passing regard for him, most people at least know the name.
I remember reading about Aphex Twin in Select magazine in 1992. Even then he was a figure held in reverence: a teenage prodigy, who while part of the rave scene, was on the fringes of electronic music, and built his own machines.
While I was intrigued, I can’t remember hearing my first Aphex track until three years later. It was under the pseudonym Polygon Window – the last track on a Warp compilation called Artificial Intelligence 2. The track was called My Teapot. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It was by far and away the worst piece of shit I had ever heard. It sounded like a hamster on the bog. What a piss-take. Then…
Stradbally, County Laois, Ireland 31st August – 2nd September.
Got the Citylink commuter to Kinnegad on Sunday 26th August to be picked up by Derek who was bringing his daughter Shannon to Electric Picnic, the final bash of the year beckoned and although it wasn’t the best lineup this year by all accounts there was definitely something for everyone there, what with thirty five stages there is always gonna be something out there that would grab you.
Sunday 26th – Thursday 30th August – The Advance Week.
There was a bit of rain every now and then this year so the fine John Dooley got a loan of a small marquee from JD (a local man also working the festival) that sat beside his camper. This was perfect for watching films if it happened to be raining and John had a fine selection of films and the Father Ted box set, so back to back episodes to keep the laughs coming laughing at our Irish follies.
I was working at the production gate again this year directing arrivals to a temporary car park and to their health and safety induction where they would get temporary wristbands. Working with two other volunteers Shannon and her boyfriend Cian and changed over to two different volunteers during the week. I brought the beat box with playlists of Massive Attack, Death Grips and the Prodigy among others.
Security was telling me on Tuesday that themselves and the Gardai were chasing some fence jumpers, which made me wonder, where the hell would they go with the festival not due on till three days, hide in one of the portaloos perhaps.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were fairly mellow days where I had some great chats with some of the Eventsec security and the volunteers I was working with, some of them into exploring the festival and music whilst some had no interest at all, one security chap was more into musicals rather than rock and pop music, I suggested he check out Body&Soul or the Trailer Park for possibly pop up musicals, which could happen.
Festival Republic seemed to be messing with peoples heads, they kept changing the wristband colour for accreditation each day, so one minute you would be on your way and the next you would be blocked, meaning you had to get in touch with your supervisor to get the new wristband.
Thursday seemed to be the messiest of all with it being the most ultra busy day on the eve of the festival. There seemed to be a lack of communication between departments of the festival as the wristband had changed colour again which I found out when I went to use the production loos. I was working with security out on the roadside entrance today and there was a lot of heated exchanges between festival staff and security. What basically happened was bunches of workers going out on their lunch break and discovering they couldn’t get back in again through the production gate until they got in touch with their bosses to get the relevant accreditation again. Anyways my shift came to an end and I became a wristbanded festival punter. The one thing bugging me was having a blocked right ear, either wax or an ear infection, but I wouldn’t be able to hear full stereo. Was delighted to meet Catherine, Susan and Ross again and countless others who I forgot the names of already, my head is like a sieve sometimes. There was talk that because of the scarcity of tickets this year, on average they were going for 400 Euro each that volunteers and security would abscond from their duties.
Friday 31st August.
The predictions were right, some volunteers disappeared as soon as they were accredited , I could never do something like that as its like breaking a contract, your wristband number would be given to security and if any of the staff from the volunteer HQ had seen you, you would’ve been reported and ejected of the site. I would be too paranoid to enjoy the festival and plus its not a nice thing to do. I willingly sacrificed DJ Shadow, Boys Noize, Shit Robot, The Undertones and half the Jimmy Cliff gig at EP 2011 to work the late shift working alongside Declan, a lovely man who is now head of security at the production area, as Catherine needed someone to man the gates leading to the back of the marquees, very important, ferrying musicians and bands to their gigs and having an emergency lane for fire trucks, Gardai and ambulances and keeping the path clear in such emergencies. Because of these absences security have to do some of these roles instead and they work long enough hours as it is.
I met Dagmara Zolty and Mati the people I had been doing the work experience with this year at the crew camp, they were going to be doing a pop up scratch workshop at the festival Dagmara with Mati runs this streetwear fashion boutique called 1984 Miracles in Galway city that is also a scratch hip hop record shop and label (Cut&Paste Records) in 5 Augustine St, where they also host Community Scratch sessions once a month in their shop, anyone can come in off the street and have a go on their decks and they’ll show you how to scratch.
I took the opportunity to film a small bit of the journey after the hole in the wall, I wanted to capture the wooded walk in the staff entrance to the festival site with the lovely lights through the trees and the buzzing people zipping into the festival.
Well I couldn’t really afford the lanyard this year i had to be careful with the spending, eating wisely and cheaply, mainly in Stradbally itself and through the kindness of John Dooley. But I knew the Roadhouse Doors (2.45 – 4 PM) was playing the Salty Dog stage and that some Boardsies were planning a meet up there, Boardsies as in posters to the Electric Picnic thread in Gigs and Events in the Boards.ie chat forum. After messaging a few, some of them were still on their way to the site, so it never happened. I loved the music and it sounded pretty authentic, they done great covers and the singer had an amazing larynx. A great start for the festival to get you in the mood and a good old rock out.
This year I’m rocking out, its either a combination of metal/hip hop or trap metal, punk or hardcore hip hop and punk techno, DnB and Jungle music. I will be mainly watching and listening too, three selected artists, Scarlxrd, Death Grips, The Prodigy and whatever else comes along. Also looking forward to Massive Attack. It has to be said, there was an awful lot of dross in the lineup this year, will be hot footing from the likes Gavin James, The Coronas, Picture This, George Ezra and Walking On Cars.
Grabbed a Charcoal Grill steak burger and sat at a table that was already polluted with everyone else’s crap and bins a mere two metres away, there is no self respect, so much for the green message projected on the main stage screens.
CHVRCHES – Main Stage – 7.30 – 8.30 PM.
Glasgow band CHVRCHES put on a nice set airing tracks from their new album Love is Dead. Lauren Mayberry the singer joked about playing festivals and concerts around the world in seriously sweltering conditions and was glad to be back to a similar climate to Scotland. I saw the band the last time they played in 2015 and their interest has swelled pulling a reasonable crowd to the main stage. they have a nice buzzy synth pop going on and Mayberry has a lovely soaring voice. Its nice to see a band from my home sod and one worth checking out if you like good electronic rock and pop. I also met fellow boardsie Scruff Monkey at the side of the mixing desk area. The clip I think was taken too far away, but sometimes we feel comfortable watching from a distance, that would change during the weekend.
Got a message that David Curran had turned up at the crew camp and was on his way to the arena, so I went up to the volunteer HQ and there he was, I stopped for a coffee and we made our way to the right of the mixing desk for the main stage in preparation for the Kendrick Lamar set of who David was a big fan of.
Kendrick Lamar – Main Stage 10.40 – 12 AM.
Now I wouldn’t be a big Kendrick Lamar fan, I do like some hip hop just different types really, but I was intrigued all the same as he is one of the biggest touring the circuit at the moment. BANG! well I didn’t expect that, shook me to my senses, so this guy has some interesting pyrotechnics and what looked like a strange fascination with Chinese / Kung Fu culture mixed with Blaxploitation in the visuals on the back screen backdrop. He was definitely entertaining enough and worth seeing once anyway. Would have preferred a dance act in the end, The Prodigy would have been a good start but we’ll get them in the end. The video clip is from Vegan Viking who always manages to get the best close ups of acts at the Picnic. Don’t let my review put you off, I don’t really review it as such as I don’t know his catalogue nor bothered to check, but if you like that type of hip hop you’ll love this guy. He certainly puts on an interesting visual show.
After that myself and David went wandering about Body&Soul Village, up to the main stage to look at the Super Extra Bonus Party, but they didn’t really do it for us so we wandered up to the Earth Ship stage and caught the end of the Bobofunk set and the start of Jah Monk’s set. Bobofunk doing a techno/house kind of thing that got us bouncing and Jah Monk playing a mixture of roots reggae and jungle which also got us bouncing nicely. A cold enough breeze came in so we needed somewhere sheltered, I suggested we go to The Haunt which I don’t think David regretted, he was well impressed with the venue and the sounds emitting. The only thing I Shazamed this year and was particularly taken by was Beyond Belief by Elvis Costello & the Attractions, such is the diverse compilations of their playlists, I loved all the tracks they played but that was the only one I took the trouble to find out about. We stayed there till 3.50 AM and headed back to the crew camp after that. Met Kevin at the crew camp, he had done his first weekend shift at family camping so I joined him for a few cans while David crashed for the night.
Went over to John for a coffee and he produced a rasher and sausage sandwich to me, what a legend. Met David who told me he was going for a beer run with Kevin wanting a few cases too. So myself, David and Coby (Adam Coburn that is) piled into the car. Got myself another tray of Guinness. Had a shower to refresh and jammed a bit in the bodhran with the 1975 Paddy Keenan album on the ipod, I think some of the crew enjoyed my effort.
David and myself made for the arena about 5 PM to go and see Mavis Staples the famous soul singer which should be good or so I hoped, not so as Specialised Security held me up at the gate. They found my two cans of Guinness and told me I had to drink them at the gate before going in, despite my protests that no stout is for sale anywhere in the festival site. So Specialised Security, the Heineken overlords are forcing stout drinkers to drink watered down 6.50 Euro pints of lager. We need Heineken kicked in the ass out of the festival, bring Guinness back like at Witnness festival. Met a few randomers at the gate including a Murphy’s drinker who felt the same. Bring free flow to the Picnic please like Body&Soul Festival and All Together Now so we don’t have these needless delays. By the time I got to the main stage Staples was at the last few minutes of the set, so missed most of it and it put me in a steamer of a mood, I almost took it out on my phone, there was gritted teeth for ten minutes at least. Plus I was half cut a little too quickly after gubbing two cans at a fairly fast pace. But time to get out of there quickly before I heard the first note of Gavin James.
Scarlxrd – Little Big Tent 6.30 – 7.15 PM.
Thank god there was other stages to go to and such a noisy metal or should I say mental hip hop act like Scarlxrd. Wikipedia has a few genres attached to Scarlxrd, trap, heavy metal, rap metal, nu metal or hardcore hip hop. I bloody loved it, being a metal fan when growing up, I still liked a bit here and there but this was a new type of signing for the Picnic. The Picnic this year also attracted a much younger audience too and a lot were in evidence at this gig as this is one of the first times I’ve seen a mosh pit forming at a gig at the festival. The music a grinding metal sound that sounded so rusty and Scarlxrd practically wearing his throat away into his abdomen from screaming the lyrics. His beats man was also another lunatic leaping about like a nutter but you could see they really loved it. How would you describe it, the complete opposite to Gavin James anyway. It was too much for David and he retreated after a few minutes motioning to his ears, I said I’d meet him after. But I loved this new type of violent music, its nice seeing the Picnic give this a go.
I met up with David again at the Trailer Park and I had a bite to eat, settling for Home Fries and their lovely garlic and cheese potatoe fries. I don’t know if it was Scarlxrd’s music or the mood after drinking the cans quickly but I developed an eye strain headache and made the decision to go back to the crew camp for a quick power nap as I became exhausted quite quickly and dehydrated so a sit down or lie down in the quiet was the order of the day, setting my alarm for 11 PM so that I might catch a bit of NERD and the full Massive Attack set.
I realised I couldn’t really sleep anyway but the peace was nice and I savoured the rest, I headed up to the arena at the back of 10 PM making for the volunteers HQ only bringing water with me this time so there would be no delays at the gate going in. Met Catherine and she kindly gave me some aspirin which killed the headache and I had a few coffees there, she also gave me a bottle of water as she reckoned it was dehydration too, most definitely after leaping about like a lunatic to Scarlxrd. N.E.R.D ( standing for No One Ever Really Dies) was making a delightful sound from the main stage and they had a great crowd gathered for their set. I went down to watch the last few numbers of their set and Pharrel Williams knows how to get a crowd going as he is a big name in his own right, funky party hip hop that is perfect for a festival environment.
Hip hop has seemingly become the number one genre for festivals these days, what with Kendrick yesterday and Longitude devoting most of the acts to be hip hop this year in their bill. Beat poetry over a dance beat, The Sleaford Mods, a very different kind of beat poetry who got my attention at Body&Soul Festival last year but alas they clashed with the Prodigy set at this one. The spoken word is overtaking vocals, some of it good and some not so good at times, this doesn’t reflect on N.E.R.D’s set though which sounded extremely good.
Was getting hungry again and seeked out a food stall, I fancied fish and chips, the Fish & Chip Shack catered exactly for my needs, done in the style like the Scottish/Italian chippers, scrumptious and delicious but a pricey enough 11.20 Euro but worth it.
Well I’m glad MA didn’t cancel this performance like they did at Mad Cool Festival in Madrid this summer and I was looking forward to some beautiful ambient downbeat triphop and their usual flair for cool visuals and propaganda messages, I was also praying that it wouldn’t rain like the last time in 2010 where I got soaked to the skin.
David met me and Ross too, we were positioned to the top right of the mixing desk so just perfect where we were. Massive Attack didn’t disappoint, lovely dark ambient stuff, they kicked off with I Against I, the collaboration they done with Mos Def and a nice lively start to the proceedings. Their set was plucked from their array of five albums and various EPs they have done over the years. Inertia Creeps and the brilliant Rising Son from the Mezzanine album, Future Proof from their 100th Window album that probably had the best visuals of the set going from a set counter in the middle of the screen, a countdown clock which exploded into a brightly lit backdrop and that kind of jamming sound that only the likes of Massive Attack and Portishead can do, incredible stuff. The only niggly thing for me was their random messages across the screen which hurt my eyes after a while trying to read them so I concentrated on other dynamics of the show.
Having studied their setlists over the summer on setlist.com I knew that Teardrop had been dropped for the last few years now, but some of my buddies (Kevin included) still vented about it being missing, it is their best known track but I suppose ultimately it was the bands decision in the end. I also would have liked to have heard Karmacoma but Tricky wasn’t around nor was Horace Andy, who I hear is doing poorly at the moment so hopefully he recuperates, the singer they used for Angel though done a commendable enough job. The band closed with Unfinished Sympathy which is still my favourite Massive Attack track and the beautiful vocals of Deborah Miller. The background soulful keening you hear in the track I often made the connection that, that could be influenced by Pink Floyd’s Great Gig in the Sky and the wordless soulful vocal from that. A nice super chilled set from Massive Attack to close out the main stage on Saturday night.
After that we vowed to catch the spectacular show put on by the Picnic up by the big wheel by the Catalan theatrical group La Fura dels Baus of the giant man and Irish volunteers pulled in to do the acrobatic performance from a pyramid structure suspended from a crane. Having missed the Friday performance at midnight, this was our last chance to catch this act at 2 AM as there would be no performance of it on Sunday night. A number of the volunteers involved were staying at the crew camp and we were talking to them at John’s camper, a pretty exciting project to be involved with. A few rehearsals over the week and two shows on Friday and Saturday. Its nice for the Picnic to be bringing back this kind of stuff, it would be akin to the Burning Man artist’s structure that was set alight in 2008 in near enough the same area and the Cubatron installation among others.
And this is where my Nikon camera battery ran out, but how could I resist not filming stuff like this, you have to show the people what they are missing.
Body&Soul beckoned after that, my apologies to other Electric Picnic areas that I didn’t go near this year such as Hazel Wood, Trenchtown (the reggae seemed to be more spread out this year, Earthship stage I’m looking at you) also it must be the proximity of it being near the Jimi Hendrix campsite that it can be messy and sometimes you can confuse the way you are going and end up in the campsite and it takes ages to get out again, but I’ll vow to do Trenchtown next year as I do love my reggae. I also avoided Anchronica (Rave in the Woods) where I would have liked to have seen DeFeKT’s set and Aoife O’Neil’s set.
So Body&Soul Village again for Saturday night/Sunday morning. Up to the Earthship stage, one of our favourite venues and bouncing about to the sounds of Fat Puppy Party. Of course when it came to sitting down again The Haunt beckoned. When we arrived there they were playing Wing’s hit Simply having a wonderful Christmas Time which I found pretty amusing and then back to the obscure fantastic nutty stuff again, Kevin Keehan showed up later and we stayed until the close of the venue. I met a friend of my cousin Joanne Doherty there who remembered me from Joanne’s wedding over a year ago, a small world within the Picnic, I also met Cathal Johnson who gave me a swig of some Jameson and asked me to come over to his gig at the Village Hall in the Global Green tomorrow. Finally back to the crew camp and a bunch of cans in Kevin’s tent to which we stayed up till eight in the morning, it just dawned on me that I left my Nikon camera in the Haunt venue, but I knew it was in safe hands there.
Sunday 2nd September.
Got up around noon or thereabouts and surprisingly I was quite refreshed even though I had only four hours sleep, straight over to John’s camper to boil some water for my drink as you go cafe press and Lavassa coffee, met Gearoid, Orla, Donal and David sitting under the marquee, it was sunny but with a cold enough breeze so non t-shirt weather.
I intended to go to the arena early enough today, as I was invited to all sorts of things, Cathal’s Dominic Street Ramblers were playing the Village Hall at 2 or 3 PM, Cathal said 3 whilst the clashfinder said 2. Also Dags and Mati were also doing the scratch hip hop thing around the same time, but I thought Cathal was inviting me to jam with them playing Irish tunes so I opted for there with my bodhran.
Dominic Street Ramblers – Village Hall, Global Green 2 – 2.30 PM or 3 – 3.30 PM.
This was probably the chillest gig I was at for the Picnic, the Dominic Street Ramblers specialised in Appalachian and old time style music, with two acoustic guitars, Cathal playing one and alternating between that and harmonica and a five string banjo player, It wasn’t Irish trad like I thought and basically I was going to do a solo spot at the end, but time ran out beforehand and the sound was cut, but I enjoyed their set and filmed a clip.
I missed the Inner Circle set on the main stage at the same time as the Dominic Street Ramblers but Kevin caught a bit of their set and filmed the clip for the Bad Boys track. I went up to the volunteer HQ for a quick coffee and a hello to Catherine and Susan before heading down to the main stage to catch a bit of Garbage’s set.
Garbage – Main Stage 4.15 – 5 PM.
Went right down to the front barrier for this gig and met Jenny, Gilly and Ross down here too, Jenny being a big, big Garbage fan. The band rocked the place out and Shirley Manson, another Scots lass had an amazing presence on stage and looked fabulous all decked in red and a great rock n roll voice too. She was delighted to be here and talked about how it had been twenty years since the group had last played Ireland. I didn’t realise that I already was familiar with some of their old hits especially Stupid Girl the group playing stuff from their Version 2.0 record. A very tight band of Scottish and American musicians and a great group to blow away the Sunday hangovers with, an apt choice by the Picnic I have to say.
I headed off near the end of the set as the hunger pangs had got to me, I was set to try the cheesy bread stall but came across the reasonably priced Hans Frankenfurter German food stall that I visited in 2014 EP for the pulled pork sandwich that done the job perfectly having to run in to Natasha’s Kitchen seeing as there was no seats available outside the eateries plus there was a drizzle shower.
Nile Rodgers & Chic – Main Stage 5.30 – 6.30 PM.
The always reliable Chic were the perfect dose for the Sunday blues, their classic back catalogue of hits had a packed audience dancing to their hearts delight, the chic singers Kimberly Davis and Folami still look absolutely amazing looking and still have the most glorious soulful voices out there. Le Freak, Good Times, We’re Lost in Music, absolutely tremendous stuff and with a bit more umph to the sound system this time than their last visit four years ago, although the sound was probably quietened because of the later time they were playing that year. A fantastic gig by all means and a perfect crowd pleaser.
I done a quick wander of the Body&Soul Village again this time the intent was to film the Haunt in a daylight shot as its too difficult to get a proper shot of the place in the night time unless you have 1600 shutter speed and film in your camera. So I took a daylight video which still shaky enough even though I try to be still, I will never make a top photographer or great film maker, but I do my best hopefully.
Twas a quick dash from Body&Soul after that to the volunteer HQ so to avoid a heavy downpour and a few coffees and had a nice chat with a volunteer from Leitrim called Enda McLoughlin from Manorhamilton town, a place only ten miles or so from my parents hometown of Kinlough.
After the rain shower set off along the staff walkway toward the Little Big Tent to see who was playing in there, Mango X Mathman an Irish rapper was doing a set there but I couldn’t get into the sounds, I found the backing too cheesy, perhaps if I had more time I would have stayed and listened to the lyrics, but I was already bound for the Rankin Woods tent. I stopped at the new Jerry Fish tent on the way and watched a bit of Bitch Falcon’s second set of the weekend who were blisteringly loud as usual and a nice rocking crowd gathered for them. Working my way up to Rankin Woods to get a good spot for the explosive Death Grips.
Having seen these lads in a Lollapalooza stream a few years back I wondered when they would hit the Irish shores, although I’ve heard since that they’ve played Dublin a few times. But man, like Scarlxrd they rocked the very foundations of Rankin Woods with outpourings from The Year of the Snitch and The Powers That B among other albums and a crazy young audience moshing out to their hearts content, I was delighted to be at the front barrier for this as I had something to hold onto and my bodhran against the barrier when it got crazy at the front. MC Ride is a nutter but a tight rapper with an amazing stage presence and the energy of a few hundred of us in the tent. Zach Hill is one of the best rock drummers I’ve seen in my lifetime, spot on in the rhythm and Andy Morin was getting incredible sounds from his keyboard like nothing else on earth, an amazing gig and a bloody good alternative to Picture This on the main stage. Go on Electric Picnic keep booking acts like this and I’ll keep on coming back. 🙂
I made my way in anticipation to the main stage my ears ringing from Death Grips to possibly more loud amplification from the Prodigy. I met another Boardsie, the lovely Mimimcmc on the way to the front for the Prodigy.
The Prodigy – Main Stage 10.30 PM – 12 AM.
This was the second time catching this act, the last time being a day trip to Oxegen in 2010 where they were closing the Vodafone stage and only had a few thousand people (although an enthusiastic bunch all the same) in one of the muckiest patches of ground (totally neglected by MCD after two days of torrential rain) while everyone else was watching Eminem and other acts and I didn’t give them the proper attention they deserved.
This time it was different, I think this was the biggest crowd gathered for the whole weekend and I was about ten people back from the main stage so still a great view and hopefully not too wild there. The lights came on to some symphonic classical music and I knew this was going to be epic. Camera on the ready as I have been studying their setlist at Home festival in Italy on the Friday and I knew my favourite track by them, Breathe kicked of the set. As soon as the familiar riff kicked off and the drum roll started I was thrown of my feet by the crowd going mental, first thing I thought of was grab my bodhran to put between my legs so I could steady the camera, you can hear me panicking shouting ‘my bodhran, watch my bodhran and finally the camera focusing again.
There was guitars and drums in the sound too so it was like metal/punk and techno, with some DnB, Jungle too and a mixture of other stuff. Resonate, Firestarter, The Day is my Enemy, Voodoo People (Remix version I heard people saying), Wild Frontier and closing the first set with Smack My Bitch Up. They came back for a bunch of encores premiering a new track called Light Up The Sky and closing the set with Take Me To the Hospital.
An amazing gig and a bloody good rocking EP for me this year, leaving Aphex Twin and a handful of other dance acts (Moby perhaps) to play Electric Picnic which will surely happen at some point.
I headed to the Body&Soul area and met up with Gearoid, Orla, Donal and Kevin at the Bandstand with a sizable crowd dancing to the funky house of PrYmary Colours, David headed home before the Prodigy set as he had an important flight to do with his work the following day to Oslo in Norway. We all headed over to the Earthship stage to the ever reliable Mother DJs to dance the night out and close up the stage.
Myself and Kevin headed back to his tent to finish off our booze but Kevin was tireder than I thought and was out like a light bulb in the space of five minutes so I left him and crashed out myself.
Monday 3rd September.
Over to John’s for some recovery coffee and meeting everyone there again while we scraped our heads together and decided to disassemble our tents and pack them away, I found I still had three cans of Guinness left so gave one to Donal who was delighted. I was supposed to be heading back to Kinnegad with Derek, Shannon and Cian but Kevin offered to take me to Loughrea where I could get the bus there. There were people I regretted not meeting up with, the lovely Lisa Lawless, Derek’s wife and Stephen Kerr who I met briefly with on Thursday I still have to actually go to an actual gig with you ha ha. And to everyone else, you know who you are, Love from Niall.
In the light of the green message that Electric Picnic showed in all their screens this all seemed to go on deaf ears when you look at the carnage and aftermath of the Jimi Hendrix campsite and other main campsites. Shouldn’t Electric Picnic make it compulsory that all campsites at the festival including the crew camp become BYEco Camping, whether this could be policed is another thing altogether, but another method that would reduce waste in campsites would be to introduce a free flow system, therefore people wouldn’t spend too much time in the campsite and would maybe drink out in the arena and use the bins there.
Curraghmore House, Portlaw, County Waterford, Ireland 3rd – 5th August.
Thursday 2nd August.
Alpha, Beta, Gamma, A-Hubba Dubba and so, on to my second festival of 2018 and a spanking brand new one being held in the sunny South East and living up to its name too. This is John Reynold’s latest festival production and man it does take me back to some of these early Picnic years of 2005, 2007 and 2008, especially with the Arcadia Afterburner in tow. The journey from dreary wet and windy Galway couldn’t have been any easier, the lovely Joanne Ni Loingsigh picked me up at the Eye Cinema and we travelled en route to Ennis to pick up another volunteer, Kate Holland. It wasn’t till we were nearly passing through County Tipperary that we actually started to see dry roads again which put a good omen on the journey ahead.
We arrived onsite about 8 PM and set about looking for the volunteer HQ, It was the EP team of Catherine and Suzanne. over the years of working different festivals at the starting of August, Liss Ard (2012) with POD Productions and Beatyard last year with Bodytonic, both these Catherine was the volunteer coordinator, so we have a little history. We were given time to put up our tents and then back to the HQ for a Health and Safety briefing and then a guided tour through the festival site with the rest of the volunteers. I took this chance to take some pictures of the final festival build before the diminishing daylight.
Oddly there was no sound systems pumping ‘Testing 1, 2, 3, 4.’ So it was down to a chill selection on the ipod, behind my tent I could hear either Polish or Slavic voices, so the Baltic section behind me and to the side of me and a bunch of African folk to the other side of me wearing ATN Bulmers shirts, so I presumed they were bar staff. Kate was to my right and Stevie from Castlebar was to my left. So we sat about, had a smoke and a drink and chilled. We were fairly satisfied to have seen a lot of the festival site earlier so hung about the crew camp and had an early enough night.
Friday 3rd August.
I rose early enough today and discovered that my favourite crew cafe was there near the showers, the Dublin couple who do the breakfast baps and a very decent filter coffee at a very affordable 7 Euro. Speaking of which, my funds were running low and having got paid on Thursday at midnight I had to find an ATM before the festival masses had advanced onto the site. Another bonus, found out the showers were free, so grabbed my towel and gel. They were the same as the ones in Body&Soul with the small compartment next to shower, but they were hot with no way of lowering the temperature, still, it was free . 🙂 The hardest part was the drying, the more you tried to dry the sweatier you got and then trying to put fresh clothes on, still it was bloody worth it, as it was very warm down here.
Off myself, Kate and Steve trekked to the atm down by Curraghmore House, but when we got there one of the lads said it wouldn’t be operational till 5 PM, one hour into my shift where I was to be stationed at the other side of the festival, so not so good. The only alternative was cashback from the Londis store in the main campsite, I went up there and got a sandwich and a pint of milk and asked for cashback, the till guy said it wasn’t possible yet as internet was down and to come back in an hour. Ah feck it, back to the campsite for a bag of nuts and some Lidl cereal bars then. We just hung about the arena then till our shift started, there was no music yet, so probably not due to start till about 5 or 6 PM.
Eventually I managed to get cashback from the shop and went to HQ to find out where my 4 to 12 AM shift was going to be. I was paired with Cathal Flood from Longford who turned out to be an avid reader of my blog, we were working at the entrance to the general campervan site. Our job to direct campervans and caravans to the appropriate areas and the parking attendants, give general festival info and generally walking about the site and seeing if anyone needed help. There was a few teething problems, the bins were stored at the other end of the field so a bit of a trek, it was the same for the water tap and the showers too, only four of them near the boutique area and two broke down. Nothing major though, usual complaints, bog roll has run out, there is no hand sanitiser (Let me tell you something, this happens at every single festival, why should this one be any different).
I think Cathal enjoyed the beats from the boogie box anyway and we appreciated the sound coming all the way from the main stage of Chaka Khan, even though we were quite a distance away. John Reynolds was out helping with the campervan/caravan traffic, I was trying to remember where I saw him before. It was at Liss Ard 2012 Festival and I was working during the Chic headline set, opting for Toots the following day. Anyway my job was to stand at festival entrance near the shuttle bus pick up, John would tell me the number of people to let through to go to the shuttle bus and stop the rest. Obviously to prevent the roadway from being overcrowded with people for health and safety reasons. Anyway was told to let eight people through, the last two were a mother and daughter and I stopped the father and son, he explained but we’re a family, so I let him and his son through bringing to ten people. John roared that I let too many through, but I argued, what can I do, its a family, you can’t split up a family. Ah well, my brief conversation with John.
I took my break about 8 and headed to the nearest eateries which turned out to be a twenty minute walk, a gorgeous one though, the breathtaking beauty of the Curraghmore Estate. There was an amazing amount of vegetarian stalls, I just wanted to guzzle a quarter pounder and I eventually found an artisan burger stall, Bear Grillz, a Waterford-based Gourmet burger food truck who done rather sumptuous burgers, absolutely delicious and kills that hunger pang. I went for the Bear Grillz quarter pounder for a pricey 9 Euro, but well worth it.
The only thing about this is after the twenty minute walk, there is the wait to be called and to select your food and then the wait for it to be cooked and be prepared, by the time I got the burger my break time was almost up so a sprint uphill to the campervan site, man, I’m getting too old for this.
By 11 PM I was probably niggling Cathal’s brain with my constant barrage of Aphex Twin music, he said he liked guitars too, so I dropped it down a level and put on the soundtrack to Pulp Fiction. his eyes lit up, he is a movie buff so we ended up talking about amazing films for the rest of the shift. Things were very quiet for the last hour or two apart from the reverberations from the main stage and cheesy synth pop from some of the campers. As it hit twelve we headed back to HQ to sign out, I met Kevin Keehan in the main campsite, he was a festival punter again, but I didn’t have the energy to party so I said I would hook up proper with him tomorrow.
I stood around the Afterburner for a while, it was the only music I took in tonight as I didn’t really sleep the night before because I was too bloody excited to go to sleep. Saoirse was giving it a fine techno wallop on the afterburner and the flames were licking out of the top, the crowd gathered going mental. Went to my tent but couldn’t sleep again so got up and went to a small marquee in the camp and sat in there till 3 drinking a few tins and listening to sounds. Went back to tent about 3.30 and about an hour later heard loads of voices and realised this was the early shift that was out partying and they were doing the 4 to 12 on Saturday, whilst I was doing the 8 to 4 PM and no sleep, I just lay there resting, its a festival, what can you do.
Saturday 4th August.
Today I was like a zombie just barely functioning but Cathal looked after me, he kept bringing the recycled cartons of water and keeping me refreshed. The predicted heatwave wasn’t too bad, it was sunny but not boiling. Today I picked some Jon Hopkins selections to start the chill out session to get us through the shift, the new album Singularity and Immunity and some Fever Ray, acts that played at the last festival I was at. Today was a bit livelier as it was the early shift and god bless Cathal he came with an ice cool mocca coffee for me, you legend. Someone in the campervan area also gave me a coffee, so a much needed help to get me through the day. Surprisingly there was still a few arrivals today who were being parked in the top corner of the field and the shift went fairly fast. Back to HQ at 4 PM to sign out and up to the crew camp to have a rest.
It was too hot to lie in the tent so I went into the marquee in the field to drink a can or two as this provided much needed cover as the suns heat increased. Things livened up in the evening when one of Steve’s mates showed up, Dink!. This much needed boost made us realise, we’re at a festival and got us into the mood to go exploring again.
Roisin Murphy – ATN Main Stage 7.45 – 8 .45 PM.
Roisin Murphy brought her dreamy sparkly pop to the main stage, having missed her at a few previous Picnics (I wasn’t really aware of her at the time) I caught one of the RTE Electric Picnic specials on the player and one of the rare times they actually gave a fuck and played a good highlight from the stage. I was taken by the Roisin Murphy footage and I’m glad I caught her in the flesh this time. There were times I could liken her to Grace Jones, both in their style of music and the costume changes. Murphy leaning more toward electronica and techno at times with her songs whilst Jones would be more Jamaican inspired. But she has a super sexy husky voice that is so refreshing to hear of the current Irish crop of bands. She visited her back catalogue of Take Her up to Monto with Ten Miles high and a few from her 2015 album, Hairless Toys such as Gone Fishing and Exploitation among others and finishing with a few numbers from her former band Moloko including Sing it Back. Roisin Murphy, a great warm up for tonight’s proceedings on the main stage and one to look out for.
Maribou State – Something Rather Wonderful Stage 8.00 – 9.00 PM.
Myself and Kate quickly went over to the big blue tent to catch the last fifteen minutes of Maribou State. The group had a packed tent eating out of their hand and a hard bopping electronica buzz. Chris Davids and Liam Ivory had a serious sensuous overload of a sound and a bouncing accompanying audience, this was a new discovery for me and a welcome one. Had done no research on this group and it was solely through the recommendation of Kate who disappeared to the front for the rest of the gig. Turn your volume down for this one as its extremely loud having been taken it on the Samsung phone.
I hung around this general area for the next few gigs, it was indeed a very mellow audience at this festival, no ‘skanger off their faces’ crowd apparent here, even around the Arcadia Afterburner stage in the early hours. Seen Kate at various times outside the blue tent floating about, was just waiting for the rapper Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) to appear.
Yasiin Bey – Something Rather Wonderful Stage 9.30 – 10.30 PM.
Yasiin Bey put on a blinder of a show, I still hadn’t done my research on this guy but I just let the music caress my heart. Bey is articulate, clear and fast in his raps, he has a loud clear voice and his associate on the beats was laying them down hard and fast. The whirling Dervishes in the back screen weaving into an ambient downbeat hip hop. at times jazz tinged with what sounded like xylophone samples. This is my second time catching Bey, the first being at Electric Picnic 2015. I felt this concert was better, perhaps it was because I was a bit closer to the stage this time.
This is my third time catching this superb Frankfurt act who got the tent bouncing with mad energy, a great house and techno minimal buzz from these guys. Booka Shade are stalwarts at this game who have been together now for fourteen years and they took a fine selection of their classics to the stage tonight. I managed to get right up to the barrier for this gig as a lot of my clips are faraway shots.
Well by 12.30 I was pretty shattered and felt quite satisfied with the amount of acts I’d seen, so basically stood around the Arcadia Afterburner for a while and took in some of Maribou State’s DJ set before trundling off to bed. When I got back to the campsite you couldn’t hear a pin drop apart from the beats from the arena. The crowd who had been partying like mad on Friday were as quiet as a mouse tonight as they were on the early shift on Sunday. I woke up with a start at 5.30 AM in the morning, it was absolutely boiling and suffocating, unzipped the tent breathing in lungfuls of air, it was going to be a warm day tomorrow.
Sunday 5th August.
I awoke at 11 after the most amazing sleep and off to the breakfast bap place for breakfast and a coffee. There was a serious silly queue for to use the showers today but the weather being nice, warm and dry I just went and dunked my head under the tap and washed my hair and top half of the body, the water wasn’t freezing so absolutely perfect, I then wet wiped the bottom half in the tent and set out for the main arena for the day with my cameras I wanted to get some nice daylight shots of the festival, estate and arena.
I sort of arranged today to catch the Jimmy Cliff set on the main stage at 3.15 PM, but then heard his flight had been delayed, so we waited to find if he was going to be announced later. But I did enjoy This is the Kit who were the second opening act on the main stage from Bristol in England. I found Kate Stables vocals at times to remind me of the singing of Kate Rusby, a lovely folky melodic quality to her voice. I was waiting in the queue for a portions of Home Fries from the Home Fries place, small baby potatoes in a lovely cheese and garlic sauce.
Well time for the last shift, a 4 PM – 12 AM shift, I was hoping it wasn’t to the campervan area again and was delighted to be sent to the info tent next to the main stage with Steve and a bunch of others, some local to the area and some of us from up the country. This was brilliant we were placed next to the music so could get to hear everything from the main stage. The info tent was a great place for the banter and to help people out with their queries. There was special wristbands for families to attach to their children, their name and phone number was wrote on this wristband. One of the lads working with us at the tent was local man, Alan Woods and he helped locate a missing child today at the festival, so fair play to him. Alan was enjoying the craic so much here that he was doing a double shift along with us at the tent.
New Power Generation – ATN Main Stage 5.00 – 6.30 PM.
This was the tonic needed to invigorate to the main stage crowd, the old Prince backing band with a few vocalists fleshing out the sound, all the Prince classics for an hour and a half. 1999, Sign of the Times, Purple Rain, U got the look and Lets go Grazy amongst other gems, a rock solid, funk laden musical feast of sounds. I stole a few minutes out of the shift to catch a clip of them in action.
Some of the main queries were stuff like the shuttle bus timetables from the festival site or else where to find lost property, we directed them to the main campsite as there was a lost property office near the welfare tent there. Some just wanted directions to the stages. The Villagers were on the main stage next and they made a decent enough sound, maybe someone to investigate later. Also found out that Jimmy Cliff was rescheduled for 1 AM to 2.30 AM in the big blue tent so I was delighted with that.
First Aid Kit – ATN Main Stage 8.45 – 9.45 PM.
Swedish band First aid Kit gave a lovely performance on the main stage, there was definitely a family essence to the main stage today with a mixture of folk/rock/pop bands on the stage whilst electronica was being concentrated in some of the other stages. The band had a lovely folk/rock sound and gorgeous harmony vocals. Featuring tracks from the new album released in January, Ruins and a great cover of Kate Bush’s Running up that Hill. Another nice new discovery for me and worthy of more investigation.
Well my shift came to an end at 11 PM as this was the time I decided to take the break and watch the last hour of the Fleet Foxes I missed the first time around at Electric Picnic 2009.
Fleet Foxes – ATN Main Stage 10.30 – 12.00 AM.
Described as indie-folk the Fleet Foxes had a fairly packed crowd at the main stage, I have never saw them before, but thought I would throw myself in here and take in their sound. I suppose they would have been compared in some ways to Mumford and Suns in 2009/10, except there is more distorted guitars in this group, sometimes they could pump out that energy you would hear in groups like Crazy Horse, Neil Young’s backing band for periods and the Fleet Foxes have beautiful vocal harmonies that reminded me of Crosby, Stills, Nash at times. I was trying to conjure in my head how to describe their music, perhaps Crosby, Stills and Nash with a bit of a Post Rock sound and folk/rock sound. Some stuff was a little noodily but there was some genuine pastoral psychedelic moments in their music and I’m glad I caught their set. Now to research some of their back catalogue I think of three albums.
I went in to sign off for my Sunday shift, got my festival bond and headed off to the crew camp to pick up my final stash of cans to return to the arena with and to specifically catch the full Jimmy Cliff performance.
Jimmy Cliff – Something Rather Wonderful Stage 1.00 – 2.30 AM.
Jimmy Cliff and band blew the roof of the place, he still has a sensational voice that can still hit all the high notes and a terrific backing band of musicians. Starting unplugged on just congos with the Rivers of Babylon and through a seamless greatest hits history of ska and reggae classics, I can See clearly now, The harder they come, You can get it if you really want. Cliff is an absolute legend and he is up on the throne alongside Toots Hibbert and Max Romeo as great reggae soul singers. I had tears of joy after this gig, especially after Many Rivers to Cross from The Harder They Come album, I never heard such soulful emotion in my life and it was a cleansing experience. This was without doubt my absolute festival highlight of All Together Now. When I went to take a clip of I can See Clearly Now, I forgot to press record and only realised near the end of the song but I did catch the amazing audience reaction near the end of his set.
After this I went wandering around the site, this time I wanted to capture a clip of the Arcadia Afterburner in action with a live set from HAAi who had a nice crowd gathered around the stage and a nice bass boom going.
After that went wandering through the woods and New Jackson was pumping out a set in the corner with a large crowd going mental, I walked farther down and caught the final twenty minutes of the One Love stage with Disco and Cultura closing the stage. I headed off back to the crew camp to the soundtrack of Fatboy Slim’s Right Here, Right Now that HAAi was spinning in the Afterburner and then I heard the music cut at 3.30 AM. I sat up till 5 talking to some of my neighbours including Steve and giving them some cans of beer, then hit the hay for the night.
Monday 6th August.
Joanne Ni Loingsigh took me and Kate back home again to Ennis and Galway, thanks very much for looking after us and Catherine, Suzanne, Kevin and Cathal too and everyone else I encountered over the weekend, no doubt I’ll see some of you again in a few weeks at Electric Picnic. 🙂
Ballinlough Castle, Clonmellon, County Westmeath, Ireland June 22nd – 24th.
Thursday 21st June.
Its only just a week ago but man, what a weekend. Maireroisin picked me up from the Nox Hotel in Galway not far from my college and two other girls, Sandra and Doireann, excitement was abound and I couldn’t have had better travelling companions, well that’s a lie, Kevin Keehan among others have been perfect hosts too, but the girls were so excited and we all had a story to tell of previous festivals and shenanigans. Maireroisin and one of the other girls were working in an area called The Sanctuary and two of us were going to be working with Clare O’Connor for the weekend. This was a bit of a departure for me from doing the usual pre-event work like coming down the Monday or Sunday before the festival, this time I couldn’t do this as I was on a full time education course with the ETB and would’ve been too costly to do the week set up so I was doing weekend volunteering for the first time since 2012.
We all got registered in and I got my rota for the weekend which had been changed around a small bit due to some volunteers not showing up for the weekend so the festival had to spread out the volunteers who had shown up to a different schedule.
That night I went exploring the woods which I hadn’t done for a year with my little boogie box in tow, saw a few familiar faces and exchanged greetings and happily supped a few tins of lager. I didn’t have to start till 12 PM the following day but instead of working the main campsite like in the original roster it was switched to wristbanding at the main entrance. Did I mention the weather, the weather was absolutely fantastic, the sun cracking the stones but, man, it was baltic at night and I’m glad I brought my hoodie and leather jacket. In fact I emptied most of my rucksack over myself onto the sleeping bag to keep warm.
Friday 22nd June.
I rose early enough about 9.30 as would have to report to volunteer HQ for 11.30, waking up in a zipped tent can be a ghastly experience sometimes and requires a quick unzipping for that instant relief of a rush of air. At the HQ there was about twelve of us who were taken in to vans to the wristbanding area, when we saw the crowd waiting it was a daunting looking task. I was handed a scanner to scan the printouts and tickets but it turned out to be a faulty one and was never given another one so I became a wristbander. I wish I had a Gopro camera strapped to my head filming the wristbanding process, wrists of all shapes and sizes, hairy men ones and the long manicured fingernails of the ladies. It would make an interesting video of the wristbanding process.
It was so busy that the time had flown in real fast. One of the star attractions for me at the festival was all the classy beautiful girls adorned in amazing psychedelic colourful clothing that complimented the heatwave. When the shift finished I got a text from Kevin about 6.30 PM to say he had arrived and was needing a hand to set up. Well I had been on my feet for the last six hours and he would just have to wait as I needed a sit down for a while and a good shower to refresh before i took that 1 or 2 kilometre trek to the main entrance.
My apologies to Kevin, I took longer than I thought by the time I reached him at about 8.30, all he had to do now was trundle back to his car and pick up the booze, as the Body&Soul rules state that you can only bring the booze in the first time round when you get wristbanded, so I helped him with the camping gear. Well now it was Kevin’s turn to take his time, basically he couldn’t remember where he had parked the car. After numerous texts to him saying ‘Sake where the hell are ya.’ He finally showed up with the booze about over an hour later. I went with him to sort out a pitch in the main campsite and then we headed for the crew camp, security not even looking at Kevin’s Us and You wristband. I stocked up with beers and cameras and tried to by the time salvage the start of the Fever Ray set on the main stage.
Fever Ray – Main Stage 11.00 PM – 12 .15 AM.
It looked like we had missed the first few numbers of the set and we eventually found somewhere about 6 or seven rows back from the main stage, the area was absolutely thronged and Karin and the girls were giving it serious stick on stage.
Kudos to the sound crew, they had a top notch sound which was crystal clear where I was, oddly enough I never seen any Vikings or Handmaids for that matter in the audience but everyone seemed to be enjoying the gig. Old tracks like When I Grow Up and Concrete Walls got a new drum N Bass work over, which suited the tempo of the current album Plunge, equally tracks like To the Moon and Back set a really exciting tone to the gig with the ‘Pussy’ lyric getting a roar from the lads in the audience.
The old spellbinding Fever Ray came back with Red Trails which was too strong for my camera mic and Keep the Streets Empty which was anything but, with the wild throng around me but still a masterpiece although I wish Karin had retained some of the guitar parts and the high pitched beat that segmented the whole track from the original, still I loved it, I love her actually. One of the most interesting individual female artists to emerge since Kate Bush and Bjork, for me anyway. When the sonorous bass drone of the Vikings TV intro kicked off, there was the loudest roar from the audience and an intense euphoria . Please forgive my terrible singing when I sang along a little bit with If I had a Heart I couldn’t help it. The band finally finished with what I think might be an Echoes (Yes, Floyd’s Echoes) sounding key in Plunge’s closing number Mama’s Hand, just the intro like as it picks up pace to a more upbeat number. A very excellent gig by a gorgeous looking band in visual splendour and sound.
We sat about the main arena for a while up at some tables and chairs whilst Olof Dreijer kicked off his DJ set, it sounded promising, lots of conga drum samples, Knifey type sounds, pretty good visuals on the backdrop too, but then he mixes in the most dreadful auto tune chart hit and that was just a No! I got Kevin to look at the timetable, our quest to move to the Midnight Arena and possibly the Reckless in Love Stage, was trying to remember if Neil Flynn was at that stage, which Kevin confirmed, so we set off there.
Neil Flynn – Reckless in Love Stage. 12.30 – 2.00 AM.
Having caught Neil Flynn before at the Earthship Stage, Body&Soul Village at Electric Picnic 2015, right after Blur if I remember. Our sole intention (Me and Kevin) was to see Donal Dineen who was on after, but Flynn just blew us away, seriously sparkly techno. We managed to catch him again tonight and he still makes some serious sounds, beautiful and dreamy but with a lovely crunch, he gathered a nice crowd tonight who seemed to be cruising just nicely to the beats. In the second clip it sounds like he’s sampled a tom tom or maybe a bodhran solo and mixed into a nice techno thump. A lovely gig.
Went for a wander to have a look at the Walled Garden and ended up at Natasha’s Kitchen where Kevin was talking to some of his friends who had been working at the Soul Kid’s this year, there was a sense of sadness amongst the joviality and that everyone loved Gavin Pedersen and missed him badly, he died tragically last November. Condolences to Sandra and family.
We stopped at the Woodlands Stage and watched a bit of the SHIPS set, they were making a lively sound and very upbeat, ambient wandering synthesizers, soundscapes behind a steady beat.
I called it a day in the end as I wanted to try and get some sleep as I would have to be at volunteer HQ at 9.30 the following morning to find out what post I would be doing.
Saturday 23rd June.
Thankfully Kev’s Kitchen was open this morning so managed to procure one of their lovely cups of coffee which I needed before heading into the HQ, today my shift was changed from 10 AM to 4 PM to 6 PM to midnight and that I would be doing stop and go with three other girls. Stop and go is two way radio duty where your job is to prevent collisions with festival and production traffic.
So here I had seven hours to kill and it was just too bloody warm to actually move and explore the place, it was a matter of finding where is the best shade. First thing first, get to the ATM and withdraw funds as I only had seven Euros in my pocket. I joined the queue at the Midnight arena which didn’t seem too big, but we didn’t seem to move. I think I said this last year too, the queue builds up before you because sly devious feckers spot their mates in the queue and join them there. This is not fair and should be regulated, security should be there to tell people to queue properly. Anyways two hours was at least waited in that bloody queue and one of the machines breaking down didn’t help. Eventually when I got my funds, next thing on my list was to get something to eat some soakage for the few tins of beer I had drunk. I have a rule that I’m allowed a few tins of beer before a shift but the stopping point is at least two hours before, and maybe a strong coffee or two and a meal. Whilst in the queue I enjoyed the sounds coming from the Absolut Bar, lovely obscure reggae and some amazing soul, blues and bebop courtesy of either Jack Thompson or Calvin James.
Whilst looking through the food stalls I immediately recognised one from Scrobarnach festival two years ago, Home Fries. chips with a difference, real potato with a luscious garlic sauce, a nice portion for five Euros which sorted me for the afternoon.
I mainly went into the wood as it was the most shaded of all areas and listened to some of the talks going on courtesy of the Irish Times at the Woodlands Stage. Interesting in particular here was Delete Your Account hosted by Patrick Freyne, Gavin Sheridan and Alison Spittle about how we’ve turned into a zombie generation constantly looking at our smart phones and social media. I met Kevin here and we went wandering through the Walled Garden to Natasha’s and eventually to the Wonderlust Stage where there was another talk going on, an interview with Louise O’Neill which we didn’t stay too long at as time was pressing for me by then. On my way back to the crew camp we stopped briefly at the Arbutus Yarns area, there was an open mic session going on and we caught an impromptu performance by I think a man called Gerry Grainey who gave some lovely folk ballads to a nice applause. I headed off to get a shower at 4 and refresh myself for the upcoming shift, but alas there was a water shortage and only two shower cubicles going with a very large queue of crew waiting, so made do with a wet wipe wash instead and a fresh tee shirt.
At 6 PM I was stationed with another girl on the narrow road strip that leads to the top of the Walled Garden and the Midnight and Main arenas coming directly from the farmhouse and boneyard. It was busy enough to keep us going with an abundance of music floating from various stages, I thought I could hear the Abandoman set from the Bulmers Stage amongst other things, but the two way radio stop and go was easy enough work and lively enough.
Finally back to HQ to sign out for the night meeting Kevin on the way, we headed to the crew area where I stocked up on booze and necessary shenanigans and eventually made it to Jon Hopkins main stage set.
Jon Hopkins – Main Stage 00.45 – 1.45 AM.
This is my fourth time seeing this amazing artist and he just keeps getting better and better, cinema widescreen soundscape ambient techno with a beautiful scrunch and glitches, Singularity is an amazing album and he played a lot of it on this set. Gorgeous tunes such as Neon Pattern Drum and Everything Connected bringing me into another sphere, the backdrop visuals were stunning and his dancers with the lighting sticks were absolutely brilliant in their choreography of light. Although I find the track Emerald Rush to be a bit mixed up. it doesn’t seem to know what exactly it is but the audience seemed to love it.
The old Immunity classics, the thundering motorised melody of Open Eye Signal with new graphics added of skateboard guy sends a pounding through the ground, you could actually feel the whole place vibrate from all the dancing going on. And then on to my favourite, of panted breath, Collider which seems to have a reworking, the bpm speed has been increased slightly and Hopkins has crafted it to end in the mouth sound you hear uttered at the starting of the studio version, very subtle stuff utterly amazing.
He plays another from Singularity, the amazing Luminous Beings, one of the constants being played on my ipod recently, this track has such a lovely luscious bass line, its so, so good.
For closing this set he played Lorde featuring Disclosure – Magnets and an extra encore of Two Dancers – Wild Beasts – Jon Hopkins Remix which he doesn’t seemed to have done on previous setlists this year, so this makes this a very special Body & Soul set and what a dissbuster to go out on, a magnificent set.
And here I have to commend Kevin, he made the inspired choice, maybe we should go to the Living Lab Tent at the main campsite as there might be reggae, at first I thought it would be too messy with loads of pissed folks but that was quickly diminished when I realised Cian Finn was doing a DJ set of some really cool reggae which was a joy to hear and which I missed last year apart from the Songhoy Blues replacement of The Beat and Will Softly at Natasha’s. The Living Lab Tent had the same kind of vibe as the Riddim Shack at Townlands Carnival in Macroom Cork. Mikey Joyride Soro from Worries Outernational took over and kept the reggae vibes going strong for the night and a great closer for our nights entertainment. I was talking to Mikey afterwards and he said that this stage has a potential for next years edition, so hopefully maybe a new Port Royal area.
Sunday 24th June.
Woke up and headed to the HQ after a wet wipe wash and had a few cups of coffee, today I was doing the 10 AM to 4 PM shift and working at Castle Camping, this is the area where the production crew stay for the duration of the festival, its a lovely part of the site, you have the Ballinlough Castle, the lake and the camping/campervan area. My job to guard entrances into the area and make sure no scruff got in. Half way through the shift I could feel my scalp practically melting it was that hot. I had my ipod and boogie box playing sounds, which some appreciated and some didn’t, well, the late risers anyway. One of the lads with a cool old school Volkswagen Camper in purple and white came through with a chilled can of coke for me and a camping chair, to which I replied ‘Your are a god amongst men.’ This is where I got the picture of the buggy adorned with flowers, I thought it was a lovely touch. I was working at the point where artists playing the festival were accredited there, so these buggies would be sent there to pick up the artist if they were walking on foot or the buggies would lead the artists vehicle to the designated stage area.
The shift went in fairly quickly and I received a text from Dagmara Zolty, the girl I have been doing work experience with recently saying that Jimmy Penguin and Mati of Community Skratch Music who host scratching workshops at 1984 Miracles in Galway were playing a set in the Garden Stage of the Walled Garden from 5 PM onwards. But as a matter of urgency first I wanted to get that all important shower, of which was ice cold, perfect.
Community Skratch Music – Garden Stage at Walled Garden 5 – 6.30 PM.
By the time I got up there the lads had finished their set, but they turned on the system for a while again and Jimmy done a solo set of scratching to some of his own music, it was faster than techno and was a good buzzing sound, Jimmy is brilliant on these decks as is Mati, I was so glad to capture a bit of their sound.
I went for a wander and decided to see what Natasha’s was like and to my delight I heard a lovely trad session. There was Eoghan O’Ceannabhain on concertina and sometimes banjo, Patrick Cummins on banjo and John Flynn on guitar, the lads normally play in groups around Dublin called OTWAK and Skipper’s Alley who I caught at one of the Electric Picnics at the Other Voices stage a few years back. Anyway this was a delightful session and a pleasure to play in. When I first heard the music I went up to the lads and asked how long they were playing for, Eoghan said about an hour so I said I would be back asap with my bodhran from the crew camp. In all my six years attending Body & Soul I have brought my bodhran to every edition of the festival and I think I had a tune with Gerry Harrington at the 2013 festival so was delighted to be able to do my part time profession and join my second session at the festival. Natasha gave us all gorgeous chocolate cakes afterwards which went down a treat.
Myself and Kevin went back to the crew camp to chill for a while, I also caught up with Maireroisin and said hello, she was chilling in her cool camper, the weather being incredible now for most of the festival, there was some serious sunburn cases.
We trekked into the main stage arena to check out a bit of WhoMadeWho’s set, WhoMadeWho are from Copenhagen in Denmark and could’ve possibly been one of Karin Dreijer’s choices when she chose some of the lineup, anyway they made a cool Kraftwerky style pop music and their energetic front man was leaping from speaker stacks, they had a sizeable audience gathered and I’m glad they got to play Ireland in the end, seeing their gig at Bare in the Woods was cancelled last year. Anyway they gave a suitable warm up for the Chronixx gig and hope to see them back in Ireland soon.
We basically hung about the main stage area and watched as some hardcore Chronixx rastafarian fans ran about the front of the stage waving a huge Jamaican flag about and beckoning the main stage audience to come forward for Chronixx.
Cian Finn and Will Softly opened a short set for Chronixx which went down a treat, Cian is a brilliant musician like his dad, Alec Finn, possibly one of the best if not the best traditional Irish bouzouki accompanists in Irish music today. Cian does the same thing for the Irish reggae music and is a brilliant singer, toaster and fine selector of the tunes.
Chronixx – Main Stage 10.45 – 11.45 PM.
I was blown away by Chronixx’s set, Chronixx is a damn fine singer with bags of energy and a very tight backing band. I didn’t know too much about him apart from the fact that Kevin would play a few of his tracks on his phone which seemed pretty good. Its nice to see some young blood come out of Jamaica, along with Cian, Chronixx and the likes of Protoje, as the truth being told, most of the reggae artists I would be into would be in their sixties, seventies and eighties. But what can I say, Chronixx delivered an impeccable set and in the perfect night weather you could ever wish for. Now you hurry back again to Ireland, Chronixx, would like to see another few gigs by your good self. A perfect close for the main stage proceedings.
We sat about for about half an hour in front of the main stage as the arena cleared, was glad to meet Craig Peggs and Robert Nesbitt where we had a great chat, security eventually came up and cleared us away, so myself, Robert, Kevin and Craig headed for the woods.
Bon Voyage – Woodlands Stage 12.30 – 2.00 AM.
This is the moment where I followed the music with my heart, the sound emitting from the Woodlands stage was incredible, classic 1990s rave, sometimes with the Madchester sound and other stuff like SNAP, there was a man toasting or rapping along with the sound and I knew this would be my final blowout for the night. The rapper from Brooklyn, Shamon Cassette was brilliant and kept us sweaty masses pumping with his brilliant DJs, two young DJs from Finglas in Dublin, The Supreme and Gucci Cortez who specialises in 1990s hip hop and house music. An amazing end to an amazing festival for me.
Well decided to go back to Kevin’s tent in the main campsite but it was just too warm in there plus the tent next to us was having a screaming contest, reminiscent to that Father Ted episode where they are trapped in the caves and Graham Norton’s character decides who can scream the loudest, this went on for about an hour and a half till I said I had enough. I got out of the tent and made for the peace and solitude of the crew camp.
Monday 25th June.
After finally getting my phone charged and asking around the crew camp for possible lifts to Galway, Kevin got in touch to say he would give me a lift to Loughrea in County Galway and that I could get a connection there. I just had the daunting task of carrying my camping equipment and rucksuck through the arid heat to the yellow car park. Thankfully Benj who I met earlier at the festival gave me a much needed hand to the carpark area. I also bumped into Robert Murray who was also looking for a lift to Galway and Kevin obliged so he was sorted in the end.
Many thanks to all the people I met and looked after me including Kevin, Clare O’Connor, Rob, Ross , the beautiful blonde girl and the English girl from the volunteer HQ team, Maireroisin and many, many others.
And now some suggestions for Avril to book next year for Body&Soul, how about Natasha Khan’s Bat for Lashes (Perfect B&S fodder), AIR, Aphex Twin (Of course), Max Cooper (An up and coming Jon Hopkins type producer from Belfast), Hawkwind for all the old trippers out there, Robin Williamson (Storyteller, harper and one of the former leaders of the Incredible String Band), The Afro Celt Soundsystem and Edith Frost (Who I think is fantastic). But they are just mere suggestions really, I’m sure there is a heap more stocked in my brain somewhere. Anyway dudes Bon Voyage and I’ll see ya all at the next festival of the summer, here’s hoping the weather stays the same. Love Niall xxxxxxx
A look at the forthcoming Body&Soul Festival 2018 Edition.
‘I’m going up the country, baby don’t you want to go.’ These immortal lyrics from Canned Heat’s Going up the country sealed my interest in festivals when I heard it in the Woodstock film from 1969 and I’ve always had this fascination for festivals ever since. Going for the rock and metal at Castle Donnington’s Monsters of Rock in 1984 and in between, folk festivals in Ireland such as Ballisodare in County Sligo as well as numerous Willie Clancy Weeks at Miltown Malbay and possibly fifteen different All Ireland Fleadhs since 1991. I also made it to the Mean Fiddler’s Fleadh Mor in Tramore, Waterford in 1993 with a pretty eclectic lineup of traditional Irish music, folk rock fusion, reggae, soul and a bit of punk too. Van Morrison (twice actually over the weekend), Bob Dylan, The Chieftains, Ray Charles, Jimmy cliff. Christy Moore, Shane MacGowan and the Popes and Moving Hearts among others.
Also the very first T in the Park in 1994 when it was at Strathclyde Park in Scotland. Although I missed all of the Feile’s in Tipp, Witnness’s, I made up for that again by catching all the Electric Picnic’s from 2005 onward, bar 2006, a few Life festivals thrown in there. Oxegen 2010 on a day trip for Sunday especially to catch Faithless and the amazing RockNess festival in Scotland 2010 and Sea Sessions 2010 in Bundoran, County Donegal. Bump Musick (2011) Festival in Limerick/Clare, Liss Ard Festival in 2012 at Skibbereen, Cork, Beatyard last year with the amazing Toots and the Maytals and AIR. Sundown Gathering 2012, Townlands Carnival 2016, Scrobarnach Festival 2016 and by next weekend my sixth Body&Soul festival, phew!
Now this was supposed to be a round up of some of the festivals I will be attending but got carried away a wee bit by recounting my festival going history. Now that Life, Vantastival and Forbidden Fruit has passed, we are drawing near to the summer solstice and the Body & Soul weekend. I’m not doing the advance this year as I am on a ETB course and would be docked the full payment if I took the week off to work the festival so I’m working as a weekend steward for the first time since 2012.
So Body & Soul will be my first festival of the summer, was hoping to get some paid work this year but it seemingly fell through, anyway here are my picks for Body & Soul.
Fever Ray who was the first announcement blew me away, having saw Fever Ray on the last tour in 2010 at Electric Picnic, it was an astounding show, dark and creepy but visually stunning. Then I had the pleasure to see Karin with her brother Olof and their Knife collective perform Shaking the Habitual at Electric Picnic 2013, another pretty crazy show. And since hearing Plunge back in October last year, I couldn’t wait to see them again. Karin is actually going to be curating the main stage lineup on the Friday night so it will be magic.
Fever Ray 2010 performing Coconut.
Fever Ray – Paris 19th March 2018 – Full Set.
Olof Dreijer is set to go on after the Fever Ray set of his sister, he will close the main stage on Friday night, so it will be interesting what he will come up with. I would like to think he might do Silent Shout with Karin joining him on lead vocals.
Other acts playing the main stage on Friday will be Fatima Al Qadri and Faka.
Other acts to look out for on Friday include AV AV AV, Bearcubs and the excellent Panthu Du Prince who closes the Midnight Circus tent on Friday among others.
Acts playing the Woodlands stage on Friday include Fontaines DC, Search Party Animal, Lyra, Mango X Mathman and a joint closer with Laoise and the mighty SHIPS.
Of course there is an abundance of stages at Body&Soul so it would be impossible to list every single act and talk about them as I would never get this piece finished. Don’t forget to check out the Absolut Bar, the Comedy Tent, Vevue Clicquot Salon, Food on Board, Pagoda Stage, Arbutus Yarns and many other ones on Friday night.
Another artist who will be headlining the Body & Soul main stage for the first time but this will be his third outing to the festival is Jon Hopkins. I’m loving his new album Singularity which sits very nicely with his 2013 opus Immunity and have been following his tour that started in May via Youtube and Setlist.com. He is only featuring two tracks from Immunity on this set, Open Eye Signal and Collider, I’m delighted he has included this again, Collider is one of these tracks that is so sublime it brings me into an astral plain.
Other acts playing the main stage on Saturday include Baxter Dury, Arca, Shamir. the sublime Saint Sister who are worth checking out, otherworldly ambient folk and harp inspired pop and O Emperor amongst others.
In the Midnight Circus we have Little Vargen, Smerz, the brilliant R.S.A.G drumming his most excellent show and he is climbing up to later slots so that’s a good thing and Tank and the Bangas closing.
For the Woodlands stage we have Dowry, Slow Place Like Home who are worth checking out, strange electronic pop, Hvmmingbyrd and Paddy Hanna among others.
At the Absolut Bar we have Jack Thompson opening the proceedings, Donal Dineen doing a nice early afternoon set between 2 and 3 PM, Deadbots, Ashley Beedle, Glen Brady and Fish Go Deep closing out the Absolut Bar among loads of other acts.
It is worth your while to catch the amazing storyteller Eddie Lenihan at 2.15 to 3 PM in the Bulmers Stage among the numerous other acts appearing.
At the Vodafone Comedy tent we have Jarlath Regan, Aoife Dooley, Alison Spittle, Fred Cooke and the brilliant Abandoman closing (7 – 7.40 PM) among other comedians. Abandoman specialises in creating his own raps and he uses on the spur suggestions from the audience to create a pretty entertaining show.
Some people recommend I should catch Chronnix (closing the main stage) and I really want to see James Holden and the Animal Spirits (closing the Midnight Circus stage), so I might go and see a bit of each and get the best of both worlds.
On the main stage check out the set from the brilliant DJ/trad musician Daithi who kicks off at 2 – 2 .45 PM for some electronica madness. I’ve heard good reports about Soule and the following act Lankum, that they are worth checking out. Susanne Sundfor hits the stage at 6 – 7 PM and she is one of the recommendations from Karin Dreijer, so I might check her out too. Iron and Wine has also been recommended to me and WhoMadeWho needs no introduction and then of course the main stage closer, reggae artist Chronixx.
For the Midnight Circus I have been told not to miss the act Shame (6.15 – 7.15 PM) who have been wowing audiences at the festivals this summer around Europe, so might check them out. Followed by the Stoogesque Bitch Falcon, a blitzkrieg of molten riffs, thundering bass lines and the fine rock n roll vocals of Lizzie Fitzpatrick. Reykjavíkurdætur, an all female group from Iceland follows who are another choice of Karin Dreijer’s and James Holden closing the proceedings.
The Pagoda stage will host some DJs and acts over the weekend too, on Sunday’s schedule Mark Graham, singer/musician from the Waterford band King Kong Company will be doing a DJ set (10 – 10.45 PM), Aine Duffy follows and Justyna Koss giving an appropriate thumping techno close to proceedings on that stage.
At the Absolut Bar Justyna also opens the proceedings for Sunday here at noon, other DJs taking part are Johnny Moy, Get Down Edits, Disconauts, the brilliant Kelly Anne Byrne and Ruth Kavanagh and Hi Fi Sean closing.
Of course cannot forget to mention the amazing Tommy Tiernan who will be headlining the Vodafone Comedy stage alongside a whole host of comedians such as Joanne McNally and Paul Currie among others.
The Reckless in Love stage will be pumping the full weekend as well, a special mention to Neil Flynn playing on the Friday at 12.30 – 2 AM who plays some amazing techno. Kelly Anne Byrne and SHIPS (odd choice for a dance stage) closing with the excellent Mother DJs on Saturday. And Mano Le Tough closing out proceedings for the Sunday night at the stage.
Also a special mention to the Community Skratch Crew who are going to be doing scratching workshops on wheel so to speak, they will be moving about hosting community scratch workshops on a wheeled contraption with sound system en tow. They normally work among 1984 Miracles, a boutique streetwear shop I have been doing work experience with as a digital marketeer student. they have a beautiful idea of a marriage between fashion and music, normally the downtempo scratch hip hop variety with DJs such as Mati and Jimmy ‘The Hideous’ Penguin. So look out for these guys.
I initially intended this piece to be about a bunch of festivals, seeing that I’m doing All Together Now in Portlaw, County Waterford in early August and the advance week of Electric Picnic festival at the end of August. What will be better is a preview piece for All Together Now in late July and a preview piece for the Picnic in late August. In the meantime I hope to see some of you at Body&Soul next week, bring it on.
1984 Miracles is a fashion boutique run by Polish couple, Dagmara Zolty and Mati in Galway city, they bring some unique brands of street wear fashion and sounds to the bustling city. The shop launched in 14th April last year is very unique in that it doesn’t just sell exclusive fashionable clothes but also has a music element to it that makes it stand out from other shops in the city.
Dagmara had the idea of making an outlet for some original Polish street wear fashion, her shop comprises of the exclusive Polish female sportswear and fashion label Femi Stories, Hip Hop designer label Elade, the men’s fashion brand Long John that specialises in accessories unisex beanie hats and Streetwear SF.com street wear fashion from Clonakilty, County Cork and I’m glad to say that Streetwear SF is very similar to 1984 Miracles in that it features a combination of fashion and community scratch sessions too.
As well as having these exclusive brands of clothing, 1984 Miracles brings something unique with their involvement with Cut & Paste Records and the hosting of the Community Scratch music sessions in the shop normally every last Saturday of the month. The Community Scratch sessions are run by Mati who is also a DJ and Jimmy Penguin, who is also known under his alias Jimmy ‘The Hideous’ Penguin.
The music featured is of a sort of hip hop downbeat nature similar to sounds like DJ Shadow, the trip hop textures of Massive Attack, Portishead and Leftfield and the added feature of turntablism, freestyle scratching with vinyl records, so its always worth a visit to check out. Shop for cool clothes while funking to the downbeat groove of hip hop music.
The next community scratch session will take place in the shop on Saturday 27th January between 4 and 6 PM and is called Community Scratch Sessions 9. This will be followed by a bigger event taking place at the Bierhaus pub in Dominic Street, Galway on Saturday, Sunday 31st March and 1st April called the Community Scratch Games and there will be a pop up 1984 Miracles shop there too.
So if you get a chance, call into the shop and check out the clothes or the scratch sessions and Dagmara always has a friendly welcome for you.
You can contact Dagmara through her website here and the 1984 Miracles Facebook page here.