Fuinneamh 2017 Festival Review

front-logo-portal

Oldcastle, Loughcrew, Co Meath

Friday 15th September.

This was my first time trying Fuinneamh festival, myself and Kevin set out from Galway about 5 pm in the camper, Kevin had be doing a fine job with the GPS guiding him all the way up to Mullingar, a pit stop at Mullingar for some supplies and off out of Mullingar. For some reason the GPS stopped working causing us to take the wrong road out of Mullingar and it took ages to find the other side of the road to get back on the right track.  My GPS didn’t work at all, but eventually Kevin worked out that the direction we needed to go was toward Castlepollard.  We eventually arrived onto the site about 9.30, the pulsing beat in the background somewhere while myself and Kevin sorted out our wristbands.

20170917_174306

Wristbands please.

I can remember the Fuinneamh massive drum way back in 2012 at both the Life festival and Body & Soul festival, they always had a great crowd making a beautiful tribal racket, having not made it to the Elysian Circus nor Lunasa festival last year, I was glad to make it to this one.  In a recent interview with Icon Underground magazine, Luke Reddy, one of the four directors behind Fuinneamh Productions said that his interest in outdoor events stemmed back to 2010 with forest parties called Keep Her Lit in Wicklow and the Fusion festival in Germany which he attends every year.  This years festival had a capacity for 3,000 people and seemed to be doing very well on Friday night, with fair crowds at all the stages.  Like Townlands Carnival and Scrobarnach, Fuinneamh had quite a diverse range of electronica, hip hop, reggae, jungle and dance music over its nine stages, some adorned with stunning visual art like the Ogham Alignment stage, the Wagwan stage and the Cosmai Ceol stage.  There was also the excitement of having the festival in such a spiritual ancient area with the ancient court cairns overlooking the festival from the top.

21740138_1937077702986605_6413472586716624642_n

The Fuinneamh 2017 map.

I thought the festival was very well organised for a small event, right down to the food catering entrance into the festival site and pulsating techno providing the soundtrack, my first mistake being forgetting how to say Fuinneamh, as you will hear in the video clip.  One small criticism would be lack of signage for the camper van area, it took us a wee while and with the help of a friendly steward to find the area.

vlcsnap-2017-09-20-00h11m39s257

Catering entrance into the main arena.

vlcsnap-2017-09-20-00h12m39s944

The dining bus.

By the time we got into the main arena it must have been about 10.30 – 11 PM, so a considerable bit of Friday missed so far, but not too worry there was still loads of time to soak in the atmosphere.

Kalizer  10  –  11 PM.   Digital Space  11 Pm  –  12 AM.  Cosmai Ceol Stage.

I’m not sure who is playing this stage, either Kalizer or Digital Space, I was well impressed with the effort that went into this stage, which was the shape of a head containing the DJ booth and gorgeous psychedelic colours and patterns projected all over it.  To the side of the stage were other beautiful pulsating visual projections on lovely backdrops and a cool Ultraviolet glow from the surrounding lights on the audience and area around.  The music a constant galloping beat of snares, squelchs and monologue ambience and tones that matched the visual splendour.

I met Salim (Mr Upfill) and Aminah who had just finished a gig at 10 Pm at the Wagwan stage so it seems I just missed them as I arrived after that, but they are good friends and festival veterans that I have met at numerous festivals over the years, it was delightful to see them again.

20170915_234955

The Cosmai Ceol area on Friday night.

20170915_235001

Cosmai Ceol Stage.

Wagwan Stage  – Rub A Dub Hi Fi, Ras Tinny, Cian Finn  11 PM  –   2 AM.

Various trips were made back to this stage to hear the Dublin lads, Rub A Dub Hi Fi Soundsystem with Executive Steve, Ras Tinny joining them at midnight and Cian Finn joining them at 1 AM.  The music, a pounding roots reggae with liberal doses of lovely Jungle and DnB in a very impressive sound system that crew were handing out ear buds for.  I like a good bit of torture from a thumping bass so no ear buds for me.

vlcsnap-2017-09-20-00h33m26s033

Rub A Dub Hi Fi with Ras Tinny, Cian Finn and Executive Steve  Wagwan Stage.

vlcsnap-2017-09-20-00h34m29s845

Rub A Dub Hi Fi Soundsystem.

Tinfoil (Sunil Sharpe & DeFekt)  – The Ogham Alignment Stage 12  –  1 AM.

This was some of the most intensest techno I ever heard, I regretted not seeing Sunil at the Rave in the Woods at Electric Picnic on the Saturday there but the weather was abysmal, so this more than made up for it.  Tinfoil are Sunil Sharpe and Galway techno producer DeFekt, they are a force to be reckoned with and I hope they do Life, Body&Soul festival and Electric Picnic in 2018 as well as making a return to Fuinnaemh, even do a few shows in Galway would be fine by me.  I had the camera zoomed in too close, I should have stood at the end lighted stones and filmed from there, nothing wrong with the crunchy techno though and a fine pumping crowd gathered.  Earlier in the set I went up on the hillside and took a video on the phone from there which I got a good bit of the stage on film, but I do wish I had a wide angle lens that could take it in all at once.

vlcsnap-2017-09-20-00h24m18s881

The Ogham Alignment Stage.

vlcsnap-2017-09-20-00h24m58s643

The Ogham Alignment Stage.

The temperature got a lot cooler and the techno stage was a bit too out in the open now, so we retreated back to the Wagwan area to soak up some more jungle and roots reggae plus there was a bit of shelter and warmth at that stage with a nicely gathered crowd.  I vowed to explore more of the arena tomorrow and take some nice daylight shots of the main arena.  Back to Kevin’s camper for a few cans and a smoke, he had a heater in the van which was very nice.  We hit the hay about 4.30 AM, a night well spent soaking up one part of the arena, time to get shut eye and prepare for a full day two.

Saturday 16th September.

Saturday was a late enough start at 11.30 AM but it was pouring outside anyway, this went on for a good four hours of relentless rain after such a nice Friday, one of Kevin’s mates from Limerick was playing a set at the Cosmai Ceol stage, Digital Aum.  So we ventured out when the rain lightened a bit around that time giving me a chance to take a daylight shot of the Cosmai Ceol stage and the set by psytrance artist Psyom, a nice chillier psytrance vibe, more ambient than the usual mangled affair.

vlcsnap-2017-09-20-00h37m42s888

The Cosmai Ceol Stage on Saturday afternoon.

vlcsnap-2017-09-20-00h38m24s142

The Cosmai Ceol head and DJ booth.

vlcsnap-2017-09-20-00h39m11s465

Psyom at Cosmai Ceol.

Kevin wanted to hear some dub roots reggae so we headed to the Wigwan stage to shelter a bit from the heavy drizzle that seemed to be picking up again, this gave me a chance to take some clear daylight shots of the reggae stage as the ones I took last night were a little dark.

20170916_162906

Some of the stage art at the Wagwan Stage. DJ: Saoirse Sounds.

20170916_162929

Stage art at the Wigwan Stage.

20170916_162942

The Rub A Dub Hi Fi speaker system.

20170916_163006

Art at the Wigwan Area.

20170916_163016

Art at the Wagwan Area.

With the onset of heavy rain again we made tracks back to the camper, stopping anymore exploration of the site until it finally subsided about 7.30 – 8 PM.

Boots & Kats   Keep Her Lit Tent    8.30  –  10 PM.

Boots & Kats play good thumping squelchy acid techno in the vein of Aphex Twin and Luke Vibert, the Dublin DJs have a solid following in their hometown from playing well known dance clubs such as the Opium Rooms and Toast as well as the Carbon nightclub in Galway.  They have also headlined stages at Life festival and Electric Picnic among others.  Judging by the crowd gathered in the tent tonight the popularity has not diminished and continues to grow.

20170916_215718

Boots & Kats  Keep Her Lit Tent  Saturday 16th September.

It was around this time I finally got the camera out in the main arena and took a video of the area, trying to catch the last remaining daylight which was diminishing fast and trying to check out as many stages as possible.

vlcsnap-2017-09-20-01h18m01s687

The Main Arena with the Keep Her Lit Stage.

vlcsnap-2017-09-20-01h19m01s761

The Main Stage (Hill of Danu) from a distance.  Luke had the idea that it would resemble a passage tomb entrance at the bottom of the hill.

vlcsnap-2017-09-20-01h20m01s320

Another shot of the packed Keep Her Lit Tent.

vlcsnap-2017-09-20-01h20m36s335

The Ogham Alignment stage in the background through the sides of the Keep Her Lit Tent.

I checked out some of the bubble tents, first one was the Discoim tent which at the time I thought said Discuit or so I say on the video anyway, the clip walks into the tent, does a loop, looks at the dancers and DJs and goes out of the tent.  The music a funky happy house sound that verged on acid jazz, there was a few in there lost in the intoxicating beat.  I have no idea of the DJs as there was no timetable for this tent.

vlcsnap-2017-09-20-13h36m14s433

Revellers grooving away to the funky happy house acid jazz of the Discoim Tent.

vlcsnap-2017-09-20-13h39m11s432

the DJs making the sonic sound of the Discoim Tent.

 

I made a beeline for the other bubble tent known as the BDTU tent standing for the Back Door to the Universe tent.  The music here was a bit more difficult to define but it was a very progressive rocky house and techno sound, so absolutely banging music.  I don’t think there was actually a stage at this festival that had me running away in horror, all the music was absolutely amazing.  Again no identity for the DJs involved as no timetable for this venue either.

Deliverance  –  Main Stage (Hill of Danu)   8.00   –   8.30 PM.

Caught a bit of the main stage act Deliverance from Rush, County Dublin who happen to come from the same place Brian Kelly comes from the singer from my own group The Living Stream.  Deliverance put on a deadly performance of hip hop, rap and good old rock n roll and had some pretty decent songs such as Love for Mary Jane, an ode to the waccy baccy.  They had a small tidy audience but one that appreciated their festival vibe and Babz Allen has a serious larynx that oozes that Maggie Bell/Mary Coughlan influence.  I thought the act was originally PrYmary Colours, but they contacted me to say they played on Friday instead.  When I looked at the timetable I realised Deliverance were slotted later than 6.30 PM.  Check them out a good fun act to see.

vlcsnap-2017-09-20-13h43m15s765

Deliverance  – Main Stage (Hill of Danu)  Saturday September 16th.

Gnosis  –  Anam Cara Tent    7.00   –   9.00 PM.

Gnosis from Dublin are a pair of DJs who make absolutely banging techno, there is no other word for it, but they smashed it tonight with a fairly packed tent.  The timetable says that they were playing the Anam Cara tent but a few swear it was the Keep Her Lit tent, but there is no barrier thingy above the DJs heads like the tent Boots & Kats played in.  Another dilemma is I can’t remember if it was Boots & Kats or Gnosis who dropped the amazing The Drums DMS 12 remix track, but that was one of the highlights for me and Kevin for the weekend.

 

vlcsnap-2017-09-20-01h08m46s955

Gnosis at the Anam Cara Tent   Saturday September 16th.

vlcsnap-2017-09-20-01h07m20s331

Gnosis at the Anam Cara Tent   Saturday September 16th.

 

Sarah Lennox   –  Keep Her Lit Tent    10.00   –  11.00 PM.

Sarah Lennox played a whopper techno set at the Keep Her Lit tent that was packed to the brim and you could tell she was really enjoying the gig, she is up there with one of my favourites from last years Scrobarnach festival, Maedbh O’Connor who was playing the Ogham Alignment stage earlier in the afternoon.    Sarah has played loads of festivals including Life, Lunasa, Ministry of Sound and had some amazing spots in Ibiza. She really knows how to work the crowd and she oozed the confidence on the stage tonight, long may she continue.

20170916_220829

Sarah Lennox at the Keep Her Lit Tent  Saturday September 16th.

I think we ventured back to the camper for a bit of a rest up, soft seats, a replenishment of cans and a good smoke, that was a bit of walking about and investigating the stages. King Kong Company was making a glorious racket at the main stage but since I’ve covered King Kong Company umpteenth times including the last Electric Picnic review, I think enough has been said there but they had a nice wee crowd gathered.  We ventured back into the arena one last time about 1.30 AM and made for the Ogham Alignment area bringing us into the early hours of Sunday 17th September.

Sean Markey  – Ogham Alignment Stage   1.30 AM   –  Close.

Sean Markey was just starting off his set with a few mingling about the area, he was playing a thumping techno set, maybe not as spacey as Tinfoil the previous night but still bloody good, myself and Kevin hung around for half an hour soaking up the sounds but it was starting to get Baltic cold no matter how good the music sounded, so no offense to Sean intended, we drifted off to the Wagwan tent as it was a bit warmer there.

The last half an hour was spent at the Wagwan tent chilling to the jungle and DnB roots sounds of the Rub A Dub Hi Fi Soundsystem and talking to randomers at the stage from the North of Ireland.  It was here I had an epic fall in the mud when trying to scrabble for a seat at the side of the stage.  It was back to the camper for a few tins and the luxury of the heater.  A fantastic little festival to end the summer of festivals, I honestly didn’t think I would have had the energy left after Electric Picnic but there ya go.

Sunday 17th September.

God bless Kevin, he fed and watered me through the weekend and I was delighted to wash some dishes in the morning and to fill the water bottle at the campsite two minutes from the camper van area so that we could have a coffee and some bacon sandwiches, absolute bliss.  In a way the festival wasn’t over yet as Kevin had a plan, that we climb some hills and to go and see the amazing court cairns of Loughcrew.

On the way to Cairn T I thought I was going to die halfway up the hill, I’ll tell you something, its a good way to get rid of toxins and your hangover when you climb a bloody big hill.

21766410_10210244030084576_3433373837428270336_n

Kevin took a photo of me struggling to get up the hill or is that down the hill

There was a great feeling when you did reach the top though and looked at the awesomeness of the cairn.

20170917_143332

Cairn T.

20170917_143523

Cairn T.

20170917_143532

Kevin at the entrance to Cairn T.

20170917_143608

Inside Cairn T.

Whilst up there we could spot the odd festival goer amongst the tourists, because they had big grins and were sporting either green or pink wristbands, we gave them a knowing smile.  When we came back down we opted for a coffee at the Loughcrew Megalithic Centre and Cafe.

20170917_153639

The Loughcrew Megalithic Centre.

20170917_155339

The Cafe.

20170917_155355

Kevin enjoying a coffee.

20170917_160121

Myself enjoying a coffee.

20170917_160234

Sign for Cairn T.

20170917_160228

Sign for Cairn L.

Now one of the workers at the cafe told us the Cairn L was on private property, but we weren’t going to let that put us off, therefore we had the whole hill to ourselves as there was no one else up there.  It was tough going, going up that second hill which I think was steeper than the first, but there was a few more tombs up there than just the cairn.

20170917_163754

Cairn L.

20170917_163830

The entrance to Cairn L.

20170917_163914

Inside Cairn L.

20170917_164243

Some of the other structures near Cairn L

20170917_164332

Other structures near Cairn L.

20170917_164352

A capstone at the entrance of a tomb.

20170917_164407

A court cairn near Cairn L.

20170917_164603

A Standing Stone near Cairn L.

20170917_165108

I think this is a Longbarrow.

20170917_180024

Info sign for the cairns.

Well Kevin was parked up in the free car park, so we decided to stay for the night as it would be a long and arduous journey to Galway after all that climbing, there was some food and tins of beer in the camper so Kevin continued to spoil me and we ended the night listening to some of the best radio DJs on Today FM, you know who they are without me saying anything.

Well that was an adventure my heartfelt thanks to Kevin Keehan for a wonderful weekend, my thanks to Luke Reddy for his generosity in providing me a free wristband to review the festival which I hope helps it in future runs in the coming years and to the festival stewards who helped us on Friday night and the kind lady at the box office who gave me my wristband and Kevin the camper pass.  Roll on Fuinneamh 2018, I hope to return next year as its a wonderful little festival.

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Electric Picnic 2017 Festival Review

EP2017

The Prelude: Sunday 27th   –   Thursday 31st August. 

The wonderful Aibhe Jagodic gave me a lift on Sunday afternoon from Galway to Stradbally, the Electric Picnic and Body&Soul festival stalwart commutes regularly from the West to the South East for her work, but she entertained me with some lovely festival memories and she couldn’t go this year because of work commitments, which I think was tearing her up.  She is also a great friend of the lovely Juley-Ann Collins who gave me a lift to the Body&Soul festival in 2012 and would be working the festival from Wednesday onward.

At Stradbally John Dooley, Ann-Marie and JD Corcoran were already set up at the crew camp as well as some of the other regulars, Jenny and Aidan arriving from Cork not long after me.  John was back at the same spot and set up the cinema screen for tonight’s film, I’m delighted to say that he chose the DVD I brought down with me, a gift from my brother a few years back, Angel’s Share, a Scottish film about disadvantaged Glaswegian youths who through the help of a social services worker carve a new interest in collecting rare Scottish whisky and it becomes their salvation, the film also deals with how to deal with anger management.  Crash from 2005 the following night, Paul Haggis’s masterpiece about race and ethnicity.  Wednesday nights film never materialised as there was too much copious amounts of craic to be had. But John entertained the arriving weekend volunteers with Trainspotting on the Thursday.

The work duties for the festival was fairly easy peasy,  I was working at the Production gate this year so my job was to direct arriving inductees to the staff car park and direct them to volunteers further down the field who would give them a health and safety induction and pre-event wristband so that they could progress further into the festival site.  The Grandstand was our shop of choice, the little green shop just beyond the Production entrance and across the road from Supervalu, it had the best breakfast rolls in the town, so scrumptious lunch or brunch breaks were to be had.  I was working with JD, who was great craic and appreciated my sounds I was playing on the beatbox and my blog reviews.

The tiny gate at the production entrance, I marvelled at the enormous articulated lorries that managed to squeeze through that tiny space, bringing rigging to the stages, bar set ups, circus and fun fair equipment, catering and some of the most creative caravans out there, destined for the Trailer Park area.

I got wristbanded on Wednesday night with my proper weekend cloth band, it was nice to have that out of the way as it can be hectic when queuing with the weekend volunteers on Thursday for the wristband, I also set about taking some pictures of the site build. Thursday seemed to be the quietest day as far as activities was concerned because all the trucks had already served the festival, the infrastructure was already in place.

John is like the Electric Picnic volunteer saviour, he made some lovely meals over the past week, kept us watered with fine beers, coffees and teas.  Was a recharge point for many people and to top it off, his infectious humour kept us on a buzzing vibe, oh!  And I forgot to mention his cool sound system playing the best funk on Spotify.

20170828_193836

Aidan and Jenny.

20170830_184721

A rainbow and rain showers over the crew Camp on Wednesday.

20170830_192504

One of the many roads that cut through the festival site.

20170830_192736

The Picnic still has to go up.

20170830_193045

The majestic 7,000 capacity Electric Arena Marquee.

20170830_193409

Electric Arena.

20170830_193431

The towering Electric Arena.

20170830_194042

The Casa Bacardi Stage.

20170831_214253

The Body&Soul Village ready to go on Thursday night.

20170831_214346

Installation at the Body&Soul Village.

20170831_214557

Body&Soul Village.

20170831_214618

Fairy forest in the Body&Soul Village.

Friday 1st September.

First priorities was to go to Stradbally from the crew camp and procure a breakfast roll and coffee from the Grandstand shop, this set me up for my first exploration in the main arena about two or three hours before official festival day opening times.  I headed up with Gearoid Isainmdom who came down with Kevin Keehan on Tuesday night, a good friend of mine and we wandered about the main arena bumping into other Galway friends Gavin Grennan and Caroline Crow, festival stalwarts of a multitude of festivals, some of which I was at.

20170901_134043

Gearoid, Caroline and Gavin.

We headed up to the Body&Soul Village where myself and Gearoid stopped at the Tiny Tea Tent, had a lovely cuppa and some chocolate flake and sponge cake, sitting relaxing and loving the sunny vibe of the place.  Then my Whatsapp buzzed, it was David Curran and he was wanting to buy a ticket, only I forgot, Kevin had given it to me the night before which I put in my jacket.  Of course, my bloody jacket was sitting in my tent at crew camp.  So it meant I had to trudge through the arriving festival crowd out of the arena back to crew camp, luckily David met me there and everything worked out grand.

We headed into the main arena again about 5.30 – 6 pm and headed to the Bacardi Bar to listen to some of the Get Down Edits set, a great funky tech house sound that had a busy enough crowd getting down.

20170901_193557

Get Down Edits – Casa Bacardi Friday 1st September.

I went to the merchandise stand as I wanted to buy the timetable and booklet, some of the times printed would turn out to be incorrect during the weekend and why no Rankin’s Wood info for Friday.  There was obviously stuff going on in the marquee so why was this omitted from the timetable people are paying money for.  Kevin wanted to see the Jenny Greene show so he relied on the festival app which always had the correct info.

The Divine Comedy   – Main Stage   7.30    –   8.30 PM.

I enjoyed a bit of the Divine Comedy’s set, the band were going through some sound problems when we arrived and Neil Hannon didn’t seem amused about it, but the rest of the set proved faultless.  They played some of the classics such as Indie Disco, National Express and some of the recent album Foreverland.  The band got a decent crowd and was a nice kick start for the main stage as the third opening act of the weekend.

The History of Hip Hop, Jenny Greene and the RTE Concert Orchestra – Rankin’s Wood –  9.00  –  9.40 PM.

Kevin wanted to see this, so I trooped along for the craic, another stage to go to I suppose. I wasn’t that much impressed with the hip hop selection although I wasn’t there for the whole set and we were listening from outside the tent, but there seemed to be some glaring absences in the history such as Grandmaster Flash, the Sugarhill Gang, A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def, NWA and Public Enemy.  If you are going to do a history of hip hop you have to go as far back as James Brown’s I’m Black and I’m Proud and Gil Scott Heron’s The Revolution Will Not be Televised to even understand social commentary and poetry and prose to the bass beat.

Jenny Greene’s set was very short at about forty minutes, it was bouncy enough dance classics and a great sound system but I wouldn’t say I was absolutely ecstatic about it but it was a lot of fun and it was the audience that made it a really good atmosphere.

The XX   – Main Stage    10.00 PM   –   12.00 AM.

The XX put on an amazing show, they are exceptional musicians who take their dark jangly indie rock into an electronica realm with Jamie XX coming over as a beats master, exemplary DJ and drummer too.  Lashings of tracks featured from their new album I See You including their single On Hold and some of the classics from their previous two albums such as Islands among others.  Tops to the main stage crew who had a fantastic sound coming from the PA and some of the visuals from the XX show were breathtaking, exotic lighting backdrops and pretty cool lasers made for a very enjoyable show.

We mainly wandered about Body&Soul after that soaking up the atmosphere, visiting the main stage numerous times, catching snippets of various acts like HMLTD, Lowly and New Jackson who provided some nice dance grooves to close the B&S main stage for Friday.  Wandered over to the Peace Pagoda and caught a bit of some set, the music, a long constant ambient drone that was so, painfully loud, had we stayed there we would have been deafened, so maybe ambient in a torturous kind of way.  There was some nice ambient techno emitting from the Earthship stage courtesy of Lumigraph and later on Neil Flynn.

The biggest surprise though was the Haunt, a new barn type venue that looked like a set from a David Lynch film.  Now the Haunt is quite a small venue maybe marginally bigger than the Red Bull Soundome, well maybe a crammed room if 150 people were there, but it had a creepy cool clandestine feel to it, almost like a candle light glow.  The softest seats to the side and a great selection of DJs spinning the wonderful music.  The music ranging from vaudeville, bebop, blues, folk music from around the world, deepest Africa, Cuba, Klezmer, Balkan, Mexican and Ireland too ending on a Christy Moore/Planxty note, it was really loud but beautiful sounds.   There was no timetable information for the Haunt so I have no idea who was playing Friday or Saturday night.  I just wonder if its the same people who ran the Gramophone Disco at Townlands Carnival as I remember a similar Planxty/Christy Moore thing happening in there too last year.  Myself and Kevin headed back to the crew camp for the night at about 3.30 am, time to get a much needed rest.

The Haunt

The Haunt, Body&Soul Village.   photograph by Siobhan Venables

Saturday 2nd September.

Woke up to the fine John Dooley who delivered a cup of coffee to my tent, what a legend you are and a nice bacon sandwich later in the camper.  I think myself, Kevin and Gearoid went into the main arena about 3 or 4 PM,  I called up to the volunteer HQ to say hello to Catherine Kehoe, our coordinator and Susan, her assistant who were doing a fine job looking after the volunteers, special mention to the weekend volunteers Kim Austin and Niamh Ryan for getting out there and organising a bus to bring 30 volunteers to the festival site from Dublin on the Thursday preceding the festival.  Kim was my next door neighbour in the campsite, in fact I was surrounded by people from County Wexford, thanks for putting up with my wild Aphex Twin audios on the beatbox.  When my Ipod seemed to go on permanent lock I hope my green speaker was of some use to you. 🙂

This year I avoided the usual haunts of Trenchtown, Hazelwood and Rave in the Woods and decided to try a few different areas, mainly Trailer Park that I’ve never really explored at the festival before.  There was some really gorgeous caravans and strange stalls and characters who populated the area.

20170902_161914

Trailer Park.

20170902_161922

Trailer Park.

20170902_161936

Panto in the Trailer Park.

20170902_162016

A turban making stall at Trailer Park.

20170902_162104

Caravanoke.

20170902_162200

Jaheire on the Trailer Park Stage Saturday 2nd September.

Jaheire  – Trailer Park Stage    4.05    –   5.00 PM.

Jaheire were covering all the famous Bob Marley and the Wailers hits as well as classics by Toots and the Maytals, The Specials and Madness.  They are a fairly tight band who had a nice audience gathered no doubt some destined to be at the Madness set later, but Jaheire has a fine singing voice and got us into good form for the upcoming shows.

Madness   –  Main Stage     5.30   –   6.30 PM.

It was just as well we were milling about for half an hour as Madness came on at 5.30 rather than the timetable advertised time of 5.45 PM, possibly pissing off people with the incorrect laminate times as they would automatically miss fifteen minutes of the gig. Anyway, the lads put in a classic performance of all their famous hits.  Kicking off with Embarrassment and then into their 1979 debut single The Prince, they still sound incredible and Suggs still looks great with his voice in fine fettle.  I was delighted that they played One Step Beyond as they didn’t play it at EP in 2009, the audience delightfully sang along to the melody.  Hit after hit reeled out Our House, Baggy Trousers, It Must Be Love and My Girl amongst others and a fine cover of Max Romeo’s Chase The Devil. The perfect band to enliven the audience at the main stage for today’s proceedings.

20170902_182815

Madness on the Main Stage   Saturday 2nd September.

The Rusangano Family   –  Rankin’s Wood Stage    6.30   –   7.15 PM.

Whilst wandering away from the main stage area after Madness, I was liking what I was heard coming from the Rankin’s Wood marquee, good bassy energetic rapping.  So into the tent we go and another new discovery, The Rusangano Family.  Now some of the folk on Boards.ie have been raving about this lot for the last few years so I was delighted to finally get to see them for the first time.  African kids who had been brought up in Limerick and now were a fully fledged hip hop act with their own slant toward Grime as well. They are currently promoting their debut album Let The Dead Bury The Dead released last April and their popularity is growing.  They may have had half a tent full but it was an ecstatic lot who were in there, the group having worked very hard at touring, playing small venues and small festivals around the country, I’m delighted to see them get the recognition they fully deserve.

We met up with Gearoid and his girlfriend Orla Gibney after the Madness gig, she had travelled down today has she had to work in Galway on the Friday.

Columbia Mills   –  Jerry Fish’s Electric Sideshow   6.30   – 7.15 PM.

Gearoid recommended this band and we stopped at the Jerry Fish tent to listen to a few numbers.  The band from Bray had a packed tent and had an energy similar to the National, New Order also came to mind and a few other Manchester acts.  They had a great explosive energy and I really hope big things come their way, I even suggested that Body&Soul festival book them for next year.

We wandered about the main arena and were quite taken but the ensuing footage coming from the outside Electric Arena screen, this fine looking auburn haired lady with a fine larynx rocking it out with an extremely tight band, Birdy.  This was a new discovery for me, here was a band who had similar energies to Florence and The Machine and London Grammar, but this girl with a rather long name, Jasmine Lucilla Elizabeth Jennifer Van den Bogaerde could wipe the floor with Florence, she has a much nicer stronger voice and with such passion and emotion.  We came into the side of the tent to watch the last few closing songs and man, she had a pretty rammed tent, Birdy could be headlining the main stage next year judging by the reaction to this gig.

20170902_195651

The packed audience at the Electric Arena for Birdy  Saturday 2nd September.

Bill Bailey   –   Comedy Tent    8.25   –    9.10 PM.

Lets say I was in a suitable enhancement for this stand up gig, I have always loved Bill Bailey, especially his stuff in Black Books and other TV appearances and stand up shows and cameos in films like Saving Grace.  He is the perfect tonic to help us laugh at Brexit, his summary of Mumford and Sons almost broke my ribs and his musicianship is incredible.  He is a walking encyclopedia of rock music, with his pisstake of the heavy metal genre of music or taking a simple thing like the Iphone ringtone and turning it into an incredible ambient piece of music or playing the American National anthem in a minor key.  It was the first time I have watched a proper stand up show actually sitting in inside the tent at Electric Picnic.  Last year I watched part of the Dylan Moran performance on the outside screen of the comedy tent as it was absolutely rammed.  The same with Tommy Teirnan’s performance in 2005, not a hope in hell of getting into the tent for that, so I was delighted to be in the company of the brilliant Bill Bailey.

Suitably elated after such a brilliant show that you are pinching yourself to check it actually happened we were greeted by heavy drizzle and wind, personally I didn’t care I was happy as larry and made my way with Kevin toward the wonderful soulful and playful sound coming from the Earthship stage in Body&Soul, twas the beautiful music of Attention Bebe, an act who has played numerous Body & Soul festivals as well as a few Picnics.  This was the first time I got to hear them as I would usually be doing other things and have missed them before.  A few were talking about them in the Boards.ie Electric Picnic thread and recommending that we should try and catch the group if we can, to which I’m glad to say I did this Saturday night at the Earthship.

The Haunt, Body&Soul Village   (Possibly entered at 12.30/1 AM till 4.20 AM.

The Haunt (2)

The Haunt, Body&Soul Village.  Photograph by Lucy Goodier.

Well plans went out the window for maybe getting to see A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Tong and Orchestra, Tiga and Clark as the wet and the wind got more intense, I didn’t fancy walking over the plain in that building cyclone.  Body&Soul seemed that more enclosed, sheltering and more colourful, loads of chill areas beckoning us.

We settled for the second night ending at the Haunt, that cool fully enclosed wooden looking byre, with intoxicating world music on a superb PA, the bass causing explosions and ruptures in your ears but it was ever so delightful.  Yes, seats have become available. YONK! No sorry, not moving, can’t move.

The music that was brought to us over the weekend, courtesy of, Maxtractor-spudnikki Monchici, Killian Redmonk, Christine McQuilan, Mick T-woc, Chrissi Ferris, Andy Aforce, Ollie Moore, Gully Docktah Irie and Colin Olwill was so, so refreshing compared to what was in the dance stages of the main arena, not the marquees now but the Logic and Heineken stages.  Some even reckon the Haunt was placed there to strategically counterpoint the dance stages, I think it worked too.  I am proud to say, myself and Kevin were the last two thrown out of the place by 4.20 AM.

20170903_000008

The Haunt, Body&Soul Village  Saturday 2nd September.

20170902_011524

The Haunt, Body&Soul Village  Saturday 2nd September.

Sunday 3rd September.

Woke up and headed over to John’s camper with my Lavazza and mobile continental coffee press container and had a few nice strong coffees, there was always people stopping in for a blether or a joke or two with John.  Gearoid and Orla was there, Kevin joining later.  There was also some of the St John ambulance crew who were camped up next to John who talked me into getting out my bodhran and singing a few songs, I had a nice appreciative audience for Tippin’ it up to Nancy and the Dolores Keane version of the Raggle Taggle Gypsies called Seven Yellow Gypsies, specifically because it mentions Stradbally in the lyrics.  I got a nice round of applause and this was my sole bodhran playing for EP this year.  John took up my bodhran then and performed As I Roved Out which was brilliant and well received.

The Skatalites    –   Main Stage    2.30   –   3.30 PM.

The Skatalites are a classic old style jazzy ska band with a shit hot brass section and an incredibly tight act, one of the old Studio One classics who I think played EP in 2006 too. The group has been going since 1964, many of its members have passed on now, but the sons and nephews of the original members have kept the group up to scratch, I also witnessed this marvellous band back in 2009 at the Liquid Rooms in Edinburgh and they are absolutely fantastic for an oul stomp.  Doreen Shaffer who is one of the original founding members provided superb vocals to the classic British hit by Millie Small, My Boy Lollipop getting the audience bopping and special guest choreography from John Dooley.  The Skatalite’s played loads of familiar classics such as the Guns of Navarone and Phoenix City which brought the red hot sun out for a few hours.  A glorious way to kick off Sundays proceedings of music.  This was the only time I managed to meet up with David Curran again and his girlfriend for a quick chat.

King Kong Company  –  Electric Arena    3.30   –   4.15 PM.

This was my fourth time catching this superb Waterford electro/rock act and they have come a long way, with a packed to the rafters Electric Arena, Electric Picnic’s second biggest stage.  The first time I seen this band they were playing at Life Festival 2012 with a small enough crowd gathered at the main stage, but within 10 minutes they had a few hundred there.  They are one of the hardest working bands in Ireland and have done an incredible amount of festivals this year including Glastonbury.  The band released their debut album King Kong Company in June 2016 which they have been playing and promoting at events internationally and nationally over the last year, power to them and I have a great respect for Mark Graham too, a brilliant journalist who has made writing about festivals an art form.

A special mention to Kelly-Anne Byrne who gave a fantastic set at Casa Bacardi, I wasn’t sure if she was doing The Beat Goes On live from there but some of her playlist reflected Sunday’s show alright.  Especially a really cool remix of New Order’s Blue Monday and Giorgio Moroder’s and Donna Summer’s classic I Feel Love and man it was hot there, especially with gorgeous scantily clad girls dancing about and the hot sun, I must have at least drank two pints water there.

The Pretenders   –   Main Stage     5.45   –   6.45 PM.

Caught a bit of the Pretenders set on the main stage bringing back nostalgic memories for me of the early eighties, some of my family went to see the Pretenders in Glasgow when Brass in Pocket was at number one in the charts, I will always remember the sexy Chrissie Hynde in her cool jacket and leather trousers on Top of the Pops, she looked more gorgeous with the jet black hair.  That’s not to say she still looks fabulous and still has her voice in fine fettle.  Listening to some of the more unfamiliar tracks I get the sense that although they are British apart from Chrissie who is from Ohio they were probably  influenced by the New York punk scene much like Blondie and had that rushed energy of the Ramones at times.  Because I came halfway through the set I probably missed some of the older stuff like Stop Your sobbing and one of my all time favourites, I Go To Sleep.  I was delighted though to catch them do Brass in Pocket, one of their most famous hits.  A fantastic act that still has it.

Chaka Khan   –   Main Stage     7.15   –   8.15 PM.

Chaka Khan was pretty amazing, we looked at some of the show from the seating stand but decided to move closer to the stage as the music was just too good.  Chaka Khan would be more blues and soul based than Chic or Pfunk, previous EP acts, but she still has an amazing voice and also looks great after all these years.  She is of that gospel soul tradition that you can just feel when she sings so naturally.  She had a superb backing band and backing singers too.  I wouldn’t be too overtly familiar with her material but did recognise some of the melodies through the set.  Like what Nile Rodgers and Chic have, she was part of another funk and disco collective called Ashford and Simpson and could turn on the funk when required namely with I’m Every Woman which is probably her most well known hit.  A fantastic performer though and you should try and catch her when she performs in Dublin later in the year.

Wandered about Body&Soul Village with Kevin, we eventually sat down at the seats at the top of the Body&Soul main stage amphitheatre and watched some of the acts.  Moses Sumney ( 8.30 – 9.15 PM) was on stage, a one person act who worked mainly in a croony soul vein, a wee bit too laid back for me, Kevin saying “Where’s the beats?”  He had a few listeners alright but there was a bit too much Wooo Hoo Hooo! being sung in the music for my liking, but we just sat there as it was nice, dry, warm and ambient.

IDER   –   Body&Soul Main Stage    9.45   –  10.30 PM.

IDER are two lovely blonde ladies, one from London and one from Birmingham who do some decent dreamy pop electronica, they are perfect Body&Soul fodder and I would like to see them back at Body&Soul festival next year.  They were very enthused to be playing the festival as this was their first gig ever in Ireland, so their joy added to the gig.  The music would be kinda harmonic and folky in bits and some nice pop hooks with just a nice amount of chill ambient electronica keeping the beat, a nice and refreshing new sound.

Duran Duran    –   Main Stage     10.45 PM   –  12.00 AM.

I was all set to catch a little bit of Duran Duran, Kiasmos and Soulwax tonight, but Duran Duran just blew me away and I stayed, they are much heavier live than the studio versions of their singles.  The band had an amazing light show and visuals, Simon Lee Bon seemed to be in top form sporting a lime green biker jacket and he still seems to have an amazing larynx, kudos to the band too for being super tight, John Taylor, Dom Brown and Roger Taylor on drums make a fine rhythm behind the synths and Bon’s vocal.  It was a hits packed set with Wild Boys, Rio, Hungry Like the Wolf, Girls on Film and A View to Kill among others.  At the end of the set the Dublin Gospel Choir came and joined the band for Save a Prayer.  A fantastic finale to close the main stage for EP 2017.

Mother DJs    –    Earthship Stage, Body&Soul Village.    12.00   –   4.00 AM.

It was off to the Mother’s set after that, Mother DJs are festival stalwarts of the Picnic and Body&Soul festival and play all year round in the likes of the Grand Social and their own club the Mother Club in Dublin.  They are always guaranteed to have a packed house because they play such infectious groovy electronica and they had a packed stage tonight closing out the Earthship stage.

Donal Dineen’s This Ain’t No Disco/ Patrick Kelleher   – Body&Soul Main Stage                 1.00   –   4.00 AM.

No Disco was a popular Irish music series I would tune into in the early nineties. it had dedicated presenters and an overall excellent choice of bands and musicians featured on each programme and it had about a decade run with RTE 2 from 1993 to 2003 and was responsible for bringing one of Ireland’s biggest and most loved trad folk bands out of retirement, namely Planxty.  Amazing presenters such as DJ, Donal Dineen, Leagues O’Toole and the late Uaneen Fitzsimons who died tragically in a car crash gave the show a credible feel.  I don’t know why RTE binned it, it simply just baffled me.

Anyway Donal started of the TV series again for broadcasting on the internet and re-titling it This Ain’t No Disco.  Having watched two episodes so far I was well impressed with the calibre of bands, DJs and musicians featured in it and was hot linking it anywhere that had a wall or a space for the link.  Its great that Body&Soul have given space in the stage to showcase some of the talent from this music show, I really hope one of the TV channels takes it up again, I might suggest to Donal that there is a DJ in Today FM that could fit nicely into Uaneen’s shoes, namely Kelly-Anne Byrne who I think would make a perfect TV presenter for the music series, if she is even half as passionate as she is on the Beat Goes On show.  Other presenters who come to mind would be the people behind Under Ether, Michelle Doherty and Elton Mullally.  This is not to take away from Donal Dineen who is also a fantastic passionate presenter for the music series himself.

And now for the clips featured, since there was no schedule for the live show.  The first clip features an excerpt of the track Aspergillus played by Sunken Foal, a nice ambient droning techno track. The second clip features Patrick Kelleher and His Cold Dead Hands (Sunken Foal) – Stereolith (Alright With You).  The music a industrial grinding white noise electronica with Patrick Kelleher putting a rockabilly vocal to the whole thing, so creating an electronica Cramps vibe if you like.  This was the final live music I saw at EP 2017.

Monday 4th September.

Surprisingly not as hungover as I’d thought I’d be, a bunch of us was sitting at John’s camper whilst he was taking things down, crew camp was disappearing before our eyes, tents becoming green spaces.  Was trying to suss a lift to Galway when Kevin suggested to hang on till he finished the breakdown at Soul Kids at 6.30 which just got me into Galway in time for the session.  Thanks all to John Dooley, JD Corcoran, Kevin Keehan, Gearoid, Catherine Kehoe, Susan and everyone else who helped make my week, it was such a buzz and dammit I have to wait another year to do this all over again.  All the best and I’ll see ya’s at some festival next year if not the Picnic.  Roll on Electric Picnic 2018.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Beatyard Festival 2017 Review.

Dun Laoghaire, Dublin  August 5th and 6th.

 

Beatyard-2017-main-poster586k

Saturday 5th August.

Setting off from a dreary and miserable downpour of Galway just before noon, my journey would take me from the sea to the sea, travelling from Salthill to Dun Laoghaire. Once I got to Dublin it was probably the smoothest journey to a festival ever, the Dart only costing 3.25 Euros from Dublin to the festival site, perfect and the weather up here being also much more agreeable.

I was working there as a volunteer this year, I didn’t make it to Townlands this year so this was my new festival exploration for 2017 and I was back with my EP, Liss Ard and Body&Soul Festival boss, coordinator, Catherine Kehoe.  I arrived about 3.30 pm, so I was told to report to the box office at 5.30 before the start of my first shift.  Seeing that I was wristbanded, I set off with my camera to take a few snaps and videos and to check out some of the earlier line up.

Romare & Band   Main Stage  4.30   –   5.30 PM.

Romare is an electronic producer, DJ and all round musician ably supported by a congo player and a guitarist/saxophonist.  The music a sweet ambient funky sound with influences of disco, jazz and African music, the music complemented the lovely sunny afternoon and a suitable crowd gathered dancing to the beat.  A good choice for the time of the day.

DSC04972

Romare and band  Main Stage Saturday.

https://ninjatune.net/artist/romare

 

 

DSC04968

Festival entrance.

DSC04969

The Rub A Dub Soundsystem and the many DJs that would populate that stage.

DSC04970

Some of the nice food on offer.

When my shift started at 6 pm Bananarama were rocking it out on the main stage with a proper live band, much better than their Electric Picnic performance last year where the two women just sang over a backing tape in glorified karaoke.  The live band gave the group a bit of balls, I’m not mad for their music or anything but it was an enjoyable enough set with some memorable summer hits.

http://www.bananarama.co.uk/

My job for Saturday night with a few of my mates volunteering also, Kevin Keehan and David Curran was to stop men going into the ladies toilets while similarly two Brazilian girls who were volunteering stopped the ladies going into the gents.  I also spotted the local drug squad in action busting the occasional fool outside the toilets too.

DSC04978

David Curran, Kevin Keehan and other volunteers.

Where we were based though was outside the entrance to the toilets, so we had ample view of the main stage and festival shenanigans going on.

Larry Heard     Main Stage   7.20    –  8.50 PM.

I enjoyed Larry Heard’s set, nice tight ambient techno, house and acid house vibes made for a pleasant soundtrack while stopping unassuming men going into the ladies and having random conversations with buzzed up happy people.  Some of the projections in the rear screen was a lovely splash of psychedelic colours and visuals.  The clip I took is at the very back of the main stage area so probably a bit noisier than it would be nearer the front of the stage.

https://www.discogs.com/artist/148-Larry-Heard

Mark Ronson     Main Stage     9.15     –     10.30 PM.

Mark Ronson’s set had some lively tasteful stuff, some great hip hop tracks and feel good dance anthems, but there was also some dreadful auto tune drivel being played too, so more like a dance and pop music set that serious techno or house music.  I liked that he played some Amy Winehouse, I suppose he is still emotionally attached to that production but it was still nice to hear Valerie, one of his main production works with Amy.

https://www.markronson.co.uk/

Our shift finished an hour and a half earlier so it was off to David’s place tonight and I would be staying in Kevin’s camper in the West Pier down the road on Sunday night.  Had a fairly late Saturday night with David, Jenny and Aiden who were volunteering also at the festival.  Jenny and Aiden’s experience working the advance days were somewhat different from mine, David’s and Kevin’s but I’ll not go into that.

Sunday 6th August.

For Sunday our job was mainly to stand about as an info steward at the entrance to the Red Bull stage and to basically just fill people in with the activities in the area if asked. The Red Bull area basically had proper toilets, a bar, a rave area with the Bodytonic DJs and a children’s game area and baby changing area.  I missed the first act on the main stage because we were doing various jobs before we got posted to the Red Bull entrance.  Myself and Kevin did catch the second act in earshot, Katie Kim.  Katie Kim is good at what she does and at times her vocal had qualities of Liz Frazer aka Cocteau Twins but her tempo was to damn slow and her whole set consisted of slow melancholic songs. After a while I felt the slowness of the set clashed with the happy vibe of the festival, Kim needs to add a few uptempo numbers to her set, as it was the wrong time of the day for melancholic pondering numbers.

DSC04971

The Beck’s Haus Stage.

DSC04973

The Jameson Bar.

20170806_133441

Entrance to the Red Bull Area.

20170806_133428

Earlier in the afternoon before the throng.

Kila      Main Stage      4.00    –    5.30 PM.

Kila gave that ‘pick me up’ feeling that the festival needed to get kick started, they gave a lively set of their customary hybrid rock and Irish traditional music and pulled a nice steady number of people hopping and jigging to the main stage, a reliable festival favourite.

After finishing our shift at 6 and signing out we went straight over to the main stage to catch Toots and the Maytals.

Toots and the Maytals     Main Stage       6.00    –    7.30 PM.

Toots and the Maytals as far as I’m concerned killed it, I thought they would have brought the sun out like they did at Electric Picnic 2005 but unfortunately we got rain for a bit instead, not the bands fault, just Ireland being Ireland.  The set was mostly the same as the set from last year at the Picnic but I think the Beatyard set was longer at an hour and a half.  Toots Hibbert is getting older so his style is getting more relaxed, the fast Ska style is less apparent now and some of the numbers are played at a slower pace with Toots doing some nice acoustic versions of some of the songs although the trademark speeding up at the end is always there to get ya jumping again.  A feelgood set to up the festival mood.

We (Me, Kevin and David) all had sore feet from working the day and then standing for Toots gig, Kevin had his camper parked in the West Pier, so we went out and bought some cans and headed to the camper for a much needed sit down.  This would be one of the small criticisms of Beatyard that there wasn’t really any outdoor seating in the festival area.  Sorry I missed you Morcheeba but it was the only chance I could get a seat during the festival.

AIR     Main Stage         9.30    –    10.45 PM.

Just made it back in time from the camper for the start of the AIR set, they are an incredible band, seemingly influenced by Kraftwerk, Daft Punk and some of these funk grooves you hear on Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here album, especially some of the synths used on Moon Safari.  This was basically a greatest hits set spanning nearly twenty years in the groups history and taking in their debut album Moon Safari, 10,000 HZ Legend and Talkie Walkie among others.  When they played Don’t Be Light I was taken by how tight and rocky they were, the bass playing reminding me at times of Geddy Lee from Rush and at other times Lemmy when he was in Hawkwind during the Space Ritual period in the early seventies.  AIR also had some extremely eye catching visuals on the back rear screen which suited their sci fi space rock pop sound.  They also have the way they sing in French, they use the harmonising vocals that reminds me of the early Pink Floyd records Meddle and Obscured by Clouds.  A fantastic gig and a band really worth checking out if they hit these shores again.  The second clip was uploaded into Youtube by jimbot4000 which is much better quality than my clip.

http://www.aircheology.com/

We ended up going to an after party afterwards at Kevin’s camper, a diet of Beamish and sweet sounds from Kelly-Anne Byrne’s The Beat Goes On on Today FM, thank you to Catherine Kehoe for looking after us for the weekend and David and Kevin for night lodgings.  Roll on Beatyard 2018 I might be back.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Body & Soul Festival 2017 Review.

header_image

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

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

Tuesday 20th June.

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

Wristbands

The Temporary and Weekend Wristband.

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

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

DSC_3687

Trenching had to be done to serve this installation.

DSC_3688

Installation in the Walled Garden.

Wednesday 21st June.

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

Thursday 21st June.

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

DSC_3669

The beautiful patterns of the Woodlands Stage.

DSC_3670

The Woodlands Stage ready to go.

DSC_3672

DSC_3674

 

DSC_3677

DSC_3678

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

DSC_3679

DSC_3681

DSC_3683

Some volunteers working the Thursday shift.

20170623_143030

The Arbutus Yarns Area.

20170623_143614

Lights in the wood.

20170623_143747

Lights in the wood.

20170623_143143

One of the creations from Jeff and his friends.

DSC_3694

The impressive new wooden Main Stage.

DSC_3696

 

20170622_235225

Thursday night fire in the Walled Garden Area.

20170622_233232

Cool pyramid installation near Absolut Stage Thursday Night.

Friday 23rd June.

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

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

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

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

https://www.todayfm.com/TheBeatGoesOn

20170623_171924

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

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

Katie Laffan  – Woodlands Stage     9.30  –  10.10 pm.

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

http://www.breakingtunes.com/katielaffan

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

http://www.annameredith.com/

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

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

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

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

https://loosysmokes.com/

Metronomy  –  Main Stage      11.30   –   12.30 pm.

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

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

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

Saturday 24th June.

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

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

DSC_3704

Simon

DSC_3705

Fire Area at Walled Garden.

DSC_3706

The Walled Garden.

 

 

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

20170623_144331

Natasha’s Kitchen.

20170623_144355

Natasha’s Kitchen.

Lambchop   –  Main Stage     6.30   –   7.30 pm.

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

http://www.lambchop.net/

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

https://weval.bandcamp.com/releases

https://lafemme.bandcamp.com/releases

Sleaford Mods   –  Main Stage         9.30   –  10.30 pm.

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

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

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

Bonobo   –   Main Stage         11.15   –   12.15 pm.

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

http://bonobomusic.com/

Vitalic   –   Main Stage      0.45    –   1.45 am.

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

https://www.vitalic.org/

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

Sunday 25th June.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DSC_3717

Kevin, Simon, Janice, Barbara & Abbie.

DSC_3720

Myself next to Kevin.

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

The Beat   –   Main Stage     7.45    –     8.30 pm.

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

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

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

Ships  –   Woodlands Stage      11.15    –   2.00 am.

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

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

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

Monday 26th June.

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

 

Posted in Concert Review, Culture, Electronic Music, Electronic rock and techno music, Folk, Irish, Music and Arts Festival, Rock, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Forbidden Fruit 2017 Sunday 4th June Review.

AFX Green Logo

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

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

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

20170604_151152

Forbidden Fruit Main Stage Early Afternoon

20170604_151202DSC04948

DSC04950

Kevin

Eve  – Outcider Tent  2  – 3.30 pm.

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

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

Monolink  –  Main Stage  3.15  –  4.15 pm.

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

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

20170604_163159

Kink at the Outcider Tent Sunday 4th June Forbidden Fruit

20170604_163216

Kink  –  Outcider Tent   4.45  –  6.45 pm.

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

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

Moderat  –  Outcider Tent     7.15  –  8.30 pm.

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

Aphex Twin  –  Main Stage    9.15  –  10.45 pm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Electric Picnic 2016 Festival Review

new-order-picnic-2016

New Order on the Main Stage Sunday 4th September.

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

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

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

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

johns-cinema

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

dsc04927

Campervan John.

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

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

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

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

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

dsc04894

Shannon and Shauna.

dsc04895

Volunteers setting up at crew camp on Sunday.

dsc04896

David Curran and Chloe Wong and various other volunteers.

dsc04898

The ladies heading off to work.

dsc04899

The hole in the wall staff entrance.

dsc04900

The new Electric Ireland Tent.

dsc04901

A cool thatched archway in the Green Crafts area.

dsc04903

Catherine Kehoe hard at work in the Volunteer HQ.

dsc04904

The tree house above Volunteer HQ.

dsc04906

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

dsc04907

The main stage taken from the festival production side.

Friday 2nd September.

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

Booka Brass Band  – Other Voices  4  – 4.40 pm.

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

http://bookabrass.com/

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

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

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

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

https://skippersalley.bandcamp.com/releases

 

 

dsc04910

David Curran near the Other Voices stage or thereabouts.

dsc04911

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

hazelwood

Hazelwood Stage. Photo Kevin Keehan

hazel

Hazelwood. Photo Kevin Keehan

h

Hazelwood. Photo Kevin Keehan

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

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

Todd Terje – Electric Arena   9 – 10.15 pm.

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

http://toddterje.com/

 

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

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

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

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

lights-b-s-village-ep-16

Some cool lights in the Body & Soul Village.

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

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

Saturday 3rd September.

I awoke about 10.30 am and wandered up to John’s for a coffee, a few were already sitting there, John, Corina (I always called her Corina rather than her first name Coyle, just a daft habit I have and don’t know why), David and Lisa.  Kevin got up a little bit later and he cooked up a bit of a fry for us, some sausages and beans which set us up quite nicely for the day.  It was a bit of a wet one this morning many of us staying in our tents until the rain somewhat subsided and there was a wee bit of a gust at times, although warmer than last year.

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

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

craig-and-kevin-at-the-bog-cottage

Craig and Kevin in the Bog Cottage.

body-soul-village

The Body & Soul Village looking onto the Earthship Stage.

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

dsc04916

The Mexican stall in the main arena.

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

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

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

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

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

Dylan Moran – The Comedy Tent   8.15  – 9 pm.

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

http://www.dylanmoran.com/

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

https://thehacklers1.bandcamp.com/releases

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

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

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

http://www.djez.com/

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

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

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

https://blaenavon.bandcamp.com/

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

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

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

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

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

LCD Soundsystem – Main Stage  12.05 – 1.45 am.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

avery

Daniel Avery taking a photo of the audience.

a

Daniel Avery in action.

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

Sunday 4th September.

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

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

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

craig

Craig at Toots and the Maytals.

kev

Kevin at Toots and the Maytals.

toots

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

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

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

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

kelly

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

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

I took a daft wee video clip of my tent with Blue Monday playing in the background and showed a view of the wet dreary crew camp, I sight I had not seen at the Picnic since the Sunday of 2010.

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

New Order  – Main Stage   8.45  –  10 pm.

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

Skepta – Electric Arena   11 pm  –  12 am.

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

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

Monday 5th September.

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

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Scrobarnach 2016 Festival Review

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

Friday 12th August.

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

DSC_3609

Brian and Cécile Robin in the Bush Bar on Saturday.

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

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

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

http://www.breakingtunes.com/bosslevelseries

 

Jobseekerz – Spiorad Óg Stage   10.30 – 11pm

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

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

DSC04881

Jobseekerz at the Spiorad Óg Stage, Friday night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://mobilehomefries.weebly.com/

vlcsnap-2016-08-16-23h35m46s984

Home Fries hot food stall.

 

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

Saturday 13th August.

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

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

 

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

 

DSC_3599

Donal in the Blue Mountain Cafe.

DSC_3603

Brendan, Ruby and Donal.

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

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

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

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

DSC_3594

Jaheire at the Bush Bar.

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

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

DSC_3601

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

DSC_3602

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

DSC_3597

The Blue Mountain extended area.

DSC_3598

The Main Stage.

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

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

DSC_3606

Brian relaxing at the Doppler Lab.

DSC_3608

The Doppler Lab.

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

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

Rootsman Wurzel – The Bush Bar  4 – 5 pm.

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

DSC_3611

Rootsman Wurzel at the Bush Bar.

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

Dubtrash –  The Bush Bar  8 – 9 pm.

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

Dubtrash

Dubtrash at the Bush Bar, Saturday August 13th.

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

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

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

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

Grand – Spiorad Óg Stage (Time ??).

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

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

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

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

Ian Hart

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

Sunday 14th August.

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

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments