Life Festival 2012. Mullingar, Ireland 25th – 27th May – Review

Pre-Fest: I arrived down with Kevin Keehan, the guy I done the volunteering  with at the Electric Picnic, just in time to start a shift on Tuesday 22nd May.  The canopy for the Neutronyx stage was on the ground getting worked on whilst the backdrop for the DJs was also getting a similar treatment.  I made friends straight away with other volunteers who had been there since last Friday.  Kevin Long and Cian O’Rourke and a few others who I will locate eventually on Facebook.  Over the next few days we watched all the stages props and lights come together.  By Thursday the day we could camp in the site a small spread of tent city started building up.

Friday 25th May

Pre-Fest Volunteers: Cian O’Rourke and Kevin Long

Dressing the campsite entrance.

This was a day for roaming, I forgot to mention the weather here which is absolutely stunning, dry and sunny, in fact really, really hot.  I kept retreating sometimes with my little boogie box, festival selection playlist and ipod to the lovely shaded area just above the accreditation office where the punters got their wristbands.  One of the things about Life festival for me was that I would be discovering new music as I barely knew a lot of the artists on the bill, apart from say the Rootical Sound System and Madu.  I’m always up for a blast of Psy trance too at the Neutronyx Stage, but usually in 20 to 30 minute doses until I wander off to something else.

Neutronyx Stage: 8 pm – 9ish.

Took in a bit of the DJ Alezzaro’s and VJ-1000Error’s sets, they made an impressive sound bearing the trade marks of that Psy trance galloping bass and sense dividing electro.

Sunset on Friday night at the campsite.

Main Stage: KingKong Company 10 pm – 11 pm.

Waterford’s KingKong Company tore up the floor for their hour long set, bringing electro funk and rock into the mix think Prodigy crossed with a bit of Goldfrapp a shit hot brass section and a dash of glam rock.  King Kong had many emotions, funk, electro, punk and some lovely rootsy reggae.  The only track really that I could not get into was the Doctor Who theme which I think went on for too long.  But every other selection was a breath of fresh air.   Disco being a standout and a gem of a track with a retro glam groove on an electro rock engine.  One of the lads got back to me through Facebook where I discovered that the track called Disco is actually called Panic Button.   This is a band I would like to see on more festival stages.

The starting of their set:

Neutronyx Stage – Ace Ventura.  I remember stumbling into this set at one point and taking my camera out to film a video of the action, which seemed a good idea at the time, looking back it looks very dark but still a lot of fun as loads of my buddies were there too having the craic.  Needless to say Ace Venturas set was an exhilarating buzz, just the right amount of energy to keep me going.

At some point before or after midnight  I decided to make a short film called A Ramble Through Life walking from the Neutronyx Stage towards the campsite entrance and then turning and walking into the festival thoroughfare of stalls and stages.  The music you hear first is Ace Ventura from the Neutronyx stage, as I make my way towards the stalls I turn into the Liquid Tent (DnB and Dubstep) where Mr Devitt was doing a set.  You can hardly see the tent for the darkness but you will know that you are in that particular tent.  Progressing down I catch a bit of the Aaron Nolan set and the craic around the main stage. Edit: I had to change the artists there as I thought it was 1ish am, but listening back on the audio streams I recognised the main stage act Aaron Nolan and have since checked the timetable.  Aaron Nolan an Irish DJ was doing something very interesting with his techno, he was mixing African sounds both vocal and instrumental into the music and creating something entirely different from say, what the Afro Celt Sound System does, Nolan makes the African stuff part of the fabric of his techno which I would like to hear more of.

It was back to the campsite for some quality chilling with Kevin, Gavin and friends before hitting the hay.

Saturday 26th May.

The lads and lassies.

Saturday started with some more quality chilling, Abby suggested we all contribute to a breakfast, I brought some cereal bars, bananas and apples and cans of Tennants too.  Abby brought some pineapple and nuts too.  Although music was not supposed to kick off till 2 pm everyone seemed to like my summer festival mix blasting away.  The Neutronyx stage eventually kicked into life about 12.30 – 1.00 pm, it seems some DJ was just testing out the system at the time, but security was letting punters into the other side.  So I took the opportunity to film the Neutronyx stage empty so to take in the colours and the shapes left by the patterns on the ground.  Another characteristic I saw develop at various stages was the addition of a sexy glam rock boom  beat to the music such as in the clip below, this also ran through King Kongs set on Friday night with the track Disco.  Something that could have been influenced by the likes of Goldfrapp and her single Ooh La La.

Because of another fantastic day of sunny weather we all hung about the Lakeside and Chill Out area, it seemed handy to just hang about here as it was not far from the Rootical Tent where Madu would be starting their set at 3.30 pm.  I took a snap while the band was relaxing with us out in the chill out area.

Madu and some friends.

Madu kicked off with some classics from their debut From the Elders Yard, a nice balance between Salims electronics, the brass and Aminahs vocals.  Aminah kept the sun shining with the song Shine and Finding My Own Way.  They launched their EP Rocksteady EP about an hour into their show which sounded pretty promising.  Madu have got a nice spiritual dubby vibe about them and Salim uses some nice subtle break beats and dnb in the music but still retains a rootsy feel.  May we seem them some more on the festival stages.

At this point I am not really too sure who I have seen, as I am going to the Neutronyx stage for brief bouts of going crazy to the sounds, Alien Angel was definitely mentioned at some point and some of Bersciannis set too, each as Psy trancey as the other.  In between and after campsite frolics beckoned or else a stroll back to the lakeside.

I remember hanging about the Liquid tent around 7 pm to 8 pm for a while and possibly listening to Shopen and Domel or Jungle Boogie, I remember thinking this is quite Aphex Twin / Squarepusher sound, nice to get a bit of braindance IDM stuff.

Main Stage: Engine-Earz Experiment 22.00 pm – 23.00 pm.

This British/Asian band were settling into their third number and had a tremendous sound going, think the Prodigy crossed with Chase and Status and some insane dubstep and rap, the group also used recordings of Indian instruments mixed into their music reminding me of Asian Dub Foundation and Talvin Singh.  The thing that struck me about Engine-Earz was their percussionist Chiranjiv Kainth who was incredible, this guy eats dubstep for breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper.  I have only been listening to dubstep a few years now but if ever a drummer had his beat on the pulse it was Chiranjiv Kainth who knew how to work the kit perfectly to the dance type of music.

After this I did not really have a notion what was on stage, through various trips to the campsite I had consumed lots of lager and basically stumbling from one foot to the other as a form of dancing, most likely is I caught some of Atyss set and possibly Lah Narrad at the Neutronyx Stage, just dont ask me if they sound different from each other I couldnt tell you.  At one point during the night lets say 1 am – 2 am my feet felt burning in my boots, so I went back to my tent and took off my boots and lay down for a rest.  Next thing I know I wake up at 8.30 am Sunday morning.

Sunday 27th May.

At some point after breakfast or should I say brunch on the campsite with my buddies we made for the Lakeside to chill a while and lie in the sun, it now being day 3 and not a drop of rain.

The Chill Out and Lakeside area.

Eventually a bunch of us headed to the  Neutronyx stage to liven us up with some fine Psy trance sounds from DJ Ronk and the following set from Klopgeister.  Sometime was also spent at the Liquid Tent soaking in the DnB and Dubstep sounds of Rob Dubculture and Collie Hertz U and at the Rootical tent with the Rootical & Roots Corner.  Through the later hours of the night some more time was spent soaking up the sounds of XSI and the Wild Monkeys keeping the old tradition of pummelling Psy trance alive.

Finally myself and Kevin and a few others gathered to watch the last remaining main stage act techno maestros Ben Klock vs Marcell Detmann, their music using glitch stylings with pumping bass and filthy electro, the music reminding me of Dave Clarkes set at RockNess 2010.  The main stage area was suitably packed out too showing that there was many techno heads out there who liked their sounds, a final rousing closing set which signalled the end of another Life festival.

Monday 28th May.

And so in my last day helping the festival organisers to take the Life festival apart again and restore it to normality as the Belvedere House country park, I realised I misunderstood the T & Cs involved in volunteering for the festival and that I was going to be a bit more broke than I realised, I just accepted it as a mistake in my understanding.  What can I do but commend the organisers in running such a brilliant small festival and that they looked after the pre-fest volunteers very well, putting us up in a nice B&B and giving us two meals a day.  Next year I am going for the early bird ticket as this is a festival not to be missed in the dance calender.

Some nice audio streams have become available for a while from RTE Pulse FM life_festival.html

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About niallmcquaid

Music lover and musician. Love writing about music and events, I am a keen writer.
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