Body & Soul Festival 2015 Review, 19th – 21st June, Ireland

DSC04439Sunday 14th June

So second festival of the year and up at the crack of dawn at six in the morning to catch the 7.30 am Galway to Dublin commuter bus, this time the destination was Kinnegad in County Westmeath where my friend and fellow Electric Picnic volunteer from last year, Lisa Lawless kindly gave me a lift to the Ballinlough Castle festival site.

I had to work twenty four hours to gain my wristband for the festival, I was working from 2 pm till 8 pm for the Sunday, 8 pm to 2 pm on Monday and 8 am to 8 pm on Tuesday so two six hour shifts and one twelve hour shift and after that I was free to wander about the festival site taking photos, videos and talking to the other workers setting up the decorations and the festival build.

I basically came with my camping equipment and all the necessaries for the festival stay but it would have been too awkward to bring beer and food too, so I planned to hitch to one of the towns on Monday to remedy the situation.  My job was working the two way radio, this time I was stationed at the top of the road leading down to the Boneyard, so my job was to radio ahead when heavy vehicles, vans and lorries with important equipment arrived, to check if the paths were clear to send them down.  I also directed people seeking accreditation, meetings and briefings to the car park behind me where they had to walk down to the site to prevent the boneyard from being clogged up with traffic or traffic parking where they liked and unnecessarily blocking festival deliveries.

So far, so good, I remembered to take my ipod and speaker with me as sometimes the work can be dull, boring and quiet during the earlier part of the week, I find that music in the background helps me concentrate and work better, it also creates a nice festival vibe for people arriving on the festival site.

As each day progressed it was getting noticeably busier, Monday flew in and by 2 pm I had a hunger so I paid the nine euro for a meal in the crew catering restaurant making sure to take a fine dollop of the salad too and a few coffees.  I also decided to hitch to the nearest town, Clonmellon to get food supplies and a crate of Guinness.

I learnt from last year to always hitch from the production gate as there was always vehicles leaving from there and was lucky to get a lift straight away to the town.  Man, this was a big mistake, Clonmellon had nothing of convenience whatsoever, no atm to check my bank balance, two basic provision shops with no cans of beer for sale and not even proper supermarkets, no packed sandwiches, no deli, individual cereal bars, not packs of cereal bars so very expensive.  I got five cereal bars, a pint of milk, there was no king size bags of peanuts just small ones, so got two of these, two packets of tobacco and cigarette papers the whole lot came to 19.50 Euros of which I got cash back so that I had another spare twenty Euro to spend at the restaurant onsite.  What was worse was that I was dying of bloody thirst and not one of the three or four bars in the town was open.  I even joked with the shop assistant that no wonder buses don’t stop at this town.

This left me a bit perturbed about what to do about the situation and left me with no doubt that outside of this heavenly paradise of Body & Soul, this part of Westmeath was hell, and it gets worse ladies and gentlemen.  I walked half the way back hitching with about thirty cars racing by me on such narrow roads, a dangerous place to be hitching, eventually I was picked by some tourists who dropped me at the 1 km sign to Ballinlough.

When I got back to the festival site I endeavoured to find a better equipped town as I really wanted a celebratory can of Guinness in the beloved crew camp plus I wanted to at least get two packets of packed sandwiches to get me through the twelve hours the following day.  I tried to source a lift with the rest of the crew onsite hopefully someone who was leaving and coming back.  Myself and another volunteer also called Niall heard that security in Gate E the crew camp entrance were due to finish at 8 pm and they were local so they kindly offered us a lift with them to the Daybreak garage in the outskirts of Delvin. If I recall Delvin, it was a pretty enough town with a few historical buildings but with nearly as little shops as Clonmellon.

When we got to the garage, lo and behold there was Guinness, but still no atm to find out my bloody balance, worse still, there was no deli and no pre-packed sandwiches, the only thing I could buy for eating was refrigerated packets of crumpets and some fruit. Myself and Niall then walked back the complete distance of 6.5 kilometres back to the festival site, absolutely tired out and not a soul out of the fifty cars or so that passed offered a lift, I lost a little hope in humanity that day and cursed Westmeath for the hellhole that it is.

Finally the long shift came and it was the busiest of the days so far, my selection of tunes for the day was the first Aphex Twin Soundcloud dump, about a five to six hour file of his outtakes and unreleased tracks from the early to late 1990s.  I would play the music every second hour or so to save the battery and it killed the time greatly.  We had two twenty minute breaks over the twelve hours, a girl was covering for all of us a various times from 2 pm onwards, I got my first break at 3.30 so I ran down to the restaurant but it was closed after serving lunch and I was bloody starving, I managed to scrounge of coffee from the staff at the side of the restaurant though which I paid for.

Now I’m not one to harp on about the food token system but a wee sandwich and a coffee wouldn’t have gone amiss, although in fairness Brian brought me a coffee when I so needed it on Monday. Where were these lovely pizza slices this year, Megan, that yourself and the wonderful and generous Zed gave me when I done the twelve hour shift on the Sunday last year I say this with a slight strop on me, mind you I was the only volunteer I think on a shift that day, come to think of it, where is Zed?  Body and Soul is not right without Zed, come back man. Thank god for Kev’s Kitchen in the crew camp as I ate some great meals there throughout the week and they probably done the best coffees of the festival too.  Its not so bad for weekend volunteers as the festival has started and there are plenty of food stalls open then, but it is harder for volunteers working the advance especially the twelve hour one and even though the work is easy enough it was hot weather to be working out in.

For the next few days I just wandered about the site taking photos of people at work and some of the beautiful decorations appearing in the wood.

Kev's Kitchen.

Kev’s Kitchen.

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Decor girls at work.

Decor girls at work.

Decorations destined for the woods.

Decorations destined for the woods.

The build in the Walled Garden.

The build in the Walled Garden.

Putting the finishing touches to the arch.

Putting the finishing touches to the arch.

Signs to tell you every which way.

Signs to tell you every which way.

Folk working on an installation opposite one of the woods stages.

Folk working on an installation opposite one of the woods stages.

Body & Soul this year was a reuniting of people I worked with over the last few years at Life, Body & Soul and Electric Picnic, there was Dave Curran from EP and Liss Ard festivals from the last few years, Fionn Brooks and Shane, Phelim, Patrick Long, Kevin Keehan who worked all three festivals and possibly more, Mikey Joyride Soro who gave me that wonderful Body & Soul metal flask of which only two hundred was made as gifts for pre-event staff.  There was Megan Best, Toby Hatchet, Ray and many others too, although Abdul the security guard from Life was missing.  And a whole bunch of others when the festival kicked off such as Ciaran and Jackie, Geoff Ward, Aminah and Phil, Nidge, Ben and Laurie Purkiss and loads of others. Brian Watters, Sharlene from the festival traffic management team and our volunteer coordinator, Sharon Cronin.   Also thank you to the lovely girls in the crew camp who took my bank card out to Mullingar and withdrew forty Euro for me when I really needed it on Wednesday.

Fionn Brooks, all round festival handy man worker.

Fionn Brooks, all round festival handy man.

Ray.

Ray.

Patrick Long.

Patrick Long.

Sharon Cronin and another worker.

Sharon Cronin and another worker.

The Volunteer tent.

The Volunteer tent.

Brian Watters.

Brian Watters.

Sharlene and Brian.

Sharlene and Brian.

Ballinlough Castle.

Ballinlough Castle.

The lovely farmhouse in the centre of the production area.

The lovely farmhouse in the centre of the production area.

Thursday 18th June.

You are probably thinking at this stage that I’ve not reached the fecking music yet, but this is as much about the volunteering experience and the music will come in time too. Thursday things started to get really busy, all the weekend volunteers arrived onsite in the glorious sunshine.  Simon Outram, Conor Dolan, James Fahy, Danyl Hartshorn and his girlfr Samantha, Tracy Webbstar, Fluffy, Chris Lavelle, Louise Borre, Craig who was working with Kevin at Soul Kids, Jan Huisman from Holland who was volunteering at his first Irish festival and many others.  I also got a chance through Kevin to visit the Soul Kids area before it became restricted in the weekend to families with the B&S family ticket, I also got a chance to revisit the Gameltron (bigger this time round) and Holistic area.  Thursday night a bunch of us went exploring the woods and the main arena, some of the stages were blasting out music and testing their systems, we hung about the Port Royal reggae area for a while but eventually got chased out of there as there was still work to be done in preparation for the festival.  By far the most impressive sound system on Thursday night was the Absolut Art Bar who were blasting out Moderat tracks from the groups two albums and we got to see a bunch of acrobats rehearsing in the centre which was pretty amazing.  I never did catch them in full flow during the festival but I was well impressed with the Absolut stage, it blended into Body & Soul perfectly.  Worst tent was the Vodafone tent, a white basic tent, for gods sake, try and blend in people.

The Absolut Art Bar.

The Absolut Art Bar.

Simon Outram.

Simon Outram.

Louise Borre.

Tracy Webbstar, Craig, Louise Borre.

Conor Dolan and Myself.

Conor Dolan and Myself.

James Fahy and Conor.

James Fahy and Conor.

Kevin Keehan and Simon.

Kevin Keehan and Simon.

Soul Kids Area.

Soul Kids Area.

Soul Kids Area.

Soul Kids Area.

Soul Kids Area.

Soul Kids Area.

Friday 19th June.

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Finally the weekend arrived and with it apparently anything from one and a half to three hours queues from the car park to the main camp site, or so I heard anyway.  Finally there was an atm onsite and the festival hadn’t opened yet so no long queue to withdraw cash as yet.  I made off to the Pig Tails food stall for a full Irish breakfast in the main stage arena and chilled at the camp site till the festival opened up proper.  Dave Curran was finishing his first shift at 8 pm and he said he was going on a beer run, the joys of having someone with a car, I needed to replenish some Guinness myself so said I would meet up with him then.

Grounds For Invasion – Midnight Court 6.45 – 7.15 pm.

Grounds for Invasion is described as a mix of trip-hop, electro-pop, industrial and post rock and Tracy Friel and Will O’Connor are the brains behind the sound.  They had an expansive electronic sound alright and the cool lights and visual backdrop of the Midnight Circus tent led an otherworldly feel to the whole gig, Friel has a nice soulful feel to her vocals and the group reminded me of a main stage act from Life Festival 2013 called White Collar Boy.  I didn’t stay for the full set as I wanted to take in a much acts on the opening night as possible so that I had a balance of some rock and some electronica music.

Grounds for Invasion.

Grounds for Invasion.

Grounds for Invasion.

Grounds for Invasion.

http://www.breakingtunes.com/groundsforinvasion

The next hour or two was spent going on the beer run, waiting for Dave to check out from his shift, getting to the Delvin garage where I got me two cases of Guinness, tobacco, some extra skins and the walk back to the crew camp, where we rested and had a few cans before going back into the arena at 10.30 pm.

Steven Sharp & the Broke Straight Boys – Bulmer’s Lounge 10.45 – 11.15 pm.

I really enjoyed this mad Galway rock group with a dash of the camp, Steven Sharp and the Broke Straight Boys.  Steven Sharp was in drag and set the outrageous tone with some campish high energy punk rock, comedy and theatrical madness. They were a perfect Body & Soul fixture and I’m very glad to have caught some of their set, I think Dave was impressed were their crazy set too.

http://www.breakingtunes.com/stevensharpe

New Jackson – Midnight Court 10.45 – 11.45 pm.

Dublin DJ New Jackson has been described by Resident Advisor as a producer who makes nocturnal house with a ghostly disco tint.  I caught the last quarter of his set where he had a healthy rammed Midnight Court audience in the palm of his hands, the heat inside the tent was intense with limbs moving avidly and hands punching the air to his housey electronica, I think New Jackson is worthy of further investigation.

http://www.newjackson.com/

Savages – Main Stage 11.30 pm – 12.05 am

This London band seemed fairly familiar and then I remembered seeing them on the Jools Holland Show a few years ago, described as post-punk revival and noise rock, they did had a violent jaggy energy about them. lead singer Jehnny Beth is a powerful vocalist with a hard driving set of musicians, they didn’t have a packed stage but there was a good four to five hundred gathered so more of a cult audience but they packed a punch.  Their set a mixture of stuff culled from EPs and their 2013 album, Silence Yourself, a good sub headliner before Lamb.

http://savagesband.com/

A short journey back to crew camp to get some more cans, have a brief sit down and a chat to whoever was there at the time and back into the Arena to catch a bit of the Lamb set.

Lamb – Main Stage 1 – 2 am

This was my first time catching Lamb who have been around for years since the mid-nineties anyway, its kinda hard to describe their sound, indie electronic rock ballads if that makes any sense at all.  Lou Rhodes has a strong powerful voice, at times almost in a kinda folky vein and Andy Barlow provides some tasteful electronica to the sound.  But after a while it was a wee bit too slow for me and wanted something with a bit more thump and lively so headed up to the Midnight Court to catch the last twenty minutes of the Talaboman set.

http://lambofficial.com/

Talaboman – Midnight Court 11.50 pm – 1.50 am

Talaboman is two Spanish DJs known as John Talabot and Axel Bowman who play a mixture of house and techno and tech-house too, they had a great sound pumping and a fairly packed tent, this is one of the many collaborations happening this year and seems to be getting popular, with the likes of Braekes (Mr Ozio and Boys Noise) or SiriusModselektor (Siriusmo and Modeselektor) at Life Festival.  The electronic duo made for an excellent close to the Midnight Court for the Friday night.

Upcoming Tour Dates

It was when making tracks back through to the wood from the main arena that I realised how packed it was, streams of people coming in both directions, I felt it was over the capacity the festival could handle, security had to be posted in the middle of the crowd to free the flow and prevent collisions, making parts of the path for each direction.  I turned back into the arena again as I intended to spend the last few hours in the Port Royal area, but kept forgetting the entrance was not in the wood this time but the main arena.

Port Royal.

Port Royal.

Port Royal.

Port Royal.

Revelation Sound featuring Rankin Fox – Port Royal 12.50 – 4 am.

This was a nice mix of roots reggae songs and dub reggae, so nice to chill to this mix of sounds, I met various randomers where we talked about Body & Soul, the Picnic and various other festivals, some familiar faces, Ben and Laurie, Conor and Simon among others.  Security ushered everyone out come four am, so a reverse back to the security style of 2013 although the free-flow alcohol policy was still in place, last year you could wander aimlessly about the arena and woods any time, we were up to eight in the morning last year wandering about the arena.  Still,  I can’t complain twas a good night of sounds.

https://www.facebook.com/RevelationSoundSystem

Back to the camp site where I sat down at Kevin’s tent listening to Leftfield tracks and smoking a few and some cans of porter and eventually up to my own tent at about 5.30 in the morning, some of the neighbours still awake and partying, a good night.

Saturday 20th June.

Kev’s Kitchen was still doing coffees in the mornings of the festival which was absolutely perfect as it was only a few steps from my tent, it was also popular with Kevin my mate, the coffee guaranteed to bring you into wakefulness fairly quickly and it was quite a cute set up with the three filter holes cut into the table and the coffee being let to drip in the cup.

This was also the second morning I made a trip to the Charcoal Grill at the front of the Walled Garden for a steak burger, one of the sure delicious things to set you up proper for the day, I seemed to influenced Dave on Friday night and Kevin on Saturday morning that a steak burger was the way to go, there is a wee concrete seat just down from the food stall that was perfect to sit on and was always empty.

The weather for the weekend had been mostly perfect and almost as good as last year, some small rainfall on Wednesday and Thursday mornings and a small bit in Friday morning, but mainly sunny and dry or a bit cloudy and dry, certainly a lot warmer than Life festival three weeks before.  Myself and Kevin thought it a good idea to make a trip to Port Royal for some soothing reggae sounds.

Will Softly – Port Royal  12 – 2 pm.

Will was playing reggae classics such as Dawn Penn, Marley, Peter Tosh, Andy Capp, Desmond Dekker & the Israelites and Toots and the Maytals among others, lovely music to achieve that soft bouncy skank for the afternoon.  The sun would stream in and light parts of the reggae arena up beautifully, although Kevin did note that because the area was surrounded with trees it could be quite shady, windy and cool in there too.

So we made the decision to go out into the main arena to get a bit more of the sun, for the time of the afternoon it was getting steadily busy with plenty of people letting go to the funk blasting out of the cool ice cream van in the Bulmer’s area of the main arena.

Cool ice cream van blasting out the funk in the main arena.

Cool ice cream van blasting out the funk in the main arena.

Midnight Circus Tent.

Midnight Circus Tent.

Trying out the Gyroscope in the main arena.

Trying out the Gyroscope in the main arena.

I used this time to walk about the woods and to take photos of some of the fine work of the Decor people and their volunteers had taken long hours pre-festival to complete.

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The Reckless in Love Stage.

The Treehaus Stage formerly known as Reckless in Love .

A cute kid and their luxury mode of travel.

A cute kid and his luxury mode of travel.

First live music of the day for me was catching a wee bit of Asgeir’s set at the Body & Soul main stage around early Saturday evening.

Asgeir – Main Stage 6 – 7 pm.

Icelander Asgeir and his band had a variety of styles, folky rock ballads and some interesting electronica sounds in the mix, some of it reminding me of John Grant’s set last year, it was only when I read up on Asgeir in the Wikipedia page that I realised the John Grant had some hand in producing Asgeir’s album In the Silence the English version of the album translated from the Icelandic version Dýrð í dauðaþögn.  Asgeir was an interesting early evening act but maybe a little too soft for me, I wanted something a little more kicking which is exactly what I got at the Midnight Circus in the next field.

http://asgeirmusic.com/

Alo Wala  – Midnight Circus  6.15 – 7.15 pm.

When walking up to the Midnight Circus the sound coming out of there made me speed up, a mixture of tense bassy beats and rapping double speak, this was exactly what my early evening tonic needed.  Alo Wala was incredible and she filled up the marquee in no time at all, her chemistry intoxicating.  Alo Wala is a hybrid of styles and not too dissimilar to Buraka Som Sistema who played Body & Soul last year, as described in the Body & Soul notes about the band they are a hybrid of hip hop, dancehall, Chicago local club DJs and multi-lingual rappers.  From Body & Souls very own words, Alo Wala, “Meaning ‘the light vendor’ in a Bengali and Hindu melange, Alo Wala is a live electronic music band employing the a host of global influences on their sonic palette.  Featuring Chicago-born rapper Shivani Ahlowalia and Tropical Bass pioneers Copia Doble Systema, the live show swanks energetically-charged vocals delivered by Shivani; hefty percussion from boy wonder Julius Sylvest; bombastic uproar from the original tropical viking, Copyflex and hypnotically magniloquent live visuals from VJ Mad Es.”  Shivani has an incredible charisma and her miraculous articulate double speak rapping was something to behold, us the audience utterly mesmerised by this incredible sound for an early evening act.  The silver dress Shivani was wearing gave the illusion almost that she was either on stilts or just a very tall woman but I will be checking out more about this band, incredible stuff, she also reminded me a wee bit about another female rapper called Mia.

http://alowala.com/

I just wandered about the woods after this and no doubt, back to the crew camp to get more beers, interspersing between drinking water, the occasional coffee and the odd Guinness.  I noticed something of a tendency with the smaller stages in the woods, most of the DJs there would crossover playing the same old generic pop funk, I don’t know how many times I heard Funky Town or Dance, Dance, Dance but they seemed to be cropping up all the time, it was becoming a bit like 2FM at times, a bit of a cheese fest.  We need a bit more variation, that’s why a lot of us missed the My House location as Toby would have DJs as well as himself throwing reggae into the mix or more eclectic funk like Hot Chocolate’s Everyone’s a Winner or even a rollicking Led Zeppelin track.  It has to be noted we are not all disco divas in the festival audience so vary it a little, dudes, please. Another venue missing this year that added to the melting pot of sound was Natasha’s Kitchen which used to have a nice mix of trad and lively gypsy music.

Myself and Kevin wandered up to the Bulmer’s Lounge in the Walled Garden where Galway’s Tracy Bruen and band were playing to a nice crowd in the venue, a mixture of folk and good time rock n roll.

SlowPlaceLikeHome – Treehaus Stage 10 – 10.30 pm.

Now this was a strange electronic pop and rock band with all the members in red hazmat suits kind of like the ones wore by the medics who were tackling the Ebola outbreak earlier in the year in the US and Africa.  Their music coming across like a mix of Devo and Joy Divison with wind instruments thrown in.  Someone in Body & Soul must trawl these strange venues in Dublin thinking, wow this band looks quite ludicrous and strange, they’ll do.  I enjoyed SlowPlaceLikeHome, a strange nutty group in a strange nutty stage.  I also took a photo of another light installation suspended in amongst the trees near the Treehaus stage.

SlowPlaceLikeHome - Treehaus Stage.

SlowPlaceLikeHome – Treehaus Stage.

https://slowplacelikehome.bandcamp.com/

A gorgeous light installation near the Treehaus stage.

A gorgeous light installation near the Treehaus stage.

Throughout the weekend I also liked to take photos of the spotlight lit trees, one of my favourite things about Body & Soul festival.

Spotlight lit tree.

Spotlight lit tree.

A spotlight lit tree.

A spotlight lit tree.

A distant relation to the Glowhole Installation in main arena.

A distant relation to the Glowhole Installation in main arena.

Myself and Kevin met up with Dave Curran who was on his way to catch the start of Warp act Clark at the Midnight Circus, so I thought that would be a good idea myself, I was in the mood for some brain melting electronica.  Met Geoff Ward a good friend of mine who was playing with his nine piece ska band Big Jelly throughout the weekend at the festival, he reminded me to come to the Bulmer’s Lounge the following day for the next gig.

Clark – Midnight Circus  10.50 – 11.50 pm.

Clark had a wicked electronic sound and he was super intense, he had some of the glitchiness of Four Tet and Hopkins, mad frenetic spin off beats in the Squarepusher style. Wikipedia gives a brief synopsis of his style: “He often experiments with forms of degradation, distortion and decay associated with different mediums, employing techniques such as re-recording samples and field-recordings in different environments.” I’ll tell you something, Clark gave me my electronica overload for the night, he was absolutely superb and a nice discovery.  I think Dave and Kevin found him a little too electronically heavy but I loved it.

http://throttleclark.com/music/

Twin Headed Wolf – Wonderlust Stage  11.45 – 12.15 pm.

From the electronically absurd world of Clark to the sweet, gentle old time folk of Clare twin sisters Twin Headed Wolf, Julie and Branwen captivated a packed Wonderlust audience with their vaudeville inspired old time folk and traditional music and despite the sound bleed from two other stages near by they handled their show with remarkable aplomb.  Some of their melancholic stuff reminded me of Amercian songster, Edith Frost. They got a rapturous applause at the end of their set and that famous roar of ‘One more tune’ where they returned for a song.  Myself and Dave were persuaded by Kevin, a Clare man himself to come to this show and there was no regrets whatsoever.  Hopefully I’ll catch them the next time in Galway in a more intimate venue.

https://twinheadedwolf.bandcamp.com/

I think we tried to wander back into the main arena to Port Royal but found the passage way too packed so decided to stay in the woods for a while, the place was just far too busy. B&S will need to rethink the capacity as with the 8,500 punters last year there still seemed to be enough room, this time everywhere seemed decidedly wedged and it could get very tiring just getting from A to B through that throng.  We headed back to Kevin’s tent at the crew camp as there seemed to be space in there and had a few smokes and some cans.  I ended up having an early night in the end as I don’t think I could’ve faced going out into that throng again plus the Clark gig more that satisfied me for my electronic fix for the day. Incidentally I heard the woods was cleared at 3.30 am due to the gathering crowd by security so there must have been a health and safety issue near the close to Saturday.

Sunday 21st June.

Today I woke early enough at about 9 am, was well rested so off for a coffee and a bite to eat, actually I went to Kev’s Kitchen and got one of his coffees and got a bite later, I remember Jamaican/Irish man Brendan Rungus telling me about his Jamaican porridge, Brendan runs the Galway cafe Jamaica Joe’s and was up handling the catering needs of the stoned famished people, so I vowed to go to Port Royal to try some Jamaican porridge.  I spotted Kevin heading to Kev’s too, another fan of their coffee.

So off we go for a walkabout to the main arena and into Port Royal for a bite, I met Michelle who was avidly devouring a bowl of said porridge, so ordered up one myself and it was just what the doctor ordered, absolutely delicious, Brendan had ran out of spoons so I had to use a wooden fork, but it was worth it.

Jamaican Porridge.

Jamaican Porridge.

SOAK – Main Stage  2.45 – 3.15 pm.

Wandering about the main stage arena, SOAK was creating a nice atmosphere on the main stage for the Sunday afternoon, the Derry singer and songwriter had just been playing in Galway a few nights before and had a fairly attentive audience in tow playing a selection from her recently released album How to Dream the month previously.

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

Ensemble Eriu – Bulmer’s Stage 2.45 – 3.15 pm.

Ensemble Erui are a 7 piece traditional folk rock group with a nice flair for the pure drop but with interesting combinations of backing in a contemporary feel that doesn’t loose the essence of the music and rooted in the tradition of West and North Clare music.  I just caught about ten minutes of their gig, as I sat down to eat a steak burger and was delighted to catch a little bit of traditional music.  With concertina, fiddle, drum kit, guitar, marimba, double bass, flute and tin whistle, clarinet and electronics too, it was a nice sound to wash the hangover away too.

http://ensembleeriu.com/about-ensemble-eriu/

Big Jelly – Bulmer’s Stage  4 – 4.45 pm.

Nine piece Galway ska band Big Jelly was the ‘pick me up’ tonic needed to get the partying off to a nice start for Sunday afternoon, my friend Geoff Ward on the saxophone, a trumpet player, two other brass instrument players, a bassist and drummer.  Knocking out classics such as Roland Alphonso’s Phoenix City, loads of ska classics and the band had a few loonies out at the front throwing shapes to the music.  Nothing like a bit of ska to lift the spirits.

http://bodyandsoul.ie/music/the-good-time-lounge-big-jelly/

Chah Wallahs tent in the distance, taken on Thursday.

Chah Wallahs tent in the distance, taken on Thursday.

Chah Wallahs.

Chah Wallahs.

Inside Chah Wallahs, the gorgeous net sides.

Inside Chah Wallahs, the gorgeous net sides.

Art work in Chah Wallahs.

Art work in Chah Wallahs.

I met Geoff again in the main arena, he was having a bite at one of the dining tables, so I went and got a pulled pork sandwich and sat down to join him.  Geoff was impressed and not impressed with the Body & Soul festival, he felt it was more safer than the Picnic but for getting info from stewards or security he felt it was a mess.  When he told me that the musician and performer camp was next to the main camp site, I thought that rather strange, as I’m sure loads of musicians camped in the crew camp last year.  Not only this but I heard there was a lot of robberies in the main camp site as well as Geoff’s camp site when money and instruments got stolen.  There was even one or two robbing incidents in the crew camp even with a few security around.  Myself and Geoff went up to the crew camp for a pipe and he almost didn’t get in because of his green wristband, but the security guard realised he wasn’t going to be staying there for the night, so was grand for half an hour or so.

I wandered up to the main stage area and caught the last ten minutes of Matthew E. White’s set where his chilled psychedelic blues rock was just the ticket for the balmy Sunday evening and despite the audience’s protest of one more tune, it was obvious that the roadies were dissembling the gear and he may have went over the clock already, while the stage was being prepared for the next act.

Matthew E. White - Main Stage.

Matthew E. White – Main Stage.

Clu – Midnight Circus 6.45 – 7.30 pm.

Clu made a nice thought provoking electronic palette of sound, crisp electronic pop with a nice ambient swirl, the Dublin based musicians had a nice attentive audience swaying to their sound.  Breaking Tunes states that they were inspired by 1980’s science fiction films, contemporary dance, 8 bit computer graphics and arcade soundtracks… Clu works by fusing music and visual arts together.  An interesting group worthy of further investigation.

http://www.breakingtunes.com/clu

Caught a wee bit of the next main stage act too called Rhye, comprising a Canadian singer Milosh and Danish instrumentalist Robin Hannibal and two other musicians, making a nice alternative rock sound and a decent crowd gathered at the stage, this was just one of these moments of discovery, I had never heard of Rhye before but they did the job for some lively entertainment.  I only really caught about five minutes as I was on my way back to crew camp to rest for a while before the electronica overload of James Holden and then Leftfield.

Rhye - Main Stage.

Rhye – Main Stage.

James Holden Live – Midnight Court  9.15 – 10.15 pm.

I was so glad to catch this guy, I couldn’t believe it when he was a no show last year, although not his fault.  I was initially expecting him to do a DJ set but live is live, he had the proper works, some synthesizers and other equipment, a live drummer and saxophone player.  He looked like a mad professor over his equipment constantly tweaking at his sound.  Beautiful dreamy synth sequences kind of like the sound from his album The Inheritors but not recognisable from the record, until about half through his set he dropped a nice live work out of Blackpool Late Eighties.  The combination of a live drum kit and an exceptional drummer at that and saxophone mixed in with Holden’s electronica made for a vast rock sound that rivals some of Pink Floyd’s stuff and Nicholas Jaar’s Dark Side from Body & Soul last year.  A brilliant gig and a very gifted bunch of musicians.

James Holden - Midnight Circus.

James Holden – Midnight Circus.

http://www.jamesholden.org/

Leftfield – Main Stage    10.40 pm – 12 am.

Sheets of transparent plastic with small spaces in between greeted me as I stared at the main stage, I wondered their purpose, something decidedly futuristic, yeah, that could go with the Leftfield sound.  When the music started up, it became obvious the the sheets were used to project visuals on while partly obscuring the live band, which you could sometimes see.  The music was pretty good though and the new album Alternative Light Source got a liberal airing, great trademark building blocks of Leftfield sound.  I only heard the new album once and it was in my office at work, I listened to the Guardian stream of the album at a very low volume, I liked what I heard, but no trance out ambient stuff like Melt, one of my favourites from Leftism.  The only new track I really knew was Universal Everything which is a barnstormer of a techno number and the reason why I captured the intro the way I did on the video clip, its such a powerful cruncher of a track.

We got some oldies too, I was delighted to hear Inspection: Check One as Cheshire Cat mentions Body & Soul in the lyrics, well at least the live version anyway.  The band closed with the wild Phat Planet, the sound twisting and distorting until it became a finely distilled thump of lively techno and fizz….. the end.  Was that Averill that came out to explain why the music stopped, they did say it stopped at twelve and it did.  But a damn fine night of music from the bigger stages and some of the smaller ones too.

http://www.leftfieldmusic.com/

The Wonderlust Stage, formally the Upstage from B&S edition 2012.

The Wonderlust Stage, formally the Upstage from B&S edition 2012.

So back to put up my feet for a while at the camp, I have an inflatable mattress this time so I partly use it as a seat in my tent and damn comfortable it is too, I used to rely on two thin foam mats and the camping ground can be tough on the body where you are slowly bruising.  Well Louise was the first back, followed by Fluffy, Chris and then Simon, Conor and a bunch of others, I still had three cans of Guinness left so all good, we took a trip out to the woods again towards the Treehaus stage that was actually pumping out some decent techno courtesy of the Taste DJs.  There was a fair crowd here bopping to the sounds and some folk who decided to do a chain thing with all their friends, sitting down and interlinking in a circle, funny stuff.

Just as we headed back to the camp didn’t the DJs drop Daniel Avery’s Knowing We’ll be Here, but as quickly as it came on it was faded out after a minute and the decks went silent.  So I took out my Ipod and speaker from the knapsack and put on the track again, a security guard walked up to me, I thought he was going to tell me to turn it off but he said, ‘Fuuuuccckkking Tuuuuunnnne!  Didn’t I just hear this in the big system.’, that was exactly the reason I put it on, I wanted to hear it fully and just played the Drone Logic album until the Ipod battery went flat.  I think we stayed up till about three or four in the morning and then I had to black out.

Monday 22nd June.

The aftermath, the water is turned off and security are asking everyone to go, Kevin is working the breakdown for the Soul Kids area and said to me I could get a lift when he finishes.  Some of the lads and lassies fancy staying on for another day but its not to be, security want everyone off the land apart from legitimate festival break down workers so we all part our ways.  we didn’t leave till about six thirty after getting a bite at the restaurant and I made it to Galway for nine, when Kevin took me to the city centre to play my session at Tigh Cholis, was like a zombie but it was good to be back in the auld ceoil.

Till next year folks I bid you goodbye and will see ya at the Picnic and possibly some others this summer.  I’ll leave you with this image of production volunteer Chris Lavelle after a particularly heavy weekend of partying, it sums up what Body & Soul does to you.

Its been a hectic weekend.

Its been a hectic weekend.

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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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2 Responses to Body & Soul Festival 2015 Review, 19th – 21st June, Ireland

  1. Johnny says:

    I worked in the Body & Soul Festival and ot was amazingggg. This festival changed my life.

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