Townlands Carnival 2016 Festival Review.


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

Friday 8th July.

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

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

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

Jerry Fish – Main Stage 11 pm.

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 9th July.

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

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

1 Ness – Riddim Shack, Saturday.
1 Ness – Riddim Shack, Saturday.

The sounds of 1 Ness.


The delightful Dolly and Blakey Blake.
Kevin enjoying the festivities.
The arena beginning to wake up.
The Sub-Atomic Stage (Hardcore Techno)
The Cirque De Freakout Stage.
This is basically the main stage mixing desk area, where the people mixing the live sound and their friends hang out.
The Main Stage.
The town centre.
Mixing desk area for main stage.
WOB! Fourth opening act on the main stage, Saturday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday 10th July.

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

The cool half cars seating areas.
Inside the Cirque De Freakout tent.
Cirque De Freakout tent art.
The arena.
The devil playing pan pipes.
Myself in fine form.
Fugitive Dreams.
Townlands Town Centre Art.

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

The Gramaphone Disco.
Kevin and Joe.

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

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

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

Cula Bula – Sibin Stage     10pm.

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

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

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

Gentleman’s Dub Club – Main Stage     11 pm.

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

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

The Latchikos – Sibin Stage      11.45 pm.

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

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

Monday 11th July.

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

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

Roll on Townlands 2017.


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