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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂