Aphex Twin is a bit like The Beatles at this stage; whether you are in deep or have just a passing regard for him, most people at least know the name.
I remember reading about Aphex Twin in Select magazine in 1992. Even then he was a figure held in reverence: a teenage prodigy, who while part of the rave scene, was on the fringes of electronic music, and built his own machines.
While I was intrigued, I can’t remember hearing my first Aphex track until three years later. It was under the pseudonym Polygon Window – the last track on a Warp compilation called Artificial Intelligence 2. The track was called My Teapot. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It was by far and away the worst piece of shit I had ever heard. It sounded like a hamster on the bog. What a piss-take. Then…
Stradbally, County Laois, Ireland 31st August – 2nd September.
Got the Citylink commuter to Kinnegad on Sunday 26th August to be picked up by Derek who was bringing his daughter Shannon to Electric Picnic, the final bash of the year beckoned and although it wasn’t the best lineup this year by all accounts there was definitely something for everyone there, what with thirty five stages there is always gonna be something out there that would grab you.
Sunday 26th – Thursday 30th August – The Advance Week.
There was a bit of rain every now and then this year so the fine John Dooley got a loan of a small marquee from JD (a local man also working the festival) that sat beside his camper. This was perfect for watching films if it happened to be raining and John had a fine selection of films and the Father Ted box set, so back to back episodes to keep the laughs coming laughing at our Irish follies.
I was working at the production gate again this year directing arrivals to a temporary car park and to their health and safety induction where they would get temporary wristbands. Working with two other volunteers Shannon and her boyfriend Cian and changed over to two different volunteers during the week. I brought the beat box with playlists of Massive Attack, Death Grips and the Prodigy among others.
Security was telling me on Tuesday that themselves and the Gardai were chasing some fence jumpers, which made me wonder, where the hell would they go with the festival not due on till three days, hide in one of the portaloos perhaps.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were fairly mellow days where I had some great chats with some of the Eventsec security and the volunteers I was working with, some of them into exploring the festival and music whilst some had no interest at all, one security chap was more into musicals rather than rock and pop music, I suggested he check out Body&Soul or the Trailer Park for possibly pop up musicals, which could happen.
Festival Republic seemed to be messing with peoples heads, they kept changing the wristband colour for accreditation each day, so one minute you would be on your way and the next you would be blocked, meaning you had to get in touch with your supervisor to get the new wristband.
Thursday seemed to be the messiest of all with it being the most ultra busy day on the eve of the festival. There seemed to be a lack of communication between departments of the festival as the wristband had changed colour again which I found out when I went to use the production loos. I was working with security out on the roadside entrance today and there was a lot of heated exchanges between festival staff and security. What basically happened was bunches of workers going out on their lunch break and discovering they couldn’t get back in again through the production gate until they got in touch with their bosses to get the relevant accreditation again. Anyways my shift came to an end and I became a wristbanded festival punter. The one thing bugging me was having a blocked right ear, either wax or an ear infection, but I wouldn’t be able to hear full stereo. Was delighted to meet Catherine, Susan and Ross again and countless others who I forgot the names of already, my head is like a sieve sometimes. There was talk that because of the scarcity of tickets this year, on average they were going for 400 Euro each that volunteers and security would abscond from their duties.
Friday 31st August.
The predictions were right, some volunteers disappeared as soon as they were accredited , I could never do something like that as its like breaking a contract, your wristband number would be given to security and if any of the staff from the volunteer HQ had seen you, you would’ve been reported and ejected of the site. I would be too paranoid to enjoy the festival and plus its not a nice thing to do. I willingly sacrificed DJ Shadow, Boys Noize, Shit Robot, The Undertones and half the Jimmy Cliff gig at EP 2011 to work the late shift working alongside Declan, a lovely man who is now head of security at the production area, as Catherine needed someone to man the gates leading to the back of the marquees, very important, ferrying musicians and bands to their gigs and having an emergency lane for fire trucks, Gardai and ambulances and keeping the path clear in such emergencies. Because of these absences security have to do some of these roles instead and they work long enough hours as it is.
I met Dagmara Zolty and Mati the people I had been doing the work experience with this year at the crew camp, they were going to be doing a pop up scratch workshop at the festival Dagmara with Mati runs this streetwear fashion boutique called 1984 Miracles in Galway city that is also a scratch hip hop record shop and label (Cut&Paste Records) in 5 Augustine St, where they also host Community Scratch sessions once a month in their shop, anyone can come in off the street and have a go on their decks and they’ll show you how to scratch.
I took the opportunity to film a small bit of the journey after the hole in the wall, I wanted to capture the wooded walk in the staff entrance to the festival site with the lovely lights through the trees and the buzzing people zipping into the festival.
Well I couldn’t really afford the lanyard this year i had to be careful with the spending, eating wisely and cheaply, mainly in Stradbally itself and through the kindness of John Dooley. But I knew the Roadhouse Doors (2.45 – 4 PM) was playing the Salty Dog stage and that some Boardsies were planning a meet up there, Boardsies as in posters to the Electric Picnic thread in Gigs and Events in the Boards.ie chat forum. After messaging a few, some of them were still on their way to the site, so it never happened. I loved the music and it sounded pretty authentic, they done great covers and the singer had an amazing larynx. A great start for the festival to get you in the mood and a good old rock out.
This year I’m rocking out, its either a combination of metal/hip hop or trap metal, punk or hardcore hip hop and punk techno, DnB and Jungle music. I will be mainly watching and listening too, three selected artists, Scarlxrd, Death Grips, The Prodigy and whatever else comes along. Also looking forward to Massive Attack. It has to be said, there was an awful lot of dross in the lineup this year, will be hot footing from the likes Gavin James, The Coronas, Picture This, George Ezra and Walking On Cars.
Grabbed a Charcoal Grill steak burger and sat at a table that was already polluted with everyone else’s crap and bins a mere two metres away, there is no self respect, so much for the green message projected on the main stage screens.
CHVRCHES – Main Stage – 7.30 – 8.30 PM.
Glasgow band CHVRCHES put on a nice set airing tracks from their new album Love is Dead. Lauren Mayberry the singer joked about playing festivals and concerts around the world in seriously sweltering conditions and was glad to be back to a similar climate to Scotland. I saw the band the last time they played in 2015 and their interest has swelled pulling a reasonable crowd to the main stage. they have a nice buzzy synth pop going on and Mayberry has a lovely soaring voice. Its nice to see a band from my home sod and one worth checking out if you like good electronic rock and pop. I also met fellow boardsie Scruff Monkey at the side of the mixing desk area. The clip I think was taken too far away, but sometimes we feel comfortable watching from a distance, that would change during the weekend.
Got a message that David Curran had turned up at the crew camp and was on his way to the arena, so I went up to the volunteer HQ and there he was, I stopped for a coffee and we made our way to the right of the mixing desk for the main stage in preparation for the Kendrick Lamar set of who David was a big fan of.
Kendrick Lamar – Main Stage 10.40 – 12 AM.
Now I wouldn’t be a big Kendrick Lamar fan, I do like some hip hop just different types really, but I was intrigued all the same as he is one of the biggest touring the circuit at the moment. BANG! well I didn’t expect that, shook me to my senses, so this guy has some interesting pyrotechnics and what looked like a strange fascination with Chinese / Kung Fu culture mixed with Blaxploitation in the visuals on the back screen backdrop. He was definitely entertaining enough and worth seeing once anyway. Would have preferred a dance act in the end, The Prodigy would have been a good start but we’ll get them in the end. The video clip is from Vegan Viking who always manages to get the best close ups of acts at the Picnic. Don’t let my review put you off, I don’t really review it as such as I don’t know his catalogue nor bothered to check, but if you like that type of hip hop you’ll love this guy. He certainly puts on an interesting visual show.
After that myself and David went wandering about Body&Soul Village, up to the main stage to look at the Super Extra Bonus Party, but they didn’t really do it for us so we wandered up to the Earth Ship stage and caught the end of the Bobofunk set and the start of Jah Monk’s set. Bobofunk doing a techno/house kind of thing that got us bouncing and Jah Monk playing a mixture of roots reggae and jungle which also got us bouncing nicely. A cold enough breeze came in so we needed somewhere sheltered, I suggested we go to The Haunt which I don’t think David regretted, he was well impressed with the venue and the sounds emitting. The only thing I Shazamed this year and was particularly taken by was Beyond Belief by Elvis Costello & the Attractions, such is the diverse compilations of their playlists, I loved all the tracks they played but that was the only one I took the trouble to find out about. We stayed there till 3.50 AM and headed back to the crew camp after that. Met Kevin at the crew camp, he had done his first weekend shift at family camping so I joined him for a few cans while David crashed for the night.
Went over to John for a coffee and he produced a rasher and sausage sandwich to me, what a legend. Met David who told me he was going for a beer run with Kevin wanting a few cases too. So myself, David and Coby (Adam Coburn that is) piled into the car. Got myself another tray of Guinness. Had a shower to refresh and jammed a bit in the bodhran with the 1975 Paddy Keenan album on the ipod, I think some of the crew enjoyed my effort.
David and myself made for the arena about 5 PM to go and see Mavis Staples the famous soul singer which should be good or so I hoped, not so as Specialised Security held me up at the gate. They found my two cans of Guinness and told me I had to drink them at the gate before going in, despite my protests that no stout is for sale anywhere in the festival site. So Specialised Security, the Heineken overlords are forcing stout drinkers to drink watered down 6.50 Euro pints of lager. We need Heineken kicked in the ass out of the festival, bring Guinness back like at Witnness festival. Met a few randomers at the gate including a Murphy’s drinker who felt the same. Bring free flow to the Picnic please like Body&Soul Festival and All Together Now so we don’t have these needless delays. By the time I got to the main stage Staples was at the last few minutes of the set, so missed most of it and it put me in a steamer of a mood, I almost took it out on my phone, there was gritted teeth for ten minutes at least. Plus I was half cut a little too quickly after gubbing two cans at a fairly fast pace. But time to get out of there quickly before I heard the first note of Gavin James.
Scarlxrd – Little Big Tent 6.30 – 7.15 PM.
Thank god there was other stages to go to and such a noisy metal or should I say mental hip hop act like Scarlxrd. Wikipedia has a few genres attached to Scarlxrd, trap, heavy metal, rap metal, nu metal or hardcore hip hop. I bloody loved it, being a metal fan when growing up, I still liked a bit here and there but this was a new type of signing for the Picnic. The Picnic this year also attracted a much younger audience too and a lot were in evidence at this gig as this is one of the first times I’ve seen a mosh pit forming at a gig at the festival. The music a grinding metal sound that sounded so rusty and Scarlxrd practically wearing his throat away into his abdomen from screaming the lyrics. His beats man was also another lunatic leaping about like a nutter but you could see they really loved it. How would you describe it, the complete opposite to Gavin James anyway. It was too much for David and he retreated after a few minutes motioning to his ears, I said I’d meet him after. But I loved this new type of violent music, its nice seeing the Picnic give this a go.
I met up with David again at the Trailer Park and I had a bite to eat, settling for Home Fries and their lovely garlic and cheese potatoe fries. I don’t know if it was Scarlxrd’s music or the mood after drinking the cans quickly but I developed an eye strain headache and made the decision to go back to the crew camp for a quick power nap as I became exhausted quite quickly and dehydrated so a sit down or lie down in the quiet was the order of the day, setting my alarm for 11 PM so that I might catch a bit of NERD and the full Massive Attack set.
I realised I couldn’t really sleep anyway but the peace was nice and I savoured the rest, I headed up to the arena at the back of 10 PM making for the volunteers HQ only bringing water with me this time so there would be no delays at the gate going in. Met Catherine and she kindly gave me some aspirin which killed the headache and I had a few coffees there, she also gave me a bottle of water as she reckoned it was dehydration too, most definitely after leaping about like a lunatic to Scarlxrd. N.E.R.D ( standing for No One Ever Really Dies) was making a delightful sound from the main stage and they had a great crowd gathered for their set. I went down to watch the last few numbers of their set and Pharrel Williams knows how to get a crowd going as he is a big name in his own right, funky party hip hop that is perfect for a festival environment.
Hip hop has seemingly become the number one genre for festivals these days, what with Kendrick yesterday and Longitude devoting most of the acts to be hip hop this year in their bill. Beat poetry over a dance beat, The Sleaford Mods, a very different kind of beat poetry who got my attention at Body&Soul Festival last year but alas they clashed with the Prodigy set at this one. The spoken word is overtaking vocals, some of it good and some not so good at times, this doesn’t reflect on N.E.R.D’s set though which sounded extremely good.
Was getting hungry again and seeked out a food stall, I fancied fish and chips, the Fish & Chip Shack catered exactly for my needs, done in the style like the Scottish/Italian chippers, scrumptious and delicious but a pricey enough 11.20 Euro but worth it.
Well I’m glad MA didn’t cancel this performance like they did at Mad Cool Festival in Madrid this summer and I was looking forward to some beautiful ambient downbeat triphop and their usual flair for cool visuals and propaganda messages, I was also praying that it wouldn’t rain like the last time in 2010 where I got soaked to the skin.
David met me and Ross too, we were positioned to the top right of the mixing desk so just perfect where we were. Massive Attack didn’t disappoint, lovely dark ambient stuff, they kicked off with I Against I, the collaboration they done with Mos Def and a nice lively start to the proceedings. Their set was plucked from their array of five albums and various EPs they have done over the years. Inertia Creeps and the brilliant Rising Son from the Mezzanine album, Future Proof from their 100th Window album that probably had the best visuals of the set going from a set counter in the middle of the screen, a countdown clock which exploded into a brightly lit backdrop and that kind of jamming sound that only the likes of Massive Attack and Portishead can do, incredible stuff. The only niggly thing for me was their random messages across the screen which hurt my eyes after a while trying to read them so I concentrated on other dynamics of the show.
Having studied their setlists over the summer on setlist.com I knew that Teardrop had been dropped for the last few years now, but some of my buddies (Kevin included) still vented about it being missing, it is their best known track but I suppose ultimately it was the bands decision in the end. I also would have liked to have heard Karmacoma but Tricky wasn’t around nor was Horace Andy, who I hear is doing poorly at the moment so hopefully he recuperates, the singer they used for Angel though done a commendable enough job. The band closed with Unfinished Sympathy which is still my favourite Massive Attack track and the beautiful vocals of Deborah Miller. The background soulful keening you hear in the track I often made the connection that, that could be influenced by Pink Floyd’s Great Gig in the Sky and the wordless soulful vocal from that. A nice super chilled set from Massive Attack to close out the main stage on Saturday night.
After that we vowed to catch the spectacular show put on by the Picnic up by the big wheel by the Catalan theatrical group La Fura dels Baus of the giant man and Irish volunteers pulled in to do the acrobatic performance from a pyramid structure suspended from a crane. Having missed the Friday performance at midnight, this was our last chance to catch this act at 2 AM as there would be no performance of it on Sunday night. A number of the volunteers involved were staying at the crew camp and we were talking to them at John’s camper, a pretty exciting project to be involved with. A few rehearsals over the week and two shows on Friday and Saturday. Its nice for the Picnic to be bringing back this kind of stuff, it would be akin to the Burning Man artist’s structure that was set alight in 2008 in near enough the same area and the Cubatron installation among others.
And this is where my Nikon camera battery ran out, but how could I resist not filming stuff like this, you have to show the people what they are missing.
Body&Soul beckoned after that, my apologies to other Electric Picnic areas that I didn’t go near this year such as Hazel Wood, Trenchtown (the reggae seemed to be more spread out this year, Earthship stage I’m looking at you) also it must be the proximity of it being near the Jimi Hendrix campsite that it can be messy and sometimes you can confuse the way you are going and end up in the campsite and it takes ages to get out again, but I’ll vow to do Trenchtown next year as I do love my reggae. I also avoided Anchronica (Rave in the Woods) where I would have liked to have seen DeFeKT’s set and Aoife O’Neil’s set.
So Body&Soul Village again for Saturday night/Sunday morning. Up to the Earthship stage, one of our favourite venues and bouncing about to the sounds of Fat Puppy Party. Of course when it came to sitting down again The Haunt beckoned. When we arrived there they were playing Wing’s hit Simply having a wonderful Christmas Time which I found pretty amusing and then back to the obscure fantastic nutty stuff again, Kevin Keehan showed up later and we stayed until the close of the venue. I met a friend of my cousin Joanne Doherty there who remembered me from Joanne’s wedding over a year ago, a small world within the Picnic, I also met Cathal Johnson who gave me a swig of some Jameson and asked me to come over to his gig at the Village Hall in the Global Green tomorrow. Finally back to the crew camp and a bunch of cans in Kevin’s tent to which we stayed up till eight in the morning, it just dawned on me that I left my Nikon camera in the Haunt venue, but I knew it was in safe hands there.
Sunday 2nd September.
Got up around noon or thereabouts and surprisingly I was quite refreshed even though I had only four hours sleep, straight over to John’s camper to boil some water for my drink as you go cafe press and Lavassa coffee, met Gearoid, Orla, Donal and David sitting under the marquee, it was sunny but with a cold enough breeze so non t-shirt weather.
I intended to go to the arena early enough today, as I was invited to all sorts of things, Cathal’s Dominic Street Ramblers were playing the Village Hall at 2 or 3 PM, Cathal said 3 whilst the clashfinder said 2. Also Dags and Mati were also doing the scratch hip hop thing around the same time, but I thought Cathal was inviting me to jam with them playing Irish tunes so I opted for there with my bodhran.
Dominic Street Ramblers – Village Hall, Global Green 2 – 2.30 PM or 3 – 3.30 PM.
This was probably the chillest gig I was at for the Picnic, the Dominic Street Ramblers specialised in Appalachian and old time style music, with two acoustic guitars, Cathal playing one and alternating between that and harmonica and a five string banjo player, It wasn’t Irish trad like I thought and basically I was going to do a solo spot at the end, but time ran out beforehand and the sound was cut, but I enjoyed their set and filmed a clip.
I missed the Inner Circle set on the main stage at the same time as the Dominic Street Ramblers but Kevin caught a bit of their set and filmed the clip for the Bad Boys track. I went up to the volunteer HQ for a quick coffee and a hello to Catherine and Susan before heading down to the main stage to catch a bit of Garbage’s set.
Garbage – Main Stage 4.15 – 5 PM.
Went right down to the front barrier for this gig and met Jenny, Gilly and Ross down here too, Jenny being a big, big Garbage fan. The band rocked the place out and Shirley Manson, another Scots lass had an amazing presence on stage and looked fabulous all decked in red and a great rock n roll voice too. She was delighted to be here and talked about how it had been twenty years since the group had last played Ireland. I didn’t realise that I already was familiar with some of their old hits especially Stupid Girl the group playing stuff from their Version 2.0 record. A very tight band of Scottish and American musicians and a great group to blow away the Sunday hangovers with, an apt choice by the Picnic I have to say.
I headed off near the end of the set as the hunger pangs had got to me, I was set to try the cheesy bread stall but came across the reasonably priced Hans Frankenfurter German food stall that I visited in 2014 EP for the pulled pork sandwich that done the job perfectly having to run in to Natasha’s Kitchen seeing as there was no seats available outside the eateries plus there was a drizzle shower.
Nile Rodgers & Chic – Main Stage 5.30 – 6.30 PM.
The always reliable Chic were the perfect dose for the Sunday blues, their classic back catalogue of hits had a packed audience dancing to their hearts delight, the chic singers Kimberly Davis and Folami still look absolutely amazing looking and still have the most glorious soulful voices out there. Le Freak, Good Times, We’re Lost in Music, absolutely tremendous stuff and with a bit more umph to the sound system this time than their last visit four years ago, although the sound was probably quietened because of the later time they were playing that year. A fantastic gig by all means and a perfect crowd pleaser.
I done a quick wander of the Body&Soul Village again this time the intent was to film the Haunt in a daylight shot as its too difficult to get a proper shot of the place in the night time unless you have 1600 shutter speed and film in your camera. So I took a daylight video which still shaky enough even though I try to be still, I will never make a top photographer or great film maker, but I do my best hopefully.
Twas a quick dash from Body&Soul after that to the volunteer HQ so to avoid a heavy downpour and a few coffees and had a nice chat with a volunteer from Leitrim called Enda McLoughlin from Manorhamilton town, a place only ten miles or so from my parents hometown of Kinlough.
After the rain shower set off along the staff walkway toward the Little Big Tent to see who was playing in there, Mango X Mathman an Irish rapper was doing a set there but I couldn’t get into the sounds, I found the backing too cheesy, perhaps if I had more time I would have stayed and listened to the lyrics, but I was already bound for the Rankin Woods tent. I stopped at the new Jerry Fish tent on the way and watched a bit of Bitch Falcon’s second set of the weekend who were blisteringly loud as usual and a nice rocking crowd gathered for them. Working my way up to Rankin Woods to get a good spot for the explosive Death Grips.
Having seen these lads in a Lollapalooza stream a few years back I wondered when they would hit the Irish shores, although I’ve heard since that they’ve played Dublin a few times. But man, like Scarlxrd they rocked the very foundations of Rankin Woods with outpourings from The Year of the Snitch and The Powers That B among other albums and a crazy young audience moshing out to their hearts content, I was delighted to be at the front barrier for this as I had something to hold onto and my bodhran against the barrier when it got crazy at the front. MC Ride is a nutter but a tight rapper with an amazing stage presence and the energy of a few hundred of us in the tent. Zach Hill is one of the best rock drummers I’ve seen in my lifetime, spot on in the rhythm and Andy Morin was getting incredible sounds from his keyboard like nothing else on earth, an amazing gig and a bloody good alternative to Picture This on the main stage. Go on Electric Picnic keep booking acts like this and I’ll keep on coming back. 🙂
I made my way in anticipation to the main stage my ears ringing from Death Grips to possibly more loud amplification from the Prodigy. I met another Boardsie, the lovely Mimimcmc on the way to the front for the Prodigy.
The Prodigy – Main Stage 10.30 PM – 12 AM.
This was the second time catching this act, the last time being a day trip to Oxegen in 2010 where they were closing the Vodafone stage and only had a few thousand people (although an enthusiastic bunch all the same) in one of the muckiest patches of ground (totally neglected by MCD after two days of torrential rain) while everyone else was watching Eminem and other acts and I didn’t give them the proper attention they deserved.
This time it was different, I think this was the biggest crowd gathered for the whole weekend and I was about ten people back from the main stage so still a great view and hopefully not too wild there. The lights came on to some symphonic classical music and I knew this was going to be epic. Camera on the ready as I have been studying their setlist at Home festival in Italy on the Friday and I knew my favourite track by them, Breathe kicked of the set. As soon as the familiar riff kicked off and the drum roll started I was thrown of my feet by the crowd going mental, first thing I thought of was grab my bodhran to put between my legs so I could steady the camera, you can hear me panicking shouting ‘my bodhran, watch my bodhran and finally the camera focusing again.
There was guitars and drums in the sound too so it was like metal/punk and techno, with some DnB, Jungle too and a mixture of other stuff. Resonate, Firestarter, The Day is my Enemy, Voodoo People (Remix version I heard people saying), Wild Frontier and closing the first set with Smack My Bitch Up. They came back for a bunch of encores premiering a new track called Light Up The Sky and closing the set with Take Me To the Hospital.
An amazing gig and a bloody good rocking EP for me this year, leaving Aphex Twin and a handful of other dance acts (Moby perhaps) to play Electric Picnic which will surely happen at some point.
I headed to the Body&Soul area and met up with Gearoid, Orla, Donal and Kevin at the Bandstand with a sizable crowd dancing to the funky house of PrYmary Colours, David headed home before the Prodigy set as he had an important flight to do with his work the following day to Oslo in Norway. We all headed over to the Earthship stage to the ever reliable Mother DJs to dance the night out and close up the stage.
Myself and Kevin headed back to his tent to finish off our booze but Kevin was tireder than I thought and was out like a light bulb in the space of five minutes so I left him and crashed out myself.
Monday 3rd September.
Over to John’s for some recovery coffee and meeting everyone there again while we scraped our heads together and decided to disassemble our tents and pack them away, I found I still had three cans of Guinness left so gave one to Donal who was delighted. I was supposed to be heading back to Kinnegad with Derek, Shannon and Cian but Kevin offered to take me to Loughrea where I could get the bus there. There were people I regretted not meeting up with, the lovely Lisa Lawless, Derek’s wife and Stephen Kerr who I met briefly with on Thursday I still have to actually go to an actual gig with you ha ha. And to everyone else, you know who you are, Love from Niall.
In the light of the green message that Electric Picnic showed in all their screens this all seemed to go on deaf ears when you look at the carnage and aftermath of the Jimi Hendrix campsite and other main campsites. Shouldn’t Electric Picnic make it compulsory that all campsites at the festival including the crew camp become BYEco Camping, whether this could be policed is another thing altogether, but another method that would reduce waste in campsites would be to introduce a free flow system, therefore people wouldn’t spend too much time in the campsite and would maybe drink out in the arena and use the bins there.
Curraghmore House, Portlaw, County Waterford, Ireland 3rd – 5th August.
Thursday 2nd August.
Alpha, Beta, Gamma, A-Hubba Dubba and so, on to my second festival of 2018 and a spanking brand new one being held in the sunny South East and living up to its name too. This is John Reynold’s latest festival production and man it does take me back to some of these early Picnic years of 2005, 2007 and 2008, especially with the Arcadia Afterburner in tow. The journey from dreary wet and windy Galway couldn’t have been any easier, the lovely Joanne Ni Loingsigh picked me up at the Eye Cinema and we travelled en route to Ennis to pick up another volunteer, Kate Holland. It wasn’t till we were nearly passing through County Tipperary that we actually started to see dry roads again which put a good omen on the journey ahead.
We arrived onsite about 8 PM and set about looking for the volunteer HQ, It was the EP team of Catherine and Suzanne. over the years of working different festivals at the starting of August, Liss Ard (2012) with POD Productions and Beatyard last year with Bodytonic, both these Catherine was the volunteer coordinator, so we have a little history. We were given time to put up our tents and then back to the HQ for a Health and Safety briefing and then a guided tour through the festival site with the rest of the volunteers. I took this chance to take some pictures of the final festival build before the diminishing daylight.
Oddly there was no sound systems pumping ‘Testing 1, 2, 3, 4.’ So it was down to a chill selection on the ipod, behind my tent I could hear either Polish or Slavic voices, so the Baltic section behind me and to the side of me and a bunch of African folk to the other side of me wearing ATN Bulmers shirts, so I presumed they were bar staff. Kate was to my right and Stevie from Castlebar was to my left. So we sat about, had a smoke and a drink and chilled. We were fairly satisfied to have seen a lot of the festival site earlier so hung about the crew camp and had an early enough night.
Friday 3rd August.
I rose early enough today and discovered that my favourite crew cafe was there near the showers, the Dublin couple who do the breakfast baps and a very decent filter coffee at a very affordable 7 Euro. Speaking of which, my funds were running low and having got paid on Thursday at midnight I had to find an ATM before the festival masses had advanced onto the site. Another bonus, found out the showers were free, so grabbed my towel and gel. They were the same as the ones in Body&Soul with the small compartment next to shower, but they were hot with no way of lowering the temperature, still, it was free . 🙂 The hardest part was the drying, the more you tried to dry the sweatier you got and then trying to put fresh clothes on, still it was bloody worth it, as it was very warm down here.
Off myself, Kate and Steve trekked to the atm down by Curraghmore House, but when we got there one of the lads said it wouldn’t be operational till 5 PM, one hour into my shift where I was to be stationed at the other side of the festival, so not so good. The only alternative was cashback from the Londis store in the main campsite, I went up there and got a sandwich and a pint of milk and asked for cashback, the till guy said it wasn’t possible yet as internet was down and to come back in an hour. Ah feck it, back to the campsite for a bag of nuts and some Lidl cereal bars then. We just hung about the arena then till our shift started, there was no music yet, so probably not due to start till about 5 or 6 PM.
Eventually I managed to get cashback from the shop and went to HQ to find out where my 4 to 12 AM shift was going to be. I was paired with Cathal Flood from Longford who turned out to be an avid reader of my blog, we were working at the entrance to the general campervan site. Our job to direct campervans and caravans to the appropriate areas and the parking attendants, give general festival info and generally walking about the site and seeing if anyone needed help. There was a few teething problems, the bins were stored at the other end of the field so a bit of a trek, it was the same for the water tap and the showers too, only four of them near the boutique area and two broke down. Nothing major though, usual complaints, bog roll has run out, there is no hand sanitiser (Let me tell you something, this happens at every single festival, why should this one be any different).
I think Cathal enjoyed the beats from the boogie box anyway and we appreciated the sound coming all the way from the main stage of Chaka Khan, even though we were quite a distance away. John Reynolds was out helping with the campervan/caravan traffic, I was trying to remember where I saw him before. It was at Liss Ard 2012 Festival and I was working during the Chic headline set, opting for Toots the following day. Anyway my job was to stand at festival entrance near the shuttle bus pick up, John would tell me the number of people to let through to go to the shuttle bus and stop the rest. Obviously to prevent the roadway from being overcrowded with people for health and safety reasons. Anyway was told to let eight people through, the last two were a mother and daughter and I stopped the father and son, he explained but we’re a family, so I let him and his son through bringing to ten people. John roared that I let too many through, but I argued, what can I do, its a family, you can’t split up a family. Ah well, my brief conversation with John.
I took my break about 8 and headed to the nearest eateries which turned out to be a twenty minute walk, a gorgeous one though, the breathtaking beauty of the Curraghmore Estate. There was an amazing amount of vegetarian stalls, I just wanted to guzzle a quarter pounder and I eventually found an artisan burger stall, Bear Grillz, a Waterford-based Gourmet burger food truck who done rather sumptuous burgers, absolutely delicious and kills that hunger pang. I went for the Bear Grillz quarter pounder for a pricey 9 Euro, but well worth it.
The only thing about this is after the twenty minute walk, there is the wait to be called and to select your food and then the wait for it to be cooked and be prepared, by the time I got the burger my break time was almost up so a sprint uphill to the campervan site, man, I’m getting too old for this.
By 11 PM I was probably niggling Cathal’s brain with my constant barrage of Aphex Twin music, he said he liked guitars too, so I dropped it down a level and put on the soundtrack to Pulp Fiction. his eyes lit up, he is a movie buff so we ended up talking about amazing films for the rest of the shift. Things were very quiet for the last hour or two apart from the reverberations from the main stage and cheesy synth pop from some of the campers. As it hit twelve we headed back to HQ to sign out, I met Kevin Keehan in the main campsite, he was a festival punter again, but I didn’t have the energy to party so I said I would hook up proper with him tomorrow.
I stood around the Afterburner for a while, it was the only music I took in tonight as I didn’t really sleep the night before because I was too bloody excited to go to sleep. Saoirse was giving it a fine techno wallop on the afterburner and the flames were licking out of the top, the crowd gathered going mental. Went to my tent but couldn’t sleep again so got up and went to a small marquee in the camp and sat in there till 3 drinking a few tins and listening to sounds. Went back to tent about 3.30 and about an hour later heard loads of voices and realised this was the early shift that was out partying and they were doing the 4 to 12 on Saturday, whilst I was doing the 8 to 4 PM and no sleep, I just lay there resting, its a festival, what can you do.
Saturday 4th August.
Today I was like a zombie just barely functioning but Cathal looked after me, he kept bringing the recycled cartons of water and keeping me refreshed. The predicted heatwave wasn’t too bad, it was sunny but not boiling. Today I picked some Jon Hopkins selections to start the chill out session to get us through the shift, the new album Singularity and Immunity and some Fever Ray, acts that played at the last festival I was at. Today was a bit livelier as it was the early shift and god bless Cathal he came with an ice cool mocca coffee for me, you legend. Someone in the campervan area also gave me a coffee, so a much needed help to get me through the day. Surprisingly there was still a few arrivals today who were being parked in the top corner of the field and the shift went fairly fast. Back to HQ at 4 PM to sign out and up to the crew camp to have a rest.
It was too hot to lie in the tent so I went into the marquee in the field to drink a can or two as this provided much needed cover as the suns heat increased. Things livened up in the evening when one of Steve’s mates showed up, Dink!. This much needed boost made us realise, we’re at a festival and got us into the mood to go exploring again.
Roisin Murphy – ATN Main Stage 7.45 – 8 .45 PM.
Roisin Murphy brought her dreamy sparkly pop to the main stage, having missed her at a few previous Picnics (I wasn’t really aware of her at the time) I caught one of the RTE Electric Picnic specials on the player and one of the rare times they actually gave a fuck and played a good highlight from the stage. I was taken by the Roisin Murphy footage and I’m glad I caught her in the flesh this time. There were times I could liken her to Grace Jones, both in their style of music and the costume changes. Murphy leaning more toward electronica and techno at times with her songs whilst Jones would be more Jamaican inspired. But she has a super sexy husky voice that is so refreshing to hear of the current Irish crop of bands. She visited her back catalogue of Take Her up to Monto with Ten Miles high and a few from her 2015 album, Hairless Toys such as Gone Fishing and Exploitation among others and finishing with a few numbers from her former band Moloko including Sing it Back. Roisin Murphy, a great warm up for tonight’s proceedings on the main stage and one to look out for.
Maribou State – Something Rather Wonderful Stage 8.00 – 9.00 PM.
Myself and Kate quickly went over to the big blue tent to catch the last fifteen minutes of Maribou State. The group had a packed tent eating out of their hand and a hard bopping electronica buzz. Chris Davids and Liam Ivory had a serious sensuous overload of a sound and a bouncing accompanying audience, this was a new discovery for me and a welcome one. Had done no research on this group and it was solely through the recommendation of Kate who disappeared to the front for the rest of the gig. Turn your volume down for this one as its extremely loud having been taken it on the Samsung phone.
I hung around this general area for the next few gigs, it was indeed a very mellow audience at this festival, no ‘skanger off their faces’ crowd apparent here, even around the Arcadia Afterburner stage in the early hours. Seen Kate at various times outside the blue tent floating about, was just waiting for the rapper Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) to appear.
Yasiin Bey – Something Rather Wonderful Stage 9.30 – 10.30 PM.
Yasiin Bey put on a blinder of a show, I still hadn’t done my research on this guy but I just let the music caress my heart. Bey is articulate, clear and fast in his raps, he has a loud clear voice and his associate on the beats was laying them down hard and fast. The whirling Dervishes in the back screen weaving into an ambient downbeat hip hop. at times jazz tinged with what sounded like xylophone samples. This is my second time catching Bey, the first being at Electric Picnic 2015. I felt this concert was better, perhaps it was because I was a bit closer to the stage this time.
This is my third time catching this superb Frankfurt act who got the tent bouncing with mad energy, a great house and techno minimal buzz from these guys. Booka Shade are stalwarts at this game who have been together now for fourteen years and they took a fine selection of their classics to the stage tonight. I managed to get right up to the barrier for this gig as a lot of my clips are faraway shots.
Well by 12.30 I was pretty shattered and felt quite satisfied with the amount of acts I’d seen, so basically stood around the Arcadia Afterburner for a while and took in some of Maribou State’s DJ set before trundling off to bed. When I got back to the campsite you couldn’t hear a pin drop apart from the beats from the arena. The crowd who had been partying like mad on Friday were as quiet as a mouse tonight as they were on the early shift on Sunday. I woke up with a start at 5.30 AM in the morning, it was absolutely boiling and suffocating, unzipped the tent breathing in lungfuls of air, it was going to be a warm day tomorrow.
Sunday 5th August.
I awoke at 11 after the most amazing sleep and off to the breakfast bap place for breakfast and a coffee. There was a serious silly queue for to use the showers today but the weather being nice, warm and dry I just went and dunked my head under the tap and washed my hair and top half of the body, the water wasn’t freezing so absolutely perfect, I then wet wiped the bottom half in the tent and set out for the main arena for the day with my cameras I wanted to get some nice daylight shots of the festival, estate and arena.
I sort of arranged today to catch the Jimmy Cliff set on the main stage at 3.15 PM, but then heard his flight had been delayed, so we waited to find if he was going to be announced later. But I did enjoy This is the Kit who were the second opening act on the main stage from Bristol in England. I found Kate Stables vocals at times to remind me of the singing of Kate Rusby, a lovely folky melodic quality to her voice. I was waiting in the queue for a portions of Home Fries from the Home Fries place, small baby potatoes in a lovely cheese and garlic sauce.
Well time for the last shift, a 4 PM – 12 AM shift, I was hoping it wasn’t to the campervan area again and was delighted to be sent to the info tent next to the main stage with Steve and a bunch of others, some local to the area and some of us from up the country. This was brilliant we were placed next to the music so could get to hear everything from the main stage. The info tent was a great place for the banter and to help people out with their queries. There was special wristbands for families to attach to their children, their name and phone number was wrote on this wristband. One of the lads working with us at the tent was local man, Alan Woods and he helped locate a missing child today at the festival, so fair play to him. Alan was enjoying the craic so much here that he was doing a double shift along with us at the tent.
New Power Generation – ATN Main Stage 5.00 – 6.30 PM.
This was the tonic needed to invigorate to the main stage crowd, the old Prince backing band with a few vocalists fleshing out the sound, all the Prince classics for an hour and a half. 1999, Sign of the Times, Purple Rain, U got the look and Lets go Grazy amongst other gems, a rock solid, funk laden musical feast of sounds. I stole a few minutes out of the shift to catch a clip of them in action.
Some of the main queries were stuff like the shuttle bus timetables from the festival site or else where to find lost property, we directed them to the main campsite as there was a lost property office near the welfare tent there. Some just wanted directions to the stages. The Villagers were on the main stage next and they made a decent enough sound, maybe someone to investigate later. Also found out that Jimmy Cliff was rescheduled for 1 AM to 2.30 AM in the big blue tent so I was delighted with that.
First Aid Kit – ATN Main Stage 8.45 – 9.45 PM.
Swedish band First aid Kit gave a lovely performance on the main stage, there was definitely a family essence to the main stage today with a mixture of folk/rock/pop bands on the stage whilst electronica was being concentrated in some of the other stages. The band had a lovely folk/rock sound and gorgeous harmony vocals. Featuring tracks from the new album released in January, Ruins and a great cover of Kate Bush’s Running up that Hill. Another nice new discovery for me and worthy of more investigation.
Well my shift came to an end at 11 PM as this was the time I decided to take the break and watch the last hour of the Fleet Foxes I missed the first time around at Electric Picnic 2009.
Fleet Foxes – ATN Main Stage 10.30 – 12.00 AM.
Described as indie-folk the Fleet Foxes had a fairly packed crowd at the main stage, I have never saw them before, but thought I would throw myself in here and take in their sound. I suppose they would have been compared in some ways to Mumford and Suns in 2009/10, except there is more distorted guitars in this group, sometimes they could pump out that energy you would hear in groups like Crazy Horse, Neil Young’s backing band for periods and the Fleet Foxes have beautiful vocal harmonies that reminded me of Crosby, Stills, Nash at times. I was trying to conjure in my head how to describe their music, perhaps Crosby, Stills and Nash with a bit of a Post Rock sound and folk/rock sound. Some stuff was a little noodily but there was some genuine pastoral psychedelic moments in their music and I’m glad I caught their set. Now to research some of their back catalogue I think of three albums.
I went in to sign off for my Sunday shift, got my festival bond and headed off to the crew camp to pick up my final stash of cans to return to the arena with and to specifically catch the full Jimmy Cliff performance.
Jimmy Cliff – Something Rather Wonderful Stage 1.00 – 2.30 AM.
Jimmy Cliff and band blew the roof of the place, he still has a sensational voice that can still hit all the high notes and a terrific backing band of musicians. Starting unplugged on just congos with the Rivers of Babylon and through a seamless greatest hits history of ska and reggae classics, I can See clearly now, The harder they come, You can get it if you really want. Cliff is an absolute legend and he is up on the throne alongside Toots Hibbert and Max Romeo as great reggae soul singers. I had tears of joy after this gig, especially after Many Rivers to Cross from The Harder They Come album, I never heard such soulful emotion in my life and it was a cleansing experience. This was without doubt my absolute festival highlight of All Together Now. When I went to take a clip of I can See Clearly Now, I forgot to press record and only realised near the end of the song but I did catch the amazing audience reaction near the end of his set.
After this I went wandering around the site, this time I wanted to capture a clip of the Arcadia Afterburner in action with a live set from HAAi who had a nice crowd gathered around the stage and a nice bass boom going.
After that went wandering through the woods and New Jackson was pumping out a set in the corner with a large crowd going mental, I walked farther down and caught the final twenty minutes of the One Love stage with Disco and Cultura closing the stage. I headed off back to the crew camp to the soundtrack of Fatboy Slim’s Right Here, Right Now that HAAi was spinning in the Afterburner and then I heard the music cut at 3.30 AM. I sat up till 5 talking to some of my neighbours including Steve and giving them some cans of beer, then hit the hay for the night.
Monday 6th August.
Joanne Ni Loingsigh took me and Kate back home again to Ennis and Galway, thanks very much for looking after us and Catherine, Suzanne, Kevin and Cathal too and everyone else I encountered over the weekend, no doubt I’ll see some of you again in a few weeks at Electric Picnic. 🙂
Ballinlough Castle, Clonmellon, County Westmeath, Ireland June 22nd – 24th.
Thursday 21st June.
Its only just a week ago but man, what a weekend. Maireroisin picked me up from the Nox Hotel in Galway not far from my college and two other girls, Sandra and Doireann, excitement was abound and I couldn’t have had better travelling companions, well that’s a lie, Kevin Keehan among others have been perfect hosts too, but the girls were so excited and we all had a story to tell of previous festivals and shenanigans. Maireroisin and one of the other girls were working in an area called The Sanctuary and two of us were going to be working with Clare O’Connor for the weekend. This was a bit of a departure for me from doing the usual pre-event work like coming down the Monday or Sunday before the festival, this time I couldn’t do this as I was on a full time education course with the ETB and would’ve been too costly to do the week set up so I was doing weekend volunteering for the first time since 2012.
We all got registered in and I got my rota for the weekend which had been changed around a small bit due to some volunteers not showing up for the weekend so the festival had to spread out the volunteers who had shown up to a different schedule.
That night I went exploring the woods which I hadn’t done for a year with my little boogie box in tow, saw a few familiar faces and exchanged greetings and happily supped a few tins of lager. I didn’t have to start till 12 PM the following day but instead of working the main campsite like in the original roster it was switched to wristbanding at the main entrance. Did I mention the weather, the weather was absolutely fantastic, the sun cracking the stones but, man, it was baltic at night and I’m glad I brought my hoodie and leather jacket. In fact I emptied most of my rucksack over myself onto the sleeping bag to keep warm.
Friday 22nd June.
I rose early enough about 9.30 as would have to report to volunteer HQ for 11.30, waking up in a zipped tent can be a ghastly experience sometimes and requires a quick unzipping for that instant relief of a rush of air. At the HQ there was about twelve of us who were taken in to vans to the wristbanding area, when we saw the crowd waiting it was a daunting looking task. I was handed a scanner to scan the printouts and tickets but it turned out to be a faulty one and was never given another one so I became a wristbander. I wish I had a Gopro camera strapped to my head filming the wristbanding process, wrists of all shapes and sizes, hairy men ones and the long manicured fingernails of the ladies. It would make an interesting video of the wristbanding process.
It was so busy that the time had flown in real fast. One of the star attractions for me at the festival was all the classy beautiful girls adorned in amazing psychedelic colourful clothing that complimented the heatwave. When the shift finished I got a text from Kevin about 6.30 PM to say he had arrived and was needing a hand to set up. Well I had been on my feet for the last six hours and he would just have to wait as I needed a sit down for a while and a good shower to refresh before i took that 1 or 2 kilometre trek to the main entrance.
My apologies to Kevin, I took longer than I thought by the time I reached him at about 8.30, all he had to do now was trundle back to his car and pick up the booze, as the Body&Soul rules state that you can only bring the booze in the first time round when you get wristbanded, so I helped him with the camping gear. Well now it was Kevin’s turn to take his time, basically he couldn’t remember where he had parked the car. After numerous texts to him saying ‘Sake where the hell are ya.’ He finally showed up with the booze about over an hour later. I went with him to sort out a pitch in the main campsite and then we headed for the crew camp, security not even looking at Kevin’s Us and You wristband. I stocked up with beers and cameras and tried to by the time salvage the start of the Fever Ray set on the main stage.
Fever Ray – Main Stage 11.00 PM – 12 .15 AM.
It looked like we had missed the first few numbers of the set and we eventually found somewhere about 6 or seven rows back from the main stage, the area was absolutely thronged and Karin and the girls were giving it serious stick on stage.
Kudos to the sound crew, they had a top notch sound which was crystal clear where I was, oddly enough I never seen any Vikings or Handmaids for that matter in the audience but everyone seemed to be enjoying the gig. Old tracks like When I Grow Up and Concrete Walls got a new drum N Bass work over, which suited the tempo of the current album Plunge, equally tracks like To the Moon and Back set a really exciting tone to the gig with the ‘Pussy’ lyric getting a roar from the lads in the audience.
The old spellbinding Fever Ray came back with Red Trails which was too strong for my camera mic and Keep the Streets Empty which was anything but, with the wild throng around me but still a masterpiece although I wish Karin had retained some of the guitar parts and the high pitched beat that segmented the whole track from the original, still I loved it, I love her actually. One of the most interesting individual female artists to emerge since Kate Bush and Bjork, for me anyway. When the sonorous bass drone of the Vikings TV intro kicked off, there was the loudest roar from the audience and an intense euphoria . Please forgive my terrible singing when I sang along a little bit with If I had a Heart I couldn’t help it. The band finally finished with what I think might be an Echoes (Yes, Floyd’s Echoes) sounding key in Plunge’s closing number Mama’s Hand, just the intro like as it picks up pace to a more upbeat number. A very excellent gig by a gorgeous looking band in visual splendour and sound.
We sat about the main arena for a while up at some tables and chairs whilst Olof Dreijer kicked off his DJ set, it sounded promising, lots of conga drum samples, Knifey type sounds, pretty good visuals on the backdrop too, but then he mixes in the most dreadful auto tune chart hit and that was just a No! I got Kevin to look at the timetable, our quest to move to the Midnight Arena and possibly the Reckless in Love Stage, was trying to remember if Neil Flynn was at that stage, which Kevin confirmed, so we set off there.
Neil Flynn – Reckless in Love Stage. 12.30 – 2.00 AM.
Having caught Neil Flynn before at the Earthship Stage, Body&Soul Village at Electric Picnic 2015, right after Blur if I remember. Our sole intention (Me and Kevin) was to see Donal Dineen who was on after, but Flynn just blew us away, seriously sparkly techno. We managed to catch him again tonight and he still makes some serious sounds, beautiful and dreamy but with a lovely crunch, he gathered a nice crowd tonight who seemed to be cruising just nicely to the beats. In the second clip it sounds like he’s sampled a tom tom or maybe a bodhran solo and mixed into a nice techno thump. A lovely gig.
Went for a wander to have a look at the Walled Garden and ended up at Natasha’s Kitchen where Kevin was talking to some of his friends who had been working at the Soul Kid’s this year, there was a sense of sadness amongst the joviality and that everyone loved Gavin Pedersen and missed him badly, he died tragically last November. Condolences to Sandra and family.
We stopped at the Woodlands Stage and watched a bit of the SHIPS set, they were making a lively sound and very upbeat, ambient wandering synthesizers, soundscapes behind a steady beat.
I called it a day in the end as I wanted to try and get some sleep as I would have to be at volunteer HQ at 9.30 the following morning to find out what post I would be doing.
Saturday 23rd June.
Thankfully Kev’s Kitchen was open this morning so managed to procure one of their lovely cups of coffee which I needed before heading into the HQ, today my shift was changed from 10 AM to 4 PM to 6 PM to midnight and that I would be doing stop and go with three other girls. Stop and go is two way radio duty where your job is to prevent collisions with festival and production traffic.
So here I had seven hours to kill and it was just too bloody warm to actually move and explore the place, it was a matter of finding where is the best shade. First thing first, get to the ATM and withdraw funds as I only had seven Euros in my pocket. I joined the queue at the Midnight arena which didn’t seem too big, but we didn’t seem to move. I think I said this last year too, the queue builds up before you because sly devious feckers spot their mates in the queue and join them there. This is not fair and should be regulated, security should be there to tell people to queue properly. Anyways two hours was at least waited in that bloody queue and one of the machines breaking down didn’t help. Eventually when I got my funds, next thing on my list was to get something to eat some soakage for the few tins of beer I had drunk. I have a rule that I’m allowed a few tins of beer before a shift but the stopping point is at least two hours before, and maybe a strong coffee or two and a meal. Whilst in the queue I enjoyed the sounds coming from the Absolut Bar, lovely obscure reggae and some amazing soul, blues and bebop courtesy of either Jack Thompson or Calvin James.
Whilst looking through the food stalls I immediately recognised one from Scrobarnach festival two years ago, Home Fries. chips with a difference, real potato with a luscious garlic sauce, a nice portion for five Euros which sorted me for the afternoon.
I mainly went into the wood as it was the most shaded of all areas and listened to some of the talks going on courtesy of the Irish Times at the Woodlands Stage. Interesting in particular here was Delete Your Account hosted by Patrick Freyne, Gavin Sheridan and Alison Spittle about how we’ve turned into a zombie generation constantly looking at our smart phones and social media. I met Kevin here and we went wandering through the Walled Garden to Natasha’s and eventually to the Wonderlust Stage where there was another talk going on, an interview with Louise O’Neill which we didn’t stay too long at as time was pressing for me by then. On my way back to the crew camp we stopped briefly at the Arbutus Yarns area, there was an open mic session going on and we caught an impromptu performance by I think a man called Gerry Grainey who gave some lovely folk ballads to a nice applause. I headed off to get a shower at 4 and refresh myself for the upcoming shift, but alas there was a water shortage and only two shower cubicles going with a very large queue of crew waiting, so made do with a wet wipe wash instead and a fresh tee shirt.
At 6 PM I was stationed with another girl on the narrow road strip that leads to the top of the Walled Garden and the Midnight and Main arenas coming directly from the farmhouse and boneyard. It was busy enough to keep us going with an abundance of music floating from various stages, I thought I could hear the Abandoman set from the Bulmers Stage amongst other things, but the two way radio stop and go was easy enough work and lively enough.
Finally back to HQ to sign out for the night meeting Kevin on the way, we headed to the crew area where I stocked up on booze and necessary shenanigans and eventually made it to Jon Hopkins main stage set.
Jon Hopkins – Main Stage 00.45 – 1.45 AM.
This is my fourth time seeing this amazing artist and he just keeps getting better and better, cinema widescreen soundscape ambient techno with a beautiful scrunch and glitches, Singularity is an amazing album and he played a lot of it on this set. Gorgeous tunes such as Neon Pattern Drum and Everything Connected bringing me into another sphere, the backdrop visuals were stunning and his dancers with the lighting sticks were absolutely brilliant in their choreography of light. Although I find the track Emerald Rush to be a bit mixed up. it doesn’t seem to know what exactly it is but the audience seemed to love it.
The old Immunity classics, the thundering motorised melody of Open Eye Signal with new graphics added of skateboard guy sends a pounding through the ground, you could actually feel the whole place vibrate from all the dancing going on. And then on to my favourite, of panted breath, Collider which seems to have a reworking, the bpm speed has been increased slightly and Hopkins has crafted it to end in the mouth sound you hear uttered at the starting of the studio version, very subtle stuff utterly amazing.
He plays another from Singularity, the amazing Luminous Beings, one of the constants being played on my ipod recently, this track has such a lovely luscious bass line, its so, so good.
For closing this set he played Lorde featuring Disclosure – Magnets and an extra encore of Two Dancers – Wild Beasts – Jon Hopkins Remix which he doesn’t seemed to have done on previous setlists this year, so this makes this a very special Body & Soul set and what a dissbuster to go out on, a magnificent set.
And here I have to commend Kevin, he made the inspired choice, maybe we should go to the Living Lab Tent at the main campsite as there might be reggae, at first I thought it would be too messy with loads of pissed folks but that was quickly diminished when I realised Cian Finn was doing a DJ set of some really cool reggae which was a joy to hear and which I missed last year apart from the Songhoy Blues replacement of The Beat and Will Softly at Natasha’s. The Living Lab Tent had the same kind of vibe as the Riddim Shack at Townlands Carnival in Macroom Cork. Mikey Joyride Soro from Worries Outernational took over and kept the reggae vibes going strong for the night and a great closer for our nights entertainment. I was talking to Mikey afterwards and he said that this stage has a potential for next years edition, so hopefully maybe a new Port Royal area.
Sunday 24th June.
Woke up and headed to the HQ after a wet wipe wash and had a few cups of coffee, today I was doing the 10 AM to 4 PM shift and working at Castle Camping, this is the area where the production crew stay for the duration of the festival, its a lovely part of the site, you have the Ballinlough Castle, the lake and the camping/campervan area. My job to guard entrances into the area and make sure no scruff got in. Half way through the shift I could feel my scalp practically melting it was that hot. I had my ipod and boogie box playing sounds, which some appreciated and some didn’t, well, the late risers anyway. One of the lads with a cool old school Volkswagen Camper in purple and white came through with a chilled can of coke for me and a camping chair, to which I replied ‘Your are a god amongst men.’ This is where I got the picture of the buggy adorned with flowers, I thought it was a lovely touch. I was working at the point where artists playing the festival were accredited there, so these buggies would be sent there to pick up the artist if they were walking on foot or the buggies would lead the artists vehicle to the designated stage area.
The shift went in fairly quickly and I received a text from Dagmara Zolty, the girl I have been doing work experience with recently saying that Jimmy Penguin and Mati of Community Skratch Music who host scratching workshops at 1984 Miracles in Galway were playing a set in the Garden Stage of the Walled Garden from 5 PM onwards. But as a matter of urgency first I wanted to get that all important shower, of which was ice cold, perfect.
Community Skratch Music – Garden Stage at Walled Garden 5 – 6.30 PM.
By the time I got up there the lads had finished their set, but they turned on the system for a while again and Jimmy done a solo set of scratching to some of his own music, it was faster than techno and was a good buzzing sound, Jimmy is brilliant on these decks as is Mati, I was so glad to capture a bit of their sound.
I went for a wander and decided to see what Natasha’s was like and to my delight I heard a lovely trad session. There was Eoghan O’Ceannabhain on concertina and sometimes banjo, Patrick Cummins on banjo and John Flynn on guitar, the lads normally play in groups around Dublin called OTWAK and Skipper’s Alley who I caught at one of the Electric Picnics at the Other Voices stage a few years back. Anyway this was a delightful session and a pleasure to play in. When I first heard the music I went up to the lads and asked how long they were playing for, Eoghan said about an hour so I said I would be back asap with my bodhran from the crew camp. In all my six years attending Body & Soul I have brought my bodhran to every edition of the festival and I think I had a tune with Gerry Harrington at the 2013 festival so was delighted to be able to do my part time profession and join my second session at the festival. Natasha gave us all gorgeous chocolate cakes afterwards which went down a treat.
Myself and Kevin went back to the crew camp to chill for a while, I also caught up with Maireroisin and said hello, she was chilling in her cool camper, the weather being incredible now for most of the festival, there was some serious sunburn cases.
We trekked into the main stage arena to check out a bit of WhoMadeWho’s set, WhoMadeWho are from Copenhagen in Denmark and could’ve possibly been one of Karin Dreijer’s choices when she chose some of the lineup, anyway they made a cool Kraftwerky style pop music and their energetic front man was leaping from speaker stacks, they had a sizeable audience gathered and I’m glad they got to play Ireland in the end, seeing their gig at Bare in the Woods was cancelled last year. Anyway they gave a suitable warm up for the Chronixx gig and hope to see them back in Ireland soon.
We basically hung about the main stage area and watched as some hardcore Chronixx rastafarian fans ran about the front of the stage waving a huge Jamaican flag about and beckoning the main stage audience to come forward for Chronixx.
Cian Finn and Will Softly opened a short set for Chronixx which went down a treat, Cian is a brilliant musician like his dad, Alec Finn, possibly one of the best if not the best traditional Irish bouzouki accompanists in Irish music today. Cian does the same thing for the Irish reggae music and is a brilliant singer, toaster and fine selector of the tunes.
Chronixx – Main Stage 10.45 – 11.45 PM.
I was blown away by Chronixx’s set, Chronixx is a damn fine singer with bags of energy and a very tight backing band. I didn’t know too much about him apart from the fact that Kevin would play a few of his tracks on his phone which seemed pretty good. Its nice to see some young blood come out of Jamaica, along with Cian, Chronixx and the likes of Protoje, as the truth being told, most of the reggae artists I would be into would be in their sixties, seventies and eighties. But what can I say, Chronixx delivered an impeccable set and in the perfect night weather you could ever wish for. Now you hurry back again to Ireland, Chronixx, would like to see another few gigs by your good self. A perfect close for the main stage proceedings.
We sat about for about half an hour in front of the main stage as the arena cleared, was glad to meet Craig Peggs and Robert Nesbitt where we had a great chat, security eventually came up and cleared us away, so myself, Robert, Kevin and Craig headed for the woods.
Bon Voyage – Woodlands Stage 12.30 – 2.00 AM.
This is the moment where I followed the music with my heart, the sound emitting from the Woodlands stage was incredible, classic 1990s rave, sometimes with the Madchester sound and other stuff like SNAP, there was a man toasting or rapping along with the sound and I knew this would be my final blowout for the night. The rapper from Brooklyn, Shamon Cassette was brilliant and kept us sweaty masses pumping with his brilliant DJs, two young DJs from Finglas in Dublin, The Supreme and Gucci Cortez who specialises in 1990s hip hop and house music. An amazing end to an amazing festival for me.
Well decided to go back to Kevin’s tent in the main campsite but it was just too warm in there plus the tent next to us was having a screaming contest, reminiscent to that Father Ted episode where they are trapped in the caves and Graham Norton’s character decides who can scream the loudest, this went on for about an hour and a half till I said I had enough. I got out of the tent and made for the peace and solitude of the crew camp.
Monday 25th June.
After finally getting my phone charged and asking around the crew camp for possible lifts to Galway, Kevin got in touch to say he would give me a lift to Loughrea in County Galway and that I could get a connection there. I just had the daunting task of carrying my camping equipment and rucksuck through the arid heat to the yellow car park. Thankfully Benj who I met earlier at the festival gave me a much needed hand to the carpark area. I also bumped into Robert Murray who was also looking for a lift to Galway and Kevin obliged so he was sorted in the end.
Many thanks to all the people I met and looked after me including Kevin, Clare O’Connor, Rob, Ross , the beautiful blonde girl and the English girl from the volunteer HQ team, Maireroisin and many, many others.
And now some suggestions for Avril to book next year for Body&Soul, how about Natasha Khan’s Bat for Lashes (Perfect B&S fodder), AIR, Aphex Twin (Of course), Max Cooper (An up and coming Jon Hopkins type producer from Belfast), Hawkwind for all the old trippers out there, Robin Williamson (Storyteller, harper and one of the former leaders of the Incredible String Band), The Afro Celt Soundsystem and Edith Frost (Who I think is fantastic). But they are just mere suggestions really, I’m sure there is a heap more stocked in my brain somewhere. Anyway dudes Bon Voyage and I’ll see ya all at the next festival of the summer, here’s hoping the weather stays the same. Love Niall xxxxxxx
A look at the forthcoming Body&Soul Festival 2018 Edition.
‘I’m going up the country, baby don’t you want to go.’ These immortal lyrics from Canned Heat’s Going up the country sealed my interest in festivals when I heard it in the Woodstock film from 1969 and I’ve always had this fascination for festivals ever since. Going for the rock and metal at Castle Donnington’s Monsters of Rock in 1984 and in between, folk festivals in Ireland such as Ballisodare in County Sligo as well as numerous Willie Clancy Weeks at Miltown Malbay and possibly fifteen different All Ireland Fleadhs since 1991. I also made it to the Mean Fiddler’s Fleadh Mor in Tramore, Waterford in 1993 with a pretty eclectic lineup of traditional Irish music, folk rock fusion, reggae, soul and a bit of punk too. Van Morrison (twice actually over the weekend), Bob Dylan, The Chieftains, Ray Charles, Jimmy cliff. Christy Moore, Shane MacGowan and the Popes and Moving Hearts among others.
Also the very first T in the Park in 1994 when it was at Strathclyde Park in Scotland. Although I missed all of the Feile’s in Tipp, Witnness’s, I made up for that again by catching all the Electric Picnic’s from 2005 onward, bar 2006, a few Life festivals thrown in there. Oxegen 2010 on a day trip for Sunday especially to catch Faithless and the amazing RockNess festival in Scotland 2010 and Sea Sessions 2010 in Bundoran, County Donegal. Bump Musick (2011) Festival in Limerick/Clare, Liss Ard Festival in 2012 at Skibbereen, Cork, Beatyard last year with the amazing Toots and the Maytals and AIR. Sundown Gathering 2012, Townlands Carnival 2016, Scrobarnach Festival 2016 and by next weekend my sixth Body&Soul festival, phew!
Now this was supposed to be a round up of some of the festivals I will be attending but got carried away a wee bit by recounting my festival going history. Now that Life, Vantastival and Forbidden Fruit has passed, we are drawing near to the summer solstice and the Body & Soul weekend. I’m not doing the advance this year as I am on a ETB course and would be docked the full payment if I took the week off to work the festival so I’m working as a weekend steward for the first time since 2012.
So Body & Soul will be my first festival of the summer, was hoping to get some paid work this year but it seemingly fell through, anyway here are my picks for Body & Soul.
Fever Ray who was the first announcement blew me away, having saw Fever Ray on the last tour in 2010 at Electric Picnic, it was an astounding show, dark and creepy but visually stunning. Then I had the pleasure to see Karin with her brother Olof and their Knife collective perform Shaking the Habitual at Electric Picnic 2013, another pretty crazy show. And since hearing Plunge back in October last year, I couldn’t wait to see them again. Karin is actually going to be curating the main stage lineup on the Friday night so it will be magic.
Fever Ray 2010 performing Coconut.
Fever Ray – Paris 19th March 2018 – Full Set.
Olof Dreijer is set to go on after the Fever Ray set of his sister, he will close the main stage on Friday night, so it will be interesting what he will come up with. I would like to think he might do Silent Shout with Karin joining him on lead vocals.
Other acts playing the main stage on Friday will be Fatima Al Qadri and Faka.
Other acts to look out for on Friday include AV AV AV, Bearcubs and the excellent Panthu Du Prince who closes the Midnight Circus tent on Friday among others.
Acts playing the Woodlands stage on Friday include Fontaines DC, Search Party Animal, Lyra, Mango X Mathman and a joint closer with Laoise and the mighty SHIPS.
Of course there is an abundance of stages at Body&Soul so it would be impossible to list every single act and talk about them as I would never get this piece finished. Don’t forget to check out the Absolut Bar, the Comedy Tent, Vevue Clicquot Salon, Food on Board, Pagoda Stage, Arbutus Yarns and many other ones on Friday night.
Another artist who will be headlining the Body & Soul main stage for the first time but this will be his third outing to the festival is Jon Hopkins. I’m loving his new album Singularity which sits very nicely with his 2013 opus Immunity and have been following his tour that started in May via Youtube and Setlist.com. He is only featuring two tracks from Immunity on this set, Open Eye Signal and Collider, I’m delighted he has included this again, Collider is one of these tracks that is so sublime it brings me into an astral plain.
Other acts playing the main stage on Saturday include Baxter Dury, Arca, Shamir. the sublime Saint Sister who are worth checking out, otherworldly ambient folk and harp inspired pop and O Emperor amongst others.
In the Midnight Circus we have Little Vargen, Smerz, the brilliant R.S.A.G drumming his most excellent show and he is climbing up to later slots so that’s a good thing and Tank and the Bangas closing.
For the Woodlands stage we have Dowry, Slow Place Like Home who are worth checking out, strange electronic pop, Hvmmingbyrd and Paddy Hanna among others.
At the Absolut Bar we have Jack Thompson opening the proceedings, Donal Dineen doing a nice early afternoon set between 2 and 3 PM, Deadbots, Ashley Beedle, Glen Brady and Fish Go Deep closing out the Absolut Bar among loads of other acts.
It is worth your while to catch the amazing storyteller Eddie Lenihan at 2.15 to 3 PM in the Bulmers Stage among the numerous other acts appearing.
At the Vodafone Comedy tent we have Jarlath Regan, Aoife Dooley, Alison Spittle, Fred Cooke and the brilliant Abandoman closing (7 – 7.40 PM) among other comedians. Abandoman specialises in creating his own raps and he uses on the spur suggestions from the audience to create a pretty entertaining show.
Some people recommend I should catch Chronnix (closing the main stage) and I really want to see James Holden and the Animal Spirits (closing the Midnight Circus stage), so I might go and see a bit of each and get the best of both worlds.
On the main stage check out the set from the brilliant DJ/trad musician Daithi who kicks off at 2 – 2 .45 PM for some electronica madness. I’ve heard good reports about Soule and the following act Lankum, that they are worth checking out. Susanne Sundfor hits the stage at 6 – 7 PM and she is one of the recommendations from Karin Dreijer, so I might check her out too. Iron and Wine has also been recommended to me and WhoMadeWho needs no introduction and then of course the main stage closer, reggae artist Chronixx.
For the Midnight Circus I have been told not to miss the act Shame (6.15 – 7.15 PM) who have been wowing audiences at the festivals this summer around Europe, so might check them out. Followed by the Stoogesque Bitch Falcon, a blitzkrieg of molten riffs, thundering bass lines and the fine rock n roll vocals of Lizzie Fitzpatrick. Reykjavíkurdætur, an all female group from Iceland follows who are another choice of Karin Dreijer’s and James Holden closing the proceedings.
The Pagoda stage will host some DJs and acts over the weekend too, on Sunday’s schedule Mark Graham, singer/musician from the Waterford band King Kong Company will be doing a DJ set (10 – 10.45 PM), Aine Duffy follows and Justyna Koss giving an appropriate thumping techno close to proceedings on that stage.
At the Absolut Bar Justyna also opens the proceedings for Sunday here at noon, other DJs taking part are Johnny Moy, Get Down Edits, Disconauts, the brilliant Kelly Anne Byrne and Ruth Kavanagh and Hi Fi Sean closing.
Of course cannot forget to mention the amazing Tommy Tiernan who will be headlining the Vodafone Comedy stage alongside a whole host of comedians such as Joanne McNally and Paul Currie among others.
The Reckless in Love stage will be pumping the full weekend as well, a special mention to Neil Flynn playing on the Friday at 12.30 – 2 AM who plays some amazing techno. Kelly Anne Byrne and SHIPS (odd choice for a dance stage) closing with the excellent Mother DJs on Saturday. And Mano Le Tough closing out proceedings for the Sunday night at the stage.
Also a special mention to the Community Skratch Crew who are going to be doing scratching workshops on wheel so to speak, they will be moving about hosting community scratch workshops on a wheeled contraption with sound system en tow. They normally work among 1984 Miracles, a boutique streetwear shop I have been doing work experience with as a digital marketeer student. they have a beautiful idea of a marriage between fashion and music, normally the downtempo scratch hip hop variety with DJs such as Mati and Jimmy ‘The Hideous’ Penguin. So look out for these guys.
I initially intended this piece to be about a bunch of festivals, seeing that I’m doing All Together Now in Portlaw, County Waterford in early August and the advance week of Electric Picnic festival at the end of August. What will be better is a preview piece for All Together Now in late July and a preview piece for the Picnic in late August. In the meantime I hope to see some of you at Body&Soul next week, bring it on.
1984 Miracles is a fashion boutique run by Polish couple, Dagmara Zolty and Mati in Galway city, they bring some unique brands of street wear fashion and sounds to the bustling city. The shop launched in 14th April last year is very unique in that it doesn’t just sell exclusive fashionable clothes but also has a music element to it that makes it stand out from other shops in the city.
Dagmara had the idea of making an outlet for some original Polish street wear fashion, her shop comprises of the exclusive Polish female sportswear and fashion label Femi Stories, Hip Hop designer label Elade, the men’s fashion brand Long John that specialises in accessories unisex beanie hats and Streetwear SF.com street wear fashion from Clonakilty, County Cork and I’m glad to say that Streetwear SF is very similar to 1984 Miracles in that it features a combination of fashion and community scratch sessions too.
As well as having these exclusive brands of clothing, 1984 Miracles brings something unique with their involvement with Cut & Paste Records and the hosting of the Community Scratch music sessions in the shop normally every last Saturday of the month. The Community Scratch sessions are run by Mati who is also a DJ and Jimmy Penguin, who is also known under his alias Jimmy ‘The Hideous’ Penguin.
The music featured is of a sort of hip hop downbeat nature similar to sounds like DJ Shadow, the trip hop textures of Massive Attack, Portishead and Leftfield and the added feature of turntablism, freestyle scratching with vinyl records, so its always worth a visit to check out. Shop for cool clothes while funking to the downbeat groove of hip hop music.
The next community scratch session will take place in the shop on Saturday 27th January between 4 and 6 PM and is called Community Scratch Sessions 9. This will be followed by a bigger event taking place at the Bierhaus pub in Dominic Street, Galway on Saturday, Sunday 31st March and 1st April called the Community Scratch Games and there will be a pop up 1984 Miracles shop there too.
So if you get a chance, call into the shop and check out the clothes or the scratch sessions and Dagmara always has a friendly welcome for you.
You can contact Dagmara through her website here and the 1984 Miracles Facebook page here.
Digital release 27th October, physical release 23rd February 2018: Rabid – Mute Records.
1.Wanna Sip 2. Mustn’t Hurry 3. A Part of Us 4. Falling 5. IDK About You 6. This Country 7.Plunge 8. To the Moon and Back 9. Red Trails 10. An Itch 11. Mama’s Hand
I am delighted that Fever Ray has come back, there was wee hints of activity around April in the Knife’s Facebook page and finally a video promo last month, followed by the single To the Moon and Back with an accompanying video and finally the digital release of the new album Plunge on 27th October with a physical release promised for 23rd February next year.
Its been four years since the Knife’s Shaking the Habitual and tour, where Karin Dreijer and her brother Olof toured the Irish shores at Electric Picnic, so a welcome return of Karin’s ice cool electronica sound. A departure from the pitch shifted growly vocals of Fever Ray’s debut album from 2009, but Plunge does have some new vocal experiments that adds to the Fever Ray legend.
1.Wanna Sip: A quirky upbeat techno style number not too dissimilar to the Knife’s Heartbeats from their second album Deep Cuts (2003). Some nice dark synths and quite a ravey number, some of the sounds seemingly influenced by American EDM music but used in an interesting way.
2.Mustn’t Hurry: This is more akin to the 2009 darker ambient style of Dry and Dusty or If I had a Heart, it also has these melodic sounding Jamaican steel drums sounds reminiscent to the ones played by Olof Dreijer in Shaking the Habitual and Silent Shout. Karin stressing that ‘Change is coming soon‘ in the lyrics, a slow dark ambient burner with lovely synth overtones. Karin has a distinct original vocal much like the way Bjork has her own distinct identity.
3. A Part of Us: The intro to this one reminds me of Aphex Twin, also because it has a steady hi hat sound, one of his signature motifs. This track is interesting quirky pop with a few variations in Karin’s vocal style, there is some nice beats and uses of glitch in this track too.
4. Falling: This starts with a nice atmospheric electronic build up, a kinda musique concrete, if you like, harking back to the debut album and picking up to a more uptempo speed. Definitely influenced by the techno side of the Knife.
5. IDK About You: A good lively number with interesting break beats and what sounds like an all out jam going on, it sounds like a track from Shaking the Habitual which can’t be bad either. Karin does have the knack for writing really catchy quirky pop numbers.
6. This Country: Harking back to the 2013 Knife tour this track would be influenced by this period, the context being about the sociopolitical and sexual politics of Sweden, or at least that is what I think Karin is singing about here. There is some nice electronic sounds in this track, cool audio squelch’s reminiscent to the sounds you hear on Portishead’s Machine Gun track from Third.
7. Plunge: This track is an instrumental which uses some of that Jamaican steel drum sound heard on various Knife albums, the track building up over the first two and a half minutes with some nice off key bleeps and lovely bassy synths.
8. To the Moon and Back: This one is the new single which has an upbeat sound, great techno style pop with some nice interesting rhythm flourishes that bridge the spaces in the track. As a choice for the new single I can see this one getting banned from radio airplay simply because of the graphic nature of the sexual lyrics and especially with the accompanying video which is definitely not safe for work. But then Fever Ray was always controversial along with the Knife, so perhaps this was released exactly to create some notoriety. Often banned singles will generate more sales because of the interest created from it being banned in first place.
Fever Ray – To the Moon and Back (Video NSFW)
9. Red Trails: This one is my favourites on the album, gorgeous lush dark ambient Fever Ray, like the 2009 album this track would sit nicely among numbers such as Concrete Walls, Coconut and When I Grow Up. When I Grow Up featured a synth flute or whistle sample so Red Trails features a violin played by Sara Parkman and probably one of the finest violin accompaniments I’ve ever heard in a rock music context since Simon House’s violin playing on the 1977 Hawkwind track Hassan I Sabbah. A beautiful slow builder of a track that will keep Karin Dreijer fans drooling for more and how could you knock a track that has the opening line. ‘Blood was our favourite paint. you were my favourite pain.’
10. An Itch: An upbeat, bouncy number with a dubstep feel similar to that of One Hit from the Knife’s Silent Shout.
11. Mama’s Hand: This kicks off with what sounds like the pingy keys you hear in Pink Floyd’s Echoes but builds into a nice downbeat ambient number with cool break beats and lovely ploppy bubbly bass lines which wouldn’t sound out of place either on the Fever Ray debut album.
A nice interesting comeback for Karin Dreijer and her assembled musicians and collaborators, I look forward to seeing the shows that will promote this album, be it a standalone show in Dublin or one of the many stages at Electric Picnic. Having caught Fever Ray in 2010 and the Knife in 2013 at Electric Picnic they are a visual feast worth going to see.