Body&Soul 2018 Festival Review.

Ballinlough Castle, Clonmellon, County Westmeath, Ireland June 22nd – 24th.

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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.

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The floodlit woods at night.
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A beautiful decoration across the front of the Woodlands Stage.
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Floodlit Woods.

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.

I 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.

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Visuals on the Reckless in Love Backdrop.
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Neil Flynn at the Reckless in Love Stage on Friday night.

 

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.

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Home Fries: Delicious potato snacks.

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.

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Delete Your Account with Patrick Freyne, Gavin Sheridan and Alison Spittle among others.
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Louise O’Neill at the Wonderlust Tent.

 

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.

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Buggies which brought the artists to the stages.
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Ballinlough Castle.

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.

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Mati and Jimmy Penguin of Community Skratch Music at the Garden Stage.

 

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Gymnastics in the Walled Garden.

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.

https://nialler9.com/nialler9-mix-series-bon-voyage-have-a-nice-trip-mixtape/

Samsung Stage.

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Samsung Stage.
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Samsung Stage.

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

 

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Going Up The Country

A look at the forthcoming Body&Soul Festival 2018 Edition.

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Body & Soul Festival 2017.

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.

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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.

Friday.

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.

Saturday.

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.

Sunday.

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.

 

If its Fashion and Music You Want, Its 1984 Miracles.

 

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1984 Miracles Shop, 5 St Augustine St, Galway.

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.

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Lodo Star Sweatshirt/Hoodie modeled by  Dagmara.
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Sweatshirt Cactus Tomato available at 1984 Miracles.
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Long sleeve Icon Camo Black Shirt.
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5 Panel Cap Maroon by Elade (Hip Hop Fashions)
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Beanie Tabula Rasa Tan Green  by Long John.

 

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.

 

Fever Ray – Plunge (2017) – CD Review

Fever Ray - Plunge (2017)

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 UpWhen 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.

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Fever Ray Live at Electric Picnic 2010.

 

 

Fuinneamh 2017 Festival Review

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Oldcastle, Loughcrew, Co Meath

Friday 15th September.

This was my first time trying Fuinneamh festival, myself and Kevin set out from Galway about 5 pm in the camper, Kevin had be doing a fine job with the GPS guiding him all the way up to Mullingar, a pit stop at Mullingar for some supplies and off out of Mullingar. For some reason the GPS stopped working causing us to take the wrong road out of Mullingar and it took ages to find the other side of the road to get back on the right track.  My GPS didn’t work at all, but eventually Kevin worked out that the direction we needed to go was toward Castlepollard.  We eventually arrived onto the site about 9.30, the pulsing beat in the background somewhere while myself and Kevin sorted out our wristbands.

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Wristbands please.

I can remember the Fuinneamh massive drum way back in 2012 at both the Life festival and Body & Soul festival, they always had a great crowd making a beautiful tribal racket, having not made it to the Elysian Circus nor Lunasa festival last year, I was glad to make it to this one.  In a recent interview with Icon Underground magazine, Luke Reddy, one of the four directors behind Fuinneamh Productions said that his interest in outdoor events stemmed back to 2010 with forest parties called Keep Her Lit in Wicklow and the Fusion festival in Germany which he attends every year.  This years festival had a capacity for 3,000 people and seemed to be doing very well on Friday night, with fair crowds at all the stages.  Like Townlands Carnival and Scrobarnach, Fuinneamh had quite a diverse range of electronica, hip hop, reggae, jungle and dance music over its nine stages, some adorned with stunning visual art like the Ogham Alignment stage, the Wagwan stage and the Cosmai Ceol stage.  There was also the excitement of having the festival in such a spiritual ancient area with the ancient court cairns overlooking the festival from the top.

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The Fuinneamh 2017 map.

I thought the festival was very well organised for a small event, right down to the food catering entrance into the festival site and pulsating techno providing the soundtrack, my first mistake being forgetting how to say Fuinneamh, as you will hear in the video clip.  Fuinneamh means literally energy and vigour, which could describe the power of the music on offer, energy also meaning the leyline energy connecting the ancient court cairns to the area the event was taking place in.   One small criticism would be lack of signage for the camper van area, it took us a wee while and with the help of a friendly steward to find the area.

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Catering entrance into the main arena.
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The dining bus.

By the time we got into the main arena it must have been about 10.30 – 11 PM, so a considerable bit of Friday missed so far, but not too worry there was still loads of time to soak in the atmosphere.

Kalizer  10  –  11 PM.   Digital Specie  11 Pm  –  12 AM.  Cosmai Ceol Stage.

I’m not sure who is playing this stage, either Kalizer or Digital Specie, I was well impressed with the effort that went into this stage, which was the shape of a head containing the DJ booth and gorgeous psychedelic colours and patterns projected all over it.  To the side of the stage were other beautiful pulsating visual projections on lovely backdrops and a cool Ultraviolet glow from the surrounding lights on the audience and area around.  The music a constant galloping beat of snares, squelchs and monologue ambience and tones that matched the visual splendour.

I met Salim (Mr Upfull) and Aminah who had just finished a gig at 10 Pm at the Wagwan stage so it seems I just missed them as I arrived after that, but they are good friends and festival veterans that I have met at numerous festivals over the years, it was delightful to see them again.

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The Cosmai Ceol area on Friday night.
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Cosmai Ceol Stage.

Wagwan Stage  – Rub A Dub Hi Fi, Ras Tinny, Cian Finn  11 PM  –   2 AM.

Various trips were made back to this stage to hear the Dublin lads, Rub A Dub Hi Fi Soundsystem with Executive Steve, Ras Tinny joining them at midnight and Cian Finn joining them at 1 AM.  The music, a pounding roots reggae with liberal doses of lovely Jungle and DnB in a very impressive sound system that crew were handing out ear buds for.  I like a good bit of torture from a thumping bass so no ear buds for me.

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Rub A Dub Hi Fi with Ras Tinny, Cian Finn and Executive Steve  Wagwan Stage.
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Rub A Dub Hi Fi Soundsystem.

Tinfoil (Sunil Sharpe & DeFeKT)  – The Ogham Alignment Stage 12  –  1 AM.

This was some of the most intensest techno I ever heard, I regretted not seeing Sunil at the Rave in the Woods at Electric Picnic on the Saturday there but the weather was abysmal, so this more than made up for it.  Tinfoil are Sunil Sharpe and Galway techno producer DeFeKT, they are a force to be reckoned with and I hope they do Life, Body&Soul festival and Electric Picnic in 2018 as well as making a return to Fuinneamh, even do a few shows in Galway would be fine by me.  I had the camera zoomed in too close, I should have stood at the end lighted stones and filmed from there, nothing wrong with the crunchy techno though and a fine pumping crowd gathered.  Earlier in the set I went up on the hillside and took a video on the phone from there which I got a good bit of the stage on film, but I do wish I had a wide angle lens that could take it in all at once.

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The Ogham Alignment Stage.
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The Ogham Alignment Stage.

The temperature got a lot cooler and the techno stage was a bit too out in the open now, so we retreated back to the Wagwan area to soak up some more jungle and roots reggae plus there was a bit of shelter and warmth at that stage with a nicely gathered crowd.  I vowed to explore more of the arena tomorrow and take some nice daylight shots of the main arena.  Back to Kevin’s camper for a few cans and a smoke, he had a heater in the van which was very nice.  We hit the hay about 4.30 AM, a night well spent soaking up one part of the arena, time to get shut eye and prepare for a full day two.

Saturday 16th September.

Saturday was a late enough start at 11.30 AM but it was pouring outside anyway, this went on for a good four hours of relentless rain after such a nice Friday, one of Kevin’s mates from Limerick was playing a set at the Cosmai Ceol stage, Digital Aum.  So we ventured out when the rain lightened a bit around that time giving me a chance to take a daylight shot of the Cosmai Ceol stage and the set by psytrance artist Psyom, a nice chillier psytrance vibe, more ambient than the usual mangled affair.

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The Cosmai Ceol Stage on Saturday afternoon.
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The Cosmai Ceol head and DJ booth.
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Psyom at Cosmai Ceol.

Kevin wanted to hear some dub roots reggae so we headed to the Wigwan stage to shelter a bit from the heavy drizzle that seemed to be picking up again, this gave me a chance to take some clear daylight shots of the reggae stage as the ones I took last night were a little dark.

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Some of the stage art at the Wagwan Stage. DJ: Saoirse Sounds.
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Stage art at the Wigwan Stage.
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The Rub A Dub Hi Fi speaker system.
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Art at the Wigwan Area.
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Art at the Wagwan Area.

With the onset of heavy rain again we made tracks back to the camper, stopping anymore exploration of the site until it finally subsided about 7.30 – 8 PM.

Boots & Kats   Keep Her Lit Tent    8.30  –  10 PM.

Boots & Kats play good thumping squelchy acid techno in the vein of Aphex Twin and Luke Vibert, the Dublin DJs have a solid following in their hometown from playing well known dance clubs such as the Opium Rooms and Toast as well as the Carbon nightclub in Galway.  They have also headlined stages at Life festival and Electric Picnic among others.  Judging by the crowd gathered in the tent tonight the popularity has not diminished and continues to grow.

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Boots & Kats  Keep Her Lit Tent  Saturday 16th September.

It was around this time I finally got the camera out in the main arena and took a video of the area, trying to catch the last remaining daylight which was diminishing fast and trying to check out as many stages as possible.

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The Main Arena with the Keep Her Lit Stage.
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The Main Stage (Hill of Danu) from a distance.  Luke had the idea that it would resemble a passage tomb entrance at the bottom of the hill.
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Another shot of the packed Keep Her Lit Tent.
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The Ogham Alignment stage in the background through the sides of the Keep Her Lit Tent.

I checked out some of the bubble tents, first one was the Discoim tent which at the time I thought said Discuit or so I say on the video anyway, the clip walks into the tent, does a loop, looks at the dancers and DJs and goes out of the tent.  The music a funky happy house sound that verged on acid jazz, there was a few in there lost in the intoxicating beat.  I have no idea of the DJs as there was no timetable for this tent.

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Revellers grooving away to the funky happy house acid jazz of the Discoim Tent.
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the DJs making the sonic sound of the Discoim Tent.

 

I made a beeline for the other bubble tent known as the BDTU tent standing for the Back Door to the Universe tent.  The music here was a bit more difficult to define but it was a very progressive rocky house and techno sound, so absolutely banging music.  I don’t think there was actually a stage at this festival that had me running away in horror, all the music was absolutely amazing.  Again no identity for the DJs involved as no timetable for this venue either.

Deliverance  –  Main Stage (Hill of Danu)   8.00   –   8.30 PM.

Caught a bit of the main stage act Deliverance from Rush, County Dublin who happen to come from the same place Brian Kelly comes from the singer from my own group The Living Stream.  Deliverance put on a deadly performance of hip hop, rap and good old rock n roll and had some pretty decent songs such as Love for Mary Jane, an ode to the waccy baccy.  They had a small tidy audience but one that appreciated their festival vibe and Babz Allen has a serious larynx that oozes that Maggie Bell/Mary Coughlan influence.  I thought the act was originally PrYmary Colours, but they contacted me to say they played on Friday instead.  When I looked at the timetable I realised Deliverance were slotted later than 6.30 PM.  Check them out a good fun act to see.

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Deliverance  – Main Stage (Hill of Danu)  Saturday September 16th.

Gnosis  –  Anam Cara Tent    7.00   –   9.00 PM.

Gnosis from Dublin are a pair of DJs who make absolutely banging techno, there is no other word for it, but they smashed it tonight with a fairly packed tent.  The timetable says that they were playing the Anam Cara tent but a few swear it was the Keep Her Lit tent, but there is no barrier thingy above the DJs heads like the tent Boots & Kats played in.  Another dilemma is I can’t remember if it was Boots & Kats or Gnosis who dropped the amazing The Drums DMS 12 remix track, but that was one of the highlights for me and Kevin for the weekend.

 

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Gnosis at the Anam Cara Tent   Saturday September 16th.
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Gnosis at the Anam Cara Tent   Saturday September 16th.

 

Sarah Lennox   –  Keep Her Lit Tent    10.00   –  11.00 PM.

Sarah Lennox played a whopper techno set at the Keep Her Lit tent that was packed to the brim and you could tell she was really enjoying the gig, she is up there with one of my favourites from last years Scrobarnach festival, Maedbh O’Connor who was playing the Ogham Alignment stage earlier in the afternoon.    Sarah has played loads of festivals including Life, Lunasa, Ministry of Sound and had some amazing spots in Ibiza. She really knows how to work the crowd and she oozed the confidence on the stage tonight, long may she continue.

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Sarah Lennox at the Keep Her Lit Tent  Saturday September 16th.

I think we ventured back to the camper for a bit of a rest up, soft seats, a replenishment of cans and a good smoke, that was a bit of walking about and investigating the stages. King Kong Company was making a glorious racket at the main stage but since I’ve covered King Kong Company umpteenth times including the last Electric Picnic review, I think enough has been said there but they had a nice wee crowd gathered.  We ventured back into the arena one last time about 1.30 AM and made for the Ogham Alignment area bringing us into the early hours of Sunday 17th September.

Sean Markey  – Ogham Alignment Stage   1.30 AM   –  Close.

Sean Markey was just starting off his set with a few mingling about the area, he was playing a thumping techno set, maybe not as spacey as Tinfoil the previous night but still bloody good, myself and Kevin hung around for half an hour soaking up the sounds but it was starting to get Baltic cold no matter how good the music sounded, so no offense to Sean intended, we drifted off to the Wagwan tent as it was a bit warmer there.

The last half an hour was spent at the Wagwan tent chilling to the jungle and DnB roots sounds of the Rub A Dub Hi Fi Soundsystem and talking to randomers at the stage from the North of Ireland.  It was here I had an epic fall in the mud when trying to scrabble for a seat at the side of the stage.  It was back to the camper for a few tins and the luxury of the heater.  A fantastic little festival to end the summer of festivals, I honestly didn’t think I would have had the energy left after Electric Picnic but there ya go.

Sunday 17th September.

God bless Kevin, he fed and watered me through the weekend and I was delighted to wash some dishes in the morning and to fill the water bottle at the campsite two minutes from the camper van area so that we could have a coffee and some bacon sandwiches, absolute bliss.  In a way the festival wasn’t over yet as Kevin had a plan, that we climb some hills and to go and see the amazing court cairns of Loughcrew.

On the way to Cairn T I thought I was going to die halfway up the hill, I’ll tell you something, its a good way to get rid of toxins and your hangover when you climb a bloody big hill.

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Kevin took a photo of me struggling to get up the hill or is that down the hill

There was a great feeling when you did reach the top though and looked at the awesomeness of the cairn.

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Cairn T.
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Cairn T.
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Kevin at the entrance to Cairn T.
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Inside Cairn T.

Whilst up there we could spot the odd festival goer amongst the tourists, because they had big grins and were sporting either green or pink wristbands, we gave them a knowing smile.  When we came back down we opted for a coffee at the Loughcrew Megalithic Centre and Cafe.

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The Loughcrew Megalithic Centre.
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The Cafe.
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Kevin enjoying a coffee.
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Myself enjoying a coffee.
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Sign for Cairn T.
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Sign for Cairn L.

Now one of the workers at the cafe told us the Cairn L was on private property, but we weren’t going to let that put us off, therefore we had the whole hill to ourselves as there was no one else up there.  It was tough going, going up that second hill which I think was steeper than the first, but there was a few more tombs up there than just the cairn.

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Cairn L.
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The entrance to Cairn L.
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Inside Cairn L.
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Some of the other structures near Cairn L
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Other structures near Cairn L.
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A capstone at the entrance of a tomb.
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A court cairn near Cairn L.
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A Standing Stone near Cairn L.
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I think this is a Longbarrow.
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Info sign for the cairns.

Well Kevin was parked up in the free car park, so we decided to stay for the night as it would be a long and arduous journey to Galway after all that climbing, there was some food and tins of beer in the camper so Kevin continued to spoil me and we ended the night listening to some of the best radio DJs on Today FM, you know who they are without me saying anything.

Well that was an adventure my heartfelt thanks to Kevin Keehan for a wonderful weekend, my thanks to Luke Reddy for his generosity in providing me a free wristband to review the festival which I hope helps it in future runs in the coming years and to the festival stewards who helped us on Friday night and the kind lady at the box office who gave me my wristband and Kevin the camper pass.  Roll on Fuinneamh 2018, I hope to return next year as its a wonderful little festival.

 

 

Electric Picnic 2017 Festival Review

EP2017

The Prelude: Sunday 27th   –   Thursday 31st August. 

The wonderful Aibhe Jagodic gave me a lift on Sunday afternoon from Galway to Stradbally, the Electric Picnic and Body&Soul festival stalwart commutes regularly from the West to the South East for her work, but she entertained me with some lovely festival memories and she couldn’t go this year because of work commitments, which I think was tearing her up.  She is also a great friend of the lovely Juley-Ann Collins who gave me a lift to the Body&Soul festival in 2012 and would be working the festival from Wednesday onward.

At Stradbally John Dooley, Ann-Marie and JD Corcoran were already set up at the crew camp as well as some of the other regulars, Jenny and Aidan arriving from Cork not long after me.  John was back at the same spot and set up the cinema screen for tonight’s film, I’m delighted to say that he chose the DVD I brought down with me, a gift from my brother a few years back, Angel’s Share, a Scottish film about disadvantaged Glaswegian youths who through the help of a social services worker carve a new interest in collecting rare Scottish whisky and it becomes their salvation, the film also deals with how to deal with anger management.  Crash from 2005 the following night, Paul Haggis’s masterpiece about race and ethnicity.  Wednesday nights film never materialised as there was too much copious amounts of craic to be had. But John entertained the arriving weekend volunteers with Trainspotting on the Thursday.

The work duties for the festival was fairly easy peasy,  I was working at the Production gate this year so my job was to direct arriving inductees to the staff car park and direct them to volunteers further down the field who would give them a health and safety induction and pre-event wristband so that they could progress further into the festival site.  The Grandstand was our shop of choice, the little green shop just beyond the Production entrance and across the road from Supervalu, it had the best breakfast rolls in the town, so scrumptious lunch or brunch breaks were to be had.  I was working with JD, who was great craic and appreciated my sounds I was playing on the beatbox and my blog reviews.

The tiny gate at the production entrance, I marvelled at the enormous articulated lorries that managed to squeeze through that tiny space, bringing rigging to the stages, bar set ups, circus and fun fair equipment, catering and some of the most creative caravans out there, destined for the Trailer Park area.

I got wristbanded on Wednesday night with my proper weekend cloth band, it was nice to have that out of the way as it can be hectic when queuing with the weekend volunteers on Thursday for the wristband, I also set about taking some pictures of the site build. Thursday seemed to be the quietest day as far as activities was concerned because all the trucks had already served the festival, the infrastructure was already in place.

John is like the Electric Picnic volunteer saviour, he made some lovely meals over the past week, kept us watered with fine beers, coffees and teas.  Was a recharge point for many people and to top it off, his infectious humour kept us on a buzzing vibe, oh!  And I forgot to mention his cool sound system playing the best funk on Spotify.

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Aidan and Jenny.
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A rainbow and rain showers over the crew Camp on Wednesday.
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One of the many roads that cut through the festival site.
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The Picnic still has to go up.
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The majestic 7,000 capacity Electric Arena Marquee.
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Electric Arena.
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The towering Electric Arena.
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The Casa Bacardi Stage.
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The Body&Soul Village ready to go on Thursday night.
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Installation at the Body&Soul Village.
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Body&Soul Village.
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Fairy forest in the Body&Soul Village.

Friday 1st September.

First priorities was to go to Stradbally from the crew camp and procure a breakfast roll and coffee from the Grandstand shop, this set me up for my first exploration in the main arena about two or three hours before official festival day opening times.  I headed up with Gearoid Isainmdom who came down with Kevin Keehan on Tuesday night, a good friend of mine and we wandered about the main arena bumping into other Galway friends Gavin Grennan and Caroline Crow, festival stalwarts of a multitude of festivals, some of which I was at.

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Gearoid, Caroline and Gavin.

We headed up to the Body&Soul Village where myself and Gearoid stopped at the Tiny Tea Tent, had a lovely cuppa and some chocolate flake and sponge cake, sitting relaxing and loving the sunny vibe of the place.  Then my Whatsapp buzzed, it was David Curran and he was wanting to buy a ticket, only I forgot, Kevin had given it to me the night before which I put in my jacket.  Of course, my bloody jacket was sitting in my tent at crew camp.  So it meant I had to trudge through the arriving festival crowd out of the arena back to crew camp, luckily David met me there and everything worked out grand.

We headed into the main arena again about 5.30 – 6 pm and headed to the Bacardi Bar to listen to some of the Get Down Edits set, a great funky tech house sound that had a busy enough crowd getting down.

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Get Down Edits – Casa Bacardi Friday 1st September.

I went to the merchandise stand as I wanted to buy the timetable and booklet, some of the times printed would turn out to be incorrect during the weekend and why no Rankin’s Wood info for Friday.  There was obviously stuff going on in the marquee so why was this omitted from the timetable people are paying money for.  Kevin wanted to see the Jenny Greene show so he relied on the festival app which always had the correct info.

The Divine Comedy   – Main Stage   7.30    –   8.30 PM.

I enjoyed a bit of the Divine Comedy’s set, the band were going through some sound problems when we arrived and Neil Hannon didn’t seem amused about it, but the rest of the set proved faultless.  They played some of the classics such as Indie Disco, National Express and some of the recent album Foreverland.  The band got a decent crowd and was a nice kick start for the main stage as the third opening act of the weekend.

The History of Hip Hop, Jenny Greene and the RTE Concert Orchestra – Rankin’s Wood –  9.00  –  9.40 PM.

Kevin wanted to see this, so I trooped along for the craic, another stage to go to I suppose. I wasn’t that much impressed with the hip hop selection although I wasn’t there for the whole set and we were listening from outside the tent, but there seemed to be some glaring absences in the history such as Grandmaster Flash, the Sugarhill Gang, A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def, NWA and Public Enemy.  If you are going to do a history of hip hop you have to go as far back as James Brown’s I’m Black and I’m Proud and Gil Scott Heron’s The Revolution Will Not be Televised to even understand social commentary and poetry and prose to the bass beat.

Jenny Greene’s set was very short at about forty minutes, it was bouncy enough dance classics and a great sound system but I wouldn’t say I was absolutely ecstatic about it but it was a lot of fun and it was the audience that made it a really good atmosphere.

The XX   – Main Stage    10.00 PM   –   12.00 AM.

The XX put on an amazing show, they are exceptional musicians who take their dark jangly indie rock into an electronica realm with Jamie XX coming over as a beats master, exemplary DJ and drummer too.  Lashings of tracks featured from their new album I See You including their single On Hold and some of the classics from their previous two albums such as Islands among others.  Tops to the main stage crew who had a fantastic sound coming from the PA and some of the visuals from the XX show were breathtaking, exotic lighting backdrops and pretty cool lasers made for a very enjoyable show.

We mainly wandered about Body&Soul after that soaking up the atmosphere, visiting the main stage numerous times, catching snippets of various acts like HMLTD, Lowly and New Jackson who provided some nice dance grooves to close the B&S main stage for Friday.  Wandered over to the Peace Pagoda and caught a bit of some set, the music, a long constant ambient drone that was so, painfully loud, had we stayed there we would have been deafened, so maybe ambient in a torturous kind of way.  There was some nice ambient techno emitting from the Earthship stage courtesy of Lumigraph and later on Neil Flynn.

The biggest surprise though was the Haunt, a new barn type venue that looked like a set from a David Lynch film.  Now the Haunt is quite a small venue maybe marginally bigger than the Red Bull Soundome, well maybe a crammed room if 150 people were there, but it had a creepy cool clandestine feel to it, almost like a candle light glow.  The softest seats to the side and a great selection of DJs spinning the wonderful music.  The music ranging from vaudeville, bebop, blues, folk music from around the world, deepest Africa, Cuba, Klezmer, Balkan, Mexican and Ireland too ending on a Christy Moore/Planxty note, it was really loud but beautiful sounds.   There was no timetable information for the Haunt so I have no idea who was playing Friday or Saturday night.  I just wonder if its the same people who ran the Gramophone Disco at Townlands Carnival as I remember a similar Planxty/Christy Moore thing happening in there too last year.  Myself and Kevin headed back to the crew camp for the night at about 3.30 am, time to get a much needed rest.

The Haunt
The Haunt, Body&Soul Village.   photograph by Siobhan Venables

Saturday 2nd September.

Woke up to the fine John Dooley who delivered a cup of coffee to my tent, what a legend you are and a nice bacon sandwich later in the camper.  I think myself, Kevin and Gearoid went into the main arena about 3 or 4 PM,  I called up to the volunteer HQ to say hello to Catherine Kehoe, our coordinator and Susan, her assistant who were doing a fine job looking after the volunteers, special mention to the weekend volunteers Kim Austin and Niamh Ryan for getting out there and organising a bus to bring 30 volunteers to the festival site from Dublin on the Thursday preceding the festival.  Kim was my next door neighbour in the campsite, in fact I was surrounded by people from County Wexford, thanks for putting up with my wild Aphex Twin audios on the beatbox.  When my Ipod seemed to go on permanent lock I hope my green speaker was of some use to you. 🙂

This year I avoided the usual haunts of Trenchtown, Hazelwood and Rave in the Woods and decided to try a few different areas, mainly Trailer Park that I’ve never really explored at the festival before.  There was some really gorgeous caravans and strange stalls and characters who populated the area.

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Trailer Park.
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Trailer Park.
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Panto in the Trailer Park.
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A turban making stall at Trailer Park.
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Caravanoke.
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Jaheire on the Trailer Park Stage Saturday 2nd September.

Jaheire  – Trailer Park Stage    4.05    –   5.00 PM.

Jaheire were covering all the famous Bob Marley and the Wailers hits as well as classics by Toots and the Maytals, The Specials and Madness.  They are a fairly tight band who had a nice audience gathered no doubt some destined to be at the Madness set later, but Jaheire has a fine singing voice and got us into good form for the upcoming shows.

Madness   –  Main Stage     5.30   –   6.30 PM.

It was just as well we were milling about for half an hour as Madness came on at 5.30 rather than the timetable advertised time of 5.45 PM, possibly pissing off people with the incorrect laminate times as they would automatically miss fifteen minutes of the gig. Anyway, the lads put in a classic performance of all their famous hits.  Kicking off with Embarrassment and then into their 1979 debut single The Prince, they still sound incredible and Suggs still looks great with his voice in fine fettle.  I was delighted that they played One Step Beyond as they didn’t play it at EP in 2009, the audience delightfully sang along to the melody.  Hit after hit reeled out Our House, Baggy Trousers, It Must Be Love and My Girl amongst others and a fine cover of Max Romeo’s Chase The Devil. The perfect band to enliven the audience at the main stage for today’s proceedings.

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Madness on the Main Stage   Saturday 2nd September.

The Rusangano Family   –  Rankin’s Wood Stage    6.30   –   7.15 PM.

Whilst wandering away from the main stage area after Madness, I was liking what I was heard coming from the Rankin’s Wood marquee, good bassy energetic rapping.  So into the tent we go and another new discovery, The Rusangano Family.  Now some of the folk on Boards.ie have been raving about this lot for the last few years so I was delighted to finally get to see them for the first time.  African kids who had been brought up in Limerick and now were a fully fledged hip hop act with their own slant toward Grime as well. They are currently promoting their debut album Let The Dead Bury The Dead released last April and their popularity is growing.  They may have had half a tent full but it was an ecstatic lot who were in there, the group having worked very hard at touring, playing small venues and small festivals around the country, I’m delighted to see them get the recognition they fully deserve.

We met up with Gearoid and his girlfriend Orla Gibney after the Madness gig, she had travelled down today has she had to work in Galway on the Friday.

Columbia Mills   –  Jerry Fish’s Electric Sideshow   6.30   – 7.15 PM.

Gearoid recommended this band and we stopped at the Jerry Fish tent to listen to a few numbers.  The band from Bray had a packed tent and had an energy similar to the National, New Order also came to mind and a few other Manchester acts.  They had a great explosive energy and I really hope big things come their way, I even suggested that Body&Soul festival book them for next year.

We wandered about the main arena and were quite taken but the ensuing footage coming from the outside Electric Arena screen, this fine looking auburn haired lady with a fine larynx rocking it out with an extremely tight band, Birdy.  This was a new discovery for me, here was a band who had similar energies to Florence and The Machine and London Grammar, but this girl with a rather long name, Jasmine Lucilla Elizabeth Jennifer Van den Bogaerde could wipe the floor with Florence, she has a much nicer stronger voice and with such passion and emotion.  We came into the side of the tent to watch the last few closing songs and man, she had a pretty rammed tent, Birdy could be headlining the main stage next year judging by the reaction to this gig.

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The packed audience at the Electric Arena for Birdy  Saturday 2nd September.

Bill Bailey   –   Comedy Tent    8.25   –    9.10 PM.

Lets say I was in a suitable enhancement for this stand up gig, I have always loved Bill Bailey, especially his stuff in Black Books and other TV appearances and stand up shows and cameos in films like Saving Grace.  He is the perfect tonic to help us laugh at Brexit, his summary of Mumford and Sons almost broke my ribs and his musicianship is incredible.  He is a walking encyclopedia of rock music, with his pisstake of the heavy metal genre of music or taking a simple thing like the Iphone ringtone and turning it into an incredible ambient piece of music or playing the American National anthem in a minor key.  It was the first time I have watched a proper stand up show actually sitting in inside the tent at Electric Picnic.  Last year I watched part of the Dylan Moran performance on the outside screen of the comedy tent as it was absolutely rammed.  The same with Tommy Teirnan’s performance in 2005, not a hope in hell of getting into the tent for that, so I was delighted to be in the company of the brilliant Bill Bailey.

Suitably elated after such a brilliant show that you are pinching yourself to check it actually happened we were greeted by heavy drizzle and wind, personally I didn’t care I was happy as larry and made my way with Kevin toward the wonderful soulful and playful sound coming from the Earthship stage in Body&Soul, twas the beautiful music of Attention Bebe, an act who has played numerous Body & Soul festivals as well as a few Picnics.  This was the first time I got to hear them as I would usually be doing other things and have missed them before.  A few were talking about them in the Boards.ie Electric Picnic thread and recommending that we should try and catch the group if we can, to which I’m glad to say I did this Saturday night at the Earthship.

The Haunt, Body&Soul Village   (Possibly entered at 12.30/1 AM till 4.20 AM.

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The Haunt, Body&Soul Village.  Photograph by Lucy Goodier.

Well plans went out the window for maybe getting to see A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Tong and Orchestra, Tiga and Clark as the wet and the wind got more intense, I didn’t fancy walking over the plain in that building cyclone.  Body&Soul seemed that more enclosed, sheltering and more colourful, loads of chill areas beckoning us.

We settled for the second night ending at the Haunt, that cool fully enclosed wooden looking byre, with intoxicating world music on a superb PA, the bass causing explosions and ruptures in your ears but it was ever so delightful.  Yes, seats have become available. YONK! No sorry, not moving, can’t move.

The music that was brought to us over the weekend, courtesy of, Maxtractor-spudnikki Monchici, Killian Redmonk, Christine McQuilan, Mick T-woc, Chrissi Ferris, Andy Aforce, Ollie Moore, Gully Docktah Irie and Colin Olwill was so, so refreshing compared to what was in the dance stages of the main arena, not the marquees now but the Logic and Heineken stages.  Some even reckon the Haunt was placed there to strategically counterpoint the dance stages, I think it worked too.  I am proud to say, myself and Kevin were the last two thrown out of the place by 4.20 AM.

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The Haunt, Body&Soul Village  Saturday 2nd September.
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The Haunt, Body&Soul Village  Saturday 2nd September.

Sunday 3rd September.

Woke up and headed over to John’s camper with my Lavazza and mobile continental coffee press container and had a few nice strong coffees, there was always people stopping in for a blether or a joke or two with John.  Gearoid and Orla was there, Kevin joining later.  There was also some of the St John ambulance crew who were camped up next to John who talked me into getting out my bodhran and singing a few songs, I had a nice appreciative audience for Tippin’ it up to Nancy and the Dolores Keane version of the Raggle Taggle Gypsies called Seven Yellow Gypsies, specifically because it mentions Stradbally in the lyrics.  I got a nice round of applause and this was my sole bodhran playing for EP this year.  John took up my bodhran then and performed As I Roved Out which was brilliant and well received.

The Skatalites    –   Main Stage    2.30   –   3.30 PM.

The Skatalites are a classic old style jazzy ska band with a shit hot brass section and an incredibly tight act, one of the old Studio One classics who I think played EP in 2006 too. The group has been going since 1964, many of its members have passed on now, but the sons and nephews of the original members have kept the group up to scratch, I also witnessed this marvellous band back in 2009 at the Liquid Rooms in Edinburgh and they are absolutely fantastic for an oul stomp.  Doreen Shaffer who is one of the original founding members provided superb vocals to the classic British hit by Millie Small, My Boy Lollipop getting the audience bopping and special guest choreography from John Dooley.  The Skatalite’s played loads of familiar classics such as the Guns of Navarone and Phoenix City which brought the red hot sun out for a few hours.  A glorious way to kick off Sundays proceedings of music.  This was the only time I managed to meet up with David Curran again and his girlfriend for a quick chat.

King Kong Company  –  Electric Arena    3.30   –   4.15 PM.

This was my fourth time catching this superb Waterford electro/rock act and they have come a long way, with a packed to the rafters Electric Arena, Electric Picnic’s second biggest stage.  The first time I seen this band they were playing at Life Festival 2012 with a small enough crowd gathered at the main stage, but within 10 minutes they had a few hundred there.  They are one of the hardest working bands in Ireland and have done an incredible amount of festivals this year including Glastonbury.  The band released their debut album King Kong Company in June 2016 which they have been playing and promoting at events internationally and nationally over the last year, power to them and I have a great respect for Mark Graham too, a brilliant journalist who has made writing about festivals an art form.

A special mention to Kelly-Anne Byrne who gave a fantastic set at Casa Bacardi, I wasn’t sure if she was doing The Beat Goes On live from there but some of her playlist reflected Sunday’s show alright.  Especially a really cool remix of New Order’s Blue Monday and Giorgio Moroder’s and Donna Summer’s classic I Feel Love and man it was hot there, especially with gorgeous scantily clad girls dancing about and the hot sun, I must have at least drank two pints water there.

The Pretenders   –   Main Stage     5.45   –   6.45 PM.

Caught a bit of the Pretenders set on the main stage bringing back nostalgic memories for me of the early eighties, some of my family went to see the Pretenders in Glasgow when Brass in Pocket was at number one in the charts, I will always remember the sexy Chrissie Hynde in her cool jacket and leather trousers on Top of the Pops, she looked more gorgeous with the jet black hair.  That’s not to say she still looks fabulous and still has her voice in fine fettle.  Listening to some of the more unfamiliar tracks I get the sense that although they are British apart from Chrissie who is from Ohio they were probably  influenced by the New York punk scene much like Blondie and had that rushed energy of the Ramones at times.  Because I came halfway through the set I probably missed some of the older stuff like Stop Your sobbing and one of my all time favourites, I Go To Sleep.  I was delighted though to catch them do Brass in Pocket, one of their most famous hits.  A fantastic act that still has it.

Chaka Khan   –   Main Stage     7.15   –   8.15 PM.

Chaka Khan was pretty amazing, we looked at some of the show from the seating stand but decided to move closer to the stage as the music was just too good.  Chaka Khan would be more blues and soul based than Chic or Pfunk, previous EP acts, but she still has an amazing voice and also looks great after all these years.  She is of that gospel soul tradition that you can just feel when she sings so naturally.  She had a superb backing band and backing singers too.  I wouldn’t be too overtly familiar with her material but did recognise some of the melodies through the set.  Like what Nile Rodgers and Chic have, she was part of another funk and disco collective called Ashford and Simpson and could turn on the funk when required namely with I’m Every Woman which is probably her most well known hit.  A fantastic performer though and you should try and catch her when she performs in Dublin later in the year.

Wandered about Body&Soul Village with Kevin, we eventually sat down at the seats at the top of the Body&Soul main stage amphitheatre and watched some of the acts.  Moses Sumney ( 8.30 – 9.15 PM) was on stage, a one person act who worked mainly in a croony soul vein, a wee bit too laid back for me, Kevin saying “Where’s the beats?”  He had a few listeners alright but there was a bit too much Wooo Hoo Hooo! being sung in the music for my liking, but we just sat there as it was nice, dry, warm and ambient.

IDER   –   Body&Soul Main Stage    9.45   –  10.30 PM.

IDER are two lovely blonde ladies, one from London and one from Birmingham who do some decent dreamy pop electronica, they are perfect Body&Soul fodder and I would like to see them back at Body&Soul festival next year.  They were very enthused to be playing the festival as this was their first gig ever in Ireland, so their joy added to the gig.  The music would be kinda harmonic and folky in bits and some nice pop hooks with just a nice amount of chill ambient electronica keeping the beat, a nice and refreshing new sound.

Duran Duran    –   Main Stage     10.45 PM   –  12.00 AM.

I was all set to catch a little bit of Duran Duran, Kiasmos and Soulwax tonight, but Duran Duran just blew me away and I stayed, they are much heavier live than the studio versions of their singles.  The band had an amazing light show and visuals, Simon Lee Bon seemed to be in top form sporting a lime green biker jacket and he still seems to have an amazing larynx, kudos to the band too for being super tight, John Taylor, Dom Brown and Roger Taylor on drums make a fine rhythm behind the synths and Bon’s vocal.  It was a hits packed set with Wild Boys, Rio, Hungry Like the Wolf, Girls on Film and A View to Kill among others.  At the end of the set the Dublin Gospel Choir came and joined the band for Save a Prayer.  A fantastic finale to close the main stage for EP 2017.

Mother DJs    –    Earthship Stage, Body&Soul Village.    12.00   –   4.00 AM.

It was off to the Mother’s set after that, Mother DJs are festival stalwarts of the Picnic and Body&Soul festival and play all year round in the likes of the Grand Social and their own club the Mother Club in Dublin.  They are always guaranteed to have a packed house because they play such infectious groovy electronica and they had a packed stage tonight closing out the Earthship stage.

Donal Dineen’s This Ain’t No Disco/ Patrick Kelleher   – Body&Soul Main Stage                 1.00   –   4.00 AM.

No Disco was a popular Irish music series I would tune into in the early nineties. it had dedicated presenters and an overall excellent choice of bands and musicians featured on each programme and it had about a decade run with RTE 2 from 1993 to 2003 and was responsible for bringing one of Ireland’s biggest and most loved trad folk bands out of retirement, namely Planxty.  Amazing presenters such as DJ, Donal Dineen, Leagues O’Toole and the late Uaneen Fitzsimons who died tragically in a car crash gave the show a credible feel.  I don’t know why RTE binned it, it simply just baffled me.

Anyway Donal started of the TV series again for broadcasting on the internet and re-titling it This Ain’t No Disco.  Having watched two episodes so far I was well impressed with the calibre of bands, DJs and musicians featured in it and was hot linking it anywhere that had a wall or a space for the link.  Its great that Body&Soul have given space in the stage to showcase some of the talent from this music show, I really hope one of the TV channels takes it up again, I might suggest to Donal that there is a DJ in Today FM that could fit nicely into Uaneen’s shoes, namely Kelly-Anne Byrne who I think would make a perfect TV presenter for the music series, if she is even half as passionate as she is on the Beat Goes On show.  Other presenters who come to mind would be the people behind Under Ether, Michelle Doherty and Elton Mullally.  This is not to take away from Donal Dineen who is also a fantastic passionate presenter for the music series himself.

And now for the clips featured, since there was no schedule for the live show.  The first clip features an excerpt of the track Aspergillus played by Sunken Foal, a nice ambient droning techno track. The second clip features Patrick Kelleher and His Cold Dead Hands (Sunken Foal) – Stereolith (Alright With You).  The music a industrial grinding white noise electronica with Patrick Kelleher putting a rockabilly vocal to the whole thing, so creating an electronica Cramps vibe if you like.  This was the final live music I saw at EP 2017.

Monday 4th September.

Surprisingly not as hungover as I’d thought I’d be, a bunch of us was sitting at John’s camper whilst he was taking things down, crew camp was disappearing before our eyes, tents becoming green spaces.  Was trying to suss a lift to Galway when Kevin suggested to hang on till he finished the breakdown at Soul Kids at 6.30 which just got me into Galway in time for the session.  Thanks all to John Dooley, JD Corcoran, Kevin Keehan, Gearoid, Catherine Kehoe, Susan and everyone else who helped make my week, it was such a buzz and dammit I have to wait another year to do this all over again.  All the best and I’ll see ya’s at some festival next year if not the Picnic.  Roll on Electric Picnic 2018.

The Beatyard Festival 2017 Review.

Dun Laoghaire, Dublin  August 5th and 6th.

 

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Saturday 5th August.

Setting off from a dreary and miserable downpour of Galway just before noon, my journey would take me from the sea to the sea, travelling from Salthill to Dun Laoghaire. Once I got to Dublin it was probably the smoothest journey to a festival ever, the Dart only costing 3.25 Euros from Dublin to the festival site, perfect and the weather up here being also much more agreeable.

I was working there as a volunteer this year, I didn’t make it to Townlands this year so this was my new festival exploration for 2017 and I was back with my EP, Liss Ard and Body&Soul Festival boss, coordinator, Catherine Kehoe.  I arrived about 3.30 pm, so I was told to report to the box office at 5.30 before the start of my first shift.  Seeing that I was wristbanded, I set off with my camera to take a few snaps and videos and to check out some of the earlier line up.

Romare & Band   Main Stage  4.30   –   5.30 PM.

Romare is an electronic producer, DJ and all round musician ably supported by a congo player and a guitarist/saxophonist.  The music a sweet ambient funky sound with influences of disco, jazz and African music, the music complemented the lovely sunny afternoon and a suitable crowd gathered dancing to the beat.  A good choice for the time of the day.

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Romare and band  Main Stage Saturday.

https://ninjatune.net/artist/romare

 

 

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Festival entrance.
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The Rub A Dub Soundsystem and the many DJs that would populate that stage.
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Some of the nice food on offer.

When my shift started at 6 pm Bananarama were rocking it out on the main stage with a proper live band, much better than their Electric Picnic performance last year where the two women just sang over a backing tape in glorified karaoke.  The live band gave the group a bit of balls, I’m not mad for their music or anything but it was an enjoyable enough set with some memorable summer hits.

http://www.bananarama.co.uk/

My job for Saturday night with a few of my mates volunteering also, Kevin Keehan and David Curran was to stop men going into the ladies toilets while similarly two Brazilian girls who were volunteering stopped the ladies going into the gents.  I also spotted the local drug squad in action busting the occasional fool outside the toilets too.

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David Curran, Kevin Keehan and other volunteers.

Where we were based though was outside the entrance to the toilets, so we had ample view of the main stage and festival shenanigans going on.

Larry Heard     Main Stage   7.20    –  8.50 PM.

I enjoyed Larry Heard’s set, nice tight ambient techno, house and acid house vibes made for a pleasant soundtrack while stopping unassuming men going into the ladies and having random conversations with buzzed up happy people.  Some of the projections in the rear screen was a lovely splash of psychedelic colours and visuals.  The clip I took is at the very back of the main stage area so probably a bit noisier than it would be nearer the front of the stage.

https://www.discogs.com/artist/148-Larry-Heard

Mark Ronson     Main Stage     9.15     –     10.30 PM.

Mark Ronson’s set had some lively tasteful stuff, some great hip hop tracks and feel good dance anthems, but there was also some dreadful auto tune drivel being played too, so more like a dance and pop music set that serious techno or house music.  I liked that he played some Amy Winehouse, I suppose he is still emotionally attached to that production but it was still nice to hear Valerie, one of his main production works with Amy.

https://www.markronson.co.uk/

Our shift finished an hour and a half earlier so it was off to David’s place tonight and I would be staying in Kevin’s camper in the West Pier down the road on Sunday night.  Had a fairly late Saturday night with David, Jenny and Aiden who were volunteering also at the festival.  Jenny and Aiden’s experience working the advance days were somewhat different from mine, David’s and Kevin’s but I’ll not go into that.

Sunday 6th August.

For Sunday our job was mainly to stand about as an info steward at the entrance to the Red Bull stage and to basically just fill people in with the activities in the area if asked. The Red Bull area basically had proper toilets, a bar, a rave area with the Bodytonic DJs and a children’s game area and baby changing area.  I missed the first act on the main stage because we were doing various jobs before we got posted to the Red Bull entrance.  Myself and Kevin did catch the second act in earshot, Katie Kim.  Katie Kim is good at what she does and at times her vocal had qualities of Liz Frazer aka Cocteau Twins but her tempo was to damn slow and her whole set consisted of slow melancholic songs. After a while I felt the slowness of the set clashed with the happy vibe of the festival, Kim needs to add a few uptempo numbers to her set, as it was the wrong time of the day for melancholic pondering numbers.

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The Beck’s Haus Stage.
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The Jameson Bar.
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Entrance to the Red Bull Area.
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Earlier in the afternoon before the throng.

Kila      Main Stage      4.00    –    5.30 PM.

Kila gave that ‘pick me up’ feeling that the festival needed to get kick started, they gave a lively set of their customary hybrid rock and Irish traditional music and pulled a nice steady number of people hopping and jigging to the main stage, a reliable festival favourite.

After finishing our shift at 6 and signing out we went straight over to the main stage to catch Toots and the Maytals.

Toots and the Maytals     Main Stage       6.00    –    7.30 PM.

Toots and the Maytals as far as I’m concerned killed it, I thought they would have brought the sun out like they did at Electric Picnic 2005 but unfortunately we got rain for a bit instead, not the bands fault, just Ireland being Ireland.  The set was mostly the same as the set from last year at the Picnic but I think the Beatyard set was longer at an hour and a half.  Toots Hibbert is getting older so his style is getting more relaxed, the fast Ska style is less apparent now and some of the numbers are played at a slower pace with Toots doing some nice acoustic versions of some of the songs although the trademark speeding up at the end is always there to get ya jumping again.  A feelgood set to up the festival mood.

We (Me, Kevin and David) all had sore feet from working the day and then standing for Toots gig, Kevin had his camper parked in the West Pier, so we went out and bought some cans and headed to the camper for a much needed sit down.  This would be one of the small criticisms of Beatyard that there wasn’t really any outdoor seating in the festival area.  Sorry I missed you Morcheeba but it was the only chance I could get a seat during the festival.

AIR     Main Stage         9.30    –    10.45 PM.

Just made it back in time from the camper for the start of the AIR set, they are an incredible band, seemingly influenced by Kraftwerk, Daft Punk and some of these funk grooves you hear on Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here album, especially some of the synths used on Moon Safari.  This was basically a greatest hits set spanning nearly twenty years in the groups history and taking in their debut album Moon Safari, 10,000 HZ Legend and Talkie Walkie among others.  When they played Don’t Be Light I was taken by how tight and rocky they were, the bass playing reminding me at times of Geddy Lee from Rush and at other times Lemmy when he was in Hawkwind during the Space Ritual period in the early seventies.  AIR also had some extremely eye catching visuals on the back rear screen which suited their sci fi space rock pop sound.  They also have the way they sing in French, they use the harmonising vocals that reminds me of the early Pink Floyd records Meddle and Obscured by Clouds.  A fantastic gig and a band really worth checking out if they hit these shores again.  The second clip was uploaded into Youtube by jimbot4000 which is much better quality than my clip.

http://www.aircheology.com/

We ended up going to an after party afterwards at Kevin’s camper, a diet of Beamish and sweet sounds from Kelly-Anne Byrne’s The Beat Goes On on Today FM, thank you to Catherine Kehoe for looking after us for the weekend and David and Kevin for night lodgings.  Roll on Beatyard 2018 I might be back.