Electric Picnic 2018 Festival Review

Stradbally, County Laois, Ireland  31st August – 2nd September.

 

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Got the Citylink commuter to Kinnegad on Sunday 26th August to be picked up by Derek who was bringing his daughter Shannon to Electric Picnic, the final bash of the year beckoned and although it wasn’t the best lineup this year by all accounts there was definitely something for everyone there, what with thirty five stages there is always gonna be something out there that would grab you.

Sunday 26th – Thursday 30th August – The Advance Week.

There was a bit of rain every now and then this year so the fine John Dooley got a loan of a small marquee from JD (a local man also working the festival) that sat beside his camper.  This was perfect for watching films if it happened to be raining and John had a fine selection of films and the Father Ted box set, so back to back episodes to keep the laughs coming laughing at our Irish follies.

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John Dooley’s set up this year.
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John Dooley, the life and soul of Electric Picnic, tea and coffee master of the crew camp. 🙂
Photo of me by Jenny. - Copy
Myself snug in the marquee, wrapped up as nights could be chilly  photo: Jenny O’Mahoney.

I was working at the production gate again this year directing arrivals to a temporary car park and to their health and safety induction where they would get temporary wristbands.  Working with two other volunteers Shannon and her boyfriend Cian and changed over to two different volunteers during the week.  I brought the beat box with playlists of Massive Attack, Death Grips and the Prodigy among others.

Security was telling me on Tuesday that themselves and the Gardai were chasing some fence jumpers, which made me wonder, where the hell would they go with the festival not due on till three days, hide in one of the portaloos perhaps.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were fairly mellow days where I had some great chats with some of the Eventsec security and the volunteers I was working with, some of them into exploring the festival and music whilst some had no interest at all, one security chap was more into musicals rather than rock and pop music, I suggested he check out Body&Soul or the Trailer Park for possibly pop up musicals, which could happen.

Festival Republic seemed to be messing with peoples heads, they kept changing the wristband colour for accreditation each day, so one minute you would be on your way and the next you would be blocked, meaning you had to get in touch with your supervisor to get the new wristband.

Thursday seemed to be the messiest of all with it being the most ultra busy day on the eve of the festival.  There seemed to be a lack of communication between departments of the festival as the wristband had changed colour again which I found out when I went to use the production loos.  I was working with security out on the roadside entrance today and there was a lot of heated exchanges between festival staff and security.  What basically happened was bunches of workers going out on their lunch break and discovering they couldn’t get back in again through the production gate until they got in touch with their bosses to get the relevant accreditation again.  Anyways my shift came to an end and I became a wristbanded festival punter.  The one thing bugging me was having a blocked right ear, either wax or an ear infection, but I wouldn’t be able to hear full stereo.  Was delighted to meet Catherine, Susan and Ross again and countless others who I forgot the names of already, my head is like a sieve sometimes.  There was talk that because of the scarcity of tickets this year, on average they were going for 400 Euro each that volunteers and security would abscond from their duties.

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The production entrance.
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The main stage in the making.
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The new comedy tent.
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The new Jerry Fish Tent.
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The new bigger Rankin Woods Tent.
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Work in the Body&Soul area.

 

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Working in the Body&Soul area.
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The Haunt under construction in Body&Soul.
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Volunteers working the crew camping and car park area.
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Briege and Jenny.

Friday 31st August.

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Day one in the arena.

The predictions were right, some volunteers disappeared as soon as they were accredited , I could never do something like that as its like breaking a contract, your wristband number would be given to security and if any of the staff from the volunteer HQ had seen you, you would’ve been reported and ejected of the site.  I would be too paranoid to enjoy the festival and plus its not a nice thing to do.  I willingly sacrificed DJ Shadow, Boys Noize, Shit Robot, The Undertones and half the Jimmy Cliff gig at EP 2011 to work the late shift working alongside Declan, a lovely man who is now head of security at the production area, as Catherine needed someone to man the gates leading to the back of the marquees, very important, ferrying musicians and bands to their gigs and having an emergency lane for fire trucks, Gardai and ambulances and keeping the path clear in such emergencies.  Because of these absences security have to do some of these roles instead and they work long enough hours as it is.

I met Dagmara Zolty and Mati the people I had been doing the work experience with this year at the crew camp, they were going to be doing a pop up scratch workshop at the festival  Dagmara with Mati runs this streetwear fashion boutique called 1984 Miracles in Galway city that is also a scratch hip hop record shop and label (Cut&Paste Records) in 5 Augustine St, where they also host Community Scratch sessions once a month in their shop, anyone can come in off the street and have a go on their decks and they’ll show you how to scratch.

https://niallmcquaid.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/if-its-fashion-and-music-you-want-its-1984-miracles/

I took the opportunity to film a small bit of the journey after the hole in the wall, I wanted to capture the wooded walk in the staff entrance to the festival site with the lovely lights through the trees and the buzzing people zipping into the festival.

Well I couldn’t really afford the lanyard this year i had to be careful with the spending, eating wisely and cheaply, mainly in Stradbally itself and through the kindness of John Dooley.  But I knew the Roadhouse Doors (2.45 – 4 PM) was playing the Salty Dog stage and that some Boardsies were planning a meet up there, Boardsies as in posters to the Electric Picnic thread in Gigs and Events in the Boards.ie chat forum.  After messaging a few, some of them were still on their way to the site, so it never happened.  I loved the music and it sounded pretty authentic, they done great covers and the singer had an amazing larynx.  A great start for the festival to get you in the mood and a good old rock out.

#Roadhousedoors

https://www.facebook.com/TheRoadhouseDoors/

This year I’m rocking out, its either a combination of metal/hip hop or trap metal, punk or hardcore hip hop and punk techno, DnB and Jungle music.  I will be mainly watching and listening too, three selected artists, Scarlxrd, Death Grips, The Prodigy and whatever else comes along.  Also looking forward to Massive Attack.  It has to be said, there was an awful lot of dross in the lineup this year, will be hot footing from the likes Gavin James, The Coronas, Picture This, George Ezra and Walking On Cars.

Grabbed a Charcoal Grill steak burger and sat at a table that was already polluted with everyone else’s crap and bins a mere two metres away, there is no self respect, so much for the green message projected on the main stage screens.

CHVRCHES – Main Stage  –  7.30   –   8.30 PM.

Glasgow band CHVRCHES put on a nice set airing tracks from their new album Love is Dead.  Lauren Mayberry the singer joked about playing festivals and concerts around the world in seriously sweltering conditions and was glad to be back to a similar climate to Scotland.  I saw the band the last time they played in 2015 and their interest has swelled pulling a reasonable crowd to the main stage.  they have a nice buzzy synth pop going on and Mayberry has a lovely soaring voice.  Its nice to see a band from my home sod and one worth checking out if you like good electronic rock and pop.  I also met fellow boardsie Scruff Monkey at the side of the mixing desk area.  The clip I think was taken too far away, but sometimes we feel comfortable watching from a distance, that would change during the weekend.

#chvrch.es

https://chvrch.es/

Got a message that David Curran had turned up at the crew camp and was on his way to the arena, so I went up to the volunteer HQ and there he was, I stopped for a coffee and we made our way to the right of the mixing desk for the main stage in preparation for the Kendrick Lamar set of who David was a big fan of.

Kendrick Lamar  –  Main Stage  10.40   –   12 AM.

Now I wouldn’t be a big Kendrick Lamar fan, I do like some hip hop just different types really, but I was intrigued all the same as he is one of the biggest touring the circuit at the moment.  BANG! well I didn’t expect that, shook me to my senses, so this guy has some interesting pyrotechnics and what looked like a strange fascination with Chinese / Kung Fu culture mixed with Blaxploitation in the visuals on the back screen backdrop.  He was definitely entertaining enough and worth seeing once anyway.  Would have preferred a dance act in the end, The Prodigy would have been a good start but we’ll get them in the end.  The video clip is from Vegan Viking who always manages to get the best close ups of acts at the Picnic.  Don’t let my review put you off, I don’t really review it as such as I don’t know his catalogue nor bothered to check, but if you like that type of hip hop you’ll love this guy.  He certainly puts on an interesting visual show.

After that myself and David went wandering about Body&Soul Village, up to the main stage to look at the Super Extra Bonus Party, but they didn’t really do it for us so we wandered up to the Earth Ship stage and caught the end of the Bobofunk set and the start of Jah Monk’s set.  Bobofunk doing a techno/house kind of thing that got us bouncing and Jah Monk playing a mixture of roots reggae and jungle which also got us bouncing nicely.  A cold enough breeze came in so we needed somewhere sheltered, I suggested we go to The Haunt which I don’t think David regretted, he was well impressed with the venue and the sounds emitting.  The only thing I Shazamed this year and was particularly taken by was Beyond Belief by Elvis Costello & the Attractions, such is the diverse compilations of their playlists, I loved all the tracks they played but that was the only one I took the trouble to find out about.  We stayed there till 3.50 AM and headed back to the crew camp after that.  Met Kevin at the crew camp, he had done his first weekend shift at family camping so I joined him for a few cans while David crashed for the night.

#bobofunk. #thehaunt, #jahmonk

Saturday 1st September.

Went over to John for a coffee and he produced a rasher and sausage sandwich to me, what a legend.  Met David who told me he was going for a beer run with Kevin wanting a few cases too.  So myself, David and Coby (Adam Coburn that is) piled into the car.  Got myself another tray of Guinness.  Had a shower to refresh and jammed a bit in the bodhran with the 1975 Paddy Keenan album on the ipod, I think some of the crew enjoyed my effort.

David and myself made for the arena about 5 PM to go and see Mavis Staples the famous soul singer which should be good or so I hoped, not so as Specialised Security held me up at the gate.  They found my two cans of Guinness and told me I had to drink them at the gate before going in, despite my protests that no stout is for sale anywhere in the festival site.  So Specialised Security, the Heineken overlords are forcing stout drinkers to drink watered down 6.50 Euro pints of lager.  We need Heineken kicked in the ass out of the festival, bring Guinness back like at Witnness festival.  Met a few randomers at the gate including a Murphy’s drinker who felt the same.  Bring free flow to the Picnic please like Body&Soul Festival and All Together Now so we don’t have these needless delays.  By the time I got to the main stage Staples was at the last few minutes of the set, so missed most of it and it put me in a steamer of a mood, I almost took it out on my phone, there was gritted teeth for ten minutes at least.  Plus I was half cut a little too quickly after gubbing two cans at a fairly fast pace.  But time to get out of there quickly before I heard the first note of Gavin James.

Scarlxrd  –  Little Big Tent   6.30   –   7.15 PM.

Thank god there was other stages to go to and such a noisy metal or should I say mental hip hop act like Scarlxrd.  Wikipedia has a few genres attached to Scarlxrd, trap, heavy metal, rap metal, nu metal or hardcore hip hop.  I bloody loved it, being a metal fan when growing up, I still liked a bit here and there but this was a new type of signing for the Picnic.  The Picnic this year also attracted a much younger audience too and a lot were in evidence at this gig as this is one of the first times I’ve seen a mosh pit forming at a gig at the festival.  The music a grinding metal sound that sounded so rusty and Scarlxrd practically wearing his throat away into his abdomen from screaming the lyrics.  His beats man was also another lunatic leaping about like a nutter but you could see they really loved it.  How would you describe it, the complete opposite to Gavin James anyway.  It was too much for David and he retreated after a few minutes motioning to his ears, I said I’d meet him after.  But I loved this new type of violent music, its nice seeing the Picnic give this a go.

#Scarlxrd

https://www.scarlxrd.com/

I met up with David again at the Trailer Park and I had a bite to eat, settling for Home Fries and their lovely garlic and cheese potatoe fries.  I don’t know if it was Scarlxrd’s music or the mood after drinking the cans quickly but I developed an eye strain headache and made the decision to go back to the crew camp for a quick power nap as I became exhausted quite quickly and dehydrated so a sit down or lie down in the quiet was the order of the day, setting my alarm for 11 PM so that I might catch a bit of NERD and the full Massive Attack set.

I realised I couldn’t really sleep anyway but the peace was nice and I savoured the rest, I headed up to the arena at the back of 10 PM making for the volunteers HQ only bringing water with me this time so there would be no delays at the gate going in.  Met Catherine and she kindly gave me some aspirin which killed the headache and I had a few coffees there, she also gave me a bottle of water as she reckoned it was dehydration too, most definitely after leaping about like a lunatic to Scarlxrd.  N.E.R.D ( standing for No One Ever Really Dies) was making a delightful sound from the main stage and they had a great crowd gathered for their set.  I went down to watch the last few numbers of their set and Pharrel Williams knows how to get a crowd going as he is a big name in his own right, funky party hip hop that is perfect for a festival environment.

Hip hop has seemingly become the number one genre for festivals these days, what with Kendrick yesterday and Longitude devoting most of the acts to be hip hop this year in their bill.  Beat poetry over a dance beat, The Sleaford Mods, a very different kind of beat poetry who got my attention at Body&Soul Festival last year but alas they clashed with the Prodigy set at this one.  The spoken word is overtaking vocals, some of it good and some not so good at times, this doesn’t reflect on N.E.R.D’s set though which sounded extremely good.

#n.e.r.d

http://nooneeverreallydies.com/

Was getting hungry again and seeked out a food stall, I fancied fish and chips, the Fish & Chip Shack catered exactly for my needs, done in the style like the Scottish/Italian chippers, scrumptious and delicious but a pricey enough 11.20 Euro but worth it.

http://www.sizzle.ie/

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The Fish & Chips Shack.

 

Massive Attack  –  Main Stage   12.15   –   1.30 AM.

Well I’m glad MA didn’t cancel this performance like they did at Mad Cool Festival in Madrid this summer and I was looking forward to some beautiful ambient downbeat triphop and their usual flair for cool visuals and propaganda messages, I was also praying that it wouldn’t rain like the last time in 2010 where I got soaked to the skin.

David met me and Ross too, we were positioned to the top right of the mixing desk so just perfect where we were.  Massive Attack didn’t disappoint, lovely dark ambient stuff, they kicked off with I Against I, the collaboration they done with Mos Def and a nice lively start to the proceedings.  Their set was plucked from their array of  five albums and various EPs they have done over the years.  Inertia Creeps and the brilliant Rising Son from the Mezzanine album, Future Proof from their 100th Window album that probably had the best visuals of the set going from a set counter in the middle of the screen, a countdown clock which exploded into a brightly lit backdrop and that kind of jamming sound that only the likes of Massive Attack and Portishead can do, incredible stuff.  The only niggly thing for me was their random messages across the screen which hurt my eyes after a while trying to read them so I concentrated on other dynamics of the show.

Having studied their setlists over the summer on setlist.com I knew that Teardrop had been dropped for the last few years now, but some of my buddies (Kevin included) still vented about it being missing, it is their best known track but I suppose ultimately it was the bands decision in the end.  I also would have liked to have heard Karmacoma but Tricky wasn’t around nor was Horace Andy, who I hear is doing poorly at the moment so hopefully he recuperates, the singer they used for Angel though done a commendable enough job.  The band closed with Unfinished Sympathy which is still my favourite Massive Attack track and the beautiful vocals of Deborah Miller.  The background soulful keening you hear in the track I often made the connection that, that could be influenced by Pink Floyd’s Great Gig in the Sky and the wordless soulful vocal from that.  A nice super chilled set from Massive Attack to close out the main stage on Saturday night.

#massiveattack

https://www.massiveattack.co.uk/

After that we vowed to catch the spectacular show put on by the Picnic up by the big wheel by the Catalan theatrical group La Fura dels Baus of the giant man and Irish volunteers pulled in to do the acrobatic performance from a pyramid structure suspended from a crane.  Having missed the Friday performance at midnight, this was our last chance to catch this act at 2 AM as there would be no performance of it on Sunday night.  A number of the volunteers involved were staying at the crew camp and we were talking to them at John’s camper, a pretty exciting project to be involved with.  A few rehearsals over the week and two shows on Friday and Saturday.  Its nice for the Picnic to be bringing back this kind of stuff, it would be akin to the Burning Man artist’s structure that was set alight in 2008 in near enough the same area and the Cubatron installation among others.

#lafuradelsbaus

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

And this is where my Nikon camera battery ran out, but how could I resist not filming stuff like this, you have to show the people what they are missing.

 

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La Fura dels Baus at Electric Picnic 2018.

Body&Soul beckoned after that, my apologies to other Electric Picnic areas that I didn’t go near this year such as Hazel Wood, Trenchtown (the reggae seemed to be more spread out this year, Earthship stage I’m looking at you) also it must be the proximity of it being near the Jimi Hendrix campsite that it can be messy and sometimes you can confuse the way you are going and end up in the campsite and it takes ages to get out again, but I’ll vow to do Trenchtown next year as I do love my reggae.  I also avoided Anchronica (Rave in the Woods) where I would have liked to have seen DeFeKT’s set and Aoife O’Neil’s set.

So Body&Soul Village again for Saturday night/Sunday morning.  Up to the Earthship stage, one of our favourite venues and bouncing about to the sounds of Fat Puppy Party.  Of course when it came to sitting down again The Haunt beckoned.  When we arrived there they were playing Wing’s hit Simply having a wonderful Christmas Time which I found pretty amusing and then back to the obscure fantastic nutty stuff again, Kevin Keehan showed up later and we stayed until the close of the venue.  I met a friend of my cousin Joanne Doherty there who remembered me from Joanne’s wedding over a year ago, a small world within the Picnic, I also met Cathal Johnson who gave me a swig of some Jameson and asked me to come over to his gig at the Village Hall in the Global Green tomorrow.  Finally back to the crew camp and a bunch of cans in Kevin’s tent to which we stayed up till eight in the morning, it just dawned on me that I left my Nikon camera in the Haunt venue, but I knew it was in safe hands there.

Sunday 2nd September.

Got up around noon or thereabouts and surprisingly I was quite refreshed even though I had only four hours sleep, straight over to John’s camper to boil some water for my drink as you go cafe press and Lavassa coffee, met Gearoid, Orla, Donal and David sitting under the marquee, it was sunny but with a cold enough breeze so non t-shirt weather.

I intended to go to the arena early enough today, as I was invited to all sorts of things, Cathal’s Dominic Street Ramblers were playing the Village Hall at 2 or 3 PM, Cathal said 3 whilst the clashfinder said 2.  Also Dags and Mati were also doing the scratch hip hop thing around the same time, but I thought Cathal was inviting me to jam with them playing Irish tunes so I opted for there with my bodhran.

Dominic Street Ramblers  – Village Hall, Global Green   2   –   2.30  PM or 3   –   3.30 PM.

This was probably the chillest gig I was at for the Picnic, the Dominic Street Ramblers specialised in Appalachian and old time style music, with two acoustic guitars, Cathal playing one and alternating between that and harmonica and a five string banjo player,  It wasn’t Irish trad like I thought and basically I was going to do a solo spot at the end, but time ran out beforehand and the sound was cut, but I enjoyed their set and filmed a clip.

I missed the Inner Circle set on the main stage at the same time as the Dominic Street Ramblers but Kevin caught a bit of their set and filmed the clip for the Bad Boys track.  I went up to the volunteer HQ for a quick coffee and a hello to Catherine and Susan before heading down to the main stage to catch a bit of Garbage’s set.

Garbage  –  Main Stage   4.15   –   5 PM.

Went right down to the front barrier for this gig and met Jenny, Gilly and Ross down here too, Jenny being a big, big Garbage fan.  The band rocked the place out and Shirley Manson, another Scots lass had an amazing presence on stage and looked fabulous all decked in red and a great rock n roll voice too.  She was delighted to be here and talked about how it had been twenty years since the group had last played Ireland.  I didn’t realise that I already was familiar with some of their old hits especially Stupid Girl the group playing stuff from their Version 2.0 record.  A very tight band of Scottish and American musicians and a great group to blow away the Sunday hangovers with, an apt choice by the Picnic I have to say.

#garbage

https://www.garbage.com/

I headed off near the end of the set as the hunger pangs had got to me, I was set to try the cheesy bread stall but came across the reasonably priced Hans Frankenfurter German food stall that I visited in 2014 EP for the pulled pork sandwich that done the job perfectly having to run in to Natasha’s Kitchen seeing as there was no seats available outside the eateries plus there was a drizzle shower.

Nile Rodgers & Chic  –  Main Stage   5.30   –   6.30 PM.

The always reliable Chic were the perfect dose for the Sunday blues, their classic back catalogue of hits had a packed audience dancing to their hearts delight, the chic singers Kimberly Davis and Folami still look absolutely amazing looking and still have the most glorious soulful voices out there.  Le Freak, Good Times, We’re Lost in Music, absolutely tremendous stuff and with a bit more umph to the sound system this time than their last visit four years ago, although the sound was probably quietened because of the later time they were playing that year.  A fantastic gig by all means and a perfect crowd pleaser.

#nilerodgers&chic

I done a quick wander of the Body&Soul Village again this time the intent was to film the Haunt in a daylight shot as its too difficult to get a proper shot of the place in the night time unless you have 1600 shutter speed and film in your camera.  So I took a daylight video which still shaky enough even though I try to be still, I will never make a top photographer or great film maker, but I do my best hopefully.

Twas a quick dash from Body&Soul after that to the volunteer HQ so to avoid a heavy downpour and a few coffees and had a nice chat with a volunteer from Leitrim called Enda McLoughlin from Manorhamilton town, a place only ten miles or so from my parents hometown of Kinlough.

After the rain shower set off along the staff walkway toward the Little Big Tent to see who was playing in there, Mango X Mathman an Irish rapper was doing a set there but I couldn’t get into the sounds, I found the backing too cheesy, perhaps if I had more time I would have stayed and listened to the lyrics, but I was already bound for the Rankin Woods tent.  I stopped at the new Jerry Fish tent on the way and watched a bit of Bitch Falcon’s second set of the weekend who were blisteringly loud as usual and a nice rocking crowd gathered for them.  Working my way up to Rankin Woods to get a good spot for the explosive Death Grips.

#bitchfalcon

Death Grips  – Rankin Woods   9   –   10 PM.

Having seen these lads in a Lollapalooza stream a few years back I wondered when they would hit the Irish shores, although I’ve heard since that they’ve played Dublin a few times.  But man, like Scarlxrd they rocked the very foundations of Rankin Woods with outpourings from The Year of the Snitch and The Powers That B  among other albums and a crazy young audience moshing out to their hearts content, I was delighted to be at the front barrier for this as I had something to hold onto and my bodhran against the barrier when it got crazy at the front.  MC Ride is a nutter but a tight rapper with an amazing stage presence and the energy of a few hundred of us in the tent.  Zach Hill is one of the best rock drummers I’ve seen in my lifetime, spot on in the rhythm and Andy Morin was getting incredible sounds from his keyboard like nothing else on earth, an amazing gig and a bloody good alternative to Picture This on the main stage.  Go on Electric Picnic keep booking acts like this and I’ll keep on coming back. 🙂

#deathgrips

http://thirdworlds.net/

I made my way in anticipation to the main stage my ears ringing from Death Grips to possibly more loud amplification from the Prodigy.  I met another Boardsie, the lovely Mimimcmc on the way to the front for the Prodigy.

The Prodigy – Main Stage   10.30 PM   –   12 AM.

This was the second time catching this act, the last time being a day trip to Oxegen in 2010 where they were closing the Vodafone stage and only had a few thousand people (although an enthusiastic bunch all the same)  in one of the muckiest patches of ground (totally neglected by MCD after two days of torrential rain) while everyone else was watching Eminem and other acts and I didn’t give them the proper attention they deserved.

This time it was different, I think this was the biggest crowd gathered for the whole weekend and I was about ten people back from the main stage so still a great view and hopefully not too wild there.  The lights came on to some symphonic classical music and I knew this was going to be epic.  Camera on the ready as I have been studying their setlist at Home festival in Italy on the Friday and I knew my favourite track by them, Breathe kicked of the set.  As soon as the familiar riff kicked off and the drum roll started I was thrown of my feet by the crowd going mental, first thing I thought of was grab my bodhran to put between my legs so I could steady the camera, you can hear me panicking shouting ‘my bodhran, watch my bodhran and finally the camera focusing again.

#theprodigy

There was guitars and drums in the sound too so it was like metal/punk and techno, with some DnB, Jungle too and a mixture of other stuff.  Resonate, Firestarter, The Day is my Enemy, Voodoo People (Remix version I heard people saying), Wild Frontier and closing the first set with Smack My Bitch Up.  They came back for a bunch of encores premiering a new track called Light Up The Sky and closing the set with Take Me To the Hospital.

An amazing gig and a bloody good rocking EP for me this year, leaving Aphex Twin and a handful of other dance acts (Moby perhaps) to play Electric Picnic which will surely happen at some point.

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The Prodigy at Electric Picnic 2018.
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The Prodigy Electric Picnic 2018.

I headed to the Body&Soul area and met up with Gearoid, Orla, Donal and Kevin at the Bandstand with a sizable crowd dancing to the funky house of PrYmary Colours, David headed home before the Prodigy set as he had an important flight to do with his work the following day to Oslo in Norway.  We all headed over to the Earthship stage to the ever reliable Mother DJs to dance the night out and close up the stage.

#motherclub

Myself and Kevin headed back to his tent to finish off our booze but Kevin was tireder than I thought and was out like a light bulb in the space of five minutes so I left him and crashed out myself.

Monday 3rd September.

Over to John’s for some recovery coffee and meeting everyone there again while we scraped our heads together and decided to disassemble our tents and pack them away, I found I still had three cans of Guinness left so gave one to Donal who was delighted.  I was supposed to be heading back to Kinnegad with Derek, Shannon and Cian but Kevin offered to take me to Loughrea where I could get the bus there.  There were people I regretted not meeting up with, the lovely Lisa Lawless, Derek’s wife and Stephen Kerr who I met briefly with on Thursday I still have to actually go to an actual gig with you ha ha.  And to everyone else, you know who you are, Love from Niall.

In the light of the green message that Electric Picnic showed in all their screens this all seemed to go on deaf ears when you look at the carnage and aftermath of the Jimi Hendrix campsite and other main campsites.  Shouldn’t Electric Picnic make it compulsory that all campsites at the festival including the crew camp become BYEco Camping, whether this could be policed is another thing altogether, but another method that would reduce waste in campsites would be to introduce a free flow system, therefore people wouldn’t spend too much time in the campsite and would maybe drink out in the arena and use the bins there.

#5thingsclear #leavenotrace #byeco

This was taken by Ed Rice and posted on his Facebook page.

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EP Mess in the Oscar Wilde Campsite.  Photograph: Ed Rice.

Anyways, I’ll love ya and leave ye and until next year I’ll bid you goodbye and maybe will see some of you at Body&Soul Festival, All Together Now or Electric Picnic in 2019. 🙂

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Body & Soul Festival 2017 Review.

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I set off myself on the Citylink commuter bus from Galway to Kinnegad, Kevin couldn’t drive me in the camper this year as he wasn’t due on site till the following day.  When I got to Kinnegad I asked some people for directions on the correct road to hitch on to get me to Ballinlough Castle, I was advised to take the Trim Road and then the Athboy Road from Trim.  The first lift came after twenty to thirty minutes and as luck would have it, one of the people I asked at Kinnegad spotted me on the road hitching, so he took me directly to the festival site.  The pre-festival shenanigans begin.

Setting up my tent in the crew camp and grabbing a coffee from Kev’s Kitchen, I spotted another volunteer who I worked with at Gate F last year, Barry from Dublin, so a few tins were had and a catch up in blether, also caught up with Danyl Hartshorn and a few others.

Tuesday 20th June.

I was more or less working in the same area as last year, but this time with Jennie rather than Charlene.  It was a fairly quiet day with staff arriving in trickles onsite, my job to point staff traffic to the next volunteer in the staff car park area.  It was fairly hot today and I reckon I got a little sunburn on my nose, face and neck.  This year advance stewards got a choice of a lunch or dinner, the details of your dietary requirements was contained in the chip in the temporary wristband which was simply scanned at the staff cafeteria.

Wristbands
The Temporary and Weekend Wristband.

It meant after your feed you returned to the 12 hour shift with a renewed vigour.  Things were so quiet at the Gate F area that Jennie sent some of us to other areas to help out other gaffers.  I was sent to the Walled Garden to help out some of the lads there, they were putting cabling into the ground, called ‘Trenching’.  Electrical points were established to help light some of the installations, so from the nearest power point, a straight line was dug into the ground (using shovels) leading up to the installation and cable then tucked in under the ground and the sod trod over so that you would hardly notice the cut line.

I phoned Kevin to find out when he was arriving, he was still on the road and wouldn’t get in till about 9.30 – 10 pm, I was subsequently told by someone that he would have trouble driving his vehicle into the area after 8 pm as the accreditation staff finished and closed their office at 8.  He arrived at the site and security wouldn’t let him in Gate F or Gate E, so I suggested that he ring one of his bosses.  Eventually he got it sorted out and Natasha came to meet him at the Production Gate and led him on a buggy through the festival site into the crew camper van camp site.  Met up with my other great buddy Simon Outram (who was starting Thursday) where we caught up with the events of the year.

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Trenching had to be done to serve this installation.
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Installation in the Walled Garden.

Wednesday 21st June.

It was a bit busier today at Gate F but could still be quiet and dull at times, that is why I come prepared with my speaker and ipod, blasting out the sounds and hopefully creating the vibe for arriving staff too.  The choice of sounds was the audio of Aphex Twin’s concert from the streamed Field Day show, which I couldn’t stop listening to.  Jennie made us swap places at the car park just to keep the job interesting and man, it was really hot at times, I’m glad I put on sunblock today.  I opted to take the dinner today rather than lunch, lunch was about an hour between 12 and 2 pm alternating with another volunteer and dinner was at 6 pm.  So come 6 pm I had the hunger in me and enjoyed a slap up meal of green Thai chicken curry which was wolfed down.  My shift finally completed, I was free to roam the festival until the following Monday, yippee!

Thursday 21st June.

Had a wee lie in today and resolved to take as much photos of some of the stages and installations dotting the landscape.  Took out the Sony camera first and took one photo of the Woodlands stage and my battery ran out, damn.  It turns out that because I couldn’t find the case, I had packed it in tightly into the rucksack and inadvertently flipped open the slip case which turned the camera on, by the time I got around to use it, the battery died.  Ah well, off back to the tent to get my Nikon camera.

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The beautiful patterns of the Woodlands Stage.
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The Woodlands Stage ready to go.

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A new brickwork stone shelter or installation, don’t know really.

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Some volunteers working the Thursday shift.
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The Arbutus Yarns Area.
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Lights in the wood.
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Lights in the wood.
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One of the creations from Jeff and his friends.
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The impressive new wooden Main Stage.

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Thursday night fire in the Walled Garden Area.
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Cool pyramid installation near Absolut Stage Thursday Night.

Friday 23rd June.

First thing today, get that weekend wristband, usually they are issued on either Wednesday or Thursday night, but because of all the weekend volunteers arriving it can be pretty busy.  So decided to just pop down to the volunteer headquarters to get the new wristband plus I would need this to get back onsite again as I planned to do a beer run with another bunch of volunteers as we still had to get our drink allocation for the weekend.  These were all lads working in Soul Kids with Kevin, so off to Athboy Centra to stock up.

The music and arts didn’t kick off properly till 5.00 pm, so off I queue to the Midnight Circus tent for the start of Kelly-Anne Byrne’s set.

Kelly-Anne Byrne   – Midnight Circus Tent    5.00   – 7.30 pm.

Kelly put on an excellent set as per usual, having only discovered her last year and her Today FM show The Beat Goes On on Saturdays and Sundays, her music is an exuberant mix of happy house, funk and soul, the perfect beat and never too cheesy, more ambient and atmospheric.  Her live show would be more reflected on her Saturday playlists whilst her Sunday radio show would deal with more rock and pop classics.  She is one of the biggest Electric Picnic enthusiasts and of festivals in general and she explores the line ups of all the events and highlights artists that you may otherwise be not aware of.  More power to her and I will avidly boogie to some of her Electric Picnic shows too, godwilling I make it there this year.

https://www.todayfm.com/TheBeatGoesOn

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Kelly-Anne Byrne kicking off the Friday at the Midnight Circus Tent.

The next few hours were spent milling about various stages and occasionally up to the ring of fire in the Walled Garden which became a great focal point for randomness and banter.  I worked out that all the mad electronica shit usually came from the Midnight Circus tent, where you could hear earth booms and buzzing bass dubsteppery drones at times.

Katie Laffan  – Woodlands Stage     9.30  –  10.10 pm.

At the wonderful Woodlands stage (The original Body & Soul main stage), Dublin lass Katie Laffan had a sizeable audience wooed by her infectious blend of rock, blues, funk and pop sounds and she has a damn fine crooning voice too.  Described on her Breaking Tunes page as being influenced by Bob Marley, Chic, Destiny’s Child, Joss Stone and Kool and the Gang, you can’t get as eclectic as that, check her out.

http://www.breakingtunes.com/katielaffan

I sat on the hillside for a while overlooking the main stage, I think Anna Meredith was playing who had a fair crowd and was playing some nice melancholic ambient music. This was one of my favourite spots throughout the weekend, not too far from the main stage and you have a seat overlooking all the visuals and lights.

http://www.annameredith.com/

The Bug Featuring Miss Red  –  Midnight Circus     9.30   –   10.15 pm.

Caught the last three songs by this act and wished I’d caught it all, they were absolutely magnificent, electrifying noise dubstep and rap, Miss Red reminding me of the singer from Alo Wala a few years back but the music being a much grimier heavier sound and they had a packed tent full of people who couldn’t believe their eyes and ears.  One of the highlights of the festival and that was just the last twenty minutes of the gig, will be looking out for them in the future.

http://bodyandsoul.ie/project/miss-red-bug/

I wandered over to the Absolut Stage and found some nice seating that overlooked the ribbon umbrella yoke and the stage area that housed the DJs.  Loosysmokes is a troop of dancers dressed in white dresses with white umbrellas, they are also very good at acrobatics too and would often put on shows under the umbrella to the sounds of the DJ, it seems they preferred the funky house sound to the pumping techno beat.  They were one of the many lots going around adding colour and vibrancy to the festival.

Loosysmokes

Metronomy  –  Main Stage      11.30   –   12.30 pm.

I wandered back to that same spot on the hillside to watch the Metronomy set at the main stage but by now it was getting cold and it was quite exposed there out on the open. This was my first time catching this group, they seemed to have an interesting quirky electronic indie energy, they had bits of Talking Heads and bit of Devo in their sound, so a lively enough festival sounding band.  I realised to the left of the main stage there was a vantage you could enter to get up real close to the action if you pleased, much like the same work out for the Electric Picnic main stage.

http://www.metronomy.co.uk/

I retired about 12.30 am as I was tired and a bit cold, I wanted to keep the energy for a fuller Saturday, so wrapped up in the quilt, I sipped a few beers and listened to some sounds and dozed off.

Saturday 24th June.

Got up about 11 pm and went up with Simon to the crew camper van area to see if Kevin was up, we gave the door a knock but no answer.  We decided to check out the security catering area where your man was doing breakfast baps for five euros which sounded pretty appealing although his coffee machine was broke and he had run out of bacon, go on sausage and eggs will do and it hit the spot, nicely priced I must say for a festival.

Quite a lot of time was spent milling about the the fire area, although unlit, it was a great meeting point or a place to just sit and chill in the sunshine.

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Simon
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Fire Area at Walled Garden.
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The Walled Garden.

 

 

Occasionally there would be a quick visit to Natasha’s Kitchen to see if there was being any reggae blasted, a quick hello to Louise Borre who was working there and Simon raving about the cinnamon cakes which I tried a few times and have to agree, they tasted delicious.

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Natasha’s Kitchen.
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Natasha’s Kitchen.

Lambchop   –  Main Stage     6.30   –   7.30 pm.

I felt sorry for Lambchop as they had a good mellow chilled sound and they were quite hyped on the headline poster bill, but the group were lucky if they had about a hundred people at the front of the main stage, there was probably another two hundred scattered about the general area, some sitting on the hillside who were appreciating it overlooking the stage and others milling in different directions.  Lambchop’s sound could be described as alternative country, a kinda bluesy Americana, if you like.  It seems like the festival installations and chill areas won over on the band this time.

http://www.lambchop.net/

Various stages we passed and peeked at occasionally had some mad sounds, Weval from Amsterdam was making a beautiful psychedelic racket in the Midnight Circus, whilst  La Femme from France made a great punky pop sound on the main stage, well we couldn’t get Air (Fairplay to the Beatyard and I may just do that) but we got a whole bunch of French and Dutch excellence this weekend in these two bands, didn’t have the camera for video clips at the time.

https://weval.bandcamp.com/releases

https://lafemme.bandcamp.com/releases

Sleaford Mods   –  Main Stage         9.30   –  10.30 pm.

Some of Simon’s friends from his area was visiting the festival for the first time and they had their two year old daughter who was lapping up the festival.  We sat on the hill and watched a bit of the Sleaford Mods, an enjoyable English punk beat poetry crowd who had that raw energy of the early Jam, The Ruts and a kinda of cursing John Cooper Clarke style.  Was quite surprised at all the cursing, ha ha, with it being a family festival like, the Sleaford Mods were quite free and easy about using the curse word in their Nottingham brogue, found it pretty amusing myself but then I suppose we were after the watershed hour. 🙂

https://sleaford-mods.myshopify.com/

Went wandering about with Simon and his friends for a while taking in bits of the woods, needless to say we were getting our Dub Reggae fix with some serious IRIE emitting from the Woodlands Stage.  I never mentioned it till now, I seriously miss the Port Royal area especially when it was cold in the night, it was one of the truly enclosed areas of the festival that oozed that Jamaican warmth.  I reckon it might have been Cian Finn’s set at the Woodlands stage or maybe another reggae guy in the adjoining stage, but that dub bass hit home how much I love my reggae.  I decided to split after a while as I didn’t want to miss the Bonobo set, so we said our good byes for the night.

Bonobo   –   Main Stage         11.15   –   12.15 pm.

Was quite surprised that we were only getting an hours set from Bonobo but I suppose Vitalic is the headliner so he gets the longer one, nope I’m wrong, timetable says he played an hour set too.  Anyway back to Bonobo, they had a fantastic sound, mix a bit of Massive Attack with the bell like sounds Four Tet uses, mix in a dash of Sun Ra Arkestra, a bit of the Orb, some soul and some funk, oh, and some Sub Saharan music too and you have the fantastic, uplifting and ambient beats of Bonobo.  Highlights were Bambro Koyo Ganda (feat. Innov Gnawa), Cirrus, No Reason with Szjerdene on vocals I much prefer her to the studio version featuring Nick Murphy from their more recent album Migration from last year.  Kong was another from 2010’s Black Sands album that got the feet moving, such a great act I wished they could have played longer though.

http://bonobomusic.com/

Vitalic   –   Main Stage      0.45    –   1.45 am.

I just sat on the same spot on the hillside and waited it out, Vitalic took a while but he eventually appeared, it was getting cold up there though on the brow of the hill so I needed beats to keep me preoccupied.  What can I say about the Vitalic intro, twas fecking nuts, electro frapps, surges, gobbledeegook voices and a thundering pulsing beat, he’s as mental as the crazy Modeselektor, demented inter-glacial electronica mind phuck!  And another slice of French techno/electroclash/electro house madness unfurled by Body & Soul, quite a cool way to blow out the early hours of Saturday morning don’t ya think.

https://www.vitalic.org/

After a bit of Vitalic I wandered back into the woods, couldn’t find Simon, couldn’t find Kevin and wherever I was sitting or walking about, I didn’t really know anyone, so it was weird, the randomness of conversation had disappeared, perhaps it was a couples night I don’t know, but I thought, go back to the tent, might as well get warm again and wrap thy own self in thee quilt and went out like a light, time possibly approximately about 2 am or thereabouts.

Sunday 25th June.

Was feeling a bit rougher today and the feeling was made worse when I heard about the tragic death that occurred at the festival, my condolences to the family and sorry for your loss, it seems is the first case ever at Body & Soul festival, let’s hope its the last one.

Trying to think of something healthy, aah, Natasha’s Kitchen, lovely smoothies and cakes, a beautiful soya lemon cheesecake I think and a gooseberry smoothie does the trick for a while, I’m hanging about with Simon and he is off to the only ATM onsite which has a fairly big queue and the good bones of over an hours wait.

I troupe off to film the dancing ladies and lads of Loosysmokes during a nice sunny spell around the Absolut stage.

Was back at the tent for a while when I heard this powerful traditional music booming out of the Woodlands stage, just around the same time I see a missed called from my mate Anders, so I call him back and he tells me that his friend, box player Charlie Harris is playing with the Tulla Ceili Band.  I quickly deduct that, this is exactly who I’m hearing so I ran to the Woodlands stage to capture some of their last set.

I think Simon wanted somewhere to sit down and eat, so we went into the Arbutus Yarns area where some nice old time mountain banjo music was playing, courtesy off Ryan McAuley, Eamonn Travers on piano, Sean Conway on guitar and Darragh Brannigan on drums.  Someone commented on youtube that they are a mixture of two now defunct bands, Hatchlings and Tashka.  It was a pity as they built up a nice amount of listeners with their gig and some drumming troupe beside the venue completely drowned out their sound.

And speaking of which, another video has surfaced of said drummers, David Gerulis upped this lovely eight minute clip of floating into the woods from the main arena and walking towards the drumming party, they create an amazing buzz and a nice dancing crowd.  They are called The Hit Machine Drummers and this was their very first festival outing.

https://www.facebook.com/TheHitMachineDrummers/

Quite a lot of time was spent around the Walled Garden area, one of the best places to be in the sunshine, I was with Kevin, Simon and his friends, Barbara and daughter Abbie Nolan and Janice Topley.

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Kevin, Simon, Janice, Barbara & Abbie.
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Myself next to Kevin.

There was quite a few cancellations over the weekend, Parcels the main stage closer for Friday night, A Tribe Called Red who cancelled due to one of the members getting an ear infection, Songhoy Blues who were replaced by The Beat and Birdy Nam Nam who was replaced by the Midnight Circus closer Mykki Blanco.  I heard later from a friend, Kate Bandia, that some of the cancellations were due to a bomb scare at some airport in Europe, so nothing the festival can do about that, how the festival managed to whirl up The Beat out of the blue has to be commended.

The Beat   –   Main Stage     7.45    –     8.30 pm.

It was a surprise to see The Beat as I had no idea they were in the line up, I realise they were a last minute replacement for Songhoy Blues, but I was delighted as I missed them at Electric Picnic in 2013 when they opened up the main stage.  It was great to hear the classics such as Ranking Full Stop and Mirror in the Bathroom, perfect Ska music to usher in the sunset at Ballinlough Castle and for Sunday night in general.

So with the way things were going and the amount of cancellations I was in no rush to go back into the main arena or main stage area so stuck around the fire area of the Walled Garden as it was getting chillier with the gathering shade and down to Natasha’s Kitchen for a spot of reggae sounds courtesy of William Softly.

Simon split for the night retiring at midnight, so me and Kev hung about the tent for a while and decided to go in for the last hour into the woods.  The last act we were to catch was Ships on the Woodlands stage.

Ships  –   Woodlands Stage      11.15    –   2.00 am.

Ships had a ambient folk rock thing going with sensuous singing, glissando guitars and atmospherics, they were a perfect closer for such as stage, gloriously bathed in blue and purple lights reflected on the small square glass frames dotting the top and sides of the stage.  Sorcha McGrath and Simon Cullen from Dublin weaved a magical spell with their sound, I hope to see them crop up again at Body & Soul at the Picnic.

http://bodyandsoul.ie/project/ships/

I headed back with Kevin to the camper as it was colder tonight than previous nights, stayed up and had a few tins and the banter before we crashed out, last thing that could be heard was a bongo player in the distance playing for life, fair play to him.

Monday 26th June.

Twas nice having a proper bed last night and a bit of a fry this morning, my job now to disassemble my tent and pack everything into a few bags and say my goodbyes to people at the campsite.  I needed to get a lift from Ballinlough to Kinnegad to catch the 4.50 pm Citylink bus to Galway.  The time about 2  – 2.30 pm so I thought it wouldn’t be a problem, I managed to get a lift within an hour to Athboy and then eventually another to Trim.  By the time I got to Longwood I was still about 30 km away from Kinnegad and it was about 4.20 pm, didn’t get a lift till about an hour later getting into Kinnegad for about 6pm.  I managed the get the 6.50 pm Citylink where your man let me on when I explained the situation trying to get the 4.50 connection and finally got into Galway for 9.20 pm. just ten minutes spare to make it in time.  Thanks to Simon, Kevin, Ger, Jennie, William Softly and everyone else who made my week and weekend magical at Body&Soul.  Roll on Body&Soul Festival 2018 and Electric Picnic Body & Soul Village 2017. 🙂

 

Electric Picnic 2014 Festival Review

EP 2014

 

Prelude: 24th – 28th August

I travelled from Galway on the 24th catching the commuter Citylink bus to Dublin, where I got off at Kinnegad, this is where I met Lisa Lawless and Sean Sheil, Lisa was driving straight to Stradbally from there, we were all doing the advanced volunteering and after nine months of positively obsessing about Electric Picnic on Boards.ie, the Electric Picnic Forum and Facebook the time had finally come around again.  Myself and Sean shared a similar taste in electronica so I set about playing him loads of mad sets that I had collected and put on the Ipod and putting my Angel Friendz speakers to the test.

music-angel-friendz-main

Over the next four days I paired up with like-minded electronic fan, Jan Schneider to work four six hour shifts in and around the Body & Soul crew camp site and car park, playing wild electronic sounds to get us in the mood for festival time and although we wished it, Daniel Avery wouldn’t be playing this years Picnic.  Two days were spent at the top of the road leading to the staff entrance, where we added a touch of pink to the dark green of the security guy, pink being the colour of anyone to do with Festival Republic, we had to prevent staff and people seeking B&S accreditation driving down to the car park exit and direct them to the correct road and the actual entrance.  We also worked a day at the entrance part which was mainly spent listening to Beck’s Mellow Gold, our job to direct campervans and caravans onto the middle road and other traffic up left to the back of the camp site.  The final day was spent working with a Scottish and English girl who were professionals at organising festival car parks at every festival in UK and Ireland over the summer, we had to prevent cars from parking where they felt like, which involved me having to go down the track and point the arriving vehicles to the parking attendants.

After each shift, Sean, Lisa, Dave and myself would meet up at the volunteer place and head from there through the production entrance to get a bite at the Roma or Chinese restaurant and take it over to Ramsbottoms pub where we would have a pint, the bar full of Festival Republic, Body&Soul and Trenchtown workers and various other festival areas.

Special mention to Dan the supervisor hailing from deepest Macroom in Cork and my neighbours, a crazy Cork bunch, Cian and the lads and lassies who seemed to have an unbelievable energy, partying hard till 7 am and managing to turn up for the shifts at 2 pm. Also a special mention to Catherine Kehoe, Susanne and everyone at the volunteer office, Larry, Ross, Dave and campervan John and his daughters and so many more.

Lisa Lawless and Myself on the Main Stage, Pre-Festival.
Lisa Lawless and Myself on the Main Stage, Pre-Festival.
Stacey Shine and Sean Shiel, fellow volunteers.
Stacey Shine and Sean Shiel, fellow volunteers.

Friday 29th August

GIRO at the Earthship Stage, Body&Soul Friday.
GIRO at the Earthship Stage, Body&Soul Friday.

Friday I was up by 10 am as I wanted to sell a ticket and figured that you have to get out there early enough, so onward to the main arena entrance and car park to catch arriving festival goers.  Surprisingly everyone who had arrived so far already had a ticket, compared to last year where there was literally hundreds in the streets of Stradbally begging for a ticket, this year no one seemed to be looking and I attracted someone from Festival Republic security who told me to move on out of the arena and car park area.  So back through the festival site and staff entrance to lie down for half an hour as that was a lot of walking involved there.  I rested up at John’s campervan area, where he made us free coffee and tea and where we can charge our phones and ipods, John and one of his daughters was trying to find a buyer for the ticket for me.  I figured the best bet was to go out evening time when the workers would be free from the cities and would arrive to the festival. Some people standing outside Supervalu in Stradbally with a sign for tickets for sale were moved on by the Gardai, so my plan of action was to go to one of the pubs for a pint and possibly sell the ticket there.

 

GIRO: Galway International Retro Orchestra – Earthship Stage, Body & Soul Village 4 – 4.30 pm

It just happens that about 3.30 pm I met Geoff Ward and Tom Cody wandering about the crew camp bundled with instruments, luggage and camping equipment trying to find the Body & Soul area so that they could set up for the gig. Having arrived an hour and a half earlier, but any time they asked security where to go they were given wrong directions, most security should have the EP staff handbook, but it seems these guys didn’t.  So I gave a hand with the luggage and brought them up through the hole in the wall entrance, Geoff just making it in time for Giro’s gig.

Giro launched their first CD at the end of April this year which they had been touring a few gigs around Galway, then Anders Trabjerg and his wife Mayo Yanachi had their first child, daughter Hanna in 16th June so the gigs stopped.  This Electric Picnic appearance is their first gig since the birth.  Giro play a combination of vaudeville style jigs, reels and polkas influenced by recordings of the Flanagan Brothers, Klezmer music and Romanian gypsy music, all of the music similarly connected through emigration to the US and New York in particular in the 1930s and the melting pot of music that came from this.  Their set was basically the first audience in the Body & Soul area for 2014, poor Leo and Anto preceding Giro had to play to an empty stage as the opening of the arena was delayed, the audience just filtering in when Giro started up.

We were treated to some rousing Romanian music and Klezmer music which started pulling in a small crowd, although there was the onslaught of heavy drizzle, Sean, Lisa and Dave showed up too, some spritely reels followed next where folk started leaping around to the music.  So more Romanian or Hungarian music followed with Mayo doing some sweet stuff on the fiddle, Anders functioning as the rhythm on the large accordion, Canadian Kyle Borley (flute and fife) and New Zealand man Geoff Ward (saxophone, clarinet and banjolin) joining in intermittently in the arrangements.  Borley is also a fine singer of the old Flanagan Brothers style type of songs and gave us a fine rendition of Goodbye Muirsheen Durkin bridged neatly into two polkas.  Giro went down exceedingly well and I reckon they have made a few new converts from this gig, they will be playing a few gigs around Galway over the coming weeks.

GIRO Earthship Stage, Body & Soul  Friday.
GIRO Earthship Stage, Body & Soul Friday.

http://www.girogalway.com/

 

I decided to go into Stradbally in the evening for a pint and to see if I could flog the ticket in the pubs there, at risk of missing the Blondie set although I did see a bit of them at the RockNess festival in Scotland in 2010.  I settled for the Ramsbottom pub as that seemed the busiest of the bars plus it was nice to drink a pint of Guinness in a glass than watered down Heneiken in a plastic glass in the arena, I got talking to some of the people behind Trenchtown in there.  There was a few lads hanging about outside the pub and I overheard conversation about not wanting to use Donedeal.ie, I asked if they wanted to buy a ticket, to which one fellow from Portlaoise ended up buying it.  I was now free to enjoy the festival with a small bit of income, plus I made this guy happy as he more or less got it for the festival price.I bought a lanyard and programme when I got back into the arena and seeked out Charcoal Grill for my dinner.

Foals – Main Stage 9 – 10.15 pm

I caught a bit of the Foals on the main stage who were playing a fine energetic set and a fine amount of audience gathered too, there was plenty of tracks from of their new album Holy Fire played and they had a good solid rocky sound, a very nice addition to the Friday night entertainment.  I don’t know much about the Foals, but I suppose they are a discovery for me and I would be most likely to watch them again if given the chance, but a very tight indie rock sound and strong vocals.

https://myspace.com/foals

It has to be said this year the Friday night was scant and similar to last year with not much choices in the main arena, the Little Big Tent, Cosby Tent and Rankin Woods tent were closed for the night with only the Electric Arena open for two hours with James Murphy (Ex-LCD Sound System) performing and the main stage which was now left with the choice of the Pet Shop Boys.  The Pet Shop Boys always had a superb production on their singles but I just found them to be incredibly dull.  I was happy enough to just listen to a bit of the performance from the volunteer tent to the side of the main stage, they basically sounded like their CDs really, ah well, horses for courses and all that.  If I was working this weekend as a volunteer I would have chosen Friday as my night shift.

http://www.petshopboys.co.uk/

At some point during the night I met Kevin Keehan in the main arena and we went for a wander into the Body & Soul Village, there was a very large crowd gathered around the amphitheatre main stage so I figure this would be tUnE-yArDs, there was no point in trying to squeeze in as it was absolutely rammed so we just wandered about the place eventually deciding to go to the Rave in the Woods about 2 am.

Sunil Sharpe – Red Bull Arena – Rave in the Woods  2 – 4 am.

Sunil had a bit of job in his hands, half the festival must have showed up here seeing that more than half the main arena was shut, but he managed with superb aplomb, playing nice dark brain dance techno, twisty electronic sounds, a resounding thud and an earth quaking bass.  The Dublin based DJ had the entire crowd in a hypnotic trance with the music getting wilder and harder.  He dropped Polygon Window the title track by Richard D. James aka Aphex Twin just over half the way into his set which added to that brain dance sound, a nice way to blow out the first night.  The long clip I took sounds like he sampled Forward Strategy Group’s Phase Linear for the electronic drone in the track, the second clip comes in courtesy from Youtube user Kanal von EarwiggleDublin.

Sunil Sharpe - Rave in the Woods, Friday.
Sunil Sharpe – Rave in the Woods, Friday.
Sunil Sharpe - Rave in the Woods, Friday.
Sunil Sharpe – Rave in the Woods, Friday.

https://soundcloud.com/sunilsharpe

 

The trek back to the crew camp from Rave in the woods seemed like an eternity, already by Wednesday last week I was getting blisters on the balls of my feet from all the walking around Stradbally town, to and from work and during the work, so they were very tender indeed by the time the first rave in the woods party ended for Friday night.  Went up to Kevin’s van where he had a mattress set up in the back for a few cans before hitting the hay myself.

 

Saturday 30th August

Woke up about 10 am to the blinding heat, I sit up quickly unzip the tent and lie down again when the cooler breeze enters, everyone around is the same, woke up by the smothering heat.  Five hours kip, that’s not bad and the most typical of festival sleep patterns you will get, taking in the late night shenanigans.  Took a nice shower and shave to freshen up for the day.  A bunch of us decided to walk into Stradbally for a bite to eat and a coffee, possibly taking in a trip to the Supervalu too.  We settle for a scrambled egg and toast and a coffee at the Sradbally Fayre cafe, its nice the odd time to come out of camping land into the concrete and watch the buzz around the small town.  At 8.50 Euros though I call that a rip off for scrambled egg and toast with coffee, so I won’t be back to that cafe in a hurry.

After stocking up with more Guinness and pouches of tobacco and cigarette papers from Super Valu, I head back to the crew camp, where Kevin phones me and we arrange to meet up in the main arena.  Its handy when you get to the cross roads leading to the arena, with the crew wristband you can just walk up to the metal gate left of the first Hendrix camp site entrance, flash your wristband and you are inside the arena without the searching or delays the festival punter has to go through.  Met with Kevin and went for a wander around the arena, he had to go off and do something so I wandered up to the volunteer area and had a chat with a few volunteers there whilst Trinity Orchestra played out the Gorillaz album, some of it nice and some of it quite jarring.  I took a wee trip into the Green Crafts Village to have a look, among all the crafts, pottery and recycling was this bodhran area also called Newgrange Willow Design, where there was bodhrans with wicker rims, the man also gave bodhran lessons for ten euro an hour, anyway I sauntered up and had a jam with him to his banjo CD.  I wandered down to the main stage area after and found Lisa sauntering about the front waiting for Dave and others to show, they were getting set up for the Stranglers set due to start.

I decided to go and take a quick look at the Mindfield area before the gig,  there was all sorts of spoken word stages, interview stages, Theatre of Food with its chefs, food stalls and an expensive eating house set up for charity with award winning chefs and a pricey meal for 120 Euro, I’ll stick to the Charcoal Grill for the moment.  There was also the Science Gallery stage that had a few eye openers in it, in fact there is just too much to fit into three days really.

The Stranglers – Main Stage  2 – 3 pm.

For a band with only two original members left they brought back a lot of nostalgic memories for me, I was a bit of a closet Stranglers fan back in the early 1980s.  Classics were reeled out such as Get a Grip on yourself, Nice and Sleazy (minus the nude models this time), Duchess, Peaches, No More Heroes and a gorgeous version of Golden Brown which brought a tear to my eye.  They pulled a decent enough crowd for the time of the day too and still had a decent enough sound and verve regardless that the original vocalist Hugh Cornwell was no longer with them since 1990, Dave Greenfield and Jean-Jacques Burnel doing a decent enough job with the vocals.

http://www.thestranglers.net/

Went back to the crew camp site for a while to chill, this was the first time that I never moved into the Hendrix camp site on the Thursday and it was so much more peaceful for it, there is a awful lot of drinking and boisterousness at the Hendrix, even more so now with the bar times being extended to 12 am on Friday and Sunday and 1 am on Saturday and can you blame anyone for drinking their silly heads of themselves at 6 Euros a pop for a pint in the arena.

Met with Kevin again and went for a wander with him into Stradbally, he wanted to get a bite and to stock up, so we headed for the corner chipper near the Stradbally Fayre cafe, I bought some chips myself which were delicious with a garlic dip.  I noticed loads of young fellows hanging about the town about fourteen or fifteen years old, skanger looking types looking for ways to bunk into EP, they stopped a crustie fellow who actually advised them how to break in, well at least they wouldn’t be able to get through the security at the crew camp.  What is the point anyway, you break into a festival and then you get lumbered at a campsite how do you get by wristband check to the main arena, its obvious they are not there for the music and are there to cause trouble or rob tents.  Of course you meet the odd few who have bunked in but are genuine music fans too, you can still enjoy free music around the camping areas like Salty Dog stage, Rave in the Woods and Trenchtown if you can avoid the occasional ‘on the spot’ checks for wristbands that crop up now and again.

Chilled for a while with Lisa, Dave and some others at crew camp for a while, supping Guinness and having the odd smoke.  There was not really anything on the stages at the moment to grab my interest, but that usually is always the case at large festivals like EP during the afternoon and early evening, there was a number of interesting acts playing, Sean was off to see Hozier, but I was reserving my energy at least till about 8ish where I wanted to catch a bit of Camille O’Sullivans set at the Jerry Fish tent, otherwise I would just exacerbate my blisters and have an even sorer back if I tried to watch everything.

The Frank and Walters – Jerry Fish’s Electric Sideshow   7.15 – 8 pm

Cork band The Frank and Walters were giving it socks at the Jerry Fish tent with a nice fan base packed into the tent, the group were all donned in orange shirts reminding me of Sweden’s The Hives, they played melodious rocky pop songs that reminded of the energy of the Undertones and the early Jam.  The group’s vocalist and bassist Paul Linehan regaled the audience in his thick Cork brogue with many funny stories and innuendos of his experiences on tour with the group and it seems they cracked it today with a fairly rammed tent reeling out classics such as After All and  Plenty Times amongst others.

http://www.frankandwalters.net/forum/

 

Off for a wander now with Kevin to the Body&Soul Village, he always has a fondness for places like My House (at Body&Soul Festival) and the Radio Shack for continuous and timely funky hits which I don’t mind myself at all.  I notice sometimes especially at festivals that some stages are a little too close to each other, to some people this is their idea of hell, but for me in some ways that adds to the mad chaos to hear two completely different amplified sounds within the one ear shot.  The case in hand here being a traditional music concert in the Bandstand (Pagoda stage from B&S festival) clashing with cool cheesy disco funk of the Radio Shack.

Louis Scully Discotekken – Radio Shack, Body&Soul    7 – 9 pm.

I’ve no idea what music was playing in here but there was about eight or nine individuals giving it socks to the groove, I imagine it was probably stuff like The Tramp’s Disco Inferno, The Real Thing’s Can you feel the force and the like, timeless classic disco era funk.  No doubt there was some Chic fans in there getting themselves into the mood.

http://ie.linkedin.com/pub/louis-scully/6/49b/87

Perfect Friction – Bandstand, Body&Soul   8 – 8.40 pm

Couldn’t help overhearing them from the Radio Shack so wandered over to catch a bit of their traditional magic and man, they had a fine crowd jumping about in front of the stage, some fine looking girls playing concertina, fiddles and accordions and two fellows, one with a timely bodhran and the other pumping the sound with the guitar.  Reels and more reels and jigs with a bit of rock n roll and Bothy Band style thrown in for good measure.

http://perfectfriction.ie/about/

Craic outside the Bandstand, Body&Soul Saturday.
Craic outside the Bandstand, Body&Soul Saturday.
Perfect Friction - Bandstand, Body&Soul Saturday.
Perfect Friction – Bandstand, Body&Soul Saturday.
The Radio Shack - Body & Soul Saturday.
The Radio Shack – Body & Soul Saturday.

Camille O’Sullivan – Jerry Fish’s Electric Sideshow   9 – 9.45 pm

My sister Marguerite and her husband Brendan are big fans of Camille O’Sullivan and have her CDs The Changeling, Live at the Olympia and the DVD too, so I was well accustomed to her sound and this was the first time I would see her in the flesh.  Wikipedia describes her as alternative rock / baroque pop, I would also put a bit of burlesque in there too, perhaps the best description of her is likening her to a female version of Nick Cave.  She is also an actress, artist/painter, lecturer and part of her act is very theatrical in style too.  What better a venue to find her in than Jerry Fish’s quirky tent venue.

She kicked off with the marvellous Revelator that opens the album The Changeling, a brooding masterpiece built up from keyboards and guitar histrionics of the musicians on stage she belts out the lyrics with such intensity that she is spellbinding, the only snag being my camera deciding to cut off before the last minute of the song and too late for me to realise this.  Camille comes across at times as a stand up comedian or maybe she just has the natural lilt of Irish laughter, but she charmed us no end.  She does a very intense  acappella  piece, I don’t know if this is one of her own compositions or if it is a Nick Cave style track but it got an amazing reaction from the audience including myself.  At one point she looses her balance on stage and falls over a large amplifier, I don’t know if this was staged or if it was a genuine accident, but like a pro she just carried on as if it never happened.  I was very impressed with Camille’s performance. something completely different that just grabs you, yep, that’s what the Jerry Fish’s Electric Sideshow is all about.

Camille O'Sullivan - Jerry Fish's Electric Sideshow Saturday.
Camille O’Sullivan – Jerry Fish’s Electric Sideshow Saturday.
Camille O'Sullivan - Jerry Fish's Electric Side Show  Saturday.
Camille O’Sullivan – Jerry Fish’s Electric Side Show Saturday.

http://www.camilleosullivan.com/bio/

It was off after that to find a coffee stall rather than to drink another Guinness and a bite to eat, Kevin wanted to catch the last part of the London Grammar performance at the Electric Arena, unfortunately as we were trying to work out where the Electric Arena was coming around the main stage area, the Paolo Nutini audience had just spilled out of the area and separated the two of us, I hopelessly lost Kevin in the throng with no way to figure where the hell he was.  So I made my way up to the Electric Arena and used O’Briens Ice Cream van as a marker should Kevin phone to find out where I was.

London Grammar – Electric Arena   9.30 – 10.30 pm

I caught the last two songs of the act, not actually in the tent but at the ice cream van outside the venue, I have no idea of London Grammar’s music but it was soft rockish sound with some of the nicest vocals heard over the weekend along with Camille’s, of course. Nope still no sign of Kevin, it turns out there is another O’Briens ice cream van at the other side of the EA so Kevin was standing at the wrong van it seems.  Not that we would’ve got into the EA anyway the tent was rimmed about three or four columns deep with people on the outside for this up and coming group.  A minor irritation developed, Kevin kept phoning me to find out where I was no matter how much I tried to explain that I couldn’t hear him due to amplification and roars everywhere, but he kept phoning and phoning until I just ignored it or else laughed my silly head off as I didn’t know what he was saying nor him me. He was raging that he missed London Grammar because he couldn’t find the EA, its a simple rule, you go left of the main stage by the first set of stalls and the Bacardi bar until you hit the first yellow and blue stripe tent, at least that’s what I think it was.

That was the catch phrase though for the festival, everyone screaming into their phones, ‘Wha, what?  I canna hear what your saying, its cracking up.  WHAT! I canna bloody hear you, text me for god’s sake.’

http://www.londongrammar.com/home/

Portishead – Main Stage  10.35 – 11.50 pm

It was nice to be able to watch a Bristol trip-hop act without gales and rain for a change, the last time being the Massive Attack slot in 2010 where I got soaked to the skin after the comfort of Fever Ray in the EA.  Kicking off with the uptempo Silence from the album Third Portishead rocked us up with a visual and perfect sound feast, although for the first few numbers Beth Gibbons vocal level was a little low and it was hard to make her out, but this was straightened up by the bands third number.  Watching Portishead live, they come across much heavier than in their albums, guitars soaring with amazing power.  We were treated to many of the luscious tracks from the groups debut album Dummy including Glorybox, Mysterons and Sour Times.  Perhaps the biggest roar came during Machine Gun when the propaganda shown on the backdrop screen showed the Palestine conflict, the Syrian crisis and the Irish debt crisis with images of AIB and the Bank of Ireland.  Very similar it appears to the messages shown in the backdrop for Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy that I seen on a Youtube clip from their performance at Longitude festival this year.

The visuals especially on the likes of Mysterons was absolutely stunning to go with that wall of sound only Portishead can create and Beth Gibbon’s vocals are simply divine, it was a pleasure to witness them at the Picnic and another landmark group crossed of my list, although I wouldn’t hesitate to go and see them again.

Portishead - Main stage, Saturday.
Portishead – Main stage, Saturday.

http://www.portishead.co.uk/

It was time for a brief sit down and a can of Guinness or two at the Body&Soul area with Kevin until we made our way back to the main stage for a bit of Chic, I wasn’t too keen in catching the start anyway as I find the first two hits by Chic super cheesy and I know that they start with these two numbers, Dance, dance, dance being one of them.  It was more the stuff from the second album I liked such as Good Times, Forbidden Lover, We’re Lost in Music and Le Freak.

Chic – Main Stage   12.30 – 1.45 am.

Chic were just ploughing into We’re Lost in Music when myself and Kevin arrived at the main stage and man! It was packed out, never had disco funk been so popular, everyone giving socks with the moves.  I used to dismiss disco as a sort of disposable pop music when I was into my heavy metal stuff, but funk guitarists like Nile Rodgers can rock with the best of them when required, had Rodgers been ten years older he would have been playing with the likes of Parliament and Funkadelic or even Hot Chocolate.  Chic has a very tight ship in sound with a smashing tight brass section, a cool and calculating bass and a delightful lead front of amazing soul singers in Kimberly Davis and Folami Ankoanda-Thompson who have the looks and stage clothes to match, Davis and Thompson look in particular as if they were whisked from a world renowned gospel choir, jeezo these girls sure can sing their soul.

Now lots of people have been complaining about Rodgers bigging himself up as having played with the big stars and producing their records, but after reading his biography Le Freak I have the greatest respect for the man and it was also a delight he announced that his cancer has cleared up.

On with the music, the group went through various classics, a Diana Ross melody section, David Bowie’s Lets Dance, Sister Sledge’s We are family and Madonna ‘s Like a Virgin which I don’t particularly like but let the man have his glory.  For me it was more the hits that made Chic themselves, We’re Lost in MusicMy Forbidden Lover, Good Times with obligatory nod to the Sugarhill Gang who originally nicked the melody for their hit Rappers Delight and the bona fide classic Le Freak which seriously got the whole arena dancing.  A smashing gig and a great way to round up the Saturday nights entertainment on the main stage, the only other similar type Saturday night closer being George Clinton’s Pfunk at Electric Picnic 2008.

Chic - Main Stage, Saturday.
Chic – Main Stage, Saturday.

http://www.nilerodgers.com/about/projects/chic

We were wondering where to go next, I realised I hadn’t been to the Little Big Tent since Richie Hawtin’s show on Friday Electric Picnic 2012 and looked at the lanyard to discover that Northern Irish DJs Bicep were playing at the LBT till 3 am so we headed up to catch the last hour there.

Bicep – Little Big Tent  1.30 – 3 am.

Hailing from Belfast, Bicep create a nice sound palate of house music, in the sweet confines of the LBT there is a nice crowd bopping away to the sound but there is still room to breathe unlike the packed Rave in the Woods at times.  There is a nice visual backdrop that compliments the sounds and Bicep seem to have a grasp of rich electronic sounds that they expertly mix to the beats, having missed them at Life festival over the last year or two I was glad to be able to catch up with them at last, I think Kevin enjoyed this too. Funky electronica for the ravers it is and gets a thumbs up from me.

Bicep - Little Big Tent, Saturday.
Bicep – Little Big Tent, Saturday.

http://www.beatport.com/artist/bicep/167525

We decided to go for Rave in the woods for the final hour and catch the last bit of Joy Orbison’s set, so from scintillating house to more scintillating house, dubstep and garage music it was.

Joy Orbison -Rave in the Woods  2 – 4 am.

This was my second time catching Joy Orbison this year, the first time being at Life festival where he played under the moniker Joy O and apparently a different type of music as well although I enjoyed both his sets.

There was a massive crowd gathered at the rave in the woods again, this time with Orbison at the helm, providing tasteful beats, cool twisted electronica and beautiful female vocal samples that complimented the sound.  Every time I film this stage my camera trails off to the lasers and as always I end up filming the galaxy of colour spots on the trees, I suppose it can’t be helped and I reckon every person with a camera does the same.  The next time at EP I will make sure I get to the very front of the stage and film them from there.  There is not much more I can say about the music apart from that its was extremely enjoyable and energising, you can only say so much about dance music, a bleep here and bleep there, a twisted snare here and a bass to flatten your house with.  Lets just say tonight, Orbison was playing a pumping soulful groove that you did not want to stop and that you could listen to until sunrise, alas it stopped at 4 am of course, so now the trip back to crew camp, feck!.

Joy Orbison - Rave in the Woods, Saturday.
Joy Orbison – Rave in the Woods, Saturday.

http://www.discogs.com/artist/1564482-Joy-Orbison

Myself and Kevin ended up getting lost on the way back, we ended up a road where security were helping a big truck to reverse, we asked security if that was the road to the Hendrix camp site which it wasn’t.  We eventually found the stalls and the Hendrix camp site about an hour later and when we hit the cross roads, we took a wrong turn and ended up at some farm house, why the hell does this keep happening to us, my blistering feet are laughing at me, it was probably down to us being too loaded or whatever.  You’d think there would be some kind of Stargate wormhole by now to save all that bloody walking.

Anyway the final hour was spent in the company of Ross, Larry and Kevin drinking Morgans and Guinness and having an oul smoke till about 6 am, where we met a shivering and a just awoke Sean who was heading to one of the portaloos.  It was then I realised how bloody cold it was and decided to hit the hay myself to keep warm.

Sunday 31st August.

Got up about 11ish today and met Sean, Lisa and Dave and decided to go for a breakfast in Stradbally, I can’t remember the pub we went to but it was just down from Ramsbottoms.  They were cashing in on festival prices so the breakfast with a coffee worked out a 10 Euro which is just a tad expensive.  Anyway we happily gulped down the breakfast and coffee and I asked someone where I was supposed to pay, but everyone turned around to me saying they already paid beforehand, so it was suggested by my friends that I leave quickly and quietly which I did, so got my breakfast free woo hoo.

Got back to crew camp with the others and met Kevin there, he wanted to go and see the Wailers, so we set off to the main arena through the steel gate armed with cans of beer.  Last year we missed Black Uhuru because we were having a chilled time with Patrick Long, his brother Kevin and loads of buddies, the same happens everyone at some point I’d say the weekend over at the Picnic.  Your chilling after a lot of walking and you completely miss someone you wanted to see.

The Wailers – Main Stage   2.30 – 3.30 pm.

There was a nice crowd gathered for the Wailers and the sun was out in all its glory, the perfect recipe for reggae music.  Where we settled about five or six rows back, who should we land beside but my good friend Aminah Dastan and her boyfriend, so a nice reunion of buddies.  The Wailers played a greatest hit catalogue of Bob Marley classics which got a steady bouncy skank going, Get up Stand Up, Could you be Loved, Is this Love, One Love and so on and so on, just a fun filled hour of classic Marley hits in the blazing sun you couldn’t ask for more in that traditional Sunday EP slot.

The Wailers - Main Stage Sunday.
The Wailers – Main Stage Sunday.
Aminah Dastan & her boyfriend at the main stage for the Wailers.
Aminah Dastan & her boyfriend at the main stage for the Wailers.

http://wailers.com/

Aminah and her fellah had to go back to work at their coffee stall in Soul Kids area, so myself and Kevin rushed over to catch the last fifteen minutes of Jenny Lewis in the Rankin Woods tent.

Jenny Lewis – Rankin Woods Stage    3 – 3.45 pm.

Jenny Lewis is the lead singer for Rilo Kiley an alternative rock group from the US, she has three solo albums under her belt, the style of music she gave off today was an alternative country rock n roll vibe, a kinda of Americana music, this was my first time seeing her as I never seen Rilo Kiley at the 2007 Picnic either.  Her music judging by the clip I took had a rootsy Southern bluesy vibe about it but with an indie edge, she also has a great rock n roll voice that is very powerful and she is a very cute sexy looking red head, I would definitely cross the road to see her again.

http://www.jennylewis.com/

This was around the traditional time for me to pop down to the merchandise stall and buy a Picnic tee shirt, I settled for a nice blueish green one with what looks like the Eye of Isis design kind of like the 2012 a bit except nicer again.  At some point during yesterday I spotted Kevin’s favourite diner food, the chicken wing stall, now for the love of me I was trying to remember where I did see it, we eventually found it in the second row of stalls but I think he was disappointed when they had actually run out of chicken wings, it sort of defeats the purpose of the name of their stall really.

Kevin went off for a wander and we decided to meet at the B&S entrance later, at one point I sat down not far from the Bacardi bar to listen to the sounds emitting from there, Decent Perks was playing a set of funky house there over the cacophony of Sinead O’Connor’s warblings from the main stage, another case of two sound stages clashing, a weird combination, funky house and the loathsome vocals of O’Connor.  I had to get out of there fast, so met Kevin at the B&S entrance sooner than expected.

We basically sauntered about Body&Soul looking at stuff, some of the strange shelters or art near some of the stages, well the big green umbrella type shelter next to the Upstage tent where we had an old smoke.  Kevin looked at my programme and discovered that Mikey Joyride Soro was going to be playing a one and a half hour reggae set at the Upstage at 5 pm.  Mikey is one of the supervisors at Life, Body & Soul and no doubt, Electric Picnic too who looked after the site build workers and volunteers in all these festivals, he is known for his trademark green Jeep with a constant reggae soundtrack blasting out of it at all times.

Mikey Joyride Soro – Upstage, Body&Soul    5 – 6.30 pm.

Mikey threw a joyful reggae party and a nice reggae history lesson in music to keep our feet moving, the tent was empty at the starting but quickly filled up when the bass vibe rebounded out of the openings in the tent and seduced passer bys into the tent to loose it with the music.  There was an incredible happiness from the music that Mikey played which is again what the Picnic is all about, its not just about headliners and massive stages, its a series of about 20 or maybe 25 different stages, some quite close to each other in the same areas.

The music covered all sorts of genres that have sprung from reggae too, drum n bass, dubstep, dancehall, dub, ska, uptown, ragga, jungle and of course, good old reggae itself. Classics such as Dawn Penn’s No, no, no, Bob Marley classics, Damian Marley’s Welcome to Jamrock and the like, just a pleasant place to spend an hour or so when there was no plans on the agenda to rush off to the main stage or whatever.

http://www.mixcloud.com/mikeysoro/

When looking at the EP festival programme afterwards I realised one of my favourite Irish electronica artists played right after Mikey, Cork man, Reid but I only found this out hours later so I was a wee bit sickened, it happens though all the time at festivals.

I decided I wanted to get something to eat before going on the liquid diet of Captain Morgan cola cans and cans of Guinness so off to a coffee stall and then a food one.  I had a good look around until I settled for a German style sandwich stall called Hans Frankenfurter – Authentic German Cooking that sold bratwurst and pulled pork rolls.  I settled for a pulled pork roll for the affordable price of 6 Euro and it was absolutely delicious and filled me well, one of the nicest discoveries at the Picnic.

Hans Frankenfurter, German food stall at Electric picnic.
Hans Frankenfurter, German food stall at Electric picnic.

We briefly took a trip to the Hendrix camp site where Kevin wanted to get some cans from his tent, when we arrived I got a chance to meet Cork Dave who was in suitable spirits with a few beers in him, blasting his beat box and entertaining his neighbours who were suitably inebriated too.  They spotted my bodhran so they begged me to do a bodhran solo, which I obliged them in the end and they gave me a cheer, this was the only time I managed to catch up with Dave, so I took a photo to catch that moment.

DSC04266

Seeing that we were in a bit of a reggae buzz today we decided to head down to Trenchtown for a while, it was odd where Kevin chose to sit, right in the middle of another sound stage clash, this time the Revelation Sound System were blasting dancehall dub in one corner while there was a live reggae rock band Synergy playing in a stage at another corner, you know something, festivals are the maddest of things, why do we subject ourselves to such volume from various sources, we are mad as hatters we are.

Synergy – Inna Live yard, Trenchtown   7.30 – 8.30 pm.

Went over to check out Synergy who hail from Youghal, County Cork and who play many different styles of reggae, folk, ska, trad, African and rock, they have been described as mix of reggae and sunshine music, Latin music and Irish music.  When I was checking them out they were playing a bluesy heavy rock with a Jamaican drumming undercurrent, quite an interesting mix and why not, I ask, tis the Picnic after all, a melting pot of styles and hybrids.  Will be checking them out if I get a chance soon again.

 http://www.breakingtunes.com/synergy

At about quarter past eight we figured that was the time to get a good spot in around the front of the main stage for Beck, so we hurried over to settle before the start of the gig.

Beck – Main Stage    8.30  – 9.45 pm.

Beck blasted off with Devil’s Haircut, what a way to go, the riff just ate through my brain, probably one of the best concert intros ever and the Electric Picnic audience went ballistic, Beck and his band tight as hell with beautiful psychedelic graphics playing out in the massive back screen backdrop.  Beck looks as young as ever leaping about the stage like a kid and his voice in super form.  Next its straight in the opening of Mellow Gold and Loser, this is just so, so good, everything replicated to a super live intensity and everyone in the audience in awe of such a band rocking out the main stage.  He dropped other classics throughout the set such as E-Pro and Black Tambourine from his 2005 album Guero.  His set mellowed in the middle with some tracks from his new album Morning Phase, like Blue Moon.  I knew he had come to the end of the set by the opening keyboard motif for Where it’s at, that’s the number he has been closing with on his recent shows and where he introduces his band.  It was a damn fine pleasure to get to see Beck live for the first time and I hope its not my last time.

Beck - Main Stage, Sunday.
Beck – Main Stage, Sunday.

http://www.beck.com/

I think I went for a coffee after this as the cans was running out and I had to use them sparingly, stupidly I left two cans at crew camp instead of taking them all with me.  Sean was in touch by text, we arranged to meet at the left of the mixing desk for Outkast, for the whole festival I had not actually went to a gig with Sean as yet.  So myself and Kevin dandered about Body & Soul for a bit.  Both of us decided to buy a pint from Heneiken Atlas, the only pint I’ve bought for the whole weekend, I went into the bar and asked for a pint and she said, ‘sold out’ but she was only joking, I liked that.

I could have never anticipated the crowd that was going to gather for Outkast, it must have been the biggest crowd gathered for a EP main stage act ever, the crowd extending to the very back and right up to the sides of the stalls such as Oxegen.

Outkast – Main Stage 10.15 pm – 12 am.

To tell you the truth I knew nothing about Outkast, in fact I have always thought that rap never came across well live whenever I saw it on stage, but man, Outkast cracked it, they were totally an entertaining act.  Both Andre 3000 and Big Boi came across a fairly articulate when rapping, meaning I could understand what they were saying, which is not usually the case with rap gigs for me and my god, they could rap incredibly fast and you could still understand.  I was vaguely aware of the singles Ms Jackson and Hey Ya because of airplay in the radio.  Some of the audience at this gig though bugged the hell out of me, groups of fellahs with their girlfriends on their shoulders, their girlfriends having conversations with each other blocking a fair section of the view for a lot of people in the back.  Why were the people at the back so meek, I would be punching them down, ‘Get out of the bloody way’ I would be roaring.  It was also a constant pushing and shoving to get to the front which was annoying enough.  Plans to meet Sean at the mixing fell apart as soon as we seen the main stage crowd.  Myself and Kevin had enough at one point and withdrew from the audience to find some space to breathe.

http://www.outkast.com/

I can’t remember who we met first but we bumped into Kevin Long who then took us into the Hendrix where we met his brother Patrick too and a friend of his, we also met Sean I think.  We decided to go into the Body&Soul for a sit down just out of the periphery of the B&S main stage area.  I attempted to take some photos in the dark of the lads, I even attempted a selfie.

Myself & Kevin at Body&Soul, Sunday.
Myself & Kevin at Body&Soul, Sunday.

NMS_2823

We then moved up near the Body&Soul fire for a while which is a lovely spot to hang around, I took a video clip which didn’t really pick out my friends in the dark, but takes in the fire and some of the lit up trees and Body&Soul decorations around.

Boddika – Rave in the Woods   2  – 4 am.

We made the collective decision to go for the last hour to the Rave in the woods and catch the last act for the festival, Boddika, I think it was on the way there that we bumped into Sean Sheil and a friend on the way there too.  I had to coax Kevin as he wasn’t too sure about the further walk plus he had to work at the breakdown of the B&S part of the festival on Monday.

Boddika was playing some nice spacey techno that had a lot of folk wired to the sound, didn’t feel like going up to the front as I hadn’t really the energy left, but appreciated the fine electronica that was being played, a nice way to close proceedings for the Picnic and quite different again from the Boiler Room set, hope he comes back for another visit, maybe Life or Body&Soul festival next year.

It was great to meet up with all the lads and we found a nice spot at the back of rave in the woods to relax and sit while soaking up the sounds.  Oddly enough Boddika dropped a familiar track near the end of his set, I realised it was a track Ben Klock played last year on the Friday night at Rave in the Woods, it sent a chill down my spine and at the same time saddened me a wee bit as this one was coming to an end.

https://soundcloud.com/boddika

We decided to head off just before the very end of Boddika’s set so as to beat the onrushing crowd coming out of the area, it also felt a bit like the festival was still on when we headed off.  Myself and Kevin followed Patrick and his brother this time so we wouldn’t get lost like yesterday and we found the Hendrix no problem and we said our goodbyes to Kevin and Patrick Long vowing to meet up sometime in either Galway or Limerick where they were from.  By the time I got to crew camp both myself and Kevin were world weary and decided to hit the hay.  Sean wisely stayed up having a blether with Larry and Ross around the tents, god it was 5.30 in the morning and i had to get up in four hours.

Monday 1st September.

Hungover and tired I was awoke by Lisa, I slowly but surely packed up my stuff and tent and hopped into her car with Sean, Sean sleeping for most of the journey to Mullingar and finally for myself to Kinnegad to get the Galway bus, all to the soundtrack of AC/DC in Lisa’s car, we said our goodbyes and that was it really.

In hindsight having looked at the RTE footage of the festival, it seems like they were at one festival and us at another, they seem to forget why ‘Electric’ is in the title of the festival, because its a festival for all sorts, but the basis or originally the basis was an electronic undercurrent of bands and DJs comprising the festival as well as everything else.  I didn’t think Eoghan McDermott was a great choice to present the Picnic but Jenny Greene was was OK as she is a DJ after all, but for a guy who presents The Voice it was a rubbish choice, perhaps it was because of his Gaelic knowledge as a requirement by the broadcaster to introduce the Irish music bit from Other Voices, although nice job from Cormac Begley and the lads and lassies flaking out the reels.  I hope for next year such sludge as festival fashions, stupid questions like what type of cheese do you like and such rubbish will be omitted from the programme.  Get someone like Leagues O’Toole, Dave Fanning, Michelle Doherty and Elton Mullally from Under Ether or even John Kelly, someone who has a modicum about the music and the music fans at EP.  Some of the footage was great such as the Foals, Stranglers and Chic but there was not near enough and far too much waffling really.

Anyway, till next year love and peace and goodbye Electric Picnic and Body & Soul.  Roll on the end of May for Life, Body &^ Soul and EP 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Body & Soul Festival 2014 Review June 20th – 22nd

bus-train-transport-body-and-soul-lifestyle-festival-2014-westmeath

First tent in the Crew Camp.
First tent in the Crew Camp.

My journey began from Galway on Saturday 15th June, Brian and Reka kindly came to my rescue and drove me from the city to Ballinlough Castle, Gate E where I only had to walk two meadows till I found the crew camp, I was the first volunteer to arrive on site, the only other activity going on in the woods was a lighting/sound/trapeze group who were working on their installation near the crew camp.  I started my first shift on Sunday 11 am, my job to take note of each vehicle that entered Gate C, the production entrance, I would get their name, phone number and registration, I also filled out stickers with the same info which they applied to their windscreen or their dashboard.  The purpose of the info was so that Megan Best, one of the production managers could contact them in case their vehicle was blocking an important route.

I signed in the first security, traders and other festival workers that Sunday plus I was given my first two way radio to use, some more of volunteer stewards also arrived on Sunday evening, Jo McGrath and a bunch of her friends from Galway set up at the crew camp, Jo was originally going to give me a lift on Sunday evening but then I discovered I had to be onsite for Sunday morning.

Crew Camp filling up.
Crew Camp filling up.
Jo McGrath and her friends from Galway who arrived on Sunday.
Jo McGrath and her friends from Galway who arrived on Sunday.

Through Monday and Tuesday I worked with two volunteers called Andy and Kevin, our main job was communicating by two way radio at different parts of a very narrow road, Road 2 the Walled Garden route.  Basically the system is one way at a time, if vehicles approached and indicated that they wanted to go up that road, I would radio the lads and find out if the road ahead was clear, I would then ask traffic to proceed and the same applied to me, I had to make sure no traffic was blocking my side .  If no one was posted there, it would be a major inconvenience, just imagine a huge circus truck or the double decker pizza bus going up that road and then finding another vehicle coming the opposite way, that is a heck of a lot of reversing and would be very time consuming.

So two and a half shifts later I am free to enjoy the rest of the festival, so I plan the day to hitch into town and get supplies, food, drink, tobacco and skins.  Through Tuesday and Wednesday I got to know quite a few of the workers and discovered some cool areas near production such as Kev’s Kitchen, where there would be cool electronic sounds blasting out and some amazing coffee and cool folk.  I also received some fantastic news from  my good friend Anders, his wife Mayo gave birth to a baby girl they named Hannah, so something else to celebrate too.

Kev's Kitchen, a lovely wee cafe that operated for the pre-festival.
Kev’s Kitchen, a lovely wee cafe that operated for the pre-festival.

Another area near production was the tool shed in the stables area, where you went for the buggies, ladders and all sorts of equipment for putting together the stages and installations, the two way radios were also controlled here, it was a nice place to call around to at night to sup a beer or two with nice sounds blasting out and to have a chat.  The Decor barn was another cool area where folk were preparing the art to add to installations in the woods.

The Body & Soul Decor Barns.
The Body & Soul Decor Barns.
The Body & Soul Decor Barns.
The Body & Soul Decor Barns.

By Thursday I learned to just hitch from the production gate as it was busier than Gate E, the first van to come out was a bunch of lads working for Bulmers who gave me a lift to Athboy and back to the site again, I was to meet them again through the weekend.  Most of Thursday was spent taking photos of workers putting the finishing touches to the stages and installations.

Working at the installations.
Working at the installations.
Putting the finishing touches to the wicker.
Putting the finishing touches to the wicker.
Workers at a light installation.
Workers at a light installation.
The great big bird ready to be hoisted high in the trees.
The great big bird ready to be hoisted high in the trees.
A cool piece of art displaying art.
A cool piece of art displaying art.
A light installation that sits opposite the Reckless in Love stage.
A light installation that sits opposite the Reckless in Love stage.
A cool installation near Green Crafts.
A cool installation near Green Crafts.

Friday 20th June

Thursday was a late night so I possibly got about five hours sleep until the blazing sun started cooking me in my tent, it was an absolute scorcher of a day.  It was about 11.30 am so about three and a half hours until the arena stalls opened up, I really needed a coffee.  So off to the Body & Soul catering place where they gave me a brunch on the house, having paid for the meal the previous night I thought this was a very nice thing they done and a great start to my festivities with a few helpings of coffee too.  The sound systems were blasting away testing the sound, the festival was imminent.  By now some of the weekend stewards were settling into the campsite, some of the lads that worked the Life festival and previous B&S’s, Conor Dunne, Charlie Smith and James Fahy, some of the lads I done the fencing with, Fionn, Shane, Phelim and Mikey jumping about in his jeep blasting out reggae sounds.  Sarah Richardson, the volunteers coordinator was also there sorting out arrivals and shifts, in fact there was five Sarah’s supervising the same team.

I went around and took a few video clips of some of the Body & Soul special effects laid on for the festival, the cool entrance into the woods from the main arena and one of the installations in the woods, the Glowhole.

I walked into the woods in the early evening to My House, the My House DJs were blasting out some nice vintage reggae and ska interspersed with some soul classics, from Toots to Smokey Robinson.

My House, great to start the day off or to end it there.
My House, great to start the day off or to end it there.

The Reckless in Love stage was not too far as you could hear its bass from My House, so I went over there to investigate and caught a bit of Eoin Ryan’s thumping set, some pulsating house music, techno, funk and soul.

The first stage in the main arena that attracted me was the Pagoda Stage, it reminded me a bit of the bandstand in Salthill park in Galway.

Tracey Bruen – Pagoda Stage 7.15 – 8 pm

Galway singer Tracey Bruen and her band were making a delightful sound on the Pagoda stage, described in Breaking Tunes as playing a mixture of indie folk with a hint of blues, her music also has touch of theatrical essence as she also works with the Fregoli Theatre Company.  Her voice was in fine fettle today with a bunch of multi-talented musicians making a glorious harmonious racket behind her to kick the festival off.  The band is due to release an EP which they are working on in the studio currently.

http://www.breakingtunes.com/tracybruen

110th Street – Midnight Circus 7.30 – 10 pm

Galway DJs Cian O’ Ciobhain and Cyril Briscoe were making a nice pumping techno sound in the second biggest stage, having built up a solid base in Galway through numerous clubs in the city, they brought their brand of techno, house and funk to the confines of the Midnight Circus with a sizable amount of revellers joining in, in the fun.

110th Street - Midnight Circus, Friday.
110th Street – Midnight Circus, Friday.
110th Street - Midnight Circus.
110th Street – Midnight Circus.

http://galwaysisi.tumblr.com/

At one point I went to my favourite diner, the Charcoal Grill for an 8 ounce steak burger just to make sure I was set up for the night, the nearest one at hand was just before the Wanderlust Stage in the Walled Garden.

Rubio – Reckless in Love Stage 7.45 – 8.45 pm

Caught a little bit of Rubio’s set, the Mexican played an infectious blend of deep house and techno that blasted out superbly in the Reckless in Love sound system.  The party was only getting started when I arrived, but the stage filled up quickly with revellers celebrating the first sun soaked day of the festival.

https://www.facebook.com/djalexrubio/info

Rubio starting of his set at the Reckless in Love Stage.
Rubio starting of his set at the Reckless in Love Stage.
The Reckless in Love Stage later in the evening.
The Reckless in Love Stage later in the evening.

It was around this time that I received a text from Kevin Keehan, my flatmate who I have worked the festivals with over the last three years, he initially was trying to sell his ticket but decided on a whim to come down from Galway, so off I went to Gate A, the car park entrance to help him unpack his car and to get set up onsite.

Shane Linehan – Midnight Circus 12 – 2 am.

Shane Linehan was playing some pumping house music with a hefty crowd lapping up the sounds, the Cork man has amongst his supporters DJs such as Keri Chandler, Jamie Jones and Rob Mello.

  http://www.corkdjs.com/ShaneLinehan.html

Darkside – B&S Main Stage 12.30 – 1.45 am

At one point we decided to leave the Midnight Circus tent and make for the main stage to catch the last forty minutes of Nicolas Jaar’s project, Darkside.  This was my third time catching Nicolas Jaar and the sound that Jaar and guitarist Dave Harrington makes is a very atmospheric bluesy electronica, Harrington employing a lot of Gilmourish histrionics on his guitar adding that depth of Floyd to the electronica.  Jaar has a unique singing voice, he immediately strikes me as similar to the sound of Edwyn Collins voice, kinda of dark and brooding but very unique.  Some of the music would be fairly downbeat but sometimes developed into frantic techno such as the clip I filmed.

http://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/darkside/biography

Darkside - B&S Main Stage, Friday.
Darkside – B&S Main Stage, Friday.

Gypsy Rebel Rabble – Natasha’s Kitchen  (Unsure of the time, early hours anyway)

While walking back through the woods briefly our attention was caught by some amazing hybrid of Irish trad and bouncing gypsy music, this group had Natasha’s Kitchen packed solid, their energy palpable with that of the bopping audience, the double bass sounding like a turbo bodhran, with fiddles, strings splaying the audience with their sound, I hope to catch this troupe again.  They were certainly very popular as they cropped up all over the B&S timetable playing at various venues over the weekend.

http://www.gypsyrebelrabble.com/

We hung about the arena for the next few hours, it seemed to be a bit more spacious than the tight confines of the woods sometimes when the stages emptied into the forest and the narrow paths became packed, especially when 8,000 people arrived this evening making it the busiest Friday at Body & Soul on record.  The music from the Pagoda stage caught my attention again.

Generic People: Plug N’ Play – Pagoda Stage 2 – 4 am

I have no idea of who the actual musicians on stage involved were but they were making a very unusual electronica, the best way I could describe this was as progressive rock techno, rather than progressive house or progressive techno.  I don’t know if a mellotron keyboard was used but there was definitely some sort of hammond organ sound coming out but with a techno beat added, but it blended perfectly with the quirkiness of the festival.

This year the vibe was more relaxed, no security ushering us to the campsite at 4 am like last year, you could come and go as you pleased, plus there was a new alcohol free flow policy initiated this year, where once you were wristbanded and had brought your booze in from outside there was no more searches bringing booze in from the main campsite to the arena and the bars still seemed to do a healthy trade.  A few of my old festival buddies from Galway showed up, Sorla, Gavin and Caroline and Nidge, the last time I seen them was at Body & Soul and Life Festival 2012 and at their own festival last year, Sundown Gathering.  So it was great to be reunited at one of the best ones, we stayed at the main arena area till the sun came up smoking a few doobies and drinking a few cans.  I didn’t reach my tent till about 6 in the morning where I caught some shut eye before the sun would start cooking me in my tent again.

Saturday 21st June.

I awoke at 11.30 am to the blazing heat again where you have that initial panic fumbling for the tent zip to let the air in, first thing was to make the trip to the arena and procure a cup of coffee.  I took a few photos of the installations near my campsite, Jeff O’Riordan’s Mandala Nature where he and his girlfriend was displaying some nice mandala art.

The Mandala Nature Installation.
The Mandala Nature Installation.
The Mandala Nature Installation.
The Mandala Nature Installation.
Some of the lighting pods that was spread throughout the festival site.
Some of the lighting pods that was spread throughout the festival site.

We sauntered into the Walled Garden as another steak burger beckoned from the Charcoal Grill and then checked out the Wonderlust Stage, Siobhan Kane was interviewing John Grant about his record collection and tastes in music, the topic being discussed at the time was about Kate Bush’s 1985 record Hounds of Love, an interesting and chilled variation to typical pumping gigs or what not.

Tom Vek – B & S Main Stage 5 – 5.45 pm

I caught a bit of Tom Vek’s show in the early evening, the Londoner played his brand of beat rock to a sizable audience who also wanted to celebrate the sunshine as well as Vek’s music.  His music was a lively indie pop sound that complemented the early evening ambiance perfectly and set up the audiences mood for the day.

https://soundcloud.com/tomvek

Tom Vek - Body & Soul Main Stage, Saturday.
Tom Vek – Body & Soul Main Stage, Saturday.

Perfect festival weather.
Perfect festival weather.
One of the beautiful decor installations, that got thrashed during the weekend.
One of the beautiful decor installations, that got thrashed during the weekend.
Strange art amongst the trees.
Strange art amongst the trees.

John Grant – B & S Main Stage  7.45 – 8.45 pm

I also caught a little bit of John Grant’s set, so many people have recommended this artist to me and he apparently went down a treat at last years Picnic as well as getting decent exposure on RTE’s Other Voices.  His brand of folk, alternative and indie rock was just what was needed to set the mood for the day, the track I caught a clip of Pale Blue Ghosts had some twisted electronica through it, he has strong powerful commanding voice and a bunch of versatile tight musicians who were guaranteed to keep you rocking.

http://johngrantmusic.com/

John Grant - Body & Soul Main Stage, Saturday.
John Grant – Body & Soul Main Stage, Saturday.

Myself and Kevin just hung about the main arena as I wanted to get up to the barrier to catch the Gary Numan set.  Ever since 1980 I always liked Gary Numan the Tubeway Army sound, when I was fifteen I wanted to go and see him in Glasgow when he was touring the Pleasure Principle but I was forbade by my parents, he then played Electric Picnic 2006, one of the few Picnics I never attended so now I had the chance to see him after 34 years.  Numan seems to have embraced a heavy metal sound to his electronica which suits his style, reworked versions of Cars and Are Friends Electric were enthusiastically received as well a some new material from his recent album Splinter released last year, he also had a front row of girls swooning over his good looks in fact Gary Numan looks a lot younger now than he did back in the 1980s.

http://www.numan.co.uk/news/

Kevin and myself headed into the woods for a while to take in the madness going on there, there was all sorts of substance abuse going on with the partying patrons, from what I heard some were flying about on acid whilst a vast amount of people were on strong crystal MDMA and the smell of a wide variety of weed permeated the atmosphere, especially from the Port Royal Jamaican Village along with copious amounts of alcohol.  The music was as suitably nutty with scintillating techno blasting from the Reckless in Love stage, gypsy and frantic folk music from Natasha’s Kitchen and electronic madness and Romanian gypsy ska music blasting out of My House, courtesy of Prints of Wales Band.

Jon Hopkins – Midnight Circus   1 – 2 am

Its amazing the difference a year can make for an electronic artist such as Jon Hopkins, last year he played the Midnight Circus to a half full but contented audience, this year the tent was absolutely wedged, his album Immunity released last year in June must be one of the most popular electronic albums in the circuit at the moment as I could hardly get into the tent because of the crush.  Security should have been posted at the entrances like the way they are at the Little Big Tent in Electric Picnic when the huge electronic artists play the venue, a one in, one out policy, mind you, I probably wouldn’t have got to see the gig if this was in place, they should have opened up the tent more as there was only three narrow entrances.  This was done for the Beastie Boys gig at EP 2007 and at Daft Punk’s gig at the Clash Arena at Rockness festival 2007 in Scotland.

This time Hopkins had a huge backdrop screen displaying his videos for the singles and a pretty decent lighting rig, the audience lapping up sonic crunchers like Open Eye Signal and Collider.  His set was fairly similar to last years with a nice smattering of tracks from Immunity and Insides, three quarters of the way into his set he unleashed a few new sonic crunchers that were not from Immunity but similar to tracks like We Disappear, so he is working on new material which I am looking forward to hearing when it gets released.  I hope he plays a standalone show some day in one of the city venues in the country, I can imagine it would sell out in no time.

http://www.jonhopkins.co.uk/

The rest of the time was spent lounging about the woods sitting on seats at small stages and throwing ourselves around a bit to the music, then going to other stages and doing the same again.  Bouncing between the Reckless in love and My House stages, My House had Andrew Kearny playing a nice selection of funky tunes whilst the Mother DJs were kicking up a storm with some stomping techno at the Reckless stage.  We needed to go somewhere a little more chilled but with good bass groove, yes you guessed it, Port Royal the perfect venue to end the night in.  I didn’t take any clips of Port Royal this year but I did take some photos of the venue which unfortunately never came out, so my apologies for this year.  The Dirty Dubsters played the soundtrack for the end of the night, a mixture of ice cool roots reggae, ragga and jungle that had a fair crowd skanking away to the sounds.  I can’t really remember what time I got back to my tent at but it was probably somewhere around the 4.30 – 5 am mark, a fairly action packed day and all.

Sunday 22nd June.

Awoke about 10.30 am so off to the main arena for my coffee fix and a bite, met Kevin on the way who needed to charge his phone, so I took him to the Vodafone tent in the arena, the only place seemingly with recharge facilities.  This time I opted for something different to the normal steak burger, after hearing Kevin rave about his kebab last night I thought I’d give the Falafel and Kebab stall a try today, I opted for a chicken kebab which was fecking delicious, but boy do they pile on that red hot chilli sauce, I had to down a can of Guinness straight afterwards to quench the thirst.

I couldn’t help noticing the Good Times Lounge at the top of the Walled Garden, even though at no time did I visit it, but it was always pumping out funky music and inspired choices, the one track that made me stop and dance was the Tom Tom Club’s Genius of Love, it mirrored perfectly that glitzy summer afternoon.

Seeing that we were in the main arena it was a natural progression to walk towards the main stage to catch some of the uilleann piper, Paddy Keenan’s set.

Paddy Keenan, Steve Cooney & Dermot Byrne – B & S Main Stage  3.30 – 4.15 pm.

Steve Cooney, Paddy Keenan & Dermot Byrne - B&S Main Stage, Sunday.
Steve Cooney, Paddy Keenan & Dermot Byrne – B&S Main Stage, Sunday.

This was my second time catching the former Bothy Band legendary piper Paddy Keenan, the first time being in Galway at the Roisin Dubh with guitarist Tommy O’Sullivan.  Keenan had a nice selection of tunes, tearful slow airs played on the low whistle, cool marches like the March of King Laois and liberal  amounts of jigs and reels, proving without doubt that he is still one of the best uilleann pipers in the country and backed by the mighty guitar and didgeridoo  of Australian Steve Cooney and Altan accordion player Dermot Byrne.  A mad hippy in the audience started playing along with the band during a set of reels with a set of calf bones and he had a very nice rhythm too which you can hear on the clip.

Today was a fairly relaxed day and luckily Kevin was driving into Athboy so I went along with him and got some rolling tobacco as the festival did not sell it onsite, just filter cigarettes, I also topped up my Guinness supply to keep me going through the evening.  There wasn’t as many acts to rush about and see today so it was just a case of floating from stage to stage and following your heart with the sounds.  It was also a cooler day with more clouds but when the sun came out it could be still incredibly hot.

Animal characters hanging about the wood.
Animal characters hanging about the wood.
Animal characters hanging about the wood. (2)
Animal characters hanging about the wood. (2)
Animal characters hanging about the wood. (3)
Animal characters hanging about the wood. (3)
Animal characters hanging about the wood. (4)
Animal characters hanging about the wood. (4)
Animal characters hanging about the wood. (5)
Animal characters hanging about the wood. (5)

In the woods we mostly hung about the My House area and I sometimes had a lie down at the crew camp, there was lots of walking through the weekend and it was taking its toll today, I think everyone was feeling the blisters, especially when you walk from level grassy ground to the stoney paths, some of the rocks there would break your feet.  Anyway My House was playing classic reggae first, courtesy of DJ Mikey Joyride Sorro 6.15 – 7.45 pm (one of the festival production supervisors) and later on some 196os and 1970s classic hits courtesy of DJ Toby Hatchett 7.45 – 10 pm.

Max Romeo – B & S Main Stage  7.45 – 8.45 pm

Caught most of Max’s set, this was my second time catching him live, he played at Life festival 2008 previously and I missed his gig at EP but caught the Lee Scratch Perry bit in 2012.  Max played plenty of the classics from his 1976 album War Inna Babylon as well as airing tracks from his new album released this year called Fathers and Sons, he made the point that his sons were playing with him on stage.  Max Romeo must be in his late 60s but he still has the mad energy and voice of a young man and his backing band, two female vocalists, bass, drums and cool picking guitarist, keyboard and a brass section of trumpet and saxophone which rocked the foundations of the main stage with their sound.  He reeled out classics such as One step forward two steps backward, War inna Babylon, Uptown babies don’t cry and closed with his most famous classic popularised by the Prodigy, Chase the devil, what a gig, I’m hoping Body & Soul book Toots for next year it just seems right.  The clips that myself and Kevin recorded didn’t come out great, picture quality is pretty neat but the bass was too strong for our camera mics, which is not a bad complaint considering we witnessed one of Jamaica’s classics.

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/max-romeo-mn0000334101/biography

Max Romeo & Band - B & S Main Stage, Sunday.
Max Romeo & Band – B & S Main Stage, Sunday.

Stopped at the kebab place again and got a lamb kebab, forgot to tell them to go easy on the chilli sauce, so another can of Guinness was had to quench the burning thirst although a damn fine tasty kebab.  It was then back to the campsite to get my remaining cans of Guinness to polish of for the festivals end, I also lay down for half an hour to rest up my feet, how other people can continue to dance all day is just beyond me although there was some dehydrated casualties throughout the weekend that kept the medical orderlies busy.

Alle Farben – Midnight Circus   9 pm – 12 am

I was looking forward to the madness of James Holden, myself and Kevin wandered in about 9.10 pm, the music was good, nice and chunky with just about the right amount of phasey distortion, but sometimes Farben would play some cheesy vocal samples which I thought didn’t seem kinda like the stuff Holden would do, its only when I glanced at my watch and saw the time being 10.15 I realised the DJs hadn’t switched over, so now I was aware that this wasn’t James Holden.  Giving Farben his dues he had a packed floor which never really emptied so he must have been doing something right, it was just a pity about Holden cancelling, what I heard the following day was that the airline Holden was travelling with had lost his synthesizer forcing him to cancel.

Farben played many different styles. tech house, trance, deep house and electro house amongst other genres and he paid ode to other DJs of his ilk dropping tracks such as Laurent Garnier’s Man with a red face and a few other notable ditties, his set done exactly what it said in the tin, it would keep you dancing until the close of stage.  At some pont after 11 pm we nearly forgot about going to see Caribou so set off to the main stage.

http://www.alle-farben.com/

Caribou – B&S Main Stage   10.45 pm – 12 am.

As we were making our way to the main stage I could recognise the sound effects from the Caribou single Odessa so it meant we were catching that last quarter hour of his set, Odessa is usually played three quarters of the way through his set.  There was no chance of getting to the front as it was absolutely wedged so we were a considerable distance from the stage.  I was lucky as I had caught his full set before at the Aphex Twin Forbidden Fruit day in 2011, but this was the first time Kevin had seen the Canadian.  He played a few more numbers with his trade mark psychedelic electronica, Caribou always has a tight band with good drums, guitars and cool atmospheric keyboards, he also has a decent soft kind of voice that fits the music perfectly.  He finished with the track that brought the sun out at Forbidden Fruit called Sun which is a nice way to round it off as the sun never really left for the weekend.  Unfortunately this was the last video clip I took which is unmercifully short as my camera ran out of memory space.

http://www.caribou.fm/

We didn’t have much energy after this, we made our way back to the wood and hung about My House for a while, but it just seemed to lively for our tired out selves, so we made a decision to go to Port Royal to listen to some chill roots and maybe some jungle too.  I met a few randomers from Dublin here who were incredibly friendly but unfortunately we had turned into zombies caught in a trance.  The music was great all the same, The OI OI Sound System was blasting out some wicked roots and then the great Cian Finn took over at 1 am, so a chilled night of roots it was.  But both me and Kevin made a decision to hit the hay, the long weekend had taken its toll and I went out like a light bulb as soon as I lay down in my tent.  Seemingly I heard a few days later that everything shut down at 2 am, even though some stages was advertised as closing at 4 am, so I don’t know what that was about.

Monday 23rd June.

Woke up about 8.30 as the sun was cracking the stones and I was slowly getting microwaved in my tent, so I set about gathering everything up and packing it away.  I was thinking to myself what a glorious festival that was and that you couldn’t have wished for better weather.  Finally with everything packed up, I gave Kevin a call to say meet me at Gate E, I said my goodbyes to everyone in camp, picked up my stuff and hung about Gate E waiting for Kevin, a lift sorted to take me back to Galway.

Body & Soul I bid you a goodbye and will see you about 100 km up the road in August for the annual bash at Stradbally for the Electric Picnic, please book Jon Hopkins for the EP end of B&S.  Love and Peace your loving music reporter Niall McQuaid signing off.

Review Body & Soul Festival 2013 June 21st – 23rd

nnBody & Soul Logo

How Does It Feel To Be Lost In The Woods
Lost In the Woods

Like the psychedelic poet and musician Syd Barrett said, “How does it feel to be lost in the Woods…” At Body & Soul you just do not want to be found.  And so begins another pre-fest journey for the summer watching the festival get pieced together, stages getting put up and the lights getting switched on and by Friday morning the sound systems booming up, for us pre-festers this was exciting as we had finished our work and had time to take it all in.

Pre-Festival

Monday 17th June

We arrived down for 9 am at the Bone Yard (Production Office Area) so that Kevin could register and sign in for his shifts, throughout the day I met Jelena, Megan and some of the pre-event volunteers.  I met some charming girls who were working in the Decor team in the big barn and we talked about the excitement of the oncoming festival.  I put up Kevin’s and my own tent to the pumping soundtrack of Jon Hopkins Boiler Room set from earlier this June, one of the sets of the weekend I was most looking forward to.

Tuesday 18th June

Met the volunteer team I was going to be working with over the next few days and they are some of the soundest dudes around, I mean you cannot go wrong with a music taste of Gong, Floyd and Aphex Twin, soul buddies we are.  Matt, Taro and Sam, it’s actually very, very rare to find other people who love Gong the band as much as I do.  To most straight folk, Gong (Daevid Allens Gong) would sound completely loopy and druggy, but to Gong fans they are one of the tightest craziest bands in existence who turned psychedelia into a comedic art form, but who also done incredible ambient pieces.  I hung about with the lads in the adjoining crew camp site for the remainder of the day blasting them with my media library and my bodhran.  The tasks for the day was that we were posted on the route leading to the Boneyard, we had to make sure the traffic knew where it was going.  Me and Matt were put at the gate leading to the boneyard, it was easy enough work but with it being dry, it was very dusty with all the articulated lorries arriving.

After having not ate much the day before, I was determined to hitch to one of the nearby towns after my shift to get some food supplies as there was no way in the world I was going to pay the twelve euro asked for an evening meal at the crew restaurant.  I mean come on, why do festivals think volunteers are here, it’s because they cannot afford to normally go to the festival, they might be on the dole or be a student with a very, very tight budget.  I’m  not asking for a breakfast and evening meal like most of the rest of the crew camp with the voucher system but maybe a sandwich per shift like at Life Festival.  And I guarantee that, that incentive works wonders for a volunteers morale.  It was quite dehumanising in some ways to be in that crew cafe when others were eating (not their fault) and myself with my silly pot noodle.  Thankfully Brian, our site supervisor kept us hydrated with free bottles of water during our shifts.

I hot footed it to Athboy, all of the eight kilometres and bought bread, butter, ham and cheese and helped myself to a Donner kebab.

Taro, Sam & Matt
Taro, Sam & Matt

Wednesday 19th June

Today we got a bit of physical work instead of just directing traffic, Brian took myself and Matt up to the carpark area where we helped him map the lanes with traffic cones, later on we were given the job of erecting fencing around the golf flag areas, to prevent cars from driving up on the more delicately trimmed grass.  My shift ended with a small job sitting by the roadside with Taro, making sure that traffic aimed for the Boneyard got to the Boneyard or that people due accredition were parked up on the grass verge.

When we went to get the wristbands I met Neil Dowling who I worked with at Liss Ard festival last year, he was doing the wristbands for Body & Soul too.  It was a nice exhilarating feeling to be finished our shifts, I played Matt, Taro and Sam their first time hearing a proper live Gong album, the album in question was Gong Est Mort, Vive Gong, the last proper PHP show organised by the French fans of the group in Paris, 1977.  The lads were suitably impressed.  Kevin came to join us in the tent, he had just finished the third of his four shifts.

DSC03876
Kevin, Sam, Matt and Taro

Thursday 20th June

Today was spent locating the crew showers and taking in some of the visual scenery that was starting to appear throughout the woods.

A simple but effective piece of art, destroyed later on through the weekend
A simple but effective piece of art, destroyed later on through the weekend

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I met Andy in afternoon who I worked with during the pre-fest for Electric Picnic last year, he was also involved with this one.

Andy.
Andy.

I went with Matt and co to Clonmellon as this town was only three kilometres away from the festival site, so we took a leisurely walk to get more supplies, Taro for his breakfast roll and me for a decent Americano coffee and filled roll, the lads wanted to top up on tobacco too.

later on at night time we wandered aimlessly about the festival site, myself with the ipod dock blasting out Aphex Twin from the Forbidden Fruit festival 2011.   Whilst passing the barn with the decor people, they were blasting out Syd Barrett’s second album, Barrett to my pleasant surprise.

I posed the question to the lads about what Body & Soul meant to them or what they hoped for and filmed it.

I also took the opportunity to interview the person behind the Gameltron installation, while he was setting it up.

Friday 21st June

Opening Day, get yer wristband.
Opening Day, get yer wristband.

Friday morning was spent stuffing my face with cheese and ham sandwiches and eating peanuts, as it was still a while away till the main food vendors opened up, the biggest gripe was coffee, still no espresso machine on site.

I had a blether with some of my camping neighbours, some of the weekend volunteers who were either doing shifts today or tomorrow.  Charlie Smith with his didge, Aoiffe Rafferty, Simon Outram and James Fahy were in all good spirits and looking forward to the fun and festivities.

Charlie, Aoife, Simon and James.
Charlie, Aoife, Simon and James.

Wandering through the main arena, some of the tents started testing the sound systems and the festival hadn’t opened to the public yet , while I was marvelling at the size of the Midnight Circus tent, one of the sound engineers slipped on Windowlicker by Aphex Twin on the sound system, boy, I was in my element giving it serious moves.  The only thing though was I was the only one freaking to the music, everyone else was working away.  I went up to the Wonderlust Stage to talk to Toss, a friend of Kevin’s who worked at stage set ups for Electric Picnic/Body&Soul, the Wonderlust stage was formely known as the Bamboo Stage from last years Picnic.  The lads were busy screwing parts of the roof and sides of the stage together.

getting the Wanderlust Stage together.
getting the Wonderlust Stage together.
The Wanderlust Stage.
The Wonderlust Stage.

Matt, Taro and Sam wanted to move into the main camp site as their significant others would not be permitted into the crew camp because of their wristbands so I set out to find them later on in the afternoon.

I waited with Matt at the main entrance for his Chinese/Irish girlfriend Aimée, so I took an opportunity to snap the wristbanders and security dealing with the arriving festival public.

There wasnt a hell of a lot on the agenda music wise, a few notable DJ sets, I was more keen for Donal Dineen in the Midnight Circus Tent, that is until I met Aminah and Salim Dastan and their friends, the music scope had just widened considerably, dub and blues mixed with some of the finest shimmering world and Arabic music.  The Fusion tent was a paradise I would discover very soon.

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Right; Aminah, Salim and friends

I managed to direct Aminah and Salim to the Fusion tent so that they could set up later for the gig, I took a short film of the tent to the soundtrack of the Congos Fisherman.

The Fusion Stage / Tent
The Fusion Stage / Tent

It’s a gorgeous venue with coffees, teas and delicious vegetarian food on offer.  I wondered if indeed it was the same tent that was used at Life festival for the Lectrosoul Chill out tent, a very characteristic white cottage looking tent.

Seeing that I was in a suitable reggae mood after my visit to the Fusion tent I thought I would check out the Port Royal Jamaican Village.  This time I wanted to get a good chunk of the area on video rather than just the dancing area, the idea is to eventually to lead to the source of sound, so its like a little journey rather than just being there, I’m working as a pair of eyes just floating slowly between the stages.

My House and the Reckless in Love Stages in the woods had sizable portions of people going mad to the music.  My House was like a classic hits thing or like the Vintage TV Channel, except that the DJ would put an extra fuzz tone on the sound making it heavier than normal.  Whilst the Reckless in Love stage had live acts most of the time but also DJs too.

Shane Mannion (Dissonance) – Midnight Circus 7.30 pm – 9 pm

I caught a bit of Shane Mannion’s set, his set ranged from minimal techno to ambient techno, he had a nice pace going with a few throwing shapes on the floor.  Its nice to see some Irish DJs in amongst the international calibre for weekend and giving it socks too.

http://www.lowerstate.ie/tag/shane-mannion/

Myself, Matt and Aimée went for a lark in the woods, to take some photos of the floodlit trees and strange items and installations dotted throughout.

Aimee delightly lost in the woods
Aimee delightly lost in the woods

Matt & Aimee inside an installation

Aimee & me
Aimee & me
Some random people traipsing through the floodlit woods
Some random people traipsing through the floodlit woods

At some point with Matt I stumbled across a cute hippy clothes stall called Inspired Earth in the Walled Garden area that had the most adorable teapot hats, I was going to save my funds for a Body & Soul t-shirt, but I was not impressed with the new ones after last years lovely design, so the teapot hat became my Body & Soul souvenir, plus they gave me a reduction because we were volunteers.

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http://www.inspired-earth.com/splash2.html

I also took it upon myself to pay tribute to the group Gong and their album from 1972 called Flying teapot by singing a verse of the PHP Song to the bewilderment and amusement of the stall holder with Matt providing a fake saxaphone solo.

James Murphy – Midnight Circus 10 pm – 12 am

Having seen the LCD Soundsystem three times at various Picnics and numerous clips of the James Murphy set, I was looking forward to his set.  Oncoming heavy rain showers guaranteed a fairly wedged tent, it was fairly stifling in there.   I thought the set would be cool ambient electronica techno like I had seen on previous clips of his Picnic set, but it was nothing spectacular I’m afraid, it was quite generic techno with a bit of funk and Madonna remixes, whats a punk doing playing Madonna, where is the hard ass stuff like Loosing my Edge.  His set did not really do anything for me, although he was keeping the masses bopping but catering more for a girly crowd.

http://lcdsoundsystem.com/main/

All Tribes vs Dubble Up – The Fusion Tent  12 am – 3 am

Now this was a lot more exciting this was Salim Dastan and friends doing a three-hour set.  There was Arabica/World music mixed with the deadliest dub reggae and dubstep to help wash the memory of these Madonna remixes away in one of the most gorgeous tents of the festival.  Salim loves his roots reggae and world music and he weaved his beautiful magic to an earth pounding bass, yes, this was more like the Body & Soul I love.

http://madumusic.bandcamp.com/album/from-the-elders-yard

Donal Dineen – Midnight Circus  12.30 am – 3 am

Donal Dineen is a true master of the electronica world, he makes beautifully blissful ambient techno but he can set you on fire in an instant with his drops, he is the perfect big tent closer and the lovely Aminah Dastan joined him on vocals for a few tracks.  Dineen is a reliable Body & Soul favourite who will always have a huge fan base, where ever he plays he will have you stomping.

https://www.facebook.com/DonalDineen

It was back to the Fusion tent with Kevin until it closed down at 3am as it was lashing down outside, we headed off to the wood to spend some time at My House and relax on the sofas there.  On the way back to crew camp we spotted a lovely sitting and chill out area with a camp fire, this was called Earth Spirit and reminded me of what Glastonbury festival goers refer to as the Stone Circle area, a place to unwind and talk with complete randomers into the small hours.  Of course security came and spoiled it by telling everyone to go home at 4 am but I suppose the Earth Spirit people wanted to get some shut eye, so what can you do.  We retired ourselves, a day and night fully spent.

Saturday 22nd June

Got up about 11 am and with Kevin already awake we set off for some decent coffee and a bite, the weather was fairly iffy at times hot burning sunny spells, followed by lots of clouds and drizzly to heavy rain, add the occasional gust of wind and you get the picture. This didn’t bother us too much as you could find shelter in the woods or the Midnight Circus tent and of course, the Fusion tent the first venue for us today.  Aminah was singing vocals with Salim’s dub reggae sounds, so effectively one half of the Madu band was present without the brass section.  There was Aminah’s blues/soul vocals mixed with what sounded to be like an Eastern stringed instrument mixed with the dub, a bit like the Buddha Bar or the Thievery Corporation’s Mirror Conspiracy.

I went for a wander up to the holistic area, Green Crafts was there this year, last year they were opposite Mandala Nature near the crew camp.  Anyway I wanted to take as many video clips as possible of different parts to the festival, here is one of Green Crafts, very much an eco friendly and recycling arts craft community.

http://www.greencrafts.ie/home.html

Overhead, the Albatross – Body & Soul Stage  2.30 pm – 3.15 pm.

I don’t know if Overhead are Pink Floyd fans but you would certainly get that impression with the band’s  name, which is the opening lyric to Floyd’s Echoes.  But lets leave that comparison aside, Overhead make a nice indie rock sound with a serious rhythm section, in fact nothing like the Floyd but good catchy indie pop rock.  This opening band for the B&S main stage pulled in a decent enough number despite the horrible downpours that occurred throughout the set.

http://overheadthealbatross.bandcamp.com/

http://overheadthealbatross.com/

I had my bodhran with me and I was hoping to have a tune with fiddler Gerry Harrington, he was one of the resident musicians hired to play at the intimate Mended Drum Stage which was next to the My House stage, although I think he ran the place with some other people and a charming Scottish girl.  I found sometimes that there was a serious noise bleed from the My House stage.  I got talking to the person running the venue on Thursday where he explained to me that the stage and venue itself was made mostly of recycled trampolines, absolutely fasinating stuff.

The Mended Drum Stage.
The Mended Drum Stage.

Anyway myself and Kevin went up to the Mended Drum to see if there was a session up there, but only a play on stage instead which was fairly interesting nonetheless, that I filmed a short piece.

RSAG – Midnight Circus    8 pm – 8.45 pm

This is my second time seeing Rarely Seen Above Ground, the first time I caught him was at Castle Palooza festival in 2008 and back then he was easily one of the highlights that year.  Five years later he is even better and has a fine crowd transfixed with his show.  RSAG is a multi-instrumentalist, he plays guitar, keyboards, bass and especially drums, wait! you say, so does he play them all at the same time, well, sort of.  He records all the individual instruments in separate tracks, films videos close up of fingers playing strings and keys and incorporates them all into his software, videos beamed on a huge screen behind while he plays the drum kit like a man possessed and sings a mighty fine vocal.  I really hope RSAG becomes huge as he is immensely talented and deserves to succeed.  How would you describe the music, well, pretty rocky but with funky dance overtones, he is very entertaining to look at, he uses so much energy in his performance that you cannot fail to be impressed.

http://www.rarelyseenaboveground.com/

Charles Bradley – B&S Stage   9.15 pm – 10.15 pm

Caught a little bit of Charles Bradley’s set, Bradley has a fine set of lungs and can sing the blues and soul effortlessly and he had a fine backing band right up behind him.  He also pulled a sizable crowd to the gig despite again the unpredictable weather situation.

http://thecharlesbradley.com/

Mmoths – Midnight Circus – 10.30 pm – 11.30 pm

I checked out one of the most talked about musicians playing all the Irish electronic festivals, Mmoths, this was the first time apparently that the producer/DJ had teamed up with a band.  The music was like a swirly ambient shoe gaze sound, a kind of softer more ambient Death in Vegas sound.  It didn’t seem to be Kevin’s type of music, so we went wandering after a few numbers.

http://mmothsmusic.com/

I havent talked about food yet, but was feeling a little peckish for something to eat before we settled down to the main stage for Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds.  Kevin loved the chicken wings from the Chicken Wing stall just near the Midnight Circus tent, I thought they made the best chips I have ever tasted and for three euros you got a nice box of them which is extremely good value for a festival.  A special mention too for the Steakhouse burger and hot dog stall in the bottom of the Walled Garden area, a great satisfying bite.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – B&S Stage   11.00 pm – 12.30 am

Nick Cave is an out and out entertainer with a voice that can seriously rock, this was my fourth time seeing him, he has come a long way since I saw him first back in 1983 with his first band the Birthday Party and a serious bunch of hench men backing him with a nasty gritty sound.  He gave us generous selections from his recently released album Push the Sky Away as well as some classics spanning his career.  Alice Glass from Crystal Castles should take note, Cave did not require to drink a bottle of Jack Daniels before climbing over the audience and security never cut his set short as he is a seasoned pro who has stage dived and crowd surfed over a thousand times or more and handles it with startling aplomb. Yep, Cave definitely earned that headline spot.

http://www.nickcave.com/

George Fitzgerald – Midnight Circus   12 am – 1.30 am

I caught the last 30 minutes of Fitzgerald’s set and, man, could he make the audience move, Fitzgerald was playin some tasty house and garage music with a nice understanding of dubstep and techno beats.  The weather had improved since Cave’s set but the bulk of the crowd remained in the tent as the music was so good.  I only discovered Fitzgerald today so will be looking out for stuff from this guy, he is worth checking out.

http://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/georgefitzgerald

Iron Curtis – Midnight Circus   1.30 am – 3 am

Like Fitzgerald I had no idea who Iron Curtis was but he played some electrifying dance music, he covered many ranges, minimal techno, house, ambient stuff and some bass heavy grooves to keep us on our toes, to tell you the truth though I was ready to flop down any minute and Kevin wasn’t too far behind me, but we managed to stay till the last note and then headed for the soft seats at My House.

http://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/ironcurtis

We just sat there soaking up the sounds, Pump up the Volume by M.A.R.R.S was playing and a suitable crowd going loopy.  It seemed nice to end the night again at the Earth Spirit fire, even a more chiller out space than the chill spaces we just come from.  I was talking to Jeff O’ Riordan about his mandala installation and how I wanted to inteview him about his involvement with Body & Soul and other festivals he was workin with, so we arranged an interview for Sunday.  This was another action packed day for the curious music journalist, myself and Kevin called it a day and hit the sack preparing for day 3.

Sunday 23rd June

Sunday morning or afternoon I can’t remember, but I remember playing Jon Hopkins Boiler Room set from earlier in June for about the twenty-fifth time along with Nicolas Jaar’s Sonar festival set from last year, two of the most anticipated artists to see in my list.  I seeked out one of these black coffee espresso stalls for my caffeine fix and sat down to drink it at the main camp site with the lads, Taro, Sam & Matt with their girlfriends.  I entertained them with a few songs on the bodhran, Erin Go Bragh and I think Johnny Jump up among others.

Playing the bodhran and singing for the lads & lassies.
Playing the bodhran and singing for the lads & lassies.

I met Kevin later and we took a stroll to the Earth Spirit area, finally I was there for the proper daylight so decided to take some pictures.  The one with the spiral I’m especially pleased with as I got a glimmer of the sunlight in the middle.

The Earth Spirit Area.
The Earth Spirit Area.
The Earth Spirit Area.
The Earth Spirit Area.

I also heard a session in the area, I picked out wood wind instruments and tin whistles, of course, I didnt have my bodhran at the time but there was already a bodhran player there, so I snuck up beside them and filmed a bit then I withdrew from the area slowly to take in a bit of the seating area and fire.

Armada or Pirate theme. I cannot remember.
Armada or Pirate theme. I cannot remember.
The woods, glorious woods.
The woods, glorious woods.
Natasha's Kitchen
Natasha’s Kitchen

Ryan Vail – Midnight Circus  5.30 pm – 6.30 pm

Ryan Vail had a pleasant sound, they are from Northern Ireland, Derry I think, the duo of Ryan Vail DJ / Producer & Katie Cosgrove on flutes and guitars.  Their sound could be described as a pastoral ambient sound scape held together by a selection of electronic synths and break beats.  It was an unusual combination but it worked, pastoral ambient techno music for the future.  Hoping to catch this group again.

http://www.ryanvail.com/

Went to the Fusion tent for a bite to eat, I wanted to set myself up proper before the Congo’s set on the B&S main stage.  I went for the Japanese vegetable curry which was absolutely gorgeous, not too hot and spicy but not too weak either.

Fish Go Deep featuring Tracey K – Midnght Circus   6.30 pm – 9pm

Cork based DJs Fish Go Deep had a nice buzz going in the circus tent, I caught a bit with Kevin, they were playing some pounding house music and they had a fine crowd keeping up with them too.  I wanted to catch the start of the Congo’s set, so Kevin remained with another buddy to watch the end of the Fish Go Deep set.

http://www.fishgodeep.com/

The Congo’s – B&S Stage  8.15 pm – 9.15 pm

When I came down to the main stage some of the members of the Congo’s were sound checking and already there was a barmy army of Irish fans gathering in their finest Rastafari colours at the front of the stage.  This was my second time seeing the Congo’s, the first time was at Electric Picnic where they were supposed to do an hour set, but for delays or whatever they only managed to play a 25 minute set.

When the set kicked off it was just the instrumental players, the cool Jamaican hatted guitarist, the younger bassist, drummer and keyboard player.  The idea was that they warm up with the sound, they were joined by four vocalists of varying ages later, elder statesmen from the mid 1970s Jamaican music scene.  Grey beards and grey dreadlocks, having seen Max Romeo and Lee Scratch Perry last year, all of the older reggae generation seem to be making a popular comeback and they all still have voices like velvet.

I only have the Congo’s Fisherman EP in my collection, so a lot of the material covered I had no idea off.  What I do know was that the Congo’s were vastly entertaining with a very tight band backing.  Sometimes there was false starts to their tracks but this was done like a comedy routine, signified by the main lead singer waving his arm in a Pete Townsend motion, this was the signal for the drummer to clash the drums and to restart the beat, this was evident in their final track Fisherman.  What can I say about the Congo’s though, they put on a terrific show, their voices are still in glorious form despite their age and they were very funny and their music remains timeless.  My only qualm was that they missed out in the Congoman Chant song which they ran through briefly in the sound check beforehand.

https://myspace.com/congoscongos

I took a trip back to the woods to relax at the Earth Spirit area and met Jeff O Riordan there, seeing that the daylight was fading slightly I decided to do the interview with Jeff because if I didn’t do it now I was never going to do it otherwise.  The film is a little dark but Youtube helped make it more visible.

He explained that he and his collective liked to put their love for geometry into their chill out area.  I posed the question to him about the Body & Soul festival, asking him what it was like to be working as part of this cool little festival.   He explained that there was a lot of people involved, he put it simply that when you set up the installation its nice to say hello to your neighbour.  That the atmosphere was so much better as everyone got on well with each other and often greeting each other with, “Hey whats the craic?”  He added that there was a lot of effort put in that the regular festival punter does not see.  Jeff was explaining that he was still working on the mandala designs whilst the festival was filling up on Friday so that people could see that it was still an on going process.

I asked him if he was working at other festivals for the summer.  Jeff: “Knockanstockan, that’s basically part of the planning at the start, we are going to do a nice chill out spot in the main camp site area with live interesting alternative musics, it will go on to about 1.30 am and after that it will become a chill out spot and a place to relax.  We will have some people over from England doing live AV sets, like DJ and live visuals at the same time.”

Jeff explained that the most important aspect of their mandala installation was, “The whole point about the mandala, the stones on the table is that nothing is permanent.” He explained that during the duration of the festival some of the installations will eventually get damaged, so his point was that they didn’t really care if people came and messed up their work as the point was that it wasn’t supposed to be permanent anyway.”

He talked about some of the reactions from people to their installation. “The reactions from some people are so different, some people go up and touch it and feel like they got zapped by electricity, some people walk up to it and say that’s a Satan symbol, whats that all about, some people just want to jump on it like it was a trampoline.  He added lastly that some guy walking by the installation the previous day shouted over to him, “If you are jumping up and down on your bed eating pizza you are living the American dream.”

https://plus.google.com/photos/116055169065025667393/albums?banner=pwa

The Lucent Dossier Experience – Midnight Circus   11.15 – 11.45pm

I had lost Kevin for the moment so I decided to make for the big circus tent to get a good spot near the front of the stage for the Jon Hopkins set, in the process I managed to catch one of the half hour sets from the amazing circus art collective the Lucent Dossier Experience.  What a show it was, they are sorely missed from the Picnic since they split a few years ago.  There was death-defying gymnastics, tight rope walking and one of the most unbelievable displays of fire-breathing and juggling I have ever seen.  They are quite different from a normal circus troupe, they are camp, punky, burlesque, very hedonistic in art and costume and very rock and roll to say the least.  Well lets just say there was liberal doses of edgy dubstep in their soundtrack, this is an act not to be missed.

http://www.lucentdossier.com/

Jon Hopkins – Midnight Circus    11.45 pm – 1 am

How do you describe the Jon Hopkins sound, you see there is a difference between DJing and being a producer, if you are a dance producer it means you have served your time as a DJ and you can put your hand at any type of dance music.  Multi-tasking so to speak, the likes of Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Seth Troxler, Amon Tobin or Modeselektor can drop from house or techno straight into drum n bass, dubstep or to the softest shimmering ambient sound effortlessly,  Jon Hopkins comes from this same school of thought, he is making proper emotional new dance music with the crisp understanding of rhythm and glitch.

From the opening notes into Breathe This Air from his new album Immunity there was a collective sigh of relief in the audience, here was the moment that we have all listened to on that Boiler Room set and having it transferred to the majesty of the Midnight Circus sound system, bombastic and delicious.  Hopkins is a glitchtronic genius, simple sounds such as the opening of a lock, opening a safe door, changing the clutch in the car or even the sound your waterproofs make when you are walking.  These sounds (or the sounds I am imagining anyway) were built up layer upon layer to make cool clanky rhythms.  During the start of Collider you can hear this at first, what sounds like African rhythms using marakas.  The clanky sound made me imagine a bunch of fellahs with a large bag of spanners each, all shaking them in precise time to the sound.  Of course, when the bass boom kicks in it becomes a different animal, Hopkins builds up the reverberations and backward loops into a lovely chord sequence that always effortlessly bounces right back onto the main bass groove.  And thats what dance music should be or should do, to be mysterious, unpredictable, surprising and ecstatic.

When he dropped Open Eye Signal it was like one collective volt of electricity going through the audience.  That motor car synth changed the face of music since ZZ Top’s Eliminator came out in 1983 and Hopkins has turned this sound into a bass propellent for this track, the way he works through these three bass notes by the time he is about to hit the lowest note he twists the sound to make it sound more organic.   I can imagine this track cropping up on the soundtrack of BBC’s Top Gear sometime.

That is also the thing with Hopkins, he does use a lot of technology but it by no means cold, he uses very warm ambient synths and piano textures to his music that reminds me of the Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Vol 1 and Brian Eno & Harold Budd.  Take the opener Breathe This Air, the first part builds up frenetically and suddenly it changes to a treated tinkly piano until it builds up subtly to storm force again.  Another thing about Hopkins was that he was no slouch bag sitting behind his laptop pressing play and talking to his mates on Facebook, he acted out to his glitches, at sound effects he would jump up and you could really tell that he enjoyed the performance looking like he was a busy robot jumping about the place.

I could spend all night talking about this gig, I will leave it short and tasteful, check this guy out if you get the chance, maybe he will do a few more festivals for the summer.

http://www.jonhopkins.co.uk/

Kevin had located me at the Hopkins gig thanks to my teapot hat, so we made a beeline for the B&S stage to catch the last hour of Nicolas Jaar.

Nicolas Jaar – B&S Stage    1 am – 2 am

This was my second time catching him, he was with a guitarist and saxophonist last year at Liss Ard festival and he was doing much slower and ambient stuff.  This time it was just himself and the beats were more uptempo, there was a massive crowd gathered and everyone seemed to be pulsing to the sound and, man, the sound system had a killer bass.  Considering that we had just come from Hopkins, Jaar delivered in spades and kept the momentum going strong.  Jaar still had some nice ambient phases in the set, but he was very tight on the drops, the bass absolutely pummeling us.

http://www.nicolasjaar.net/

After that we went to the circus tent to watch a bit of the Michael Mayer set, but I was very much pummelled by then and so was Kevin.  It would have been hard to top Hopkins or Jaars sets, but Mayer and Kompakt Cologne had a determined crowd wanting to keep the party going and they were delivering high octane dance music.  I think we stayed till the end, but I must have looked like a zombie by that stage, I had a sore back anyway from all the standing and dancing.

http://www.kompakt.fm/artists/michael_mayer

Alas the night was drawing near to an end, myself and Kevin headed up to the favourite, My House, I kind of wished I had taken a photo of the area.  Anyway, the sofa chairs were a little wet tonight but I was past caring and flopped down on one content to watch the world go by me whilst nodding my head to the cool sounds.  It was on from there then that the last pit stop before bed was to go to the Earth Spirit campfire area to have some banter.  I cant remember any conversations that transpired after that but I do remember Kevin saying that we should hit the sack and that was about ten minutes to 4 am, duly we did and that was the end of Body & Soul festival 2013.

Monday 24th June

We woke up and I headed to the volunteers office while Kevin went to the production office to get our bonds back, but unfortunately we were going to have to wait a week or two before we got them.  Thankfully there was a coffee stall nearby as all the ones near crew camp and in the woods had their generators shut down.  Once we were sorted with the caffeine fix it was offsky out of Ballinlough for another year.

Roll on 2014.

If there is someone good at windows movie maker maybe they can download the video below and possibly add a segment of Jon Hopkins Collider, I think that would be a fitting way to end the B&S 2013 review.

Life Festival 2013 – 24th – 26th May Review

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Oh Glory! Its started.

Thursday 23rd May

So my journey began with Kevin Keehan from Galway at four in the afternoon, we had to pick up two other volunteers in the city and our destination was Belvedere House, Mullingar for a briefing and to register and to pay the rest of our bond for working at Life festival that kicked off the following day.

With everyone arriving, Lorna, our coordinator gave a talk and then some of the security also gave a talk.  Lorna took a bunch of us on a walk so that we could familiarise ourselves with the festival layout.  This was my chance to get to know a few of the other volunteers, set the tent up and crack open a few cans.  It’s a lovely feeling to be wandering about a festival before it kicks in, technicians running around putting the last touches to the sound systems and lights and others putting up the Psy stage art among the trees.  Where my tent was positioned I looked down to the main stage from the top of the hill, most of the volunteers were camped to the right beside the trees and there was a grand singalong going on there with some fellahs and their guitars, there was an excitement in the air and this was my first festival of the summer.  I wanted to take it easy enough on the first night so four cans was grand enough and I hit the hay about half two in the morning as I had a shift at 10 am.

Friday 24th May

Rising at 9 am I made sure I scoffed a few cereal bars and some mixed fruit and nuts before heading off to my volunteer check in at the office.  There was a squad of about eight or nine of us dispatched to the car parking area of the festival, something that I done before at Life Festival 2011.  We sat about for a little while until Tim our supervisor showed up and assigned us to posts.  Two volunteers were at the entrance gate and they had to find out if the drivers had in fact, tickets otherwise they would be turned away or diverted to the drop point.  I was positioned a little further down the track and my job was fairly simple, to point the driver to the next volunteer.  Volunteers were positioned right along the track until the driver was directed into a parking space.

I was then moved to the entrance myself where I helped the other guy talking to the drivers, I directed taxis and parents down the drop off route and car parkers down the only other route.  As I said the work was fairly easy but when your on your feet for a solid eight hours or more the last thing you want to do is dance when you finish, more like putting your feet up and sitting for an hour or two.  I was eventually moved to the drop off point as the previous guy had communication problems and a back log of cars had gathered there as a result.

Most of the time it was fairly quiet but the drop offs came in bursts and that kept me busy, I started noticing other cars in the drop off area that weren’t there before and realised that some of them were driving in through the exit while I was dealing with drop offs and just completely abandoning them.  Some security was asking me why the cars were there and all I could say was I have no idea why.  Near the end of my shift someone at the entrance had started directing drivers destined for the car park to the drop off, so I had to tell the unfortunate drivers that they had to re-queue again as you have to be in this lane which I pointed to up the field, you ought to have seen the faces of some of them.  Another problem was DJs and artists being sent to the drop off, there wasn’t really any space for them there, so there should have been a designated spot for artists and musicians to park.  Shift over I hot footed it to the campsite to rest up for an hour and a half.

Crewdson, Ancient Alien, Mr Devitt – Liquid Tent 8 pm – 11 pm.

And now for the music, after getting that much needed rest I received a text from Kevin that he had started his shift in the arena, so I made my way to the drum n bass / dubstep stage, the Liquid tent.  I was thinking to myself what a lucky sod to land a shift at one of the stages.  The music was mighty, the selection of DJs playing over the next hour or two there were playing some rootsy dub reggae dubstep stuff, the pumping Hertz U sound system emitting jaw dropping bass that was like a magnet for those in search of deep bass.  I caught a bit of Crewdson’s set and Ancient Alien..  Mr Devitt followed playing some really amazing dub reggae with a touch of wub wub subtly applied.  In fact one of the things I missed from last year was the Rootical Reggae tent, but I realised that most stages at some point will play some anyway, most of the music stages crossed into dubstep/reggae with their mixes at some point during the weekend.

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The Liquid TentImage

Ben Pearce – Main Stage 11.30 pm

I caught a little bit of this set but I was more distracted by the sheer size of the main stage, the diamond shaped screens on either side and the massive screen backdrop.  Ben was playing some nice hard techno and a massive crowd had gathered shaping the air with their moves.  I could see the Red Bull Arena from where I was standing and it looked rammed to the gills, there was no way I was going to push into that madness, I preferred the ambience of the main stage and the sound Ben Pearce was blasting out.

I went for a quick trip to the Psy Stage as I wanted to get a night shot of the stage,  Lah Narrad was cutting up the floor with his frenetic psy trance, while the listeners flailed about, jumped and waved their arms to the pulse of the beat, yes, the original synthesis of Life festival still seemed to be in tack.  I also strolled into the Chill Out / Lectrosoul Tent for a little while, some laid back reggae sounds were blasting out of there with the most gorgeous lasers etching the beautiful tapestry of cloth on the inside of the tent, I had to take some photos.

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Lights & Visuals of the chill out tent.
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Lights and visuals of the chill out tent.
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The gorgeous lights and illuminated patterns of the chill out tent.
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A night shot of the Psy Stage.

Seth Troxler – Main Stage 1 am

Making my way back to the main stage, the side screens were all lit up and making random graphics to the pulse of the music.  Troxler was playing a kind of minimal techno and looked to be having a real good time on stage.  Its one thing to walk on stage and switch on your laptop and press play, some musicians and DJs looked bored out of their minds, but at Life they chose the DJs well.  Troxler looked in top form and was always doing something or dancing to his sounds, pumping the mixer or whatever, but not once did I see the crowd diminish, he had them rooted to the spot dancing frantically.  I took the time to shoot a video trying to take in the whole of the main stage which required me to walk a good distance back..

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Seth Troxler – Main Stage
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A shot of the main stage from the rear.
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Graphics on the diamond shaped screens flanking each side of the stage
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Main stage screen graphic.

I headed back to camp after that as I wanted to settle down, have a few cans with Kevin before hitting the hay, I was starting my next shift at 8 am , so I wanted to be in decent shape.

Saturday 25th may

It was tough getting up at 7 but I had a tub of proargy with me, a multi vitamin health drink which set me up for the day, when I turned up at the office at 7.40 I was told that my shift had been put forward to 10 am, so I seized the opportunity to grab a coffee and breakfast roll and relax up at the campsite.  When my shift started I managed to get a different one from the car park, I was sent with a squad of six volunteers and the supervisor Diarmuid Fleming to do campsite duty.

Me and Oisin were assigned to do the gates that pass through the entrance of the second campsite behind the main stage.  Our job was to open the gates for oncoming traffic and block the gaps so that festival punters wouldn’t stray in front of vehicles, we had to keep the traffic flowing.  It could get very busy sometimes, such as the tanker that needs to fuel the generators for the main stage or articulated trucks taking in stage equipment.  In the case of Life Festival, like any dance festival, you are going to get the odd person that doesn’t know their limit and they will take far too many drugs and this is usually exacerbated by a stupid amount of drink too.  Anyway, at least on two occasions we were required to ensure the swift movement of ambulances to pick up casualties.

There was one or two occasions too where young lads lost the head giving out about something, if this attitude is used unreasonably at security or volunteers, security are instructed to cut off their wristbands and eject them from the arena,  One lad required five security to calm him down, seemingly it was a tiff over his girlfriend where he demolished three tents near him.  I have to hand it to security, they done their job well, they used the least amount of restraint to subdue him until the van came to collect him.  I not saying this was rampant, this was an isolated case.  The vibe is mostly relaxed and lively with beats flooding from all directions urging you to dance and express yourself.

By the end of my shift. Cian who took over from Oisin and myself were a dusty mess, as for most of the day it was dry and vehicles passing to and fro would kick up some amount of dust, so when I finished, that can of Bavaria went down a fine treat back at the camp.

Booka Shade  Main Stage – 8.30 pm

Now I did not actually go to this show, as I was still resting up at the campsite as my feet were burning up, but its not as if we had to venture far my tent practically overlooked the main stage anyway.  At one point me and Kevin questioned if anyone was on the main stage, at first it sounded like one of the stages in the distance, a low thud with some synth keys.  Then bang! The music became crystal clear on the main stage, Booka Shade just suddenly came into our consciousness, this has to be one of the coolest intros ever.  Booka Shade is a pleasant ambient techno sound with some live drums too, I wanted to head into the arena to catch some of the set but Kevin wanted to finish his beer because of the security check into the arena, so while I was waiting I opened another can and so did Kevin, so by the time we made it to the arena the Leftfield DJ set was kicking off on the main stage.

Leftfield DJ Set – Main Stage 10 pm

Leftfield put on a fairly good set, they played mainly an industrial techno set of unknown tunes sprinkled with recognisable Leftfield sound effects.  I was hoping for some of their familiar tracks or maybe Cheshire Cat toasting to some of their more chilled out reggae numbers.  But the lads were relentless with their beats, pummelling us with their fast noisy techno, the only thing missing was earth growling bass.  I thought the set could have done with louder bass, considering I saw them at both Rockness and Electric Picnic in 2010 with the band, they were always revered for their sound system.  Still, they done a good job and finished with the only familiar track Phat Planet, the grand daddy of that frenetic Psy trance sound, what a great way to go.

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Leftfield DJ Set Main Stage.

Laurent Garnier – Main Stage 12 am

Laurent Garnier done a mammoth three hour set covering many phases of his career with a stunning light show, sound and a packed main stage arena.  He looked to be in fine form enjoying his performance, the biggest reaction he got was when he dropped his most famous track The Man with a Red Face, he even done some scatting along with his music, clocking in a solid performance.  I left half an hour before the end of his set as I was completely worn out.

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Laurent Garnier – Main Stage.

The last hour was spent with Kevin and a few cans as being on your feet all day can be tiring stuff.

Sunday 26th May

I got up a little early to take a few daylight shots of the festival installations, art and some of the stages.

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Mandala type decorations near the Psy Stage and Massage Tent.
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The Massage Area.
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Festival lights through the forest.
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Dancing at the Psy Stage.
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Installation art to the side of the Liquid Tent.
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Cool installation Art.

Much of the afternoon was spent lazing about the campsite catching up with the banter of our campsite neighbours, it was eventually the rumbling of my stomach that decided me to make the trip to the arena with Kevin in search of something to eat.

Dusty Tonez  2.30 pm – Chill Out Tent / Lectrosoul Stage.

Went into the chill out tent for a while to sit at the back which was adorned with carpets and cushions, Dusty was playing some classic house which he mixed into Eddy Grant’s Electric Avenue.  This was a nice laid back tent and surprisingly the noise from the Psy Stage never spilled into the chill out tent even though it was only across the path.

I finally got a chicken sweet chilli wrap from a stall called Get Stuffed, after talking with the lads working there it turned out this was their first venture into working at the festivals, so best of luck to them and I hope to see them at other festivals as they make delicious sandwiches.

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A cute stall at the Lakeside area.
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A lakeside shot taken in Friday evening.
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Another Friday evening lakeside shot.

Kila – Human Stage – Lakeside – 4.30 pm

Kila took their time to get started, their sound check seemed to be going on forever, well, at least about half an hour into their supposed time slot.  When they did get started it was a glorious cacophony of familiar Irish music, although there is no recognisable jigs or reels in Kila’s repertoire they make a harmonious hippy hybrid interpretation of it all.  There was a lovely rhythmic bass from Ronan O Snodaigh’s bodran that kept everyone else together and there was a general hooley pandemonium going on around the front of the stage with everyone trying to do Riverdance steps.

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Kila – Human Stage – Lakeside.

Kevin had to get it together to check in for his night shift so I walked back with him to the volunteers office where originally he was going to be sent to work at the car park, but that was changed to working in the arena, which meant he could still see some of the headliners while still working his shift.

While Kevin went off working I relaxed a while in my tent, I couldn’t help noticing that a full on domestic row was starting in a tent beside me, it sounded like the guy was dumping his girlfriend, he had, had enough, apparently she disappeared for hours on end and so had the mans supplies.  Festivals are strange things, love blossoms sometimes and sometimes  love falls apart, staying together in a tent at a festival can be, I suppose very much a testing ground for couples.

1200 Micrograms – Psy Stage 8 pm.

Now I have not reviewed much Psy Trance artists who played that particular stage, so I used this opportunity to properly catch the buzz of a Psy trance blow out, I filmed a piece where the camera veers of the path and leads into the side of the Psy stage, I film the audience for about a minute and then zoom into the DJs 1200 Micrograms.  Just as they drop the next set of beats I whipped the camera around to catch the frenzy of the audience, I worked my way through them until I am filming at the back of the crowd.  The music was as frenetic as the psy trance can get, build ups, notes soaring and straight back into bass throbs and galloping rhythms.  As I said before, my attention span for this sort of music is about fifteen minutes tops and then I’m off somewhere else again which is exactly what happened.  What can I say though, 1200 Micrograms done a damn good job and they had a very packed stage extending the length and breadth of the meadow, plus they were having a ball, almost as mad as the audience themselves.

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1200 Micrograms – Psy Stage.
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1200 Micrograms devotees.

I also took a trip to the Liquid tent before settling for some of the main stage action, Greaney was doing a nice drum n bass and break beats set with a decent gathering getting down to the sounds.

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Greaney – Liquid Tent.

The first main stage act for the day for me was White Collar Boy, two DJs and a female vocalist, they were playing a kind of ambient techno sound with the girl singing soulful vocals over the mix, they reminded me a wee bit of Donal Dineen’s Parish, soft funky soulful pop, although Parish have a more bluesier world music feel.

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White Collar Boy – Main Stage.

Amon Tobin – Main Stage 8.30 pm.

Amon Tobin kicked off full steam ahead with some in your face drum n bass, the energy was palpable all around the audience, this is exactly what they wanted, Tobin head banging up on stage to his own beats.  Drum n bass wasn’t his only forte, he played some nice funky ambient techno too, although not too soft, rough enough to keep you moving.  Tobin done a decent enough job warming the crowd up for the German nutters Modeselektor.

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Amon Tobin – Main Stage
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Kevin on duty at the main stage and some randomer.

Modeselektor – Main Stage 10 pm.

There was a few late starts today, firstly Kila and now Modeselektor, they did not come on to the stage till 10.25, but perhaps they were using their own sound engineers and were perfectionists, so they wanted to get the sound right, plus they had brought along their own visuals.  One largish screen behind them and a smaller screen to the side held together by what looked like poles criss crossing below the DJs.  When they did get started, my god, they absolutely blew me away.  I have looked at video clips of them before, but to hear them in the flesh it was astonishing.  Its hard to actually describe their sound, there is definitely dubstep there but used in a completely different way, the dubstep has a grimy fuzz about it and the way they connect the synth keys to match the rhythm.  They opened with Grillwalker from their Monkeytown album released two years ago, this has to be one of my favourite tracks of all time, its just completely loopy, I can only describe it as corclinkity bloinkity madness, but you can dance to it or even do an elephant walk to it.  Another track that set the mood for the summer for me was Blue Clouds, the guitar like synth notes created this gorgeous melody that also reminded me of Modeselektor’s side project with Apparat, Moderat, who are releasing an new album in August.  so hoping for Moderat for the Picnic. 

There was many selections from Monkeytown and various other albums that I have to familiarise myself with.  One of the tracks involved one of the DJs shaking up a bottle of Champagne and letting it flow over the first few rows of the audience, no doubt they were all there with their mouths gaping open to get some free alcohol.  Sometimes the music would veer into drum n bass and sometimes techno and sometimes there was softer more melodic numbers such as Berlin featuring the lovely vocals of Miss Platinum.  Their visuals were incredibly psychedelic, the backdrop would show scrambled graphics and then more precise graphics, the bars below the DJs lit up, it was a sort of tube lighting structure that could be intensified to function as lasers, making the whole thing an absolute visual feast.  But as quickly as they came on they came to their final number, a Moderat track, A new error, I can’t help thinking that if they weren’t delayed we would have got at least another two tracks from the set.  I was hoping they would drop Kill Bill Vol 4, but what a way to end, Modeselektor, the perfect main stage closer.  Just as the group departed the stage it started to rain, so back to camp for me and Kevin.

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Modeselektor – Main Stage.
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Modeselektor – Main Stage.

I would have loved to explore more of the festival after hours but as it transpired the rain got heavier and heavier, so we just stayed in the tent for the night.  There was times we were tempted to take a trip to the arena, but the thought of wading through the muck after thousands had passed through put me off the idea.

Well, that’s another Life festival over and although I missed some of my friends who attended previous ones I had an amazing time.  Life is really a unique festival, its in a different league from the likes of Tomorrowland, the newly christened Oxegen dance festival, more in the vein of Glade festival specialising in electronic rather than just commercial dance music.  It seems RTE Pulse is trying to present it as a commercial dance event, too much coverage I felt was given to the Red Bull stage.  Now this stage done particularly well and was always wedged, but I felt it detracted from the other stages sometimes, more attention should have been given to the Psy stage and the Liquid Tent and the Main stage for that matter.  Roll on next year.

Liss Ard Festival 2012 4th, 5th August, Skibbereen, County Cork

Liss Ard festival is a small boutique festival with a capacity for three and a half thousand people, situated about three kilometres from Skibbereen, I thought it would be nice to sample a festival south of the country for a change and again I would be volunteering for POD who was running the festival this year.  The actual arena is a fairly compact size, fairly similar to the Sea Sessions festival size although remarkably different from the Sea Sessions content on offer.  Liss Ard offered an eclectic mix of reggae, disco & funk, indie rock, electronic, trad and contemporary folk rock music and a selection of poetry and book readings at the literary tent which I am ashamed to admit I hardly visited.

Saturday 4th August

The camp site was not too far from the main stage (a delightful marquee which came in handy for these sunny spells and scattered showers).  Having made friends with Dave the metalhead, we set about making friends with all around us and creating a neighbourhood watch scheme to make sure no young raggamuffins came hopping over the fence to rob our tents.  There was some incredibly heavy rain showers in between burning sunny spells.  Music did not commence till 2 pm so I set about discovering the arena.

Dave

The first music I heard was a group called Tieranniesaur, who came across like a folky Cocteau Twins with a nice touch of electronica.  I went into the main stage to catch their last number and was suitably impressed.  Augmented   by four guys on drums, bass, guitar and keys, three girls fronted the band on vocal with laptops and mixers.  Will be checking them out at the Picnic, no doubt.

I never had the time for the following act the Heathers so I remained in the camp site with Dave where he proceeded to drown out their sound with some rock classics on the boogie box, that Northern Ireland tourist ad did not do the group any favours and is one of the main reasons I did not tune in.

Cork based group Interference took to the stage next, they had an unusual melancholic sound, mainly string driven with fiddles, cellos and integrated with a full rock band creating a hypnotic pulse of a sound.  I caught a little bit of their set on video.

The next act the Bob Mould Band was going to be the last band I would catch before starting my shift as  volunteer for the festival.  Bob Mould was certainly lively enough with a great big crystal clear rock sound blasting out.  He played the Copper Blue album in its entirety plus some Husker Du classics.  As much as I enjoyed the energy from his performance, this music was not really for me, I found it a bit too abrasive and metallish for my liking, most of all I did not like the sound of his voice, although the tent was suitably packed with Mould fans who did appreciate the performance.

Around 7 pm I decided to look for something to eat before my shift kicked in, the Lebanese Kitchen stall had a great choice, I settled for a chicken shawarma, a sort of kebab wrap which was delicious and set me up for the night.

8pm – 2 am. Having checked in with Catherine Kehoe, the volunteer coordinator, I was given the job of looking after the disabled entrance to the hotel and the entrance to family camping which was directly behind the literary tent, so I could still tune into music and talks coming from there.   I caught a little bit of Joe Dunthornes literary reading which pulled in a fairly hefty crowd to the tent and a little bit of Low Mountains set which also had a rammed tent, with people trying to get into the side entrance.  Their set consisted of classic covers, contemporary folk numbers and a bit of blue grass with the audience giving resounding approval.  Sadly I was snatched away by security to another post at the main entrance so I did not hear any more music till 2 am.  My job here was to direct people to the shuttle buses which was taking them to the Skibbereen show grounds as the festival car park had become unusable due to the rain earlier on Saturday.  I also encountered some hot headed security, I had to stop people leaving the festival site as they were counting how many should go on the bus, I had to let eight people through but ended up letting eleven through because I was basically splitting up some family.  I mean what are you supposed to do there.

When I finished my shift I signed out and was surprised to be handed a food voucher from Catherine, an added bonus and got myself a steak burger and settled down to watch the final half hour of Nicolas Jaar on the main stage.

Nicolas played a kind of ambient techno which was refreshing and different from the usual bpm fodder, with his Mac and mixer he delivered incredibly weird vocals.  Jaar was augmented by a guitarist who was doing a Dave Gilmour sort of blues soloing to the music and another guy who played a fine sax and occasionally a synthesizer.  The light show should get a special mention too, beautiful back drop lights that gave off a shimmering glittery effect and spotlights that created hues of electric blue and gold in the backdrop.

The last hour or two was spent at the camp site with Dave and a few others, Dave put on a disco classics cd from the 1970s, seeing that most people had got to see the excellent Chic which I missed because of my shift, the last concious memory was of some of the lads singing backing vocals to the Tramps Disco Inferno and Chics Good Times.

Sunday 5th August

The Hammock Area.

I arose at 10.30 am still quite shattered as the disco sing along must have went on at least to 5.30 am.  The Sunday faired better weather wise with it being dryer and sunnier too. At the starting of my shift we were given the job of wrist banding day ticketers to the Sunday leg of the festival.  My first few wristbands were sloppy enough but I picked it up as I went along.  As the day progressed I could not help noticing that a lot of people had misread the T and Cs of the festival, this concerned bringing alcohol into the festival.  As with any festival with a license, campers are supposed to bring in their alcohol on the first trip while setting up the tent.  The amount of people turning up with drink on Sunday was crazy, there was practically a bar set up before the security check point where people were getting absolutely steaming before even setting a foot into the arena.  Dave my camping buddy took the shuttle into Skibbereen to stock up, but he did mention to security on the way out that he was going to take some cans into the camp site to which they agreed, when he came back they never searched him.

My sister Marguerite, her husband Brendan and son Oisin came for the day trip today as well as friends Matt and Caroline, Matt was doing a reading at the literary tent in the afternoon.  At the time I was too busy wrist banding to take much notice of their arrival.

Music wise whilst working I could pick out the merry sound of the West Cork Ukulele Orchestra and the following act Joan As Policewomen.  Joan had a plaintive sound with lovely vocals and piano playing, but I felt she could have done with some drums and bass to fill out the sound.

The next act I recognised immediately as I have a number of his albums, Roy Harper, I wish I was free to see this as I have never saw him in concert.  He opened with Highway Blues from his 1975 Life Mask album, still sounding as crisp as ever, Harper must be about in his seventies now but still sounds as vital as ever.  I Hate the White Man was another that I picked out while working away.  I finally got a half hour break at 4 pm so straight up to the Lebanese Kitchen for another chicken shawarma courtesy of POD and another food voucher, yum.  In between I caught up with my sister at the literary tent and a little bit of the delightful Macrae Sisters who were playing some amazing old time and hillbilly sounds.  After the break my shift went in rather quickly, I was free to enjoy more of the festival.

Meeting up with the sister et all, we sat at a hump in the hill in the arena which overlooked the main stage, so we all soaked in a bit of Mick Flannerys set, the marquee was packed to the hinges for one of Irelands most popular singer and songwriters.   His music has touches of John Martyn, Bob Dylan and Declan ORourke and you can tell that he has been influenced to a degree by Tom Waits.  He is a perfect warm up for a Sunday evening.

Cian Finn (Intinn) was up on stage next for a reggae warm up to get us in the mood for Toots and the Maytals, like Mr Whippy and the Rootical Sound System, Finn has a wondrous selection of obscure and archival reggae sounds, the main stage effectively functioning at this time as a large chill out area.

Dave & Brendan

Toots and the Maytals always give their very best, this will be my second time catching them as I saw them at Electric Picnic 2005, when I was working at the Picnic last year I had to work during their performance which was a bummer, but only found out afterwards that Toots Hibbert had a throat infection and could not perform with the band, so I am happy to say that this time round he was in fine fettle.  The band opened as they always do with Pressure Drop which immediately set off dancing feet all around, everyone bouncing until the very last note.  I only have one wish for Toots and the Maytals and that is get a real brass section guys, I know you use backing tapes or a keyboard to emulate the sound but a real brass section looks even better.  Of course, as you can imagine with this band they done their greatest hits, Louie Louie, Funky Kingston and so many other classics.  Toots would be pushing 67 these days and I reckon he must work out to still have that energy and voice that he has.

Dave and Myself.

My sister left during the Toots gig which must have been really hard for her to do, but they wanted to get wee Oisin back home to bed at a reasonable hour in Bandon.  I wandered about the arena with Matt and Caroline enjoying the ambient sounds coming from the main stage courtesy of Revelation Sounds, a techno ambient inspired dub reggae.

It was back to the camp site with Dave and fellow campers to finish off the last of our cans and to talk about the day.  A fine wee festival in West Cork.

Improvements to the festival for the following year could be, more stages, maybe two more marquees with different types of genre.  Not that I am knocking the music, but to some folk the music could be a bit samey with the singer / songwriter thing and needs to be a wee bit more diverse to maybe rival something like the Body & Soul festival.  Other things that could be improved on could be, more seats and tables around the eatery areas, because of the rain on Saturday some of the area was still a little wet and muddy for sitting down on.  Someone also suggested that there should be a small marquee for children too, with perhaps the odd film showed on a screen.  I look forward to next year where hopefully I will make this festival again.

Oisin, Brendan, Matt and Marguerite.