1984 Miracles is a fashion boutique run by Polish couple, Dagmara Zolty and Mati in Galway city, they bring some unique brands of street wear fashion and sounds to the bustling city. The shop launched in 14th April last year is very unique in that it doesn’t just sell exclusive fashionable clothes but also has a music element to it that makes it stand out from other shops in the city.
Dagmara had the idea of making an outlet for some original Polish street wear fashion, her shop comprises of the exclusive Polish female sportswear and fashion label Femi Stories, Hip Hop designer label Elade, the men’s fashion brand Long John that specialises in accessories unisex beanie hats and Streetwear SF.com street wear fashion from Clonakilty, County Cork and I’m glad to say that Streetwear SF is very similar to 1984 Miracles in that it features a combination of fashion and community scratch sessions too.
As well as having these exclusive brands of clothing, 1984 Miracles brings something unique with their involvement with Cut & Paste Records and the hosting of the Community Scratch music sessions in the shop normally every last Saturday of the month. The Community Scratch sessions are run by Mati who is also a DJ and Jimmy Penguin, who is also known under his alias Jimmy ‘The Hideous’ Penguin.
The music featured is of a sort of hip hop downbeat nature similar to sounds like DJ Shadow, the trip hop textures of Massive Attack, Portishead and Leftfield and the added feature of turntablism, freestyle scratching with vinyl records, so its always worth a visit to check out. Shop for cool clothes while funking to the downbeat groove of hip hop music.
The next community scratch session will take place in the shop on Saturday 27th January between 4 and 6 PM and is called Community Scratch Sessions 9. This will be followed by a bigger event taking place at the Bierhaus pub in Dominic Street, Galway on Saturday, Sunday 31st March and 1st April called the Community Scratch Games and there will be a pop up 1984 Miracles shop there too.
So if you get a chance, call into the shop and check out the clothes or the scratch sessions and Dagmara always has a friendly welcome for you.
You can contact Dagmara through her website here and the 1984 Miracles Facebook page here.
Digital release 27th October, physical release 23rd February 2018: Rabid – Mute Records.
1.Wanna Sip 2. Mustn’t Hurry 3. A Part of Us 4. Falling 5. IDK About You 6. This Country 7.Plunge 8. To the Moon and Back 9. Red Trails 10. An Itch 11. Mama’s Hand
I am delighted that Fever Ray has come back, there was wee hints of activity around April in the Knife’s Facebook page and finally a video promo last month, followed by the single To the Moon and Back with an accompanying video and finally the digital release of the new album Plunge on 27th October with a physical release promised for 23rd February next year.
Its been four years since the Knife’s Shaking the Habitual and tour, where Karin Dreijer and her brother Olof toured the Irish shores at Electric Picnic, so a welcome return of Karin’s ice cool electronica sound. A departure from the pitch shifted growly vocals of Fever Ray’s debut album from 2009, but Plunge does have some new vocal experiments that adds to the Fever Ray legend.
1.Wanna Sip: A quirky upbeat techno style number not too dissimilar to the Knife’s Heartbeats from their second album Deep Cuts (2003). Some nice dark synths and quite a ravey number, some of the sounds seemingly influenced by American EDM music but used in an interesting way.
2.Mustn’t Hurry: This is more akin to the 2009 darker ambient style of Dry and Dusty or If I had a Heart, it also has these melodic sounding Jamaican steel drums sounds reminiscent to the ones played by Olof Dreijer in Shaking the Habitual and Silent Shout. Karin stressing that ‘Change is coming soon‘ in the lyrics, a slow dark ambient burner with lovely synth overtones. Karin has a distinct original vocal much like the way Bjork has her own distinct identity.
3. A Part of Us: The intro to this one reminds me of Aphex Twin, also because it has a steady hi hat sound, one of his signature motifs. This track is interesting quirky pop with a few variations in Karin’s vocal style, there is some nice beats and uses of glitch in this track too.
4. Falling: This starts with a nice atmospheric electronic build up, a kinda musique concrete, if you like, harking back to the debut album and picking up to a more uptempo speed. Definitely influenced by the techno side of the Knife.
5. IDK About You: A good lively number with interesting break beats and what sounds like an all out jam going on, it sounds like a track from Shaking the Habitual which can’t be bad either. Karin does have the knack for writing really catchy quirky pop numbers.
6. This Country: Harking back to the 2013 Knife tour this track would be influenced by this period, the context being about the sociopolitical and sexual politics of Sweden, or at least that is what I think Karin is singing about here. There is some nice electronic sounds in this track, cool audio squelch’s reminiscent to the sounds you hear on Portishead’s Machine Gun track from Third.
7. Plunge: This track is an instrumental which uses some of that Jamaican steel drum sound heard on various Knife albums, the track building up over the first two and a half minutes with some nice off key bleeps and lovely bassy synths.
8. To the Moon and Back: This one is the new single which has an upbeat sound, great techno style pop with some nice interesting rhythm flourishes that bridge the spaces in the track. As a choice for the new single I can see this one getting banned from radio airplay simply because of the graphic nature of the sexual lyrics and especially with the accompanying video which is definitely not safe for work. But then Fever Ray was always controversial along with the Knife, so perhaps this was released exactly to create some notoriety. Often banned singles will generate more sales because of the interest created from it being banned in first place.
Fever Ray – To the Moon and Back (Video NSFW)
9. Red Trails: This one is my favourites on the album, gorgeous lush dark ambient Fever Ray, like the 2009 album this track would sit nicely among numbers such as Concrete Walls, Coconut and When I Grow Up. When I Grow Up featured a synth flute or whistle sample so Red Trails features a violin played by Sara Parkman and probably one of the finest violin accompaniments I’ve ever heard in a rock music context since Simon House’s violin playing on the 1977 Hawkwind track Hassan I Sabbah. A beautiful slow builder of a track that will keep Karin Dreijer fans drooling for more and how could you knock a track that has the opening line. ‘Blood was our favourite paint. you were my favourite pain.’
10. An Itch: An upbeat, bouncy number with a dubstep feel similar to that of One Hit from the Knife’s Silent Shout.
11. Mama’s Hand: This kicks off with what sounds like the pingy keys you hear in Pink Floyd’s Echoes but builds into a nice downbeat ambient number with cool break beats and lovely ploppy bubbly bass lines which wouldn’t sound out of place either on the Fever Ray debut album.
A nice interesting comeback for Karin Dreijer and her assembled musicians and collaborators, I look forward to seeing the shows that will promote this album, be it a standalone show in Dublin or one of the many stages at Electric Picnic. Having caught Fever Ray in 2010 and the Knife in 2013 at Electric Picnic they are a visual feast worth going to see.
This was my first time trying Fuinneamh festival, myself and Kevin set out from Galway about 5 pm in the camper, Kevin had be doing a fine job with the GPS guiding him all the way up to Mullingar, a pit stop at Mullingar for some supplies and off out of Mullingar. For some reason the GPS stopped working causing us to take the wrong road out of Mullingar and it took ages to find the other side of the road to get back on the right track. My GPS didn’t work at all, but eventually Kevin worked out that the direction we needed to go was toward Castlepollard. We eventually arrived onto the site about 9.30, the pulsing beat in the background somewhere while myself and Kevin sorted out our wristbands.
I can remember the Fuinneamh massive drum way back in 2012 at both the Life festival and Body & Soul festival, they always had a great crowd making a beautiful tribal racket, having not made it to the Elysian Circus nor Lunasa festival last year, I was glad to make it to this one. In a recent interview with Icon Underground magazine, Luke Reddy, one of the four directors behind Fuinneamh Productions said that his interest in outdoor events stemmed back to 2010 with forest parties called Keep Her Lit in Wicklow and the Fusion festival in Germany which he attends every year. This years festival had a capacity for 3,000 people and seemed to be doing very well on Friday night, with fair crowds at all the stages. Like Townlands Carnival and Scrobarnach, Fuinneamh had quite a diverse range of electronica, hip hop, reggae, jungle and dance music over its nine stages, some adorned with stunning visual art like the Ogham Alignment stage, the Wagwan stage and the Cosmai Ceol stage. There was also the excitement of having the festival in such a spiritual ancient area with the ancient court cairns overlooking the festival from the top.
I thought the festival was very well organised for a small event, right down to the food catering entrance into the festival site and pulsating techno providing the soundtrack, my first mistake being forgetting how to say Fuinneamh, as you will hear in the video clip. Fuinneamh means literally energy and vigour, which could describe the power of the music on offer, energy also meaning the leyline energy connecting the ancient court cairns to the area the event was taking place in. One small criticism would be lack of signage for the camper van area, it took us a wee while and with the help of a friendly steward to find the area.
By the time we got into the main arena it must have been about 10.30 – 11 PM, so a considerable bit of Friday missed so far, but not too worry there was still loads of time to soak in the atmosphere.
Kalizer 10 – 11 PM. Digital Specie 11 Pm – 12 AM. Cosmai Ceol Stage.
I’m not sure who is playing this stage, either Kalizer or Digital Specie, I was well impressed with the effort that went into this stage, which was the shape of a head containing the DJ booth and gorgeous psychedelic colours and patterns projected all over it. To the side of the stage were other beautiful pulsating visual projections on lovely backdrops and a cool Ultraviolet glow from the surrounding lights on the audience and area around. The music a constant galloping beat of snares, squelchs and monologue ambience and tones that matched the visual splendour.
I met Salim (Mr Upfull) and Aminah who had just finished a gig at 10 Pm at the Wagwan stage so it seems I just missed them as I arrived after that, but they are good friends and festival veterans that I have met at numerous festivals over the years, it was delightful to see them again.
Wagwan Stage – Rub A Dub Hi Fi, Ras Tinny, Cian Finn 11 PM – 2 AM.
Various trips were made back to this stage to hear the Dublin lads, Rub A Dub Hi Fi Soundsystem with Executive Steve, Ras Tinny joining them at midnight and Cian Finn joining them at 1 AM. The music, a pounding roots reggae with liberal doses of lovely Jungle and DnB in a very impressive sound system that crew were handing out ear buds for. I like a good bit of torture from a thumping bass so no ear buds for me.
This was some of the most intensest techno I ever heard, I regretted not seeing Sunil at the Rave in the Woods at Electric Picnic on the Saturday there but the weather was abysmal, so this more than made up for it. Tinfoil are Sunil Sharpe and Galway techno producer DeFeKT, they are a force to be reckoned with and I hope they do Life, Body&Soul festival and Electric Picnic in 2018 as well as making a return to Fuinneamh, even do a few shows in Galway would be fine by me. I had the camera zoomed in too close, I should have stood at the end lighted stones and filmed from there, nothing wrong with the crunchy techno though and a fine pumping crowd gathered. Earlier in the set I went up on the hillside and took a video on the phone from there which I got a good bit of the stage on film, but I do wish I had a wide angle lens that could take it in all at once.
The temperature got a lot cooler and the techno stage was a bit too out in the open now, so we retreated back to the Wagwan area to soak up some more jungle and roots reggae plus there was a bit of shelter and warmth at that stage with a nicely gathered crowd. I vowed to explore more of the arena tomorrow and take some nice daylight shots of the main arena. Back to Kevin’s camper for a few cans and a smoke, he had a heater in the van which was very nice. We hit the hay about 4.30 AM, a night well spent soaking up one part of the arena, time to get shut eye and prepare for a full day two.
Saturday 16th September.
Saturday was a late enough start at 11.30 AM but it was pouring outside anyway, this went on for a good four hours of relentless rain after such a nice Friday, one of Kevin’s mates from Limerick was playing a set at the Cosmai Ceol stage, Digital Aum. So we ventured out when the rain lightened a bit around that time giving me a chance to take a daylight shot of the Cosmai Ceol stage and the set by psytrance artist Psyom, a nice chillier psytrance vibe, more ambient than the usual mangled affair.
Kevin wanted to hear some dub roots reggae so we headed to the Wigwan stage to shelter a bit from the heavy drizzle that seemed to be picking up again, this gave me a chance to take some clear daylight shots of the reggae stage as the ones I took last night were a little dark.
With the onset of heavy rain again we made tracks back to the camper, stopping anymore exploration of the site until it finally subsided about 7.30 – 8 PM.
Boots & Kats Keep Her Lit Tent 8.30 – 10 PM.
Boots & Kats play good thumping squelchy acid techno in the vein of Aphex Twin and Luke Vibert, the Dublin DJs have a solid following in their hometown from playing well known dance clubs such as the Opium Rooms and Toast as well as the Carbon nightclub in Galway. They have also headlined stages at Life festival and Electric Picnic among others. Judging by the crowd gathered in the tent tonight the popularity has not diminished and continues to grow.
It was around this time I finally got the camera out in the main arena and took a video of the area, trying to catch the last remaining daylight which was diminishing fast and trying to check out as many stages as possible.
I checked out some of the bubble tents, first one was the Discoim tent which at the time I thought said Discuit or so I say on the video anyway, the clip walks into the tent, does a loop, looks at the dancers and DJs and goes out of the tent. The music a funky happy house sound that verged on acid jazz, there was a few in there lost in the intoxicating beat. I have no idea of the DJs as there was no timetable for this tent.
I made a beeline for the other bubble tent known as the BDTU tent standing for the Back Door to the Universe tent. The music here was a bit more difficult to define but it was a very progressive rocky house and techno sound, so absolutely banging music. I don’t think there was actually a stage at this festival that had me running away in horror, all the music was absolutely amazing. Again no identity for the DJs involved as no timetable for this venue either.
Deliverance – Main Stage (Hill of Danu) 8.00 – 8.30 PM.
Caught a bit of the main stage act Deliverance from Rush, County Dublin who happen to come from the same place Brian Kelly comes from the singer from my own group The Living Stream. Deliverance put on a deadly performance of hip hop, rap and good old rock n roll and had some pretty decent songs such as Love for Mary Jane, an ode to the waccy baccy. They had a small tidy audience but one that appreciated their festival vibe and Babz Allen has a serious larynx that oozes that Maggie Bell/Mary Coughlan influence. I thought the act was originally PrYmary Colours, but they contacted me to say they played on Friday instead. When I looked at the timetable I realised Deliverance were slotted later than 6.30 PM. Check them out a good fun act to see.
Gnosis – Anam Cara Tent 7.00 – 9.00 PM.
Gnosis from Dublin are a pair of DJs who make absolutely banging techno, there is no other word for it, but they smashed it tonight with a fairly packed tent. The timetable says that they were playing the Anam Cara tent but a few swear it was the Keep Her Lit tent, but there is no barrier thingy above the DJs heads like the tent Boots & Kats played in. Another dilemma is I can’t remember if it was Boots & Kats or Gnosis who dropped the amazing The Drums DMS 12 remix track, but that was one of the highlights for me and Kevin for the weekend.
Sarah Lennox – Keep Her Lit Tent 10.00 – 11.00 PM.
Sarah Lennox played a whopper techno set at the Keep Her Lit tent that was packed to the brim and you could tell she was really enjoying the gig, she is up there with one of my favourites from last years Scrobarnach festival, Maedbh O’Connor who was playing the Ogham Alignment stage earlier in the afternoon. Sarah has played loads of festivals including Life, Lunasa, Ministry of Sound and had some amazing spots in Ibiza. She really knows how to work the crowd and she oozed the confidence on the stage tonight, long may she continue.
I think we ventured back to the camper for a bit of a rest up, soft seats, a replenishment of cans and a good smoke, that was a bit of walking about and investigating the stages. King Kong Company was making a glorious racket at the main stage but since I’ve covered King Kong Company umpteenth times including the last Electric Picnic review, I think enough has been said there but they had a nice wee crowd gathered. We ventured back into the arena one last time about 1.30 AM and made for the Ogham Alignment area bringing us into the early hours of Sunday 17th September.
Sean Markey – Ogham Alignment Stage 1.30 AM – Close.
Sean Markey was just starting off his set with a few mingling about the area, he was playing a thumping techno set, maybe not as spacey as Tinfoil the previous night but still bloody good, myself and Kevin hung around for half an hour soaking up the sounds but it was starting to get Baltic cold no matter how good the music sounded, so no offense to Sean intended, we drifted off to the Wagwan tent as it was a bit warmer there.
The last half an hour was spent at the Wagwan tent chilling to the jungle and DnB roots sounds of the Rub A Dub Hi Fi Soundsystem and talking to randomers at the stage from the North of Ireland. It was here I had an epic fall in the mud when trying to scrabble for a seat at the side of the stage. It was back to the camper for a few tins and the luxury of the heater. A fantastic little festival to end the summer of festivals, I honestly didn’t think I would have had the energy left after Electric Picnic but there ya go.
Sunday 17th September.
God bless Kevin, he fed and watered me through the weekend and I was delighted to wash some dishes in the morning and to fill the water bottle at the campsite two minutes from the camper van area so that we could have a coffee and some bacon sandwiches, absolute bliss. In a way the festival wasn’t over yet as Kevin had a plan, that we climb some hills and to go and see the amazing court cairns of Loughcrew.
On the way to Cairn T I thought I was going to die halfway up the hill, I’ll tell you something, its a good way to get rid of toxins and your hangover when you climb a bloody big hill.
There was a great feeling when you did reach the top though and looked at the awesomeness of the cairn.
Whilst up there we could spot the odd festival goer amongst the tourists, because they had big grins and were sporting either green or pink wristbands, we gave them a knowing smile. When we came back down we opted for a coffee at the Loughcrew Megalithic Centre and Cafe.
Now one of the workers at the cafe told us the Cairn L was on private property, but we weren’t going to let that put us off, therefore we had the whole hill to ourselves as there was no one else up there. It was tough going, going up that second hill which I think was steeper than the first, but there was a few more tombs up there than just the cairn.
Well Kevin was parked up in the free car park, so we decided to stay for the night as it would be a long and arduous journey to Galway after all that climbing, there was some food and tins of beer in the camper so Kevin continued to spoil me and we ended the night listening to some of the best radio DJs on Today FM, you know who they are without me saying anything.
Well that was an adventure my heartfelt thanks to Kevin Keehan for a wonderful weekend, my thanks to Luke Reddy for his generosity in providing me a free wristband to review the festival which I hope helps it in future runs in the coming years and to the festival stewards who helped us on Friday night and the kind lady at the box office who gave me my wristband and Kevin the camper pass. Roll on Fuinneamh 2018, I hope to return next year as its a wonderful little festival.
The wonderful Aibhe Jagodic gave me a lift on Sunday afternoon from Galway to Stradbally, the Electric Picnic and Body&Soul festival stalwart commutes regularly from the West to the South East for her work, but she entertained me with some lovely festival memories and she couldn’t go this year because of work commitments, which I think was tearing her up. She is also a great friend of the lovely Juley-Ann Collins who gave me a lift to the Body&Soul festival in 2012 and would be working the festival from Wednesday onward.
At Stradbally John Dooley, Ann-Marie and JD Corcoran were already set up at the crew camp as well as some of the other regulars, Jenny and Aidan arriving from Cork not long after me. John was back at the same spot and set up the cinema screen for tonight’s film, I’m delighted to say that he chose the DVD I brought down with me, a gift from my brother a few years back, Angel’s Share, a Scottish film about disadvantaged Glaswegian youths who through the help of a social services worker carve a new interest in collecting rare Scottish whisky and it becomes their salvation, the film also deals with how to deal with anger management. Crash from 2005 the following night, Paul Haggis’s masterpiece about race and ethnicity. Wednesday nights film never materialised as there was too much copious amounts of craic to be had. But John entertained the arriving weekend volunteers with Trainspotting on the Thursday.
The work duties for the festival was fairly easy peasy, I was working at the Production gate this year so my job was to direct arriving inductees to the staff car park and direct them to volunteers further down the field who would give them a health and safety induction and pre-event wristband so that they could progress further into the festival site. The Grandstand was our shop of choice, the little green shop just beyond the Production entrance and across the road from Supervalu, it had the best breakfast rolls in the town, so scrumptious lunch or brunch breaks were to be had. I was working with JD, who was great craic and appreciated my sounds I was playing on the beatbox and my blog reviews.
The tiny gate at the production entrance, I marvelled at the enormous articulated lorries that managed to squeeze through that tiny space, bringing rigging to the stages, bar set ups, circus and fun fair equipment, catering and some of the most creative caravans out there, destined for the Trailer Park area.
I got wristbanded on Wednesday night with my proper weekend cloth band, it was nice to have that out of the way as it can be hectic when queuing with the weekend volunteers on Thursday for the wristband, I also set about taking some pictures of the site build. Thursday seemed to be the quietest day as far as activities was concerned because all the trucks had already served the festival, the infrastructure was already in place.
John is like the Electric Picnic volunteer saviour, he made some lovely meals over the past week, kept us watered with fine beers, coffees and teas. Was a recharge point for many people and to top it off, his infectious humour kept us on a buzzing vibe, oh! And I forgot to mention his cool sound system playing the best funk on Spotify.
Friday 1st September.
First priorities was to go to Stradbally from the crew camp and procure a breakfast roll and coffee from the Grandstand shop, this set me up for my first exploration in the main arena about two or three hours before official festival day opening times. I headed up with Gearoid Isainmdom who came down with Kevin Keehan on Tuesday night, a good friend of mine and we wandered about the main arena bumping into other Galway friends Gavin Grennan and Caroline Crow, festival stalwarts of a multitude of festivals, some of which I was at.
We headed up to the Body&Soul Village where myself and Gearoid stopped at the Tiny Tea Tent, had a lovely cuppa and some chocolate flake and sponge cake, sitting relaxing and loving the sunny vibe of the place. Then my Whatsapp buzzed, it was David Curran and he was wanting to buy a ticket, only I forgot, Kevin had given it to me the night before which I put in my jacket. Of course, my bloody jacket was sitting in my tent at crew camp. So it meant I had to trudge through the arriving festival crowd out of the arena back to crew camp, luckily David met me there and everything worked out grand.
We headed into the main arena again about 5.30 – 6 pm and headed to the Bacardi Bar to listen to some of the Get Down Edits set, a great funky tech house sound that had a busy enough crowd getting down.
I went to the merchandise stand as I wanted to buy the timetable and booklet, some of the times printed would turn out to be incorrect during the weekend and why no Rankin’s Wood info for Friday. There was obviously stuff going on in the marquee so why was this omitted from the timetable people are paying money for. Kevin wanted to see the Jenny Greene show so he relied on the festival app which always had the correct info.
The Divine Comedy – Main Stage 7.30 – 8.30 PM.
I enjoyed a bit of the Divine Comedy’s set, the band were going through some sound problems when we arrived and Neil Hannon didn’t seem amused about it, but the rest of the set proved faultless. They played some of the classics such as Indie Disco, National Express and some of the recent album Foreverland. The band got a decent crowd and was a nice kick start for the main stage as the third opening act of the weekend.
The History of Hip Hop, Jenny Greene and the RTE Concert Orchestra – Rankin’s Wood – 9.00 – 9.40 PM.
Kevin wanted to see this, so I trooped along for the craic, another stage to go to I suppose. I wasn’t that much impressed with the hip hop selection although I wasn’t there for the whole set and we were listening from outside the tent, but there seemed to be some glaring absences in the history such as Grandmaster Flash, the Sugarhill Gang, A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def, NWA and Public Enemy. If you are going to do a history of hip hop you have to go as far back as James Brown’s I’m Black and I’m Proud and Gil Scott Heron’s The Revolution Will Not be Televised to even understand social commentary and poetry and prose to the bass beat.
Jenny Greene’s set was very short at about forty minutes, it was bouncy enough dance classics and a great sound system but I wouldn’t say I was absolutely ecstatic about it but it was a lot of fun and it was the audience that made it a really good atmosphere.
The XX – Main Stage 10.00 PM – 12.00 AM.
The XX put on an amazing show, they are exceptional musicians who take their dark jangly indie rock into an electronica realm with Jamie XX coming over as a beats master, exemplary DJ and drummer too. Lashings of tracks featured from their new album I See You including their single On Hold and some of the classics from their previous two albums such as Islands among others. Tops to the main stage crew who had a fantastic sound coming from the PA and some of the visuals from the XX show were breathtaking, exotic lighting backdrops and pretty cool lasers made for a very enjoyable show.
We mainly wandered about Body&Soul after that soaking up the atmosphere, visiting the main stage numerous times, catching snippets of various acts like HMLTD, Lowly and New Jackson who provided some nice dance grooves to close the B&S main stage for Friday. Wandered over to the Peace Pagoda and caught a bit of some set, the music, a long constant ambient drone that was so, painfully loud, had we stayed there we would have been deafened, so maybe ambient in a torturous kind of way. There was some nice ambient techno emitting from the Earthship stage courtesy of Lumigraph and later on Neil Flynn.
The biggest surprise though was the Haunt, a new barn type venue that looked like a set from a David Lynch film. Now the Haunt is quite a small venue maybe marginally bigger than the Red Bull Soundome, well maybe a crammed room if 150 people were there, but it had a creepy cool clandestine feel to it, almost like a candle light glow. The softest seats to the side and a great selection of DJs spinning the wonderful music. The music ranging from vaudeville, bebop, blues, folk music from around the world, deepest Africa, Cuba, Klezmer, Balkan, Mexican and Ireland too ending on a Christy Moore/Planxty note, it was really loud but beautiful sounds. There was no timetable information for the Haunt so I have no idea who was playing Friday or Saturday night. I just wonder if its the same people who ran the Gramophone Disco at Townlands Carnival as I remember a similar Planxty/Christy Moore thing happening in there too last year. Myself and Kevin headed back to the crew camp for the night at about 3.30 am, time to get a much needed rest.
Saturday 2nd September.
Woke up to the fine John Dooley who delivered a cup of coffee to my tent, what a legend you are and a nice bacon sandwich later in the camper. I think myself, Kevin and Gearoid went into the main arena about 3 or 4 PM, I called up to the volunteer HQ to say hello to Catherine Kehoe, our coordinator and Susan, her assistant who were doing a fine job looking after the volunteers, special mention to the weekend volunteers Kim Austin and Niamh Ryan for getting out there and organising a bus to bring 30 volunteers to the festival site from Dublin on the Thursday preceding the festival. Kim was my next door neighbour in the campsite, in fact I was surrounded by people from County Wexford, thanks for putting up with my wild Aphex Twin audios on the beatbox. When my Ipod seemed to go on permanent lock I hope my green speaker was of some use to you. 🙂
This year I avoided the usual haunts of Trenchtown, Hazelwood and Rave in the Woods and decided to try a few different areas, mainly Trailer Park that I’ve never really explored at the festival before. There was some really gorgeous caravans and strange stalls and characters who populated the area.
Jaheire – Trailer Park Stage 4.05 – 5.00 PM.
Jaheire were covering all the famous Bob Marley and the Wailers hits as well as classics by Toots and the Maytals, The Specials and Madness. They are a fairly tight band who had a nice audience gathered no doubt some destined to be at the Madness set later, but Jaheire has a fine singing voice and got us into good form for the upcoming shows.
Madness – Main Stage 5.30 – 6.30 PM.
It was just as well we were milling about for half an hour as Madness came on at 5.30 rather than the timetable advertised time of 5.45 PM, possibly pissing off people with the incorrect laminate times as they would automatically miss fifteen minutes of the gig. Anyway, the lads put in a classic performance of all their famous hits. Kicking off with Embarrassment and then into their 1979 debut single The Prince, they still sound incredible and Suggs still looks great with his voice in fine fettle. I was delighted that they played One Step Beyond as they didn’t play it at EP in 2009, the audience delightfully sang along to the melody. Hit after hit reeled out Our House, Baggy Trousers, It Must Be Love and My Girl amongst others and a fine cover of Max Romeo’s Chase The Devil. The perfect band to enliven the audience at the main stage for today’s proceedings.
The Rusangano Family – Rankin’s Wood Stage 6.30 – 7.15 PM.
Whilst wandering away from the main stage area after Madness, I was liking what I was heard coming from the Rankin’s Wood marquee, good bassy energetic rapping. So into the tent we go and another new discovery, The Rusangano Family. Now some of the folk on Boards.ie have been raving about this lot for the last few years so I was delighted to finally get to see them for the first time. African kids who had been brought up in Limerick and now were a fully fledged hip hop act with their own slant toward Grime as well. They are currently promoting their debut album Let The Dead Bury The Dead released last April and their popularity is growing. They may have had half a tent full but it was an ecstatic lot who were in there, the group having worked very hard at touring, playing small venues and small festivals around the country, I’m delighted to see them get the recognition they fully deserve.
We met up with Gearoid and his girlfriend Orla Gibney after the Madness gig, she had travelled down today has she had to work in Galway on the Friday.
Columbia Mills – Jerry Fish’s Electric Sideshow 6.30 – 7.15 PM.
Gearoid recommended this band and we stopped at the Jerry Fish tent to listen to a few numbers. The band from Bray had a packed tent and had an energy similar to the National, New Order also came to mind and a few other Manchester acts. They had a great explosive energy and I really hope big things come their way, I even suggested that Body&Soul festival book them for next year.
We wandered about the main arena and were quite taken but the ensuing footage coming from the outside Electric Arena screen, this fine looking auburn haired lady with a fine larynx rocking it out with an extremely tight band, Birdy. This was a new discovery for me, here was a band who had similar energies to Florence and The Machine and London Grammar, but this girl with a rather long name, Jasmine Lucilla Elizabeth Jennifer Van den Bogaerde could wipe the floor with Florence, she has a much nicer stronger voice and with such passion and emotion. We came into the side of the tent to watch the last few closing songs and man, she had a pretty rammed tent, Birdy could be headlining the main stage next year judging by the reaction to this gig.
Bill Bailey – Comedy Tent 8.25 – 9.10 PM.
Lets say I was in a suitable enhancement for this stand up gig, I have always loved Bill Bailey, especially his stuff in Black Books and other TV appearances and stand up shows and cameos in films like Saving Grace. He is the perfect tonic to help us laugh at Brexit, his summary of Mumford and Sons almost broke my ribs and his musicianship is incredible. He is a walking encyclopedia of rock music, with his pisstake of the heavy metal genre of music or taking a simple thing like the Iphone ringtone and turning it into an incredible ambient piece of music or playing the American National anthem in a minor key. It was the first time I have watched a proper stand up show actually sitting in inside the tent at Electric Picnic. Last year I watched part of the Dylan Moran performance on the outside screen of the comedy tent as it was absolutely rammed. The same with Tommy Teirnan’s performance in 2005, not a hope in hell of getting into the tent for that, so I was delighted to be in the company of the brilliant Bill Bailey.
Suitably elated after such a brilliant show that you are pinching yourself to check it actually happened we were greeted by heavy drizzle and wind, personally I didn’t care I was happy as larry and made my way with Kevin toward the wonderful soulful and playful sound coming from the Earthship stage in Body&Soul, twas the beautiful music of Attention Bebe, an act who has played numerous Body & Soul festivals as well as a few Picnics. This was the first time I got to hear them as I would usually be doing other things and have missed them before. A few were talking about them in the Boards.ie Electric Picnic thread and recommending that we should try and catch the group if we can, to which I’m glad to say I did this Saturday night at the Earthship.
The Haunt, Body&Soul Village (Possibly entered at 12.30/1 AM till 4.20 AM.
Well plans went out the window for maybe getting to see A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Tong and Orchestra, Tiga and Clark as the wet and the wind got more intense, I didn’t fancy walking over the plain in that building cyclone. Body&Soul seemed that more enclosed, sheltering and more colourful, loads of chill areas beckoning us.
We settled for the second night ending at the Haunt, that cool fully enclosed wooden looking byre, with intoxicating world music on a superb PA, the bass causing explosions and ruptures in your ears but it was ever so delightful. Yes, seats have become available. YONK! No sorry, not moving, can’t move.
The music that was brought to us over the weekend, courtesy of, Maxtractor-spudnikki Monchici, Killian Redmonk, Christine McQuilan, Mick T-woc, Chrissi Ferris, Andy Aforce, Ollie Moore, Gully Docktah Irie and Colin Olwill was so, so refreshing compared to what was in the dance stages of the main arena, not the marquees now but the Logic and Heineken stages. Some even reckon the Haunt was placed there to strategically counterpoint the dance stages, I think it worked too. I am proud to say, myself and Kevin were the last two thrown out of the place by 4.20 AM.
Sunday 3rd September.
Woke up and headed over to John’s camper with my Lavazza and mobile continental coffee press container and had a few nice strong coffees, there was always people stopping in for a blether or a joke or two with John. Gearoid and Orla was there, Kevin joining later. There was also some of the St John ambulance crew who were camped up next to John who talked me into getting out my bodhran and singing a few songs, I had a nice appreciative audience for Tippin’ it up to Nancy and the Dolores Keane version of the Raggle Taggle Gypsies called Seven Yellow Gypsies, specifically because it mentions Stradbally in the lyrics. I got a nice round of applause and this was my sole bodhran playing for EP this year. John took up my bodhran then and performed As I Roved Out which was brilliant and well received.
The Skatalites – Main Stage 2.30 – 3.30 PM.
The Skatalites are a classic old style jazzy ska band with a shit hot brass section and an incredibly tight act, one of the old Studio One classics who I think played EP in 2006 too. The group has been going since 1964, many of its members have passed on now, but the sons and nephews of the original members have kept the group up to scratch, I also witnessed this marvellous band back in 2009 at the Liquid Rooms in Edinburgh and they are absolutely fantastic for an oul stomp. Doreen Shaffer who is one of the original founding members provided superb vocals to the classic British hit by Millie Small, My Boy Lollipop getting the audience bopping and special guest choreography from John Dooley. The Skatalite’s played loads of familiar classics such as the Guns of Navarone and Phoenix City which brought the red hot sun out for a few hours. A glorious way to kick off Sundays proceedings of music. This was the only time I managed to meet up with David Curran again and his girlfriend for a quick chat.
King Kong Company – Electric Arena 3.30 – 4.15 PM.
This was my fourth time catching this superb Waterford electro/rock act and they have come a long way, with a packed to the rafters Electric Arena, Electric Picnic’s second biggest stage. The first time I seen this band they were playing at Life Festival 2012 with a small enough crowd gathered at the main stage, but within 10 minutes they had a few hundred there. They are one of the hardest working bands in Ireland and have done an incredible amount of festivals this year including Glastonbury. The band released their debut album King Kong Company in June 2016 which they have been playing and promoting at events internationally and nationally over the last year, power to them and I have a great respect for Mark Graham too, a brilliant journalist who has made writing about festivals an art form.
A special mention to Kelly-Anne Byrne who gave a fantastic set at Casa Bacardi, I wasn’t sure if she was doing The Beat Goes On live from there but some of her playlist reflected Sunday’s show alright. Especially a really cool remix of New Order’s Blue Monday and Giorgio Moroder’s and Donna Summer’s classic I Feel Love and man it was hot there, especially with gorgeous scantily clad girls dancing about and the hot sun, I must have at least drank two pints water there.
The Pretenders – Main Stage 5.45 – 6.45 PM.
Caught a bit of the Pretenders set on the main stage bringing back nostalgic memories for me of the early eighties, some of my family went to see the Pretenders in Glasgow when Brass in Pocket was at number one in the charts, I will always remember the sexy Chrissie Hynde in her cool jacket and leather trousers on Top of the Pops, she looked more gorgeous with the jet black hair. That’s not to say she still looks fabulous and still has her voice in fine fettle. Listening to some of the more unfamiliar tracks I get the sense that although they are British apart from Chrissie who is from Ohio they were probably influenced by the New York punk scene much like Blondie and had that rushed energy of the Ramones at times. Because I came halfway through the set I probably missed some of the older stuff like Stop Your sobbing and one of my all time favourites, I Go To Sleep. I was delighted though to catch them do Brass in Pocket, one of their most famous hits. A fantastic act that still has it.
Chaka Khan – Main Stage 7.15 – 8.15 PM.
Chaka Khan was pretty amazing, we looked at some of the show from the seating stand but decided to move closer to the stage as the music was just too good. Chaka Khan would be more blues and soul based than Chic or Pfunk, previous EP acts, but she still has an amazing voice and also looks great after all these years. She is of that gospel soul tradition that you can just feel when she sings so naturally. She had a superb backing band and backing singers too. I wouldn’t be too overtly familiar with her material but did recognise some of the melodies through the set. Like what Nile Rodgers and Chic have, she was part of another funk and disco collective called Ashford and Simpson and could turn on the funk when required namely with I’m Every Woman which is probably her most well known hit. A fantastic performer though and you should try and catch her when she performs in Dublin later in the year.
Wandered about Body&Soul Village with Kevin, we eventually sat down at the seats at the top of the Body&Soul main stage amphitheatre and watched some of the acts. Moses Sumney ( 8.30 – 9.15 PM) was on stage, a one person act who worked mainly in a croony soul vein, a wee bit too laid back for me, Kevin saying “Where’s the beats?” He had a few listeners alright but there was a bit too much Wooo Hoo Hooo! being sung in the music for my liking, but we just sat there as it was nice, dry, warm and ambient.
IDER – Body&Soul Main Stage 9.45 – 10.30 PM.
IDER are two lovely blonde ladies, one from London and one from Birmingham who do some decent dreamy pop electronica, they are perfect Body&Soul fodder and I would like to see them back at Body&Soul festival next year. They were very enthused to be playing the festival as this was their first gig ever in Ireland, so their joy added to the gig. The music would be kinda harmonic and folky in bits and some nice pop hooks with just a nice amount of chill ambient electronica keeping the beat, a nice and refreshing new sound.
Duran Duran – Main Stage 10.45 PM – 12.00 AM.
I was all set to catch a little bit of Duran Duran, Kiasmos and Soulwax tonight, but Duran Duran just blew me away and I stayed, they are much heavier live than the studio versions of their singles. The band had an amazing light show and visuals, Simon Lee Bon seemed to be in top form sporting a lime green biker jacket and he still seems to have an amazing larynx, kudos to the band too for being super tight, John Taylor, Dom Brown and Roger Taylor on drums make a fine rhythm behind the synths and Bon’s vocal. It was a hits packed set with Wild Boys, Rio, Hungry Like the Wolf, Girls on Film and A View to Kill among others. At the end of the set the Dublin Gospel Choir came and joined the band for Save a Prayer. A fantastic finale to close the main stage for EP 2017.
It was off to the Mother’s set after that, Mother DJs are festival stalwarts of the Picnic and Body&Soul festival and play all year round in the likes of the Grand Social and their own club the Mother Club in Dublin. They are always guaranteed to have a packed house because they play such infectious groovy electronica and they had a packed stage tonight closing out the Earthship stage.
Donal Dineen’s This Ain’t No Disco/ Patrick Kelleher – Body&Soul Main Stage 1.00 – 4.00 AM.
No Disco was a popular Irish music series I would tune into in the early nineties. it had dedicated presenters and an overall excellent choice of bands and musicians featured on each programme and it had about a decade run with RTE 2 from 1993 to 2003 and was responsible for bringing one of Ireland’s biggest and most loved trad folk bands out of retirement, namely Planxty. Amazing presenters such as DJ, Donal Dineen, Leagues O’Toole and the late Uaneen Fitzsimons who died tragically in a car crash gave the show a credible feel. I don’t know why RTE binned it, it simply just baffled me.
Anyway Donal started of the TV series again for broadcasting on the internet and re-titling it This Ain’t No Disco. Having watched two episodes so far I was well impressed with the calibre of bands, DJs and musicians featured in it and was hot linking it anywhere that had a wall or a space for the link. Its great that Body&Soul have given space in the stage to showcase some of the talent from this music show, I really hope one of the TV channels takes it up again, I might suggest to Donal that there is a DJ in Today FM that could fit nicely into Uaneen’s shoes, namely Kelly-Anne Byrne who I think would make a perfect TV presenter for the music series, if she is even half as passionate as she is on the Beat Goes On show. Other presenters who come to mind would be the people behind Under Ether, Michelle Doherty and Elton Mullally. This is not to take away from Donal Dineen who is also a fantastic passionate presenter for the music series himself.
And now for the clips featured, since there was no schedule for the live show. The first clip features an excerpt of the track Aspergillus played by Sunken Foal, a nice ambient droning techno track. The second clip features Patrick Kelleher and His Cold Dead Hands (Sunken Foal) – Stereolith (Alright With You). The music a industrial grinding white noise electronica with Patrick Kelleher putting a rockabilly vocal to the whole thing, so creating an electronica Cramps vibe if you like. This was the final live music I saw at EP 2017.
Monday 4th September.
Surprisingly not as hungover as I’d thought I’d be, a bunch of us was sitting at John’s camper whilst he was taking things down, crew camp was disappearing before our eyes, tents becoming green spaces. Was trying to suss a lift to Galway when Kevin suggested to hang on till he finished the breakdown at Soul Kids at 6.30 which just got me into Galway in time for the session. Thanks all to John Dooley, JD Corcoran, Kevin Keehan, Gearoid, Catherine Kehoe, Susan and everyone else who helped make my week, it was such a buzz and dammit I have to wait another year to do this all over again. All the best and I’ll see ya’s at some festival next year if not the Picnic. Roll on Electric Picnic 2018.
Setting off from a dreary and miserable downpour of Galway just before noon, my journey would take me from the sea to the sea, travelling from Salthill to Dun Laoghaire. Once I got to Dublin it was probably the smoothest journey to a festival ever, the Dart only costing 3.25 Euros from Dublin to the festival site, perfect and the weather up here being also much more agreeable.
I was working there as a volunteer this year, I didn’t make it to Townlands this year so this was my new festival exploration for 2017 and I was back with my EP, Liss Ard and Body&Soul Festival boss, coordinator, Catherine Kehoe. I arrived about 3.30 pm, so I was told to report to the box office at 5.30 before the start of my first shift. Seeing that I was wristbanded, I set off with my camera to take a few snaps and videos and to check out some of the earlier line up.
Romare & Band Main Stage 4.30 – 5.30 PM.
Romare is an electronic producer, DJ and all round musician ably supported by a congo player and a guitarist/saxophonist. The music a sweet ambient funky sound with influences of disco, jazz and African music, the music complemented the lovely sunny afternoon and a suitable crowd gathered dancing to the beat. A good choice for the time of the day.
When my shift started at 6 pm Bananarama were rocking it out on the main stage with a proper live band, much better than their Electric Picnic performance last year where the two women just sang over a backing tape in glorified karaoke. The live band gave the group a bit of balls, I’m not mad for their music or anything but it was an enjoyable enough set with some memorable summer hits.
My job for Saturday night with a few of my mates volunteering also, Kevin Keehan and David Curran was to stop men going into the ladies toilets while similarly two Brazilian girls who were volunteering stopped the ladies going into the gents. I also spotted the local drug squad in action busting the occasional fool outside the toilets too.
Where we were based though was outside the entrance to the toilets, so we had ample view of the main stage and festival shenanigans going on.
Larry Heard Main Stage 7.20 – 8.50 PM.
I enjoyed Larry Heard’s set, nice tight ambient techno, house and acid house vibes made for a pleasant soundtrack while stopping unassuming men going into the ladies and having random conversations with buzzed up happy people. Some of the projections in the rear screen was a lovely splash of psychedelic colours and visuals. The clip I took is at the very back of the main stage area so probably a bit noisier than it would be nearer the front of the stage.
Mark Ronson’s set had some lively tasteful stuff, some great hip hop tracks and feel good dance anthems, but there was also some dreadful auto tune drivel being played too, so more like a dance and pop music set that serious techno or house music. I liked that he played some Amy Winehouse, I suppose he is still emotionally attached to that production but it was still nice to hear Valerie, one of his main production works with Amy.
Our shift finished an hour and a half earlier so it was off to David’s place tonight and I would be staying in Kevin’s camper in the West Pier down the road on Sunday night. Had a fairly late Saturday night with David, Jenny and Aiden who were volunteering also at the festival. Jenny and Aiden’s experience working the advance days were somewhat different from mine, David’s and Kevin’s but I’ll not go into that.
Sunday 6th August.
For Sunday our job was mainly to stand about as an info steward at the entrance to the Red Bull stage and to basically just fill people in with the activities in the area if asked. The Red Bull area basically had proper toilets, a bar, a rave area with the Bodytonic DJs and a children’s game area and baby changing area. I missed the first act on the main stage because we were doing various jobs before we got posted to the Red Bull entrance. Myself and Kevin did catch the second act in earshot, Katie Kim. Katie Kim is good at what she does and at times her vocal had qualities of Liz Frazer aka Cocteau Twins but her tempo was to damn slow and her whole set consisted of slow melancholic songs. After a while I felt the slowness of the set clashed with the happy vibe of the festival, Kim needs to add a few uptempo numbers to her set, as it was the wrong time of the day for melancholic pondering numbers.
Kila Main Stage 4.00 – 5.30 PM.
Kila gave that ‘pick me up’ feeling that the festival needed to get kick started, they gave a lively set of their customary hybrid rock and Irish traditional music and pulled a nice steady number of people hopping and jigging to the main stage, a reliable festival favourite.
After finishing our shift at 6 and signing out we went straight over to the main stage to catch Toots and the Maytals.
Toots and the Maytals Main Stage 6.00 – 7.30 PM.
Toots and the Maytals as far as I’m concerned killed it, I thought they would have brought the sun out like they did at Electric Picnic 2005 but unfortunately we got rain for a bit instead, not the bands fault, just Ireland being Ireland. The set was mostly the same as the set from last year at the Picnic but I think the Beatyard set was longer at an hour and a half. Toots Hibbert is getting older so his style is getting more relaxed, the fast Ska style is less apparent now and some of the numbers are played at a slower pace with Toots doing some nice acoustic versions of some of the songs although the trademark speeding up at the end is always there to get ya jumping again. A feelgood set to up the festival mood.
We (Me, Kevin and David) all had sore feet from working the day and then standing for Toots gig, Kevin had his camper parked in the West Pier, so we went out and bought some cans and headed to the camper for a much needed sit down. This would be one of the small criticisms of Beatyard that there wasn’t really any outdoor seating in the festival area. Sorry I missed you Morcheeba but it was the only chance I could get a seat during the festival.
AIR Main Stage 9.30 – 10.45 PM.
Just made it back in time from the camper for the start of the AIR set, they are an incredible band, seemingly influenced by Kraftwerk, Daft Punk and some of these funk grooves you hear on Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here album, especially some of the synths used on Moon Safari. This was basically a greatest hits set spanning nearly twenty years in the groups history and taking in their debut album Moon Safari, 10,000 HZ Legend and Talkie Walkie among others. When they played Don’t Be Light I was taken by how tight and rocky they were, the bass playing reminding me at times of Geddy Lee from Rush and at other times Lemmy when he was in Hawkwind during the Space Ritual period in the early seventies. AIR also had some extremely eye catching visuals on the back rear screen which suited their sci fi space rock pop sound. They also have the way they sing in French, they use the harmonising vocals that reminds me of the early Pink Floyd records Meddle and Obscured by Clouds. A fantastic gig and a band really worth checking out if they hit these shores again. The second clip was uploaded into Youtube by jimbot4000 which is much better quality than my clip.
We ended up going to an after party afterwards at Kevin’s camper, a diet of Beamish and sweet sounds from Kelly-Anne Byrne’s The Beat Goes On on Today FM, thank you to Catherine Kehoe for looking after us for the weekend and David and Kevin for night lodgings. Roll on Beatyard 2018 I might be back.
I set off myself on the Citylink commuter bus from Galway to Kinnegad, Kevin couldn’t drive me in the camper this year as he wasn’t due on site till the following day. When I got to Kinnegad I asked some people for directions on the correct road to hitch on to get me to Ballinlough Castle, I was advised to take the Trim Road and then the Athboy Road from Trim. The first lift came after twenty to thirty minutes and as luck would have it, one of the people I asked at Kinnegad spotted me on the road hitching, so he took me directly to the festival site. The pre-festival shenanigans begin.
Setting up my tent in the crew camp and grabbing a coffee from Kev’s Kitchen, I spotted another volunteer who I worked with at Gate F last year, Barry from Dublin, so a few tins were had and a catch up in blether, also caught up with Danyl Hartshorn and a few others.
Tuesday 20th June.
I was more or less working in the same area as last year, but this time with Jennie rather than Charlene. It was a fairly quiet day with staff arriving in trickles onsite, my job to point staff traffic to the next volunteer in the staff car park area. It was fairly hot today and I reckon I got a little sunburn on my nose, face and neck. This year advance stewards got a choice of a lunch or dinner, the details of your dietary requirements was contained in the chip in the temporary wristband which was simply scanned at the staff cafeteria.
It meant after your feed you returned to the 12 hour shift with a renewed vigour. Things were so quiet at the Gate F area that Jennie sent some of us to other areas to help out other gaffers. I was sent to the Walled Garden to help out some of the lads there, they were putting cabling into the ground, called ‘Trenching’. Electrical points were established to help light some of the installations, so from the nearest power point, a straight line was dug into the ground (using shovels) leading up to the installation and cable then tucked in under the ground and the sod trod over so that you would hardly notice the cut line.
I phoned Kevin to find out when he was arriving, he was still on the road and wouldn’t get in till about 9.30 – 10 pm, I was subsequently told by someone that he would have trouble driving his vehicle into the area after 8 pm as the accreditation staff finished and closed their office at 8. He arrived at the site and security wouldn’t let him in Gate F or Gate E, so I suggested that he ring one of his bosses. Eventually he got it sorted out and Natasha came to meet him at the Production Gate and led him on a buggy through the festival site into the crew camper van camp site. Met up with my other great buddy Simon Outram (who was starting Thursday) where we caught up with the events of the year.
Wednesday 21st June.
It was a bit busier today at Gate F but could still be quiet and dull at times, that is why I come prepared with my speaker and ipod, blasting out the sounds and hopefully creating the vibe for arriving staff too. The choice of sounds was the audio of Aphex Twin’s concert from the streamed Field Day show, which I couldn’t stop listening to. Jennie made us swap places at the car park just to keep the job interesting and man, it was really hot at times, I’m glad I put on sunblock today. I opted to take the dinner today rather than lunch, lunch was about an hour between 12 and 2 pm alternating with another volunteer and dinner was at 6 pm. So come 6 pm I had the hunger in me and enjoyed a slap up meal of green Thai chicken curry which was wolfed down. My shift finally completed, I was free to roam the festival until the following Monday, yippee!
Thursday 21st June.
Had a wee lie in today and resolved to take as much photos of some of the stages and installations dotting the landscape. Took out the Sony camera first and took one photo of the Woodlands stage and my battery ran out, damn. It turns out that because I couldn’t find the case, I had packed it in tightly into the rucksack and inadvertently flipped open the slip case which turned the camera on, by the time I got around to use it, the battery died. Ah well, off back to the tent to get my Nikon camera.
Friday 23rd June.
First thing today, get that weekend wristband, usually they are issued on either Wednesday or Thursday night, but because of all the weekend volunteers arriving it can be pretty busy. So decided to just pop down to the volunteer headquarters to get the new wristband plus I would need this to get back onsite again as I planned to do a beer run with another bunch of volunteers as we still had to get our drink allocation for the weekend. These were all lads working in Soul Kids with Kevin, so off to Athboy Centra to stock up.
The music and arts didn’t kick off properly till 5.00 pm, so off I queue to the Midnight Circus tent for the start of Kelly-Anne Byrne’s set.
Kelly put on an excellent set as per usual, having only discovered her last year and her Today FM show The Beat Goes On on Saturdays and Sundays, her music is an exuberant mix of happy house, funk and soul, the perfect beat and never too cheesy, more ambient and atmospheric. Her live show would be more reflected on her Saturday playlists whilst her Sunday radio show would deal with more rock and pop classics. She is one of the biggest Electric Picnic enthusiasts and of festivals in general and she explores the line ups of all the events and highlights artists that you may otherwise be not aware of. More power to her and I will avidly boogie to some of her Electric Picnic shows too, godwilling I make it there this year.
The next few hours were spent milling about various stages and occasionally up to the ring of fire in the Walled Garden which became a great focal point for randomness and banter. I worked out that all the mad electronica shit usually came from the Midnight Circus tent, where you could hear earth booms and buzzing bass dubsteppery drones at times.
Katie Laffan – Woodlands Stage 9.30 – 10.10 pm.
At the wonderful Woodlands stage (The original Body & Soul main stage), Dublin lass Katie Laffan had a sizeable audience wooed by her infectious blend of rock, blues, funk and pop sounds and she has a damn fine crooning voice too. Described on her Breaking Tunes page as being influenced by Bob Marley, Chic, Destiny’s Child, Joss Stone and Kool and the Gang, you can’t get as eclectic as that, check her out.
I sat on the hillside for a while overlooking the main stage, I think Anna Meredith was playing who had a fair crowd and was playing some nice melancholic ambient music. This was one of my favourite spots throughout the weekend, not too far from the main stage and you have a seat overlooking all the visuals and lights.
The Bug Featuring Miss Red – Midnight Circus 9.30 – 10.15 pm.
Caught the last three songs by this act and wished I’d caught it all, they were absolutely magnificent, electrifying noise dubstep and rap, Miss Red reminding me of the singer from Alo Wala a few years back but the music being a much grimier heavier sound and they had a packed tent full of people who couldn’t believe their eyes and ears. One of the highlights of the festival and that was just the last twenty minutes of the gig, will be looking out for them in the future.
I wandered over to the Absolut Stage and found some nice seating that overlooked the ribbon umbrella yoke and the stage area that housed the DJs. Loosysmokes is a troop of dancers dressed in white dresses with white umbrellas, they are also very good at acrobatics too and would often put on shows under the umbrella to the sounds of the DJ, it seems they preferred the funky house sound to the pumping techno beat. They were one of the many lots going around adding colour and vibrancy to the festival.
I wandered back to that same spot on the hillside to watch the Metronomy set at the main stage but by now it was getting cold and it was quite exposed there out on the open. This was my first time catching this group, they seemed to have an interesting quirky electronic indie energy, they had bits of Talking Heads and bit of Devo in their sound, so a lively enough festival sounding band. I realised to the left of the main stage there was a vantage you could enter to get up real close to the action if you pleased, much like the same work out for the Electric Picnic main stage.
I retired about 12.30 am as I was tired and a bit cold, I wanted to keep the energy for a fuller Saturday, so wrapped up in the quilt, I sipped a few beers and listened to some sounds and dozed off.
Saturday 24th June.
Got up about 11 pm and went up with Simon to the crew camper van area to see if Kevin was up, we gave the door a knock but no answer. We decided to check out the security catering area where your man was doing breakfast baps for five euros which sounded pretty appealing although his coffee machine was broke and he had run out of bacon, go on sausage and eggs will do and it hit the spot, nicely priced I must say for a festival.
Quite a lot of time was spent milling about the the fire area, although unlit, it was a great meeting point or a place to just sit and chill in the sunshine.
Occasionally there would be a quick visit to Natasha’s Kitchen to see if there was being any reggae blasted, a quick hello to Louise Borre who was working there and Simon raving about the cinnamon cakes which I tried a few times and have to agree, they tasted delicious.
Lambchop – Main Stage 6.30 – 7.30 pm.
I felt sorry for Lambchop as they had a good mellow chilled sound and they were quite hyped on the headline poster bill, but the group were lucky if they had about a hundred people at the front of the main stage, there was probably another two hundred scattered about the general area, some sitting on the hillside who were appreciating it overlooking the stage and others milling in different directions. Lambchop’s sound could be described as alternative country, a kinda bluesy Americana, if you like. It seems like the festival installations and chill areas won over on the band this time.
Various stages we passed and peeked at occasionally had some mad sounds, Weval from Amsterdam was making a beautiful psychedelic racket in the Midnight Circus, whilst La Femme from France made a great punky pop sound on the main stage, well we couldn’t get Air (Fairplay to the Beatyard and I may just do that) but we got a whole bunch of French and Dutch excellence this weekend in these two bands, didn’t have the camera for video clips at the time.
Some of Simon’s friends from his area was visiting the festival for the first time and they had their two year old daughter who was lapping up the festival. We sat on the hill and watched a bit of the Sleaford Mods, an enjoyable English punk beat poetry crowd who had that raw energy of the early Jam, The Ruts and a kinda of cursing John Cooper Clarke style. Was quite surprised at all the cursing, ha ha, with it being a family festival like, the Sleaford Mods were quite free and easy about using the curse word in their Nottingham brogue, found it pretty amusing myself but then I suppose we were after the watershed hour. 🙂
Went wandering about with Simon and his friends for a while taking in bits of the woods, needless to say we were getting our Dub Reggae fix with some serious IRIE emitting from the Woodlands Stage. I never mentioned it till now, I seriously miss the Port Royal area especially when it was cold in the night, it was one of the truly enclosed areas of the festival that oozed that Jamaican warmth. I reckon it might have been Cian Finn’s set at the Woodlands stage or maybe another reggae guy in the adjoining stage, but that dub bass hit home how much I love my reggae. I decided to split after a while as I didn’t want to miss the Bonobo set, so we said our good byes for the night.
Bonobo – Main Stage 11.15 – 12.15 pm.
Was quite surprised that we were only getting an hours set from Bonobo but I suppose Vitalic is the headliner so he gets the longer one, nope I’m wrong, timetable says he played an hour set too. Anyway back to Bonobo, they had a fantastic sound, mix a bit of Massive Attack with the bell like sounds Four Tet uses, mix in a dash of Sun Ra Arkestra, a bit of the Orb, some soul and some funk, oh, and some Sub Saharan music too and you have the fantastic, uplifting and ambient beats of Bonobo. Highlights were Bambro Koyo Ganda (feat. Innov Gnawa), Cirrus, No Reason with Szjerdene on vocals I much prefer her to the studio version featuring Nick Murphy from their more recent album Migration from last year. Kong was another from 2010’s Black Sands album that got the feet moving, such a great act I wished they could have played longer though.
I just sat on the same spot on the hillside and waited it out, Vitalic took a while but he eventually appeared, it was getting cold up there though on the brow of the hill so I needed beats to keep me preoccupied. What can I say about the Vitalic intro, twas fecking nuts, electro frapps, surges, gobbledeegook voices and a thundering pulsing beat, he’s as mental as the crazy Modeselektor, demented inter-glacial electronica mind phuck! And another slice of French techno/electroclash/electro house madness unfurled by Body & Soul, quite a cool way to blow out the early hours of Saturday morning don’t ya think.
After a bit of Vitalic I wandered back into the woods, couldn’t find Simon, couldn’t find Kevin and wherever I was sitting or walking about, I didn’t really know anyone, so it was weird, the randomness of conversation had disappeared, perhaps it was a couples night I don’t know, but I thought, go back to the tent, might as well get warm again and wrap thy own self in thee quilt and went out like a light, time possibly approximately about 2 am or thereabouts.
Sunday 25th June.
Was feeling a bit rougher today and the feeling was made worse when I heard about the tragic death that occurred at the festival, my condolences to the family and sorry for your loss, it seems is the first case ever at Body & Soul festival, let’s hope its the last one.
Trying to think of something healthy, aah, Natasha’s Kitchen, lovely smoothies and cakes, a beautiful soya lemon cheesecake I think and a gooseberry smoothie does the trick for a while, I’m hanging about with Simon and he is off to the only ATM onsite which has a fairly big queue and the good bones of over an hours wait.
I troupe off to film the dancing ladies and lads of Loosysmokes during a nice sunny spell around the Absolut stage.
Was back at the tent for a while when I heard this powerful traditional music booming out of the Woodlands stage, just around the same time I see a missed called from my mate Anders, so I call him back and he tells me that his friend, box player Charlie Harris is playing with the Tulla Ceili Band. I quickly deduct that, this is exactly who I’m hearing so I ran to the Woodlands stage to capture some of their last set.
I think Simon wanted somewhere to sit down and eat, so we went into the Arbutus Yarns area where some nice old time mountain banjo music was playing, courtesy off Ryan McAuley, Eamonn Travers on piano, Sean Conway on guitar and Darragh Brannigan on drums. Someone commented on youtube that they are a mixture of two now defunct bands, Hatchlings and Tashka. It was a pity as they built up a nice amount of listeners with their gig and some drumming troupe beside the venue completely drowned out their sound.
And speaking of which, another video has surfaced of said drummers, David Gerulis upped this lovely eight minute clip of floating into the woods from the main arena and walking towards the drumming party, they create an amazing buzz and a nice dancing crowd. They are called The Hit Machine Drummers and this was their very first festival outing.
Quite a lot of time was spent around the Walled Garden area, one of the best places to be in the sunshine, I was with Kevin, Simon and his friends, Barbara and daughter Abbie Nolan and Janice Topley.
There was quite a few cancellations over the weekend, Parcels the main stage closer for Friday night, A Tribe Called Red who cancelled due to one of the members getting an ear infection, Songhoy Blues who were replaced by The Beat and Birdy Nam Nam who was replaced by the Midnight Circus closer Mykki Blanco. I heard later from a friend, Kate Bandia, that some of the cancellations were due to a bomb scare at some airport in Europe, so nothing the festival can do about that, how the festival managed to whirl up The Beat out of the blue has to be commended.
The Beat – Main Stage 7.45 – 8.30 pm.
It was a surprise to see The Beat as I had no idea they were in the line up, I realise they were a last minute replacement for Songhoy Blues, but I was delighted as I missed them at Electric Picnic in 2013 when they opened up the main stage. It was great to hear the classics such as Ranking Full Stop and Mirror in the Bathroom, perfect Ska music to usher in the sunset at Ballinlough Castle and for Sunday night in general.
So with the way things were going and the amount of cancellations I was in no rush to go back into the main arena or main stage area so stuck around the fire area of the Walled Garden as it was getting chillier with the gathering shade and down to Natasha’s Kitchen for a spot of reggae sounds courtesy of William Softly.
Simon split for the night retiring at midnight, so me and Kev hung about the tent for a while and decided to go in for the last hour into the woods. The last act we were to catch was Ships on the Woodlands stage.
Ships – Woodlands Stage 11.15 – 2.00 am.
Ships had a ambient folk rock thing going with sensuous singing, glissando guitars and atmospherics, they were a perfect closer for such as stage, gloriously bathed in blue and purple lights reflected on the small square glass frames dotting the top and sides of the stage. Sorcha McGrath and Simon Cullen from Dublin weaved a magical spell with their sound, I hope to see them crop up again at Body & Soul at the Picnic.
I headed back with Kevin to the camper as it was colder tonight than previous nights, stayed up and had a few tins and the banter before we crashed out, last thing that could be heard was a bongo player in the distance playing for life, fair play to him.
Monday 26th June.
Twas nice having a proper bed last night and a bit of a fry this morning, my job now to disassemble my tent and pack everything into a few bags and say my goodbyes to people at the campsite. I needed to get a lift from Ballinlough to Kinnegad to catch the 4.50 pm Citylink bus to Galway. The time about 2 – 2.30 pm so I thought it wouldn’t be a problem, I managed to get a lift within an hour to Athboy and then eventually another to Trim. By the time I got to Longwood I was still about 30 km away from Kinnegad and it was about 4.20 pm, didn’t get a lift till about an hour later getting into Kinnegad for about 6pm. I managed the get the 6.50 pm Citylink where your man let me on when I explained the situation trying to get the 4.50 connection and finally got into Galway for 9.20 pm. just ten minutes spare to make it in time. Thanks to Simon, Kevin, Ger, Jennie, William Softly and everyone else who made my week and weekend magical at Body&Soul. Roll on Body&Soul Festival 2018 and Electric Picnic Body & Soul Village 2017. 🙂
Up at eight in the morning myself and Kevin took the Citylink to Dublin to get in for nice time and the start of the second day of Forbidden Fruit festival, sunny spells and scattered showers was the general forecast and everyone at the event seemed to be on a good buzz.
Exploring the arena I discovered there was not really any seating areas until we spied a bunch of seats down near the big wheel and one of the Bulmer’s Bars, enjoying the sun one minute and wrapping up in the next minute, the weather being that interchangeable. DJ Deece was the opening act for Sunday’s main stage line up, he had a hard enough job as some of the heaviest rain fall of the day fell during his set, so apart from the odd isolated dancer who braved the wet, he played mainly to an empty field although some braved sitting on the sloping hill to watch the set. The music being kind of House, with bits of disco and funk, so a nice easygoing vibe. Its the hardest time to do a set as three quarters of the audience hasn’t arrived onto the site as yet.
I went for a wander myself to see if I could find the festival merchandise stall but there didn’t seem to be one this year, I was hoping to pick up a decent t-shirt of one of my favourite artists, Aphex Twin, but no joy.
Eve – Outcider Tent 2 – 3.30 pm.
Eve is a trio of female DJs who were playing some nice lively pumping techno and they had a few throwing shapes on the floor, the clip I took sounds like a Paul Kalkbrenner track that I heard him play at Electric Picnic in 2015 I think, anyway Eve was doing a great job getting folk warmed for one of the later headliners for that tent, namely Moderat.
I went and bought a pint, Five Lamps lager for six Euros, not too bad for a Dublin event compared to the prices at Electric Picnic last year and the beer, fairly palatable so it passed the test.
Monolink – Main Stage 3.15 – 4.15 pm.
Monolink from Berlin had mostly onlookers sitting on the hillside appreciating the sounds, he at least got some prolonged sunny spells for his set and occasional ones getting up for a boogie. His music quite dreamy and catchy, its quite hard to describe his style, he is a DJ but also a musician. He had programmed beats and samples and he played alongside the music with his electric guitar and sang, he had a nice voice too. It would be fair to say his music was a kind of electronic dance pop, but more pop/rock than say, something like Calvin Harris. Nice easy going ambient pop with a bit of funk. You might notice that I call him Monolake on the video, this was just me misunderstanding.
Myself and Kevin went back up to the Outcider tent to see who was playing up there, I wasn’t too sure if the act was Hybrazil or Kink, but I’m pretty sure by the time it was Kink.
Kink – Outcider Tent 4.45 – 6.45 pm.
Kink, a DJ from Bulgaria had a fairly packed tent, the crowds starting to pour into the festival grounds, he was playing some pumping techno which is exactly what the tented audience was wanting and it was pretty lively in there, so what can I say, he was doing a bloody good job.
As Mura Masa was starting up on the main stage myself and Kevin went to meet an old festival buddy, Cork Dave at around 6 pm, we waited around for about forty minutes but no sign of the man. I enjoyed what I heard from Mura Masa’s performance which had a bit of a Little Dragon vibe to it, this was also the first act to have a bit of a crowd in front of the main stage. Right time for a bite to eat before we head into the Outcider for the Moderat set.
Moderat – Outcider Tent 7.15 – 8.30 pm.
Moderat had an absolutely rammed tent and as it was raining outside the heat in the marquee was incredible. They kicked off with a new track from III which was released over a year ago in 2016, the sound was fantastic but the tent had a very chatty lot that took away from the music a bit, kind of like having Moderat play at Coppers or something like that. Some of the classics from the debut album got an airing such as New Error and later on Rusty Nails which had a little reworking. The biggest reaction was to Bad Kingdom which I had to leave halfway through as I thought I was going to collapse with the heat, Kevin left earlier because of the heat too, so I lost him for a bit. So my second time catching this most excellent act and they just keep getting better and better.
Aphex Twin – Main Stage 9.15 – 10.45 pm.
A buzzed up to hell audience was standing waiting patiently for the reticent Richard D. James to take to the stage and to transport us into his electronic minefield. The speakers start rumbling, its like the white noise that usually accompanies the end of his set, I suppose he is tuning up the deafener machine, industrial glitches and bass rumbles.
Around the second or third track I hear a familiar beat, aah he is revisiting some of his 2011 set, he drops that lovely track from his recent Souncloud dump, 14 Floating (Swimming in God Mix), he is actually testing us out for our memory from his last Irish outing, a nice touch.
As the tempo ups a bit he drops another nice track from that Soundcloud dump of his, 1 Chink 101, a nice lucid happy ambient track that sounds like it has touches of or perhaps an earlier outtake of Fingerbib in parts.
After that there is no messing with the man, its straight into acid techno with one of his Analord numbers Cilonen and into some crazed Gabba and earth rumbling audio squelches .
There was mad experimental moments where I didn’t know what was going on, mad thumping drum samples, I thought I heard the remote car activation lock sound. The Untitled 7 Mark Fell and Gabor Lazar track and 3000000 (W3C Remix) track were pure experimental musique concrete tracks that used drum samples and sounds you could imagine hearing as an end of the world scenario, but enthralling they were, I don’t know if the D4 snowflakes liked though ha ha.
We got some of his obligatory juicy jungle and DnB moments too, he dropped the Spiritual Combat Pro Black track which got the feet pounding the floor.
No doubt some Paradox was dropped (Who opened the Lighthouse Stage on Saturday), Hellfish, Squarepusher and nameless other bass music heavyweights and no doubt some of his own workings too. Finally it was all over too soon, we had reached the white noise ending where Mr James must’ve switched on everything, man, my ears were ringing after that. An incredible gig by an incredible electronic musician.
The only drawback being that we only got an hour and a half set compared to the two hour set from the night before in Field Day festival, it also seems like he used only a quarter of the lasers or was it just bad visibility here. Its my own fault, I watched the Field Day stream twice now and I seemed to be always comparing them, when it comes down to it, Field Day is a much much larger event and the stage for the Twin was larger too.
Myself and Kevin didn’t bother with the After Parties, it had been steadily raining so we were quite wet and just wanted to bundle into a taxi to my friend David. It took us about forty minutes but eventually we managed to flag down a bloody taxi out of the rain.
I might be back next year depending on what is announced for the line up or hopefully Electric Picnic might get Aphex Twin for a change, if they do, get him to play the late set in the Electric Arena and for the two hours duration too.