Friday, July 31, 2009

Mitchelstown "Indiependence Music and Arts festival" this weekend

ONCE BILLED as "Ireland’s only free independent music festival", the Mitchelstown Indiependence Music and Arts festival is still set to offer Limerick music fans one of the best festival line-ups this summer, at a ridiculously affordable price.
The brainchild of event organiser and Mitchelstown man Shane Dunne - who went to college in the University of Limerick - this year’s Indiependence has become a paid ticket affair for the first time, but still retains its original ethos.
Held for the last number of years in Mitchelstown town square as a free festival, Indiependence has outgrown its roots and will take place in a green-field site outside the town on the August bank holiday weekend.
Hold onto your hats music fans, because perennial favourites Ocean Colour Scene and Super Furry Animals are to be joined by the cream of Irish acts, including Mundy, Delorentos, The Blizzards and Fight Like Apes, plus Limerick band Vesta Varro and 202’s, who also boast Limerick members.
And all of this for €59! Hang on, that can’t be right, can it?
"Yeah, we have bumped it up a couple of decibels alright," laughs Shane Dunne, speaking to the Limerick Leader.
"The line-up is massive. Obviously you have two big UK headliners in Ocean Colour Scene and Super Furry Animals, but I think Paul McCloone said on his radio show that we have every Irish band worth seeing and that says it all."
When it is suggested that the ticket price is "reasonable", Dunne utters a guffaw that might still be echoing around the Galtee mountains.
"Reasonable? I think that is the understatement of the year," laughs the organiser."We have also just announced a campsite so it is €59 for two days, plus camping, so it's not bad."
Considering rival festivals Castlepalooza and Cork X Southwest are taking place the same weekend - at €89 and €50, respectively, the latter being just a one-day festival - there is no better value to be found anywhere else this bank holiday weekend.
Mitchelstown is just a 40 minute drive from Limerick, suggesting that local music fans will form a large percentage of the expected 4,500 fans that will descend on the town for the two day festival.
"Last year the crowds were big - big enough to the extent that there was too many for a free gig, it wasn't manageable," reflects Shane.
"It outgrew its level as a free gig in the square so the natural progression was to move it to a green field site, still within the town and go for a much bigger event with much bigger bands, and that is what we have done."
The site is less than five minutes from the middle of town, the first pub is three minutes away coming out of the gate. But the whole town really has been turned into one huge venue, all of the bars have extensions until 2am so the whole town will be one big venue," he adds.
The Indiependence team have done something few have managed; created a low-cost, affordable festival with a stellar line-up. Sponsors Bavaria, Red Bull and Cypress Avenue will each have their own stage, with different acts, and there is no weak point to the line-up; the likes of Villagers, Messiah J and the Expert, Fred, The Chapters and Ham Sandwich among the 63 acts playing over two days.
With a catchment area including Limerick, Cork and Killarney, festival-goers have a viable option outside the mainstream at last.
"I think there is a market for it, the two major festivals in Ireland are based in the greater Pale area of Ireland, so they target the Dublin market," agrees Shane.
"Down around this end you have Cork and Limerick and Killarney and geographically it is very well located."
And the future?
"I think we probably need a year this year to consolidate and if it goes well two years in a row we will look at expanding it," says Shane.
Watch this space.
Indiependence Music and Arts festival takes place next Saturday and Sunday, August 1-2. For full details and booking see here.

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