Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Oxegen 2010 round-up and review

FOR THREE DAYS it rained, poured and rained some more, turning the Punchestown-based Oxegen site and surrounding camping areas into veritable swampland, despite discussion beforehand that the best June in 40 years would help keep the mud away.
Then, miraculously, on the fourth day - fittingly a Sunday - campers awoke to clear skies and sunshine.
If it sounds like a Biblical scene, then all that was missing Thursday through Saturday was a plague of locusts to complete the effect.
However, as ever at this massive spectacle, the quality of the music on display and the positive disposition of the majority of the crowd, meant Oxegen was once again more about happy festival memories than the already fading scenes of deluge and muck.

In one of the festival’s strongest ever line-ups, there was a virtual array of highlights - Vampire Weekend’s preppy, upbeat tunes warming up a rain-soaked crowd on Friday afternoon; MGMT-lite Aussie band Empire of the Sun donningt mind-bending costumes and employing psychedelic visuals in a heaving Heineken Green Spheres tent; rap mogul Jay-Z performing his mash-up of U2’s Sunday Bloody Sunday and the anthemic Empire State of Mind to a heaving crowd, watched by Beyonce and accompanied by an 80-strong entourage; Arcade Fire performing some new material alongside their biggest hits in a very rare balmy and dry hour and a half; Conor O’Brien almost stealing the show with his epic, heartfelt songs in the 2FM/Hot Press Academy tent; Florence warming up yet another sodden crowd with her soaring vocals; Muse belting out their epic rock-opera tunes along with a stunning light and laser show, proving them to be one of the biggest bands in the world right now, and members of the Irish rugby team joining Mumford and Sons on stage for a drum-pounding finish to their upbeat set on Sunday evening.

Despite rumours to the contrary, and after apparently refusing to walk 50 metres at Scotland’s T in the Park on Saturday because of the mud, rapper Eminem did actually make it to Punchestown to wrap up the hip-hop heavy festival, playing some of his biggest hits, including storming versions of The Way I Am and Cleaning Out My Closet in his opening coda.

Securing some or all of these acts was a major coup for promoters MCD, who claimed a crowd of 75,000 - a figure which relied heavily, we would estimate, on the massive crowd of Saturday day-trippers, such was the long lines of queues we saw early that day.

The usual assortment of stars popped into the festival, including the aforementioned Ms Knowles and Messers Jamie Heaslip, Tommy Bowe, Luke Fitzgerald and Cian Healy, as well as Jared Leto, whose band 30 Seconds To Mars played late on Sunday night, while fetching movie star star Rachel McAdams also made an appearance.

On the Beat met a large and varied assortment of fans who made the pilgrimage from Limerick to the Punchestown extravaganza - often seen as something akin to a rite of passage for many in their late teens - while Tim Kelly of Kelly Bus Travel reported a busy trade in those using the round the clock bus services from these parts.
Pleasantly beer prices seemed to have come down this year, making the festival a bit easier on the pocket.
With some of the world’s biggest names appearing on the Punchestown stages, the only thing missing from the line-up was the good weather, but then there’s always next year.
We live and hope it might be better, but the masses will descend regardless, and we will probably be among them.

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