Friday, July 30, 2010
However, by far the most interesting of those small festivals taking place this weekend is the Indiependence Music & Arts Festival, taking place in Mitchelstown, just over the Limerick border and a mere 40 minutes drive from the city.
There is nothing small about this festival though, the brainchild of Shane Dunne, who went to college in the University of Limerick from 1997 to 2002.
With five stages, 90-plus bands and DJs and a capacity of 4,500 people in a brand new, green-field site, Indiependence is truly the way of the future for music festivals. This is the fifth year of Indiependence, which has grown organically bit-by-bit from its origins as a free concert in the main square in Mitchelstown.
Shane, of Curve Music Management, has brought the festival to this point, where the headliners are none other than the White Lies, Alabama 3 and Reverend and the Makers, which virtually every Irish band worth seeing joining them on the bill, including; Duke Special, Delorentos, Jape, God is an Astronaut, Codes, Super Extra Bonus Party, And So I Watch You From Afar - plus Limerick bands including We Should Be Dead, while Fred, with one member from Limerick, also take to the Indiependence stage.
As befits the name, this is a completely independent festival, and the team have done something few have managed; created a low-cost, affordable festival with a magnificent line-up.
“It is completely independently run,” explained Shane, speaking from the site this week.
“It gives people the option that they don't have to travel too far for their festival, plus the fact that it is only €79 for a weekend camping ticket and the line-up is strong helps. We have capped all the prices on site and it is a really good value weekend on an intimate site with no hassle - it will be a really laid back, enjoyable weekend for everyone I think,” he added.
The short drive from Limerick suggests that local music fans will make up a significant percentage of the crowd, we would wager.
“Yes, it is very close, just a short spin really. I went to UL so it is a road I know well myself,” explained Shane.
“We should have six or seven Limerick bands on the bill in total, we got together with UL Music Society this year to run a couple of ‘Battle of the Band’ events so we got a few from there, and we have We Should Be Dead, who are probably the most well known, outside of the 20 percent of Fred that is from Limerick,” he laughed.
Last year’s event was plagued by poor weather, but Shane is optimistic that this weekend should be better.
“Even though last year the weather was atrocious - it rained for two weeks solid in the run up to it and destroyed the site - the feedback was brilliant and a lot of people who were there last year are definitely coming back,” he explained.
“But this is a much drier site and a much better set-up and the forecast is ok for the next week - no heavy rain predicted, so it should be good.”
Securing the services of hugely popular UK indie band White Lies for their only show in the Republic of Ireland this summer is hugely impressive, and a sign that this festival should continue to grow in years to come.
“It took a little bit of back and forth, they are in the studio this summer doing the second album and they were only planning to come out for really select shows where they are the headline acts, so it is great to get an act like that. They are one of the biggest bands in the UK and I can't wait to get them in here at the weekend and up on stage."
He adds: “I think this year now because we have grown it substantially, it is important to leave it get through this year and consolidate a little bit. If we could get to the stage where we were selling out at 4,500 every year for a couple of years, maybe we could look at stepping on a bit at that stage”.
In the meantime, Indiependence is the place to be this weekend for all keen festival-goers.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Superb! They join a line-up that already includes Roxy Music, Leftfield, Massive Attack, LCD Soundsystem, The Frames and Mumford and Sons.
This latest batch of acts follows a recent announcement regarding the comedy stage at the Stradbally-fest, which will include the likes of Mario Rosenstock, Reginald D Hunter, Ardal O’Hanlon, Phil Jupitus, Ed Byrne, Colin Murphy, Dead Cat Bounce, Glenn Wool, Joe Rooney, Karl Spain, Eleanor Tiernan, Dermot Whelan and many more!
There is now just six weeks to go until the Picnic, and we can't wait! Tickets still available here.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
‘Becoming A Jackal’
RARELY has an Irish album release been accompanied with such universal expectation. Likewise, it is rare that such expectation is accompanied by a fulfilment of potential.This is the exception to the rule.
Villagers - essentially Conor J. O’Brien - finally release debut album Becoming A Jackal after whetting many appetites with the superb Hollow Kind EP, released in February of last year.The first Irish act signed to trendy UK record label Domino (home to Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys etc), this is an album that began life as a nameless collection of musical poems, but has become a heart-wrenching, melodic odyssey that should see O’Brien become the biggest act to come out of Ireland in many moons.
O’Brien was once in The Immediate, who imploded just as rave reviews began to see them appear set for stardom, and then spent the latter part of the last two years touring as Cathy Davey’s guitarist - notably standing out in her shows. But O’Brien was always meant for bigger and better things, such is the vividness of his lyrics, and the epic soaring scale of his vocals and musicianship (he recorded this album largely by himself with the help of producer Tommy McLaughlin).
This is quite simply a stunning album, one that will inevitably see the Dubliner compared to Eliot Smith or Conor Oberst, but there is more of a older-style feel to his debut, epic at times, subtle in others, not unlike Neil Young’s Harvest in that sense, for example.
Indeed, on the superb title track and first single, O’Brien channels Simon and Garfunkel in a song with off-kilter rhythms and popping bass lines, mixed in with soaring harmonies. It is something of a relief in the middle of two dark and subversive songs - the eerie I Saw The Dead and the unsettling and up-tempo Ship of Promises.The Meaning of the Ritual follows, one of two songs included here that was also on the EP (the other being Pieces, in which O’Brien moves from slow, Burt-Bacarach croon to a wild, howling, finish - think Radiohead recreating the Beatles’ orchestral antics on A Day In The Life), and has been tweaked to include some impressive horn sections.
But it is the gentle lullaby of Home that is the centre-piece of this album, and shows a lighter, more playful side of the musician. The Crosby, Stills and Nash-esque The Pact is another standout, as is the subtle Set The Tigers Free.Subtle is a defining word for this album, one that crawls under your skin, O’Brien’s lyrical abilities literally eye-opening in scale.
Quite simply, this is the finest Irish album released in many years.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
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.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
THE ICONIC and evergreen Bob Dylan celebrated his country’s national holiday in style this Sunday, treating an expectant Thomond Park crowd to some of his greatest hits on American Independence Day.
Concert promoters Aiken Promotions and Thomond Park bosses claimed a crowd just shy of 15,000 people, all of whom appreciated the varied support acts on offer, but were in reality in the stadium to witness a piece of history, as Dylan played his first ever show in Limerick.
Watched by a hugely varied crowd that included Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill, in town for the JP McManus pro-am this week, Dylan rewarded life-long fans and interested observers alike to a set that included songs such as Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, Just Like A Woman, Lay Lady Lay, Like A Rolling Stone and Blowin’ in the Wind.
Stadium director John Cantwell revealed to the Limerick Leader after the show that not only did Dylan sign a Munster jersey for display in Thomond Park – as Elton John et al had done before him – but that the gruff-voiced Dylan had personally requested four Munster jerseys to bring back to America with him.
“He requested four jerseys specially and signed a jersey for us, he liked the look of it and we explained what it was about – hopefully he will spread the word wherever he goes,” explained a delighted John Cantwell after the concert.
“In terms of musical legends and cultural icons, they don’t come much bigger than Dylan. To have him at Thomond Park and in Limerick just goes to show exactly how the venue is becoming established now in terms in international terms,” added the Thomond Park boss.
Mr Cantwell also revealed that concert promoter Peter Aiken had “assured us that he is going to raise the bar even higher next year”.
Mr Aiken confirmed this to the Leader himself, saying with regard to next year that Aiken Promotions would “definitely” be back at the venue.
“We have a couple of things lined up, we just have to wait and see,” he said.
“I was just talking to John and trying to figure out a certain date for next year I’m trying to get, something I want to do,” he added.
The concert promoter admitted that he was slightly disappointed with the turnout, which was the lowest of the four concerts held in the venue thus far.
“It wasn’t bad, just a bit disappointing, I thought with the bill and all it might have been more, but that is what is at, that is what it did, and we are happy enough with it,” he said.
Mr Aiken paid tribute to local band Last Days of Death Country, who won a competition to open the show, which also included Alabama 3, Seasick Steve and David Gray, who all turned in superb performances.
“They were great. I couldn’t believe it, they were so confident. They really were a good band. They were really able – everybody was impressed, particularly the Bob Dylan crew and David Gray’s people, everybody was watching,” said Mr Aiken of the Limerick band.
Last Days lead singer Patrick O’Brien told the Leader that the opportunity afforded to them was “brilliant”.
“It was brilliant, it was great. There was a nice crowd and we went out there and played like we did last Friday and it was great. We are delighted,” he said.