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Sea Sessions – good music, no volleyball, lots of Michael D

Eoin Butler was at Sea Sessions in Bundoran. There were some problems with the weather.

Unfortunately, due to the inclement weather, Saturday’s entire programme of (non-musical) activities has had to be cancelled. Alas then, none of the high-octane sports – tag rugby, Olympic handball, BMX stunt biking, motocross et al – will now be going ahead. Down at the beach, only a hardy band of beach volleyball players have ventured on to the sand. The teams are drawn from all over Ireland but the players, for the most part, are natives of continental and eastern Europe.

There is a rather farcical nature to the proceedings. Experienced players are seeing their services fall as much as a metre short of the net. “Only in Ireland,” laughs American Megan Burgdorf, “is beach volleyball an extreme sport.” Are the players worried about getting blown into the sea? “Not at all,” she replies. “We have stones in our pockets!”

He had a blast anyway. And John Collins gives his verdict on the music in today’s Irish Times.

The focus on surfing and other events might suggest that music is secondary at the Sea Sessions. The festival might not have the headline names of its competitors but, as Saturday’s line-up proved, it’s a carefully programmed event with music for all tastes.

Bitches With Wolves’ high-energy 80s synth pop was enjoyable enough, but with wind and rain blowing through the sparsely-populated marquee, it was hard to feel the full day-glo experience.

Over in the North Shore marquee, Cry Monster Cry’s brotherly folk harmonies were more in tune with the damp, early-evening festival vibe. But it took the Hot 8 Brass Band to really kick proceedings off with their hip-hop-like call-and-response set.

Cork electronic producer Toby Kaar showed he knows his bits and pieces. His head-rocking beats drew them in as his set progressed, but it was the arrival of Jape which saw the introduction of a one-in-one-out rule for access to the heaving marquee.

While Richie Egan showcased new Jape tracks, his band got the best reaction for tracks from breakthrough album Ritual, such as Graveyard and I Was A Man. Egan knows his audience and sent them into the night with an inspiring finale of Strike Me Down.

Finally, here’s Michael D Higgins. Live.
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