Lights Colour Sound - there’s a new festival kid in town

Kilkenny has just added another hooley to the summer mix

And So I Watch You From Afar are bringing the colour

And So I Watch You From Afar are bringing the colour


No sooner was I lamenting the loss of Helium’s hooley in Ballymahon than Light Colour Sound pops up in Paulstown, Co Kilkenny, shouldering it’s way manfully into the pre-match team photograph of this year’s festival line-up. The fling is dead, long live the fling.

Coming seemingly from nowhere, LCS has planted itself firmly amongst the best independent festival offerings of the summer. The very fact that they’ve billed And So I Watch You From Afar above the only non-Irish headliner of Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, points towards them having a solid fix on the predilections of the al fresco partying populace.

Thomas Donoghue, one of the team putting this gig together, fronts an outfit called The Cold Draw. He’s given himself a slot at the festival, but that’s fair enough, considering the amount of impressive bands he has togging out over three days.

Light Colour Sound isn’t exactly a bolt from the blue, but it’s a sizeable shift. Marie Barry and her husband Arlie organised a festival in Kilmaganny, Co Kilkenny, in 2013 for a crowd of about 350 people. Marie says that the idea behind last year’s Barn on the Farm gig was to invite as many friends and family as possible to a small session that set out to provide some good times while also raising a few bob for the Steiner School at Camphill Community in Ballytobin, Co Kilkenny, an organisation working primarily with special needs children. The buzz in the barn was so good that Arlie and Marie drafted in Thomas, who’d played the gig, and they decided to up the ante considerably.

Marie’s enthusiasm for what lies ahead is impressive. I quizzed her about the cost of putting on a three-day music festival with camping, and she brushed it aside: “We only need to sell 1,000 weekend tickets to cover the cost.” Weekend tickets are €95.

I’m always partially impressed and partially bewildered by enthusiastic individuals who are willing to take a serious punt on Irish weather and the festival-going public. Louise from Vantastival told me that last year was the first year she and her partner, Benny, broke even on their festival endeavours, having begged, stolen and borrowed to meet debts from the previous four years.

When I asked Marie about going head to head with Groove Festival at Kilruddery House in Wicklow and Day Tripper Festival in Waterford, she didn’t seem too concerned either. They actively avoided running the same weekend as Longitude (a good idea), but the LCS crew feel that not only are
they are offering something
unique on the first weekend in July, but of all the wonderful festivals happening in and around Kilkenny, such as Cat Laughs and Rhythm & Roots, none is offering the weekend camping experience in all it’s grime and glory.

She makes a good point. Groove and Day Tripper could be considered sister festivals, sharing a good deal of the same acts on different days. Paloma Faith headlines Wicklow on Saturday and Waterford on Sunday, while David Gray is taking the opposite shift. Both of these festivals are focusing on tight respective catchment areas, splitting costs, sharing resources and avoiding the extra expense of revellers in residence. Longitude is a different ballgame altogether when it comes to the profile of the acts involved, but as good as it was last year, it never really caught fire, and I can’t help but feel that the crowd dispersing once the last “one more choon” had been hoarsely howled detracted from the atmosphere. It’s difficult to throw yourself fecklessly into the thick of things when you know there’s a trek and a bus trip waiting.

The sight of a muddy welly might make some roisterers recoil, but temporary community, collective effervescence, random midnight meadow meetings and campfires beneath art installations is what heats my storm kettle. I’m looking forward to brewing up at LCS.

Safe travels, don’t die.

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