It’s all about the dancing this year as a slimmed-down Oxegen takes new direction
Music festival downsized to 2½ days
Ciara Brennan from Tipperary, Katie Keel from Clonmel and Chloe Murphy (centre) from Waterford, arriving to Punchestown at the start of Oxegen. Photograph: Alan Betson
Damien McCarthy, Darragh Gibbs and Jamie Kennedy from Carrick-on-Suir at Oxegen in Punchestown. Photograph: Alan Betson
Molly Murphy, Ciara Dalton, Aidan Twomey and Simone Black, from Cork and Dublin, sett, up camp at Punchestown at the start of Oxegen. Photograph: Alan Betson
It used to be “the big one”, but Oxegen has been downsized in 2013 to 2½ days of dance and pop music in Punchestown.
This weekend, the location of a rite of passage for countless excited young people features just three stages; a main one sponsored by Heineken, an indoor stage which is the traditional home to dance music at Oxegen sponsored by Red Bull, and another smaller stage.
It’s Time To Dance, proclaims Oxegen’s posters, and if you have even a passing relationship with the style of mainstream electronic music that has populated European and American charts for the past couple of years, then this is the line-up for you.
David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Example, Chase & Status and Labrinth, plus some bonus hip- hop in the form of Snoop Dogg and local flavours courtesy of The Original Rude Boys, Dead Prezidents, Al Gibbs and others.
Dance all weekend
There’s a sprinkling of pop with Rita Ora and Iggy Azalea, but mostly, this is music to dance all weekend long.
The days of 80,000-capacity music festivals in Ireland are over, at least for the time being anyway, and Oxegen’s expected attendence has slid to about a third of that.
The campsite (yes, just one – aside from the small luxury campsite – no more vast tented fields of yore) opened yesterday afternoon; a bonus silent disco will run until 4am each night for weekend ticket holders.
If large outdoor gigs that have taken place since the violence that marred the Swedish House Mafia-headlined concert at the Phoenix Park last year are anything to go by, the presence of security, police and stewards will be highly visible and tight.
The perceived risk of any violence taking place is too great to skimp on extra gardaí and security officials.
As the Phoenix Park shows this summer and last month’s Longitude festival showed, increased security and policing are here to stay, with many who attended Longitude commenting on the politeness of the security officials drafted in for the event.
Oxegen’s branding has been minimised on the advertisements for the festival, with promoters MCD instead emphasising the pulling power of the talent in the male-dominated line- up, with the headliners of David Guetta and Calvin Harris getting most of the spotlight as two of the biggest names in pop music.
Met by a barrage of criticism on social media from fans who like their music with guitars, this year’s festival marks a seismic shift in direction.
It’s a risk worth taking in a crowded festival market.