They came, they saw, they danced at Oxegen

Reduced-capacity music festival in Punchestown deemed a success by dancing punters



Numbers were down and the size of the site had shrunk, but for those who were there, Oxegen worked. Punchestown hosted two and a half days of dance music on the hard and commercial ends of the spectrum, dancing away from its rock and indie roots and giving people with busy feet something to cheer about.

Last night, the king of commercial dance pop, David Guetta, wrapped up the main stage in front of a big crowd, although there were plenty in the indoor Red Bull Electric Ballroom dancing to Dutch youngster Nicky Romero too. The reduced crowd got on well.

Gardaí have yet to collate their arrest figures from the weekend, but a spokesman said they were hearing of “small numbers” and “no more than you’d expect.” The boisterous but amicable atmosphere was of course down to the music.

For all of the destain aimed at Oxegen in the run up to the event - a snobbery that is both of music and class - all the young crowd wanted to do was have a good time.

Guetta’s headline show is about trappings, both the additions and constraints of big budget electronic music shows. The production had everything; fireworks exploding at crucial drops, confetti cannons spraying everyone in red ticker tape, multicoloured fireballs, CO2 cannons erupting at appropriate times, coloured lasers stretching out over the crowd, streamer cannons belting yards of red and white tape into the air.

Perched in an elevated DJ booth with a high spec and high tech wall of visuals behind him, the French DJ and producer was surrounded by hugely impressive lighting lighting rigs, which along with everything else were tightly cued with the music, illustrating how impossible it would be for a show based on precision to go off script.

Unfortunately, one of two big screens went black before he arrived on stage. As a result, a third of the crowd were somewhat less engaged. Guetta’s no fool and picked up on it soon enough, “I don’t know what’s going on,” he said into his microphone, generally reserved for amping up the party atmosphere, “it feels like one side is going crazy and one side is sleeping” .

The crowd responded with a little more energy as he bashed out his poppy hits; Love Don’t Let Me Go, Titanium, Ain’t A Party and a few remixes - Ellie Goulding’s Anything Can Happen and Fatboy Slim and Riva Starr’s Eat Sleep Rave Repeat.

There is most certainly a market for this new breed of Oxegen, and the large crowds for certain DJs will also be encouraging for promoters MCD should they be thinking of booking them elsewhere. It will be interesting to observe what lessons emerge from the risk MCD took with the festival, and most importantly, what comes next.

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