Irish Timesjournalists review Oxegen 2011
BLACK EYED PEAS
Atmosphere: The biggest crowd of the day on Friday (although Swedish House Mafia drew a massive one too) were sent back to their tents singing.
High: Massive sound that was crystal clear, excellent visuals, great costumes, lasers, and an impressive rap by Will.I.Am early on about Dublin. Even though we’re in Kildare.
Low: Will.I.Am’s self-indulgent, pointless, buzz-killing DJ set halfway through the gig, which rambled on jarringly. His music selection was that of an annoying house party guest hogging the iPod.
Quote of the set: “When they told us we were coming to Ireland to play the O2 . . . I mean Oxegen. I’m sorry, I know it’s Oxegen.” Will.I.Am, before wisely starting an “Oxegen” chant.
Overall: Magnetic poetry of “club” “party”, “music”, “dance”, “feel”, “oh”, “hey”, “girl” that could have kicked off incredibly if a substantial portion of the crowd hadn’t left during the facepalm interlude that was the DJ set. Even I Got A Feelinghad its impact muted when the band used it as an opportunity to wish their tour manager Jen a happy birthday, complete with on-stage cake. UM
Atmosphere: It was a damp start for The Strokes’ brand of New York City rock as the sun set on a very mucky Punchestown. Mud fights and a few slippery moments distracted the audience, but it only took a few tracks to warm them up and then it’s all hands in the air.
High: New York City Girlsand Some Day– it’s easy to forget The Strokes’ back catalogue is etched on our collective psyche.
Low: Dodging the mud-slingers at every corner of the arena.
Quote of the set: “I don’t even like The Strokes. So I don’t know why I’m dancing!”
Verdict: A solid show that converted even the least interested among us. RMC
Atmosphere: Kicking off with The Sweater Song,they originally played to a few hundred loyal fans, but like geeky pied pipers, they multiplied that to a healthy throng with their trademark indie power-pop anthems. Weezer were generous enough to fill their set with their own greatest hits (Island in the Sun, My name is Jonas, Hash Pipe) and a few favourites by other bands ( Teenage Dirtbagby Wheatus, and Radiohead’s Paranoid Android). Thanks to the band’s longevity and audience-friendly hooks, the crowd was satisfyingly diverse in age and profile.
Quote: “You guys are totally rad – that’s a phrase from southern Cal-i-forn-i-a” (from an apparently improvised mini-song)
High: They finished with Buddy Holly, and then preceded to all gather around the drums to play a communal solo.
Low: This writer would’ve loved to hear their best song, Photograph.
Verdict: A triumphant, life-affirming set from the indie-rock icons JG
Crowd: Young, hotpanted and unaffected by the rain – they marched in droves from the campsites for this set. Written in the Starsgot a big roar – but so did everything the Nigerian-born British rapper had on show for his trip to Punchestown.
High: Tinie’s guitarist’s piano guitar – we want one.
Low: The sweat marks. We prepared for rain, not for muggy weather.
Quote: “Did anybody notice? Because the sun just came out . . . I want this to be a magical moment at Oxegen.” Oh, Tinie, we noticed.
Verdict: It was only ever going to go one way: Tinie’s the UK’s biggest garage star for a reason. RMC
Atmosphere: A large smoke machine-clouded hangar with a building crowd of occasionally unstable dancers vibing Ireland’s finest dance export since Aphex Twin and David Holmes.
High: Marcus Lambkin’s technical prowess and his smart, dark-flipping-to-light tunes. Guest video-vocals from Hot Chip and James Murphy. Shit Robot makes innovative electronic music appear effortless.
Low: Some randomer handing out flyers for another festival.
Quote of the set: “Woah” – people thinking there was an actualrobot playing.
Overall: The best visuals (especially the space ship) coupled with a brilliant stage set-up featuring Lambkin’s trademark light-up robot head and wonderfully constructed music. Even the other DJs watching from the side of the stage were mouthing, “God, he’s good.” UM
Atmosphere: A large crowd nearly covered the field facing the main stage as the moon finally made an appearance. The band – like many members of the audience – has been around for 16 years, and they’ve evolved into a confident, tight stadium rock outfit (for better and worse).
High: The Best of Youremains a strong anthem, and the crowd singalong to Wheelswas impressively intimate for such a big gig.
Low: We could have done with less noodling around with guitar solos, and. in an appropriate rock cliche, their older material is far superior to their recent output.
Quote: “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the f***ing rock show!”
Verdict: They could have put on a leaner show, and a few key singles would have been welcome. But David Grohl – with big hair and bigger American teeth – is a funny, passionate and hugely charismatic frontman. JG
Atmosphere: Lively! Whipping out a few tunes from their strong current album, Suck it and See, as well as a few favourites, Alex Turner and friends (including former Last Shadow Puppets colleague Miles Kane) drew a diverse audience. There was even the traditional “festival sprint” on a few occasions, as punters sprang from the ground and towards the stage when the hits were played.
High: Turner’s voice sounded fantastic, especially on Mardi Bum.
Low: Arguably the most articulate lyricist of his generation, it would have been nice if he’d talked to the crowd a little more.
Quote: “That’s not a skirt, it’s a sawn-off-shotgun” (from Suck it and See).
Verdict: With killer chords, beautiful lyrics enunciated well and a cohesive, precise performance, this was a testament to a band at their peak – youthful energy fused with years of experience. JG
THE PRETTY RECKLESS
Atmosphere: Paramore T-shirts and pink hair abounded in the audience for The Pretty Reckless, the band better known for being the “real passion” of Taylor Momsen – a 17-year-old actor who plays Jenny Humphrey in US teen drama, Gossip Girl– but, clad in underwear and a full-length fishnet dress, her age seemed simultaneously unbelievable and shocking.
High: Momsen can sing – and we mean really sing – and the audience, laps it up.
Low: “Is she really 17?” Momsen’s age, juxtaposed with her blatant sexuality and the risqué nature of her lyrics, distracted from the music.
Overall: It’s hard to know what the point of The Pretty Reckless is: they sound good and the songs aren’t half bad, but fans seem more interested in the lead singer’s fame and near nudity. RMC
High: The sun shining on Gitano’s upbeat Spanish guitar-playing
Low: Brunker’s brief appearance.
Quote: “What a great place to start.”
Verdict: Brunker was a late addition, replacing the injured Jessie J. The model/writer opened Saturday’s proceedings on the Vodafone Stage, the festival’s second largest, to a sparse crowd, accompanied by Gitano, a band fronted by Irish-based Spanish guitarist Francisco Garcia.
The performance was brief to say the least. Brunker offered a reworked version of U2’s With or Without You, minus the majority of the lyrics, her vocals barely audible beneath some heavy reverb.
And after one track that was it. “I didn’t have the bravery to do any more,” she said. Gitano, somewhat aptly, followed her performance with a song entitled Desperado. Short, very short. SC
Atmosphere: A packed tent of fans who knew every word of every song illustrating the Oxegen crowd’s love of a quality afternoon pop slot, with a decent live band providing the oomph. Approximately 20 pairs of short shorts per metre.
High: An opening with intention of Egoand the Girls Aloud-lite’s first single Up. A brilliant interpretation of Just Can’t Get Enough. And Frankie.
Low: Few intense firework moments, just a nice chart ramble.
Quote of the set: An audience member’s cardboard sign that read “Bend Over Frankie”. Oxegen: the gentleman’s festival.
Overall: A tent transformed into a Top of the Popsset for 45 minutes. The Saturdays will never be the queens of pop. They lack the grit, personality and hits, but there is something hypnotically enjoyable about their studio-perfect vocals, benign tunes, and family-friendly choreography. UM
Atmosphere: The sun came out in full force just as Friendly Fires took to the Vodafone stage and there was one thing on our minds: how must it feel to play the same stage as Amanda Brunker? Okay, perhaps not, but there was definitely a laid-back vibe as the sunny evening rolled in, with people strolling rather than running towards the stage, and in their dozens rather than hundreds.
High: It’s predictable but we’ve gotta say the sun: when it shines on Oxegen, it makes all the difference.
Low: Slightly dodgy sound, but for the first time all weekend.
Quote: “Oh, I know these guys!” The band’s fairly constant presence in the charts makes itself known.
Overall: They’re not a bad band, but they fail to get the somewhat paltry crowd going and things were ruined by a too-heavy bass line. RMC