Punchestown picks: 10 acts to catch


Three days of indie-rock and glittering pop? It must be Oxegen weekend. Across the five stages and over the 72 hours, TONY CLAYTON-LEApicks out 10 acts that should not be missed



* 2FM Hot Press Academy

Save its wide range of authentic Tudor toilet roll cosies, it’s fair to say that not many truly exceptional things have ever come from Totnes, Devon. Until, that is, Metronomy fetched up in 1999. Although not unduly prolific (three albums in 12 years), the band, notably founding member Joe Mount, has passed the time cleverly remixing the likes of Kate Nash, Ladytron, Goldfrapp, Britney Spears, Air, Lykke Li and U2.

Songs To Go Mental To: M y Heart Rate Rapid, She Wants, The Look


* Main Stage

They’re regular visitors to Ireland (their previous visit here was late last year when they stuffed the O2), so while it’s a no-surprises gig you can still be guaranteed that MCR will raise a few smiles and eyebrows. Of course, now that they’ve been featured on Gleeit will mean a wider demographic spread, which is good for the recognition of their most recent (and solid as a very large rock) album, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.

Songs To Go Mental To: Welcome to the Black Parade, Teenagers, Vampire Money


* 2FM Hot Press Academy

We’re not so sure you can actually go mental to any songs by Noah and the Whale, but you can certainly nod your head to ’em. Indeed, this London-based indie-folk act have upped the musical ante since the release of this year’s superb album (and the band’s third) Last Night on Earth. Surprising many with its upbeat, often dreamy and always resolutely 1980s pop sensibilities (think Prefab Sprout meets Tom Petty), you can bet that tracks from this will get to the Oxegen contingent before material from the band’s rather more downbeat albums, Peaceful, the World Lays Me Downand The First Days of Spring.

Songs To Go Mental To: L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N., Tonight’s the Kind of Night, Give It AllBack



* Main Stage

Arctic Monkeys live? There’s a bit of a Kings of Leon vibe to this band’s stage performances: while the music is miles more quick-witted, Alex Turner and co kind of stand there, just state the musical facts, ma’am, and scarper after an hour. Thank goodness the songs – especially the dozen or so on the cracking new album, Suck It and See– deliver the sort of assertive patter and smart-Alex quips that are missing from so much of what we here these days.

Songs To Go Mental To: I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor, Brick by Brick, The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala


* Main Stage

Winners of the most recent Choice Music Prize, with Tourist History, one of the best albums of last year, and the Irish act that has delivered one of the gigs of the year (at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre last March), 2DCC are definitely on the cusp of something very big. The Bangor/Donaghadee trio of Sam Halliday, Alex Trimble and Kevin Baird have, so far, delivered the kind of kinetic pop-punk music that almost takes on a life of its own. Songs such as Something Good Can Work, Do You Want It All, Undercover Martyn, What You Know, Cigarettes In the Theatreand I Can Talkare so bloody good it’s getting to be boring saying it so often. Following the spate of summer shows, the band head into the studio for album number two.

Songs To Go Mental To: Cigarettes In The Theatre, Do You Want It All, I Can Talk


* Heineken Green Spheres

Say hello to the Oxegen virgins! Although this London band has been around just over a year, they have managed to collect quite a few high-profile fans (Zane Lowe loved their demo of If You Wannaso much he described it as “the hottest record in the world”) and a fanbase that loves short, sharp, fundamental pop-punk (think a nifty blend of Ramones, Clash, Jesus Mary Chain) played with a keen edge and no small level of excitement. Honestly, people, back to basics has rarely sounded so fun and vital.

Song To Go Mental To: Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra), Post Break-Up Sex, All in White



* 2FM Hot Press Academy

Jenny is Nevada’s Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley, purveyors of wonderfully off-kilter indie pop-rock; Johnny is Johnathan Rice, a Scottish-American singer-songwriter whose style teeters somewhere between Neil Young and Gram Parsons. Together, however (they are also real-life partners as well as being creative collaborators), Jenny and Johnny stir it up by being a little bit me and a little bit you. The title of the pair’s debut album may be I’m Having Fun Now, but in between the love’n’stuff material there are bittersweet quips, caustic asides and real life. Good to have them here, then, but personally I’ll wait until they’re in a smaller venue with a proper roof.

Songs To Go Mental To: Switchblade, New Yorker Cartoon, Straight Edge of the Blade


* Main Stage

Beyoncé is almost 30, but the actress, fashion designer, Queen of Urban Pop, multi-Grammy winner and (according to Forbes) the “Most Powerful Influential Musician in the World” shows no sign whatsoever of relinquishing her crown or status to pesky pretenders. Plugging her new album ( 4), means that too many songs will be sprung from it at Oxegen, but you can rest assured that, as Glastonbury proved, Jay-Z’s laydee knows how to put on a crowd-pleasing show. Finally – and in style, let it be said – Oxegen goes Pop!

Songs To Go Mental To: Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It), Crazy In Love, Halo


* Main Stage

Old hands they might be, but over the years James Bradfield, Sean Moore and Nicky Wire have written more than their fair share of songs that blend the anthemic with the dynamic. The flair the band show for songs of this nature is so innate it’s surely now part of their creative DNA – from early material such as Motorcycle Emptiness, Little Baby Nothingand Everything Must Goto latter-day songs from their previous three superb albums (2007’s Send Away The Tigers, 2009’s Journal for Plague Lovers,2010 ’s Postcards From a Young Man), the band has proven that being of cultural relevance remains crucial to them. A new album, 70 Songs of Hatred and Failure, will be released later this year, so expect to hear one or two tracks in progress.

Songs To Go Mental To: Motorcycle Emptiness, Everything Must Go, A Billion Balconies Facing the Sun


* Heineken Green Spheres

Incredibly, these scallywags have been around in one shape or another for almost 30 years, but it wasnt until the early 90s, with the release of the drug-doused Screamadelica, that Primal Scream elbowed their way into the mainstream. With the 20th anniversary of that album being celebrated this year, this gig is all about how to deliver a solid gold classic to thousands of people who were either not born or still in nappies when the album first came out. Whatever way you look at it, Primal Scream performing Screamadelicain its entirety is a festival highlight.

Songs To Go Mental To: Movin’ on Up, Loaded, Don’t Fight It, Feel It