Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Oxegen – RSAG, Friendly Fires, Lady Gaga

It’s a schtick which never fails to get a crowd pumped. On the stage, RSAG’s Jeremy Hickey is playing the drums and singing away like a man possessed. On a screen behind him, you can see the outlines of a …

Sun, Jul 12, 2009, 18:18

   

It’s a schtick which never fails to get a crowd pumped. On the stage, RSAG’s Jeremy Hickey is playing the drums and singing away like a man possessed. On a screen behind him, you can see the outlines of a bass player and guitarist and you can also hear them playing. But look closer and you can see that Hickey is controlling everything. It’s an one-man-band trompe d’oliel. But there’s nothing shady or tricky about RSAG’s sound. This is robust, beaty and meaty fare, a fabulous mash-up from the Marble City which is one part hardcore-punk to three parts heavyweight funk. At this stage, Hickey has been playing songs from his breakthrough “Organic Sampler” album so long that he’s beginning to find new routes through familiar notes. Here’s one Irish musician who won’t settle for reheating leftovers.

If a member of Friendly Fires stood next to you in a bus queue, chances are you wouldn’t pay him any attention whatsoever. They are a band who don’t really stand out in the crowd – no mad hats, no interesting tattoos, no big hair. But the music? Now, you’re talking a completely different language. With very little fanfare, they stroll on, strap themselves in and proceed to tear the Heineken Green Spheres tent apart with a set of sparkling, glowing, euphoric indie-electro-disco. Word-of-mouth about the incredible grooviness of songs like “Jump In The Pool” and “Hospital Beds” is what’s working in their favour here, the band piling on the guitars and the brass and the percussion with gusto. One of the surprise hits of Oxegen 2009.

This was a weekend when Oxegen’s musical axis shifted about 180 degrees to the right. Huge crowds and massive positive reaction for the likes of The Script, The Saturdays and Lily Allen saw the fest go far more pop than in previous years. It should, then, have been a triumph for Lady Gaga. She’s pop from head to toe and has shifted over 50,000 copies of her debut album in Ireland. However the endless costume changes, a ropey sound at times (even the Lady seemed miffed by this) and a distinct lack of oomph meant this was a show which didn’t go according to plan. Indeed, it was as flat as the proverbial crepe. Gaga tried every trick in the book but that procession of mega-hits just didn’t project all the way back to the burger vans. She might need some more time at festival finishing school before she’s ready for her next close-up.