Una Mullally

Society, life and culture on the edge

Drop Everything: Passion, People and Place

As festival season gets earlier, the new kid on the block establishes a curious supremacy.

Mon, May 26, 2014, 13:04


As people are probably still waking up on Inir Oírr, I’m digesting 20 hours on the island after arriving on Saturday evening and returning to Dublin on Sunday evening. I decided not to plan anything ahead of the festival in the spirit of its name, and after working Saturday morning legged it across the country with a bottle of white wine, a Lion bar and a rain jacket.

Drop Everything managed to create a few key components that have been missing from well worn festivals. The place is unique. I’d never been to Inis Oírr, but anyone who visits any islands off the west of Ireland can’t but the calm isolation, hilly one-lane roads, endless stone walls that scrawl the landscape like a pencil gone wild on a blank piece of paper, the fun and ramshackle pubs, the dolphins rearing their fins in pristine water, the small and beautiful beaches, the spectacular sunsets. The setting is surprising but natural for a festival. There are no loud and angry PA systems or billowing marquees. There’s no mud or aggressive security. The programme was a drawing of the island – almost a treasure map – with a key to events and locations happening on the other side. Art was not an afterthought to music.

It’s a true communal experience, thanks to the smallness of the crowd (a few hundred), and the fact that the weekend felt like a secret – a bunch of up for it people gone on a pilgrimage to an isolated spot discovering things that felt simultaneously completely out of context but also absolutely made sense. Mick Murray and Lightscape’s beautiful light show on the beach close to the pier was otherworldly and spectacular, with speakers hidden in the dunes at night as the lights danced on the edge of the sand. Rich Gillagan’s photography exhibition of Dublin images was another highlight. Somerville’s set was glorious. Colm K and David Kitt’s DJ set’s on Saturday night were great fun.

In terms of food and drink, so often the subject of gripes for people at a festival, Drop Everything nailed it. Some moments were so simply idyllic, it’s almost hard to describe how lovely they were, such as The Fumbally’s brunch on Sunday morning, laid out on the rocks perched above the sea, having porridge cooked in a fulacht fiadh over night, and mixing it with fruit and sweet granola, or you could have eggs fried on the rocks with bread baked on the island, and foraged herbs. Basking in the sun over a communal brunch, was perfect as it sounds. I didn’t make Ard Bia’s dinner, but heard nothing but glowing reports.

A cocktail bar hidden in another pub served up island margaritas, or whiskey ‘Daisy’ cocktails, or gin and plum drinks with small flowers frozen in the ice cubes. You’d be hard pressed to find a better cocktail served anywhere I can think of. The awesome Berlin-based design house Star Styling made the journey, setting up a shop with one-off Drop Everything t-shirts and hoodies, creating possibly the best festival merch ever. We Are Islanders also sold goods in the Shop Everything store, along with ‘Tigh Drop’ bags, records, hats and loads of other stuff.

The crowd was sound. Everyone respected the location. There were no messers, no one falling around totally hammered, no agro. It was a diverse bunch; gay, straight, all ages, Irish, Icelandic, American, English, Dutch and beyond. And thus, it created that crucial thing: a brilliant vibe. It was friendly, fun, courteous and collective. The devil was in the detail. Mary Nally, Siomha Nee and everyone else involved should pour themselves a large glass of prosecco and toast to not replicating anything and creating something truly unique. You can’t compare Drop Everything’s festival aesthetic to anything else. It is its own. You can’t compare the setting to any other festival site. You can’t compare the intentions – high art devoid of pretension – with any other festival. Drop Everything isn’t a diamond in the rough, it is a sparkling gem all of its own.