Festival Fit: Lack of Oxegen? Don’t hyperventilate – there’s a big festival summer in the air

Oxegen may have drawn its last breath, but there lots more life on the festival calendar – and enough space to avoid the messers

 

Fears that herds of homeless animals are on the prowl for new territory in which to rut, ride and riot are somewhat misplaced. Oxegen has been sucked out of the Irish festival scene, but there’s plenty of pasture and wild countryside to absorb the territorial pissings of our young bucks.

Some of the herd could be seen roaming the ad hoc watering hole at Barn Dance last Friday. The cohort of fillies in denim Daisy Dukes this early in festival season saw the Order of Malta deal with a record number of colds in the kidney. They should’ve listened to their mammies.

The evaporation of Oxegen comes as no surprise. Organisers citing lack of suitable headliners and increased costs from local agencies is a joke; the festival has been on a ventilator for years. Even when it was bagging European festival awards, the cracks were evident. I remember restraining a mate of mine while we watched The Who in ’06. It wasn’t the obnoxious behaviour of the idiots in front of us that tripped his switch, it was the response he got after telling them to cop on for the umpteenth time: “Who are they anyway? The Who!? If they were any good I would’ve heard of ’em.” The lad might as well have used the Koran as roach material; it was a stoning offence.

There will always be a slice of the festival population hell bent on getting out of their bulbs. Oxegen gave birth to some of the worst war stories I’ve heard from any festival. Security staff who worked the gig never cease to astound with horrific accounts of their tours of duty.

Thankfully, festival folk of a different ilk could be found at Phase One in Carrick-on-Shannon last weekend, where the clubbish cohort couldn’t have been nicer. An Electronic Arts Festival that hangs much of its programme on music should have been a hotbed of mayhem and demonic debauchery, but it wasn’t. In Carrick the wanton abandon flowed like the Shannon: deep and smooth with an illusion of control.


FEIS BEATS
For those partial to blippity-bop (the electronic equivalent of diddly-eye) the choons were satisfying and the rug was cut. The beats dealt out in Leitrim leaned more towards IDM than EDM, with a peppering of Aggrotech, Dubtronica and Alien Pop for flavour (the linguistic skills needed to navigate the musical waters here may have been a contributing factor in keeping the loo-laas at bay).

Nanu Nanu caught the mood nicely, and even though their set seemed caught between dark, menacing moments from earlier tracks and newer bright, shiny beats, Laura Sheeran is developing on-stage swagger that suggests a future as bright as an industrial strobe. Sounds of System Breakdown felt at home playing a blinder at Barn Dance on Friday and zipping up the road to do the same thing at Phase One on Saturday. They might just be electronic music’s missing link.

Life Festival in Belvedere House next month will attract more Oxegen refugees than most festivals. Ben Klock, Groove Armada (DJs) and Nathan Fake will have them salivating. Sea Sessions and Indiependence should see their numbers swell slightly too. Vantastival next weekend might also enjoy a rising tide, not through lost Oxegeners, but as a result of this year’s Camden Crawl being supposedly suspended ’til autumn.

Castlepalooza announced its line-up this week and although Super Furrys front fella Gruff Rhys and the suave ukulele-wielding French hipsters We Were Evergreen perk me up, they won’t be pulling huge post-Leaving Cert crowds to Tullamore (if we’re lucky). Hold off on packing a cattle-prod with the tent and wellies for a while yet; we enjoy a sizeable buffer of Irish festivals, capable of filtering and dispersing most of the disenfranchised delinquents. I’d err on the side of caution, though, and vet weekend neighbours extremely carefully. Claiming a dud pitch can be an awful bitch.

Safe travels, don’t die.


ayearoffestivalsinireland.com

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