Festival Fit: Torn between two sessions
We’ve got a dilemma: craft beer workshops at Indiependence or hula-hoop classes at Castlepalooza? Nothing for it but to squeeze both in
‘C’MERE man, is there any chance you’d brush my teeth for me?” croaked a cracked and jagged voice from a tent after I stumbled over its guy rope. “My mouth and throat feel like I’ve been smokin’ turf rolled in sandpaper skins.”
The morning before, the very same voice had been calling out to surrounding campers for valium, not to swallow, but to wrap in grass and use as earplugs in a effort to try and get some sleep. The briquette-puffer’s predicament was understood by near-neighbours. The lads in the tent next door had spent the previous night brainstorming a billion-dollar business plan: wasponastring.com. As soon as they figure out how to keep the feckers alive while tethered to the tent they’re protecting, they’ll be all over Dragons’ Den.
The campsite at Castlepalooza wasn’t your average festival estate. Ensconced in the field were an enclave of Vikings, archers and medieval types drinking mead from beasts’ horns. I’m still not sure whether they were there for the festival or if they just live there. With the backdrop of Charleville Castle, it felt very Casterly rock ’n’ roll. The Vikings had a friendly wolfhound by the name of Misty – but only friendly to a point. Misty lost the plot on Saturday morning when the dude with the valium in his ears kept singing Livin’ La Vida Loca at full throttle in his tent. Similarly to the dressed-up beardy dudes carrying the Clan of Odin sigil, this dog had standards.
I ducked down the road to Mitchelstown on Saturday evening to play at Indiependence, relishing the chance to get a glimpse of two similar festivals happening on the same weekend. I was hanging with one of the crew from Knockanstockan who also got to sample both festivals, and they preferred the vibe in Tullamore. Castlepalooza did feel more chilled, helped by a smaller capacity than Indiependence (3,000 vs 5,000) and by the profile of punters attending. The gig at the castle had a higher proportion of dreadlocks and carefully considered, seemingly bohemian britches, boots and bangs. The crowd in Cork seemed more concerned about having a buzz than how they looked while they were doing it; something to be said for that.
Although there was some serious overlap in the lineups at both festivals (ASIWYFA, Little Bear, Le Galaxie, Vann Music, Enemies, Young Wonder and Halves playing at both), the acts in Cork felt a little more mainstream in places, but were definitely the stronger of the two.
Indiependence got hit hard by the weather last year; as a result they obviously sat down and had a hard think about their set-up. Not only had they a whole new area featuring decks, poetry and burlesque, they took the huge barn that served as a green room in previous years and converted it into a German-style craft beer hall –stroke of genius. The sound for non-acoustic bands was awful in there, but it was weather-proof and the 80s vs 90s disco late on Sunday night was a highlight for many, especially that Garda on YouTube. There were deadly craft beer and food-tasting workshops, run in the hall over the weekend by The Craft Collection. These were free and, unsurprisingly, booked out.
Charleville has a castle, though, and there were a number of workshops being run in there too, including burlesque and hula-hooping classes. I gave the hula-hooping a whirl and discovered yet another thing I’m shite at.
Both festivals service a slightly different audience, and do so very well. I couldn’t separate them, so on Sunday night, just before he took to the Charleville stage, I asked Mick from Le Galaxie which one he preferred. He plumped for Tullamore. Next year when the August Bank Holiday Weekend rolls around, I’ll probably go to both . . . again!
Safe travels, don’t die.