Other Voices: A masterclass in getting bigger without getting bloated

Dingle shindig improves even as it expands; highlights were Sigrid and Perfume Genius

Sigrid in St James’s Church for Other Voices

Sigrid in St James’s Church for Other Voices


Among the things on the agenda as the Other Voices festival took place in Dingle over the weekend were musicians from Timbuktu, a pop-star from Norway, a husband-and-wife trad band and a rave and three after-parties.

As well as the feast of music, there was discussion on migration from Syria and Donald Trump’s golfing habits at the Co Kerry event, perhaps the most successful since its inception in 2001.

The Ireland’s Edge conference, held at the Skellig Hotel to coincide with Other Voices, served as a hub for discussion on contemporary Irish culture, technology and social issues.

Artist John Gerrard delivered a mind-bending research lecture and detailed his plans for Galway City of Culture 2020, showing renderings of stunning mirrored pavilions with LED walls displaying ritual dances.

As Gerrard, who has previously shown public art works at Somerset House in London and the Lincoln Center in New York, said once or twice during his lecture, “this is a little bit complicated to go into detail here”.

Mount Kimbie performing in St James’s Church during Other Voices 2017
Mount Kimbie performing in St James’s Church during Other Voices 2017

On the music side, two female-led rock bands stood out – Pillow Queens on Friday night, and Bitch Falcon on Saturday. Elsewhere Dublin MC Mango, along with Mathman, continued his trend of arriving at a festival, getting the lay of the land and then dominating it. Reports from both of his shows on Saturday were ecstatic.

Then there was St James’s Church, the core the festival orbits around, where acts generally used to much larger rooms film concerts for broadcast on RTÉ.

Nowhere to hide

There is nowhere to hide in the church, not for a potential audience member seeking to sneak in nor the artists on stage. It’s here that nerves can creep in, or star quality can be laid bare to shine.

Sigrid achieved the latter. The 21-year-old Norwegian’s song Don’t Kill My Vibe and polished charisma were highlights of Saturday night.

On Friday night, the Seattle musician Perfume Genius delivered an intense and creatively transgressive performance that left many speechless.

“The main thing that I’ve heard from all the local people, publicans and venues is that they find it really easy to work with the crowd,” said Molly King, head of development of Other Voices.

Loyle Carner on Saturday evening
Loyle Carner on Saturday evening

“It’s such a good reflection of the festival when you know you have a really sound audience who respect the place. It’s been the most phenomenal weekend of music, the best we’ve ever had in the church, I think.”

As Other Voices continues to expand, the work of the production team to ensure Dingle’s infrastructure manages to contain it all is a mammoth job. With the festival journeying to North America and elsewhere in Europe to find temporary homes, the weekend proved once again that wherever it travels, Dingle remains where its heart is.