As Body&Soul festival once again descends upon us, we thought it appropriate to have a good look through the acts and make a wish-list of who we’d like to catch during the course of the festival. From local hip hop impresarios, indie legends to mind-melting electronica outfits, there’s a whole host of outstanding artists and bands, both internationally renowned and homegrown strutting stages this weekend. Here’s our list of all and sundry should you want to catch some of them too, and our handy playlist at the bottom should provide ample entertainment for your travels. Be safe and enjoy the festivities, Staters, we’ll see you there.
The Absolut Stage (All weekend)
Like a party festival in its own right is the Absolut Stage, curated by Arvene. A great first port of call, always fun during the long days and thee place to see the nights out. Last year the bar was a fulcrum for the festival site itself with back-to-back carefully curated DJs reliably keeping the dance plates spinning. This year we’re promised an even bigger bar/stage with the additional pleasure of international cirque performance group Lucent Dossier (video here) who should bring some carnally impressive spectacle to the stage and bar. With this you’ll have some of Ireland’s best DJs and most popular clubs buoying everyone along through the three days – including Billy Scurry, DJ Deece, Mix & Fairbanks, Kelly Anne Byrne, Fish Go Deep, Claire Beck, Arveene himself, Donal Dineen, Mother and a State declared interest in the Lumo DJs, who’ll be bringing the first night to a confetti-fuelled close in the early hours.
The Gloaming (Body & Soul stage – 10.30pm, Friday)
Festivals such as this wouldn’t be The Gloaming’s natural habitat, yet so consummate are this particular group of musicians that they can take on any challenge. The sense of dramatic beauty that they create can only be enhanced by the surroundings and atmosphere of the main stage and this should be one of the highlights, not just of the weekend but the whole year.
Ho99o9 (Midnight Circus – 9.45pm, Friday)
A musically violent counterpoint to the relaxed vibes of the festival, you’ll probably only need a short burst of Ho99o9’s startling mix of hip-hop and hardcore. It’s an experience you won’t forget though.
Bitch Falcon (Midnight Circus – 7pm, Friday)
They’ve come along way since their riotous 3am slot on the State / Oxjam stage at Electric Picnic two years ago and this summer sees Bitch Falcon make a serious tilt at the festival circuit. This slot on day one should suit them down to the ground, feeding off the early weekend energy.
Vernon Jane (Pagoda Stage – 7pm, Friday)
An expansive seven piece exploring the psychedelic limits of jazz, Vernon Jane were born to play the magical setting of the forest’s new stage. Free your mind and the rest will follow.
Optimo (Midnight Circus – Midnight, Friday)
Legendary duo JD Twitch and JG Wilkes, Optimo have been deep in techno and house circles for over 20 years. Having done it all, from DJing, promoting, and producing, the Glasgow all-rounders are not to be missed. Taps ‘aff, etc.
Mercury Rev (Body&Soul stage – 6pm, Saturday)
Perennials, since a re-emergence with desert island disk ‘Deserter’s Songs’ in 1999, B&S is the perfect setting for their slightly spectoral psych rock. Ever-glistening and smiling like the love child of a wizard and an elf, Jonathan Donahue’s mystical presence can, in the right setting, heighten the elements. Though they have a fairly patchy recent catalogue, they can swirl up emotions by cherrypicking the good stuff and all you need to do is wait for the perfection of ‘Godess on a Hiway’ to arrive.
Mbongwana Star (Midnight Circus – 9.15pm, Saturday)
The beauty of festival season is you get to see artists that would never normally make it to these shores. Mbongwana Star are a case in point. Born out of the demise of Staff Benda Bilili, the Congolese seven piece have expanded their traditional sound to include post-punk, electro and hip-hop. Unmissable.
Junior Boys (Midnight Circus – 10.30pm, Saturday)
Canadian electronica maestros Junior Boys are veterans of the dance-floor, but they’re no strangers to bringing their forward-thinking beats to the festival circuit. Seasoned pros, you’d better be ready to throw some shapes and if they play ‘Like a Child’, my lordy you’ll be in for a treat.
St Germain (Body&Soul stage – 11pm, Saturday)
Complex, heady and blissful, St Germain has spent the last couple of decades making some of the most interesting music out there. A man of many tastes, his live shows focus not on one train of performance, but branch out towards the left, twisting and turning styles, timbres and atmospherics in the most memorable of ways. Highly recommended.
TooFools (Woodlands Stage – 1.30am, Saturday)
Fast developing a reputation as one of the country’s most exciting live bands, TooFools have the funk chops to keep things swinging late into the night.
Farah Elle (Pagoda Stage – 9pm, Saturday / 8pm, Sunday)
First capturing our attention with the spine tingling ‘Silk’, Farah Elle’s unique take on R&B is going to be the topic of conversation very soon. Get in early this weekend.
Feather (Body & Soul Stage – 1.15pm, Sunday)
Exploring the kind of genre mix that is becoming the hallmark of the very best Irish music these days, Feather’s Afro neo soul is a thing of exquisite beauty.
Rusangano Family (Body & Soul Stage – 3.30pm, Sunday)
As you should know by now, there ain’t no party like a Rusangano party and this will be a massive event without a doubt. Don’t be anywhere else.
Sun Kil Moon (Body&Soul stage – 4.45pm, Sunday)
Lovable grouch and razor-sharp Mark Kozelek puts on something of an odd performance – a highly talented musician and songwriter, his dry wit and audience engagement is as worth a visit as the tracks he’ll lay out. Probably best to just go and enjoy the experience.
Gold Panda (Midnight Circus – 5.15pm, Sunday)
The live Gold Panda show is a sight to behold. Not because of stage antics or voracious crowd-control, but because Derwin Schlecker has such a mastery over the equipment he uses. MPCs, keys, wires everywhere, the music he makes from a set of boxes is hypnotic and soul-satisfying. Read our recent interview with him here.
Wolf Parade (Body&Soul stage – 7.45pm, Sunday)
Back mercifully from hiatus, the clash of Dan Boeckner’s electropop leanings and Spencer Krug’s left-field piano paths are a hundred times the sum of their (four) parts; cascading rock b-movies, chugging sweaty epics and low-flying tear-stained farewell soundtracks. In their day they tore Whelan’s apart and made certain grown men cry at the grimy and sweeping beauty they eek out of their fairly standard four-piece set up. If you do nothing at Body & Soul but sit in a hot tub, and you enjoy a look at the other side of a rock/pop coin get out of your tub for this.