One bank holiday, three major festivals. But with Oxegen in the throws of reinvention, it was left to Indiependence and Castlepalooza (review coming later today) to cater to indie fans. It wasn’t exclusively guitar-driven, however. Sure, Sargent House had their own stage, which our own Niamh Hegarty found herself camped out by on Friday, but there was some diversity, with the likes of headliners De La Soul (pictured), beatboxer Beardyman and the good folks of Le Galaxie putting off work on a new album in favour of putting in another great festival performance. Here’s what our writers thought…
Beardyman – Maxol Big Top, Saturday
After a disappointing illness claimed his appearance last year, Beardyman (Darren Foreman) arrives with a point to prove. Approaching his set with a mind towards improvisation, there is certainly plenty to make up for 2012’s no-show. We’re given material from I Done a Album and plenty more that goes unrecognised but is still easy to appreciate appreciated. His taste is as vast and diverse as his resumé and with the promise of four EPs, one of which will contain “singer-songwriter-y stuff”. Beardyman’s repertoire is about to become a lot more unusual. (Mark Roche)
Bell X1 – Canadian Main Stage, Saturday
The anticipation for this performance has been palpable since arrival at Deer Farm. A band that has never rested on their laurals and have pushed the boat out as far as ever with their most recent album, Chop Chop, Bell X1 perform one of their most memorable festival sets in recent memory. Following a smattering of the old and new, they finish on ‘Rocky Took a Lover’ in a glimmering and beautiful crescendo. For a band that could easily play a ‘Geatest Hits’ show and please the masses, there’s something inspiring about a band that test themselves and stretch their old material to new limits. (MR)
Bosnian Rainbows – Sargent House/Maxol Big Top, Friday
You might remember a seminal punk band called At the Drive-In; they disbanded and formed the Grammy Award-winning the Mars Volta. Their main songwriter Omar Rodriguez Lopez went on to form Bosnian Rainbows last year. Aside from Omar, Bosnian Rainbow’s line–up also features legendary drummer Deantoni Parks. So how is it that Irish fans are standing (quite literally) in a field in Mitchelstown on a rainy Friday evening, waiting to see such a line–up? It’s a testament to how incredibly powerful the Irish independent scene is and how active Sargent House have been here.
There is a generous crowd for the quartet. Teri Suarez aka Teri Gender Bender is at the forefront of the band; she has her own act, Le Butcherettes, and at just 24, she’s quite young and inexperienced in comparison to the musicians she’s performing with tonight. This is meant as a compliment. Suarez is on fire, as much as one might admire Omar for his musicianship and Deantoni for his impeccable drumming, Teri’s performance overshadows the two of them. She is so magnetic, she stares intensely at the crowd, holding your gaze and literally reeling fans in. In this instance, the music becomes quite secondary to Teri’s performance. Not to undermine it, even though the bands are incredible, as elite as you can get it, in fact, but they fall into the background at times.
Perhaps this is intentional as it almost feels like they’re content in being her backing band. A few suggest that without Suarez there wouldn’t be a whole lot to Bosnian Rainbows. That’s possibly a little harsh, but she does know how hold the audience. In Suarez you see hints of some of the greats – Patti Smith, Björk, PJ Harvey to name a few. It’s an electrifying performance. (Niamh Hegarty)
De La Soul – Canadian Main Stage, Friday
The stage is set for our first headliner, the weather has held out and one of the most important hip-hop acts of all-time leap out from behind stage. For such big men, De La Soul have an awful amount of energy and I for one was surprised with how long they held the crowd. The set is old-school hip-hop entertainment at its best; arms are held into the sky as ‘Stakes is High’ and ‘The Magic Number’ are played. As the night wears on, only one strong track remains; ‘Me, Myself and I’ was always going to be the highlight for those less well versed in De La History and an extended rendition finishes the night in classic record-scratching style. (MR)
Funeral for a Friend – Canadian Main Stage, Friday
Touring their recently released record Conduit has proven that Funeral For a Friend have vastly changed their sound since their early days. Looking among the fresh-faced adolescents wrapped around the barrier, one soon realises that many are too young to remember this band circa 2003 and have to accept that to this generation, FfaF are a completely different incarnation of post-hardcore rockers. Better than expected but disappointing nonetheless, it seems as though they are dwarfed by the sheer size of the stage; during the last few years of downtime they have probably seen a fair share of smaller venues that they are more suited to now – their last visit to Cork reported a fantastic set in Cyprus Avenue. (MR)
Hudson Taylor – Maxol Big Top Stage, Sunday
Brothers Harry and Alfie Hudson-Taylor bring their folk-infused pop to a Big Top crowd on Sunday evening. The peripheries of the tent are occupied with those avoiding the rain – yet to be converted by the harmonious fraternal folk. The lack of any shimmer from the stage is endearing and the stripped-back of their productions nature suit the writing. The disparate setlist allows a fair amount of room for slow-paced ballads and lively jig-inducing numbers. Tracks such as ‘World Without You’, ‘Cinematic Lifestyle’ and ‘Care’ all persuade even those searching for shelter. (MR)
King Kong Company – Maxol Big Top Stage, Saturday
King Kong Company make music to destroy dancefloors. A veritable mix ‘n’ match of dance beats, reggae vibes and rock licks, this is a group that knows how to put on an incredible live show. The bar is raised right from the start, and it isn’t lowered once throughout the set. Extra band members pop onto the stage like a game of Whac-a-Mole, each one bringing a new instrument or a new voice to the mix.
Not ones to be daunted by an already crowded stage, KKC also feature an incredibly talented live dancer – sporting different headgear for each track, from afro-ape mask to cardboard box. With the epic beats of ‘IPOP’ and the wanton destruction of ‘Freck’, these are songs you wish you’d known all your life – when you listen to them, you feel like anything could happen. (Kelly O’Brien)
Main image by Miki Barlok.
UPDATE: Mylets performed a cover of U2’s ‘Zoo Station’, not ‘Even Better Than the Real Thing’ as originally stated. This article has been amended to reflect as such.