All links, where possible go to the 2FM recording of that set.
Saturday begins early with a decent fry-up courtesy of the artist area. The reason for the early rising is to catch SUPER EXTRA BONUS PARTY open the Electric Arena at 1pm. Last year’s late addition produced a stunning opener at the Bodytonic Stage at the ridiculously early slot at noon so this year, it was up to them once again to attract an audience to the main area along with THE FLAWS. The band needn’t have worried as the couple of hundred they were expected turned into a 3,000 strong crowd who enjoyed three new songs and three old songs culminating in the rock and roll freakout blast of a new song called ‘Eamonn’.
Later on, I catch 15 minutes each of MIDNIGHT JUGGERNAUTS, ANTIBALAS, HALVES and CATHY DAVEY. MIDNIGHT JUGGERNAUTS were great, upbeat live electro while ANTIBALAS took too long to get warmed up to actual songs yet their rendition of ‘Beaten Metal’ with its off-kilter horn riff is still astonishing. HALVES burrow in the same territory as last night’s Icelandic headliners but their sound is less reliant on crescendo and more interested in intricate melody and the mixing of strings, autoharp, percussion, guitars and vocals which they do wonderfully to create some beautiful moments. CATHY DAVEY meanwhile has the crowd spilling out of the Crawdaddy Stage with hundreds standing outside trying to catch a glimpse at the set. It’s one of the only times this weekend where I take advantage of my pass and watch a few songs from the side of stage instead. It sounds really good and the crowd are quietly taking in the set, rooted to the spot but clearly enjoying it.
Along with some friends, I take the opportunity to check out the BODYTONIC VILLAGE, which is situated through the forest beside a campsite and near the entrance of the car park. The village consists of 2 small, small tents and a main tent which is nowhere near last year’s size. We can’t escape the feeling that Bodytonic were shafted in the layout of the festival with the emphasis on arts relegating them to a sideline attraction. We ponder this, while relaxing outside the Bernard Shaw stage listening to ATTENTION BEBE cover various hits of the ’90s to celebratory effect. After that, its the turn of the almighty rush of THE THINGS who unfortunately play to about 40 people. They are rocking some quality facepaint too. It’s also where I meet an old friend who insists I drink from his hipflask. It’s not the last time of the weekend he insists.
After a beer run, its straight over to JUANA MOLINA who plays to a small but respecting crowd. The Argentinian’s one-person show consists of gathering layers upon layers of harmonious guitar picks and stabs, vocals and keyboard on top of each other. The result is filled with awe and the one new song from the forthcoming Un Dia album is hypnotic and trance-like in its many, many looping layers.
The reverential DAN DEACON is on in the Little Big Tent after Molina and I relish the opportunity to bring friends to lose their Dan Deacon virginity. The first thing he does is get the assembled throng to count down to 1 from 45 but he tells us to skip the “bullshit numbers” from 44-18. Like the Vicar Street show, he attempts the human gauntlet but his crowd participation songs are not helped by the crowd’s unwillingness to obey an unseen performer’s commands due to him being buried in the middle of the crowd and having left his trademark trippy green skull at home. The gauntlet still manages to wrap itself around the stage and back down again. Even though it’s my fourth time seeing his show, it’s still special. We dance, shout at the tops of our collective lungs, hold hands with strangers and smile all the way through ‘Silence like the Wind’ and ‘Wham City’.
Covered in sweat, I return to the tent to change clothes and have a sit-down for a while, which results in my forgetting about GRACE JONES. SANTOGOLD comes calling however and to a packed tent she plays with a full band and two dancers, something I’m very happy about having seen her DJ only footage previously. After 15 minutes of cool moves emanating from the stage, it occurs to me I need to pee so off I go. The tent becomes rammed so the only option is to go to the back of the stage and watch the rest of the show from there. I get distracted and slightly fanboy-ish when I realise that Aidan Gillen aka Tommy Carcetti from The Wire is standing right next to me. And A-Trak is there too. Santogold continues to impress and even does an encore.
I stick around afterwards for DIGITAL MYSTIKZ who have been awesome at the small festivals before but at this more mainstream event, the crowd numbers a couple of hundred in the Little Big Tent. They are playing in complete darkness as well which doesn’t help so I hop over to A-TRAK next door who is getting a much better response.
After a brief meetup with members of the State team, we wander up once again to Body and Soul, where RARELY SEEN ABOVE GROUND is showing off his immense drumming skills accompanying LIAM O’ MAONLAI as part of DONAL DINEEN’S SMALL HOURS show. The amphitheatre is teeming and Dineen introduces a wonderful band of players who play some of the best trad I’ve heard in a long time. After that, bed wasn’t an option so I stayed up all night talking and drinking with some of the people camped nearby. Sunday was going to be a test of endurance.
Super Extra Bonus Party