After a ridiculously easy entry to the Punchestown site from State mansions in downtown Dublin we arrive with one minute to go to launch and manage to wind our way through strange cocktail stalls and Europop-blaring amusements over to the O2 stage to catch local openers FUTURE KINGS OF SPAIN. The wind is playing havoc with the sound and small gusts are throwing the sound away and then suddenly back to us. There’s a solid crowd of eager fans up the front really throwing all into it. It’s likely that these are the rainsoaked campers who arrived on Thursday, baying for some loud guitar. They’re in the right spot. Songs from their debut album still pack a merry punch, They are definitely trying to lift the grey wet-dry-wet weather and -Venetian Blinds’ is still fresh as ever. The glorious -Upside Down’ loses a little immediacy outside the containment of a sweaty room but the hardcore up the front are still lapping it up. Joey Wilson rasps his way through, well, everything. Live, his voice is only getting rawer though he is fighting a wavering sound in a big field today. The first singalong is reserved for -Sweetest Sound’ and they give us a send off in the shape of a new song.
On a completely unrelated note, what is it about festivals that makes it ok to wear hot pants and wellies? Don’t get us wrong, State has no problem with either garment per se. Even worn together, it’d be fine if we lived in tropical climes, where each outdoor event was a sun-kissed affair, but the sight of so many blue, goose-bumped legs in one place is enough to make even the hardiest soul feel the chill. And don’t get us started on the fake tan. Kate Moss has a lot to answer for.
Over in the Green Room tent, BELLX1 take to the stage for their first gig on home turf in around a year. The familiar Flock backdrop is draped over the back of the stage, but on the evidence of tonight’s show, it might not be too long before the Bellies’ live home is festooned with a whole new wallpaper. Sandwiched in between some of the old favourites were two brand new songs, ‘How Your Heart Is Wired’ and ‘The Great Defector’: the first a slow-burning slice of melancholy, dripping with gorgeous electronica, the latter a potential single-in-waiting, all insistent synths and driving rhythms. On the evidence of these two, their fourth opus could take Team Belly in some new, interesting directions. Other highlights included the gorgeous opener, ‘Bad Skin Day’, which segued seamlessly into Don Henley’s ‘Boys Of Summer’, the rambunctious ‘Flame’ and the mass singalongs of ‘Rocky Took A Lover’ and ‘I’ll See Your Heart’, which closed the first night @ the Green Room with sloppy smiles and arms in the air.
Half twelve, Friday night, buzz band of the moment – all is surely set for WHITE DENIM to provide one of those festival moments. Watching them mess it up so spectacularly then is utterly bemusing. It doesn’t help that they get off to a classic bad start. Moving from a noodling sound check straight into their first number without a word and a full ten minutes before their announced stage time (and thus to a virtually empty New Bands tent) is not exactly making a big entrance. It’s a punishing experience, not helped by a head crunchingly bad sound that plunges their already chaotic stylings into a pure mess. On record they always threaten to turn into the worst band you’ve ever heard but manage to take a sudden turn into something startling. Tonight they keep going straight ahead. One of those other festival moments.
Reports: John Walshe, Simon Roche and Phil Udell.
Photos (by James Goulden)
Fans on Day One
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