The sound of Ohio’s bluesy The Black Keys were the first band many encountered on Oxegen Friday. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney’s blues-rock is the perfect festival starter, giving the assembled punters something to sing ‘na-na-na-na’ along to early when new song ‘Howlin’ For You’ is played. The set draws heavily from their latest and best work to date, Brothers, which refine their standard rocking blues riffs and fuzz-pedal usage. Sadly, there is no material from Blakroc, the band’s earlier album this year which features rappers like Raekwon, Mos Def and Ludacris (now that’s an album we’d love to see live). For only two people, they make an impressive racket (though a friend does help out on bass for a few songs) but were dwarfed a little by the main stage requirements. Next time, we hope they play somewhere more enclosed.
Over at the Red Bull Academy Stage, the poor ‘aul Canadian band Memoryhouse were given the unenviable task of even attracting people into their 4pm tent performance. The last thing you want to hear at a festival in the first couple of hours is some chillwave shoegaze music and people clearly voted with their feet as only 30 people sporadically filled up the tent to watch. The trio tried their best, asking, almost pleading people outside to wander in but in truth, there wasn’t a lot to hold them when they got there but some relaxed vibes and it’s way too early for that. Memoryhouse singer Denise Nouvion shuffles about awkwardly on stage and that’s about all we can muster too. Another time maybe Memoryhouse.
Over at the 2FM / Hot Press Academy Stage, Lissie is having no such problems. The sandy-haired Illinois singer is having a great time on her first visit to Ireland and the tent was bopping along from the start. Lissie’s voice is key to her appeal – a magnetic crystal-clear voice which recalls Joni Mitchell at times. It’s a little bit country with a Southern drawl that sounds mighty when mixed up with the band’s folk-rock arrangements. Lissie is very likable – clearly humbled that people know her music, never mind that they sing along to it. She’s got that ’60s hippy chick charm too and you imagine she’s the kind of singer/musician that gives guitar-playing teenage girls something to aspire to. It matters little that some of her songs are radio-friendly MOR numbers when her energy is so darn infectious.