Fun Lovin’ Criminals – Main Stage
Huey Morgan is one smooth, smooth man. The first main stage act of Oxegen Festival 2011’s front man can entertain an entire field of people with nothing more than some comic on-screen facial expressions. Of course, Fun Lovin’ Criminals are about far more than that, and their eclectic take on New York life delivered in Huey’s unique, silky, bordering on spoken word style has something for everyone. Early single ‘Scooby Snacks’ is, as always, the highlight, and FLC are certainly not afraid to trawl the more aged end of their back catalogue, with ‘King Of New York’ and band theme tune ‘The Fun Lovin’ Criminal’ also given an airing. Suited and booted, Huey and drummer Frank Benbini close their set by running on and off stage egging on a crowd that’s baying for just one more track. It doesn’t come, but FLC’s raucous brand of hip hop meets funk certainly opens the festival in style.
Readers Wives – 2FM / Hot Press Academy
Dubliners Readers Wives are still very much a regional name, and take their Oxegen chance well on the Hot Press stage. Channelling The Smiths and clad in trench coats, the indie four-piece come across as alluringly moody and lyrically witty. There’s a moment or two when getting the substantial audience to wave their hands from side to side becomes a bit too much of a focus, but who can blame them: local acts get precious few chances to impress at mainstream festivals, and all for all the dingily witty lyrics, Readers Wives – static but instrumentally impressive – certainly make the most of theirs. One to watch out for.
Cherri Bomb – 2FM / Hot Press Academy
Cherri Bomb, on the other hand, seem a little lost, both in terms of fitting in with the rest of the bill, and their actual location. The all-girl punk band’s lead singer Julia thanks ‘Dublin’ throughout their set, but it’s easy to forgive her geographical issues when the pierced, leather-clad rockers are so impressively boisterous and make such an alluring racket. This isn’t for the faint hearted: Cherri Bomb are a proper no-holds-barred style punk-rock noise merchant. They sound a lot like The Donnas after they graduated high school, discovered biker bars, whiskey, boys with too many tattoos, and got dumped on the eve of their prom. Sometimes those guitars seem absolutely all over the place, but there’s a nice rhythm poking through the mayhem. We wouldn’t like to meet them in a dark alleyway, but they’re certainly worth a listen.
All Time Low – Main Stage
All Time Low, on the other hand, probably aren’t. Perhaps we just weren’t in the mood for such shenanigans after Cherri Bomb demonstrated how heavy music should be done a few minutes earlier, but All Time Low come across as Blink 182-lite, lyrically churlish and catchy only insofar as they can clearly write a decent riff. On the plus side, they do perform with a relentless energy, hopping, skipping and jumping their way through a set that – should you choose to dance along – has a strong redeeming feature in its role as a wakeup call. They’re pretty boys who play guitars, so they’ll be fine.
Photo by Peter Neill.