Early Friday and the first band to play the Red Bull Academy Stage are THE 202s. Luring a small crowd in with sampled kraut beats and ambient noises they gather a smattering of fans up front, while others are just taking refuge from the misty rain that decided to grace us at Oxegen. The main set though is not so much electronic as jangly, harmonica-laden guitar pop. -Ease My Mind’ adds a little sunshine, mellow yet upbeat and a little dreamy. While -Who Cares About Sunshine’ adds a little 60’s melody. The set is strong, lifted entirely of this year’s debut, it show cases a rich and varied range of influences. An impressive start finished with the summer hit -Shoot You Down’, an ebullient pop number that succeeds to get those present into the festival spirit.
GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT find themselves on the Heineken Green Sphere Stage the vast tent that will play host to the likes of Pet Shop Boys and Manic Street Preachers. For an early slot the Wicklow three-piece draw an impressive crowd. All Is Violent, All Is Bright and Far From Refuge are epic post-rock guitar albums with swarming keyboards. Last year’s eponymous album had less ethereal noises and was more hard-hitting, which seems to be the direction they are taking – more hard-rock than post-rock. The only accompanied on stage is an extra percussionist. -Shining Through’ and -No Return’ are deafening and energetic, but the boys are better suited to a later slot on a smaller stage.
A late addition to the line-up, JAPE was slotted in as a special guest on the Red Bull Academy Stage, which may account for the relatively low numbers – considering he has won a Meteor and sold out Vicar Street and The Button Factory. Richie remains in flying form and is friendly as ever, running through souped up versions of -Christopher and Anthony’ and -I Was A Man’, complete with extra samples and programmed beats. Expectedly -Floating’ raises the roof and then he’s gone.