Get the tent out of the attic. Get the wellies out of the shed. Locate the denim cut-offs. It’s time to party. Jim Carroll on the Irish festivals coming to a field near you
YOU KNOW the Irish summer is on its way when lists like this appear. Between now and the end of September, there are music festivals and outdoor shows happening almost every single week trying to attract you, your wallet and your wellies.
This summer, it’s not just the weather and those over-used wallets , though, that will decide attendances at events. There’s also Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine and the Olympics in London to divert attention from live music. However, such competition hasn’t stopped promoters from plying their wares and having a go.
There are some notable absentees from this year’s calendar. For starters there’s no sign of Oxegen. The Punchestown festival is taking a break this year, though few expect it to return in the same format or at the same site again. Last year’s Oxegen was tired and boring – a rejig was long overdue. Instead, promoter MCD is hoping Oxegen fans will splash out on a trio of shows at the Phoenix Park with The Stone Roses, Swedish House Mafia and Snow Patrol topping the bills.
Up to 10 days ago, Summer Sessions would have been on this list, but problems delivering deposits to high-profile acts such as The Human League and The Stranglers and a lack of advance ticket sales scuppered the proposed threeday bash at Dublin’s Iveagh Gardens. It’s a warning to newbie promoters of the perils of putting on a festival while the recession shows no signs of abating. Sadly, there are other festivals listed here that will undoubtedly run into similar financial difficulties this summer.
What is pleasing to see, though, is the return of events such as Sea Sessions, Castlepalooza, Indiependence, Knockanstockan and Body & Soul. There may be a notable public shift away from the big come-allye – Oxegen’s disappearance has as much to do with reduced box-office appeal as anything else – but there’s a corresponding growth in smaller, niche festivals. These events know their audiences and their musical likes and dislikes and book their events accordingly. That these festivals come back year in, year out is to be ap
plauded. Here’s what lies ahead on the Irish festival and gigging agenda over the next couple of months. We’ll see you out
there. Bellurgan Park, Dundalk, Co Louth, May 4-6. Weekend tickets ¤89, day tickets ¤40
God is an Astronaut, Cathy Davey, Frankie Gavin & De Dannan, The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock, Le Galaxie, Original Rudeboys, Ham Sandwich. Friendly fest in a smashing part of the country, which welcomes folks with and without camper vans. Various venues, May 4-7 Tickets ¤10-¤20 depending on act. Alabama Shakes, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, Amanda Shires, Willy Vlautin/richard Buckner, Rod Picott, Charlie Parr, Dan Baird & Homemade Sin. The festival that has been providing choice Americana and roots fare since 1998 in the Marble City. T13, Belfast, June 1-2. Weekend tickets £66, day ticket £39 New Order, Happy Mondays, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Factory Floor, Anna Calvi, Ghostpoet, Errors. excited gentlemen of a certain age will be gushing over the Happy Mondays and New Order playing within sight of the old Harland & Wolff gantry cranes. Killinchy, Co Down, June 1-3. Weekend camping £35, Saturday £20 Mojo Fury, Not Squares, Mmoths, Fighting with Wire, Lafaro, Jogging, Squarehead, RSAG, Tieranniesaur. More than 1,500 giddy music fans turned up for last year’s event and organisers expect even more for this year’s fifth iteration of the festival with the coolest name of all.