Fes­ti­val fit

Three fes­ti­vals ev­ery week for a year. Mark Gra­ham digs sea­side rock

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FUN& GAMES -

A re­cent fes­ti­val sold it­self as be­ing the last fes­ti­val of the year. Would ya g’way outta that! There mightn’t be any large com­mer­cial be­he­moths this side of silly sea­son, but as the evenings get darker, fes­ti­vals around the coun­try get quirkier.

Dublin Bur­lesque Fes­ti­val is high­lighted and un­der­lined on my cal­en­dar for the mid­dle of this month, purely for the cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence. Novem­ber also sees the Ir­ish wing of the Burn­ing Man posse throw a smaller and chill­ier but sim­i­larly spir­ited sis­ter shindig in Tul­lam­ore.

Other Voices will be filmed in Din­gle in three weeks’ time and the crowd be­hind this pro­duc­tion have built the event into a highly en­joy­able fes­ti­val by adding some gigs around the town and pip­ing in the sound and vi­su­als from St James’s to big screens in wa­ter­ing holes dot­ted around An Daingean.

It’s eas­ier to find a vir­gin in Clon­mel than it is to get into the gig in the chapel, but some pun­ters get lucky and the Co Tipp town ain’t all bad ei­ther.

Those smaller and spe­cial­ist fes­ti­vals that tend to pop up at this time of year get more chance to breathe with­out be­ing choked out of the mar­ket by mon­ster spon­sored ses­sions. These niche gath­er­ings are of­ten where larger fes­ti­vals get some of their more in­ter­est­ing sideshows.

It would be no shock to catch a speaker from Kilke­nomics on the Won­der­lust stage at Body and Soul or to see a trad act from Spirit of Folk set the Fes­ti­val of the Fires stage alight. Get­ting out to some spe­cial­ist fes­ti­vals is like fol­low­ing mi­nor and club hurl­ing teams; once the tal­ent makes it through to the se­nior ranks you can al­ways say you saw the lat­est All-Star play­ing Ju­nior B in mid-win­ter mud.

Brag­ging rights to hav­ing seen an act be­fore they go stel­lar isn’t the only at­trac­tion and God knows the peo­ple who go on about that kind of shite would give you oigher. The over­all ex­pe­ri­ence of some smaller fes­ti­vals is its own re­ward.


Sea­side Jump rock­a­billy fes­ti­val in Tramore, Co Waterford last week­end was a good ex­am­ple of this.

Take a small sea­side town near hi­ber­na­tion. Bus in a co­hort of Teddy Boys and glammed-up girls in vin­tage clob­ber. Place them in front of bois­ter­ous bands from Ger­many, Hol­land, the UK and Ire­land. Bang out a some blis­ter­ing rock’n’roll and what you get is a bizarre rau­cous and rol­lick­ing time warp that is as en­joy­able to watch, as it is to jump into the thick of.

The rock­ers came from all over Ire­land and the UK to quiff and quaff in the salty air.

The charm of this event wasn't just the style and neck tat­toos, it was how ap­pre­cia­tive the mayor of the town was in wel­com­ing the crowd be­fore he cut the rib­bon. It was lo­cals join­ing the ravers for early af­ter­noon jive lessons, it was how much fun the rock­ers had cut­ting a rug and revved-up tunes that roared through the night like a souped up Mer­cury.

Gene Vin­cent would have been proud. This was niche, but it was nice.

For some bal­ance I watched an over­draft of economists take to the stage last Sun­day night for the fi­nal gig/show/talk/lec­ture at the hugely suc­cess­ful and mostly sold out Kilke­nomics.

I was dig­ging the pre­sen­ta­tion, but hav­ing been ear­lier taught how to jive by a per­ox­ide blonde lady with In­dian ink spi­der webs tat­tooed d on her knuck­les, it seemed just a lit­tle tame. I was start­ing to drift when David McWil­liams sug­gested Ire­land be­come a cen­tre for host­ing in­ter­na­tional fes­ti­vals. “Fes­ti­vals are an ob­vi­ous in­come gen­er­a­tor from some­thing we do quite well,” he said.

I’ve been on the road so long that McWil­liams is start­ing to make sense. He makes a good point, but in the mean­time I sug­gest seek­ing out fes­ti­vals that fo­cus on gen­er­at­ing en­joy­ment.

Safe trav­els, don’t die.

❙❙❙ ayearoffes­ti­valsinire­land.com


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