JIM CAR­ROLL’S GUIDE TO THE BEST MU­SIC FES­TI­VALS OF THE SUM­MER

Jim Car­roll runs through the best 25 out-and-about mu­sic events of the sum­mer – and this year, ev­ery shade of fan­dom is catered for

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FRONT PAGE -

Be­tween now and Septem­ber, a weekend will not pass with­out a fes­ti­val or big mu­sic show of some stripe or other to tempt you with its wares. The big ones, the small ones, the artsy ones, the hip­ster ones, the com­mu­nity ones and the ones with the cow­boys: the choice is yours.

For about 400,000 people, this will be the sum­mer of the stet­son. Un­like the Kilkenny hurlers, Garth Brooks suc­ceeded with his drive for five, and that run of sold-out shows at Dublin’s Croke Park is one for the record books as he bet­ters One Di­rec­tion and U2.

Leav­ing friends in low places to one side, the sheer quan­tity of out­door events hap­pen­ing in the com­ing months is stag­ger­ing. We have be­come a fes­ti­val repub­lic, a na­tion who’ve taken to gig­ging in the open air with great gusto over the past decade, re­gard­less of the pre­vail­ing weather con­di­tions.

Yet caveats come with the width and depth of events on the cal­en­dar. The dis­ap­pear­ance of Ox­e­gen points to the fact that even fes­ti­vals with long, fa­bled his­to­ries can’t rest on their lau­rels. In the case of Ox­e­gen, a mix­ture of chang­ing mar­ket taste, care­less­ness and hubris did for it in the end.

Then, we must re­mem­ber this fes­ti­val repub­lic is also an aus­ter­ity na­tion. The money to pay for a bank­ing col­lapse had to come from some­where. Those ex­tra taxes and charges foisted on cit­i­zens have had a knock-on ef­fect on dis­pos­able in­come, both for the would-be gig-go­ers and, in the case of younger mu­sic fans, their par­ents.

Fes­ti­vals and out­door shows are also sub­ject to the laws of sup­ply and de­mand. We’ve be­come used to see­ing packed sum­mer sched­ules, but the past few years have taken this to new ex­tremes. With the ex­cep­tion of metal fans, who are al­ways dis­en­fran­chised when it comes to Ir­ish fes­ti­vals, ev­ery shade of mu­sic fan­dom is catered for.

This means rep­e­ti­tion in terms of line-ups (you’d be for­given for think­ing Nile Rodgers and his band have moved here). The same Ir­ish acts of a cer­tain level ap­pear on fes­ti­val bills all over the place and through­out the sum­mer.

The quan­tity of events is good news for fans, but it means sleep­less nights for pro­mot­ers, who are loath to ad­mit this. It’s im­pos­si­ble to find pro­mot­ers who will state pub­licly that they’ve got thou­sands of tick­ets to sell for their cursed event be­cause of the pub­lic’s new-found pen­chant for last-minute pur­chas­ing. In­stead, they grin and bear it – and put up more posters and buy more ads and watch their phones anx­iously for calls from the bank man­ager.

So, enough pre­am­ble, on with the show. Here are the 25 events and fes­ti­vals we’re giv­ing the thumbs-up to this sum­mer.

FOR­BID­DEN FRUIT

Royal Hospi­tal Kil­main­ham, Dublin, May 31st-June 1st A city fes­ti­val that com­bines long­stand­ing acts (Flam­ing Lips, Pub­lic En­emy, 2 Many DJs), ever­green Ir­ish favourites (Bell X1), in­die scene stars (Warpaint) and the in­ter­est­ing names of the mo­ment (Lit­tle Dragon, Thun­der­cat, Klangkarus­sell). “Com­edy, fine food and fes­ti­val fun” are the ad­ver­tised ex­tras. for­bid­den­fruit.ie

DOWN WITH JAZZ

Meet­ing House Square, Dublin, May 31st-June 1st Now in its third year, it takes its ti­tle from the colourful anti-jazz move­ment of the 1930s, which held sway in cer­tain parts of ru­ral Ire­land, and has a bit of crack with it. A fine gath­er­ing of Ir­ish jazz and blues per­form­ers, acts not to miss this year in­clude DFF (com­pos- er Dave Flynn’s any­thing-goes col­lec­tive) and the out­ra­geously tal­ented En­sem­ble Ériu. down­with­jazz.ie

LIVE AT THE MAR­QUEE

Cork, June 29th-July 15th Cork’s long-run­ning pop-up sum­mer venue re­turns with an­other run of acts ca­pa­ble of en­tic­ing a crowd to the 5,000-ca­pac­ity big top, in­clud­ing Pix­ies (June 30th), The Prodigy (July 2nd), Brian Wil­son (July 4th) and Lana Del Rey (July 15th). aiken­pro­mo­tions.com

BODY & SOUL

Ballinlough Cas­tle, Co West­meath, June 20th-22nd. One of the real stars of the Ir­ish fes­ti­val scene in re­cent times, Body & Soul has got things right, with both acts and am­bi­ence. Per­form­ers to pull the cognoscenti to the mid­lands next month in­clude John Grant, Cari­bou, Jon

Hop­kins, Of Mon­treal, Mount Kim­bie and Jessy Lanza. bodyand­soul.ie

EL­BOW

Live at the Mar­quee, Cork (June 24th); Royal Hospi­tal Kil­main­ham, Dublin (June 25th) You know that af­ter these shows YouTube will be clut­tered with shaky videos of the band do­ing A Day Like This. Aside from the clas­sics, you can ex­pect Guy Gar­vey and his sea­soned mob to fea­ture tunes from cur­rent al­bum, The Take Off and Land­ing Of Ev­ery­thing. el­bow.co.uk

SEA SES­SIONS

Bun­do­ran, Co Done­gal, June 27th-29th Sea, surf and sounds are the Done­gal fes­ti­val’s big call­ing-cards, and they’ve gained the trust of a size­able com­mu­nity of mu­sic fans over the past few years. We’d hap­pily surf to the north­west to see Kelis, Lon­nie Lis­ton Smith, Ella Eyre, Flight Fa­cil­i­ties, Drenge and Erol Alkan. You can also check out what The Strypes are like two years af­ter their break­through. seases­sions.com

WEST­PORT FES­TI­VAL OF MU­SIC AND FOOD

West­port House, Co Mayo, June 28th & 29th As you’d ex­pect from a fes­ti­val with both mu­sic and food in the ti­tle, as many chefs as drum­mers fea­ture on the line-up. On the mu­sic side: David Gray, Kool & The Gang, Bryan Adams, Lit­tle Green Cars, Ti­nari­wen, Bell X1, Daithi, Sophie El­lis-Bex­tor and the Kil­fenora Céilí Band. And in food: Da­rina Allen, Ross Lewis, Neven Maguire, Rachel Allen and Clodagh McKenna. west­port­fes­ti­val.com

AR­CADE FIRE

Mar­lay Park, Dublin, June 29th They’ll be plug­ging last year’s am­bi­tious Re­flek­tor al­bum, but those still go­ing on about see­ing them at Elec­tric Pic­nic in 2005 can re­lax, as the more sea­soned clas­sics should also surely fea­ture. ar­cade­fire.com

THE NA­TIONAL

Live at the Mar­quee, Cork (July 14th); Big Top, Galway (15th); Iveagh Gar­dens, Dublin (18th & 19th) An­other band who en­joy a strong affin­ity with Ir­ish au­di­ences, The Na­tional’s four Ir­ish sum­mer shows are proof that the long game works. It might have taken them five al­bums to be­come overnight sen­sa­tions, but they’ve res­o­lutely stuck to their guns rather than go­ing for the quick fix. amer­i­can­mary.com

GROOVE FES­TI­VAL

Kil­rud­dery, Co Wick­low, July 5th & 6th Hav­ing ar­rived on the scene last year, Groove showed that there’s al­ways room for an­other event, es­pe­cially one just on the out­skirts of the cap­i­tal. Acts this time around in­clude David Gray, Paloma Faith, James, Cathy Davey, Paul Heaton & Jac­qui Ab­bott and Big Septem­ber. groove­fes­ti­val.ie

ARC­TIC MON­KEYS

Mar­lay Park, Dublin, July 12th Last year’s AM al­bum showed that no one comes close to the Arc­tic Mon­keys in de­liv­er­ing sleek, tough, au­di­ence-friendly arena rock. It helps, too, that Alex Turner ap­pears to have bor­rowed a lot of his on­stage tics and man­ner­isms from fel­low Sh­effield man Richard Haw­ley. The only rock band you need to see this sum­mer. arcticmonkeys.com

KANYE WEST

Mar­lay Park, Dublin, July 2nd You prob­a­bly didn’t get an in­vite to the wed­ding ei­ther but you are in­vited to (buy a ticket for) Mar­lay Park. It’s Ye’s big­gest show to date in Ire­land, but he has stel­lar com­pany in Phar­rell “Happy” Wil­liams to help shift tick­ets. Sup­port from ORB. kanyewest.com

LCS

Paulstown, Co Kilkenny, July 4th & 5th It’s al­ways good to see some new ar­rivals on the scene so hello Light Colour Sound. A huge line-up of acts are set to play, in­clud­ing Cathy Davey, Scroobius Pip vs Dan Le Sac, Wal­lis Bird, Jape, Clive Barnes, Jerry Fish, Come On Live Long, O Em­peror, The Raglans and more. Bonus fea­ture: a full-on fun­fair. light­colour­sound­fes­ti­val.com

LON­GI­TUDE

Mar­lay Park, Dublin, July 18th-20th Last year, the sun shone for Lon­gi­tude’s de­but and all raved about what was the line-up of the sum­mer. Things are a lit­tle more muted this time around, al­though we’re look­ing for­ward to Mas­sive At­tack, Dis­clo­sure, Haim, Rudi­men­tal and James Vin­cent McMor­row. lon­gi­tude.ie

GARTH­BROOKS

Croke Park, Dublin, July 25-29 As we’ll see with to­day’s elec­tion re­sults, 400,000 people can be wrong, but rather you than me when it comes to ar­gu­ing with these coun­try mu­sic fans. It’s a mind-bog­gling piece of busi­ness and, yes, we’re con­cen­trat­ing on the busi­ness so we don’t have to write about the mu­sic. Or the hats. garth­brooks.com

KNOCK­AN­STOCKAN

Bless­ing­ton, Co Wick­low, July 25th & 26th One of the best lit­tle fes­ti­vals in the land, Knock­an­stockan makes great use of a fan­tas­tic site over­look­ing the lakes and a strong com­mu­nity vibe. Acts con­firmed in­clude Booka Brass Band, The Eskies, I Draw Slow, The Hot Sprock­ets and Tan­dem Felix. knock­an­stockan.ie

MOUNTAINDEW FES­TI­VAL

Mac­room, Co Cork, July 25th Billed as a “a lit­tle fes­ti­val in the coun­try­side”, the Moun­tain Dew fes­ti­val draws a crowd of cu­ri­ous mu­sic-seek­ers to the O’Herlihy fam­ily’s back gar­den. Acts on the bill this year’s in­clude the ex­cel­lent Ta­los, Slow Skies, Farewell JR, Conor Walsh, Oliver Cole and more. See face­book.com for de­tails

CASTLEPALOOZA

Charleville Cas­tle, Tul­lam­ore, Co Of­faly, Au­gust 1st-3rd One of the coun­try’s finest small fes­ti­vals continues to draw a crowd of happy pun­ters be­cause of great at­ten­tion to de­tail. This year’s mu­sic-mak­ers in­clude Gruff Rhys, We Cut Cor­ners, Sum­mer Camp, We Were Ever­green, Dan Croll and some ster­ling DJs in the form of Gilles Peter­son, Andy Weather­all and Nor­man Jay. castlepalooza.com

INDIEPENDENCE

Mitchel­stown, Cork, Au­gust 1st-3rd Firmly es­tab­lished, this one pulls ’em in with a strong book­ing pol­icy of prime lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional names. Fans of White Lies, Tom Odell, Hozier, Deloren­tos, Dan Croll, The Min­utes, Fun Lovin’ Crim­i­nals and Damien Dempsey will want to check this one out. in­diepen­dence­fes­ti­val.com

FLEADH CHEOIL

Sligo, Au­gust 10th-17th Af­ter last year’s tri­umphant visit to Derry, the big­gest tra­di­tional mu­sic fes­ti­val in the world heads to Sligo for a week of con­certs, ses­sions and work­shops. Ex­pect trad masters, ap­pren­tices and and gen­eral good times.

flead­hcheoil.ie

BEL­SONIC Cus­tom House Square, Belfast, Au­gust 15th-22nd Bel­sonic has long been the smart choice for those look­ing for a cool city fest with a de­cent line-up. High­lights this year should in­clude Ex­am­ple (Au­gust 15th), Queens of the Stone Age (20th) and Imag­ine Drag­ons (22th). bel­sonic.com

TEN­NENT’S VI­TAL

Boucher Play­ing Fields, Belfast, Au­gust 21st-24th Book­ended with The Killers and Bastille on the 21st and David Guetta with Steve An­gello on the 24th, Vi­tal is set­ting out its stall with verve for this city fes­ti­val. ten­nentsvi­tal.com

SUN­FLOW­ER­FEST

Tubby’s Farm, Hills­bor­ough, Au­gust 2 2nd-25th A fes­ti­val grow­ing in rep­u­ta­tion ev­ery year, Sun­flow­er­fest is about more than just mu­sic. Fam­ily-friendly at­trac­tions in­clude sto­ry­telling, po­etry and art, dance and mu­sic work­shops. For mu­sic fans, the line-up in­cludes The Bar­ley Mob, Chelsea Cham­bers, King Kong Com­pany, The Hot Sprock­ets and Scor­pion Jack. sun­flow­er­fest.co.uk

ELEC­TRIC PIC­NIC

Strad­bally, Co Laois, Au­gust 29th-31st The big daddy of them all. The Pic­nic turns 10 this year – as in, it’s 10 years since the first one as op­posed to last year’s fake 10th birth­day – and is set for this next decade with Fes­ti­val Repub­lic firmly in charge of things. You know what’s in­volved at this stage so let’s hope for sea­son-defin­ing sets from Por­tishead, OutKast, Beck, Pet Shop Boys, Kelis, St Vin­cent and the hun­dreds of oth­ers head­ing for Strad­bally. elec­tricpic­nic.ie

SPIRIT OF FOLK

Dun­derry, Co Meath, Septem­ber 19th-21st The fes­ti­val took last year off, but re­turns for 2014 with a two-day wham-bam of mu­sic and other ac­tiv­i­ties. Acts yet to be an­nounced, but you can ex­pect such side at­trac­tions as sto­ry­telling, bat­tle re-en­act­ments, tours to lo­cal his­toric sites, holis­tic ther­a­pies and child-friendly en­ter­tain­ment. spir­itof­folk.com

THE NA­TIONAL

HAIM

KELIS

FUN LOVIN CRIM­I­NALS

DAVID GREY

ARC­TIC MON­KEYS

PUB­LIC EN­EMY

LANA DEL REY

CATHY DAVEY

BRYAN ADAMS

KANYE WEST

EL­BOW

KOOL AND THE GANG

MAS­SIVE AT­TACK

PET SHOP BOYS

OUTKAST

POR­TISHEAD

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