Indiependence 2016

FRIDAY 29 JULY

It’s that time of year again, August Bank Holiday weekend and the annual pilgrimage to Mitchelstown for the Indiependence Music and Arts Festival. Once the usual unpleasantness of carrying the gear for what seemed like miles through various security gates was over, it was after 7pm, so there was only one thing on my mind, music. I hadn’t time to scrutinise the line up like in previous years but this didn’t worry me too much as there are always some gems to be uncovered at Indiependence.

The first band that i did get to see fully were State Lights at the Big Top stage. The Dublin based, alternative pop 4 piece played in front of a quickly growing crowd ad their frontman in particular was very engaging. The stand out track from State Lights was called ‘Breakout’. Local rock band, Mind Riot took to the Main stage for their first of two planned appearances, one man short, if my memory serves me correctly. Singles ‘Billy Ray’ and ‘I’m So Alone’ were the highlights of their set.

The much fancied Saint Sister were over in the Big Top. Their blend of atmospheric folk and haunting harmonies provided a stark contrast to Mind Riot’s thumping sound. The harp in particular makes Saint Sister stand out from the crowd and after their appearance on the introducing stage at this years Glastonbury, it would appear the world is now watching the duo.

The Strypes

The Strypes: Photo by Adam Ellison

Over at the Main Stage, Cavan four piece The Strypes were oozing confidence by the time I arrived. it was my first time catching them so personally I would have liked to hear some of the older stuff but the crowd certainly were not as bothered. ‘Blue Collar Jayne’ in particular had the crowd pumping. Afterwards at the Big Top, Uk band CC Smugglers were taking to the stage. I am not certain what they where aiming for,  but i fear they missed, spectacularly. This prompted my first trip to the Beer Hall, where I found Cork band, Slow Motion Heroes  already at full tilt; sadly they were only playing to a small crowd but they were in fine form.

Friday night’s main event were Irish trio, Bell X1. Opening with 2 from their back catalogue in ‘The Great Defector’ and ‘Velcro’ it was clear that Bell X1 were not just here to promote the release of their impending 7th studio album ‘Arms’, however they did say they were going to play one or two from it. The gorgeous, new single ‘Upswing’ was the highlight of that new material, closely followed by ‘Out Of Love’.

Lead Singer Paul Noonan took over on the drums for what was possible the highlight of their set, A cover of Bowie’s ‘lets dance’ had the whole tent dancing. Closing out day one on the big top stage were Scottish alt rockers, Idlewild. They had a fairly large crowd but struggled to keep some punters interest. The band sounded very good but it must be said that the lead singer, who stood strangely side on for most of the set couldn’t be heard clearly. Their encore number ‘A Modern Way Of Letting Go’ was excellent.

 

SATURDAY 30 JULY

Day two is here and the new layout onsite seems to be holding up really well despite the additional three thousand revellers.  Opening up the main stage today, in fine style was Cork man, Jack O’Rourke and his band. This was one I had been eagerly looking forward to. His album title track ‘Dreamcatcher’ sounded great and O’Rourke’s voice sounded flawless. A marvelous rendition of the Nina Simone classic ‘Feeling Good’ brought an excellent set to a close. Keeping it Cork over at the Big Top was lesser know, Singer/songwriter James OR.

OR had a six piece band in tow today and they sounded great. Tracks ‘Cartoon’ and ‘Safe and Sound ‘ from his debut EP ‘Cold Open ‘ were the highlights of his impressive set. James OR turned out to be one of those gems I discussed earlier and that wasn’t just my opinion – they got a deserved, rousing applause.

Back on the Main Stage Kilkenny indie-pop band, Neon Wolf were playing to a fairly large crowd for this time of day. The highlight of their  high energy show was single ‘All Of Its Yours ‘.

Brian Deady

Brian Deady

After a mid-evening slump, much fancied Brian Deady took to the main stage. Deady and band played a soulful set with included his break out single ‘Clap Both My Hands’ and the amazing ‘Darkness’. One complaint would be that the set was, far too short, coming in at just a little over 20 minutes in total. Pleasure Beach, who played the Main Stage, were a bit of a let down. A lot of people in the know hold out high hopes for the Belfast outfit, but these never seemed to materialise. A strange (to say the least) cover of Springsteen´s ‘I’m On Fire’ and current single ‘Go’ were the only 2 songs to get any reaction from their audience.

Dubliner’s Barq were playing at the Beer Hall when it was extremely quiet. That didn’t stop them putting on a great show though. Maybe their blend of metal infused with hip hop style lyrics wasn’t for everybody’s taste but their performance deserved a much larger crowd. Limerick band Parliament Square suffered the same fate. A solid performance of confidently played pop songs should have been enjoyed by more. Their cover of ‘Lets Dance’ was sublime. Local boys, Mind Riot, as promised the previous evening were harder and louder with their set in the Beer Hall.

The Kooks headline slot at the Main Stage turned out to be an unexpected bonus. I was sceptical of their booking when I first heard of it. Having been out in the wilderness since their breakthrough, hit record ‘Inside In/Inside Out ‘and I didn’t think they would pull a crowd. They not only drew a good crowd they also put together a good performance. Forgotten hits like ‘Ooh la’ and ‘Always Where I Need To Be ‘ provided a bit of welcome nostalgia.

 

SUNDAY 31 JULY

Sunday, on paper was always going to be the best day, musically. Beginning on the Main Stage with August Wells, who were joined  by a violinist and trumpeter in addition to the usual pair of Ken and John. It gave a new depth to their live show and ‘Here In The Wild’ in particular sounded great.  Straight after that, over at the Big Top,  I found my surprise highlight of the festival in the form of little known Scottish Indie-rock four piece, Model Aeroplanes. Their high energy performance really blew off the cobwebs after a late finish on Saturday night.  Picture This had a massive crowd for the time of day at the main stage. It is hard to argue with such numbers, but it seemed uneventful to me.  CC

Brez followed directly afterwards but didn’t enjoy the same audience. The former Republic Of Loose man’s funky sound was brief respite to anyone who

Frank and Walters

Frank and Walters: Photo: Kieran Frost

had grown tired of Indie rock. Anyone who hadn’t yet grown tired, were like me, wearing a path back and fourth between the two tents. This journey was made all more worthwhile on this occasion by Dublin band Bitchfalcon. I hadn’t seen the 3 piece before tonight but I will be sure to see them again. Their performance was one of the best all weekend. A track called ‘Breed’was the highlight of this loud, raw and very intense set.

Bristol band,  Coasts brought very little to proceedings. Big single ‘Oceans’ was great but the biggest talking point of their set seemed to be how the drummer became shirtless half way through, without anyone noticing. A song called ‘Rush Of Blood’ was decent too.

Anyone who knows me will expect (and possibly be tired of ) great things being said of local favourites, The Frank And Walters. Well I will continue to do so, as long as they continue in the same vein. Tonight again was excellent and it was great to finally hear the wonderful ‘Stages’ live. I didn’t get over in time to catch all of Wyvern Lingo, but anyone who did was raving about them. Their mash up cover of Eternal/Alt j is something I’ve grown quite partial to and luckily I caught that.

At this stage Ash must think they are cursed when it comes to Indiependence. Last year, lead Singer Tim was struck down with illness and had to abandon ship, mid show. This year a power cut on the Main Stage threatens to hamper their plans. Thankfully, it was promptly dealt with and Ash got back on, to what they do best. There isn’t many bands who could rival the northerners when it comes to a festival set and such a performance, under duress is testament to Ash.  Otherkin really impressed me last year and didn’t let me down when I convinced friends to see them this year. ‘Feel It’ was the highlight of an excellent set.

This is Editors second time headlining at Indie and the result was no different to the first. A packed main stage watched as the English indie 5 piece banged out the hits, starting with the more modern ‘Sugar’ and ‘Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors’and ending up on the fantastic ‘Munich’ and ‘Papillon’. Tom Smith was on fire and Editors were an inspired choice as headliners.

Closing out the festival at the Big Top were Waterford based King Kong Company. Their particular brand of electronica is just what was needed to close out proceedings. Punters were either drunk, tired or weary at this stage or as was the case with myself a little of all three. A cover of New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’ was my own personal highlight of a show that had the late night crowd enthralled;  Trish Murphy’s dancing and a powerful visual display keep all weary eyes glued to the stage.

Credit to the organisers. Another year and another successful festival passes without any trouble; the new site layout and additional facilities meant the additional numbers in attendance went mostly unnoticed.

Roll on Indie 2017.

 

Words by Anthony Kelly