Festival Review: Indiependence Music Festival, Mitchelstown, 31st July & 1st August 2010

Posted: 02/11/2010 in Uncategorized

***As published on Culch.ie on August 6th 2010***

The multitude of outdoor summer festivals and concerts on offer to Irish music fans in recent years has been remarkable. It’s not so long ago that one might fork out for a weekend camping pass to both Oxegen and Electric Picnic without a second thought, and maybe take in a gig or two in Marlay Park or Malahide Castle for good measure. But in the post-Celtic Tiger economic climate, such luxuries have had to be cut back for the vast majority. As a nation we have become more cautious with our disposable income – and value for money is now the main priority.

There are many important factors to be considered when choosing a summer music festival to attend – everything from the line-up of acts to the camping facilities to the type of crowd the event will attract – and of course, the price of the ticket to get you in. Hitting the European festivals seems to have become a popular summer activity for Irish music fans who want to be kind to their bank balance by combining holiday & festival as one. But also becoming increasingly popular are the small-capacity regional festivals which take place around the country throughout the summer.

INDIEPENDENCE is one such festival. The independently-run event rocked Mitchelstown over the August bank holiday weekend – and can only continue to go from strength to strength over the coming years. Huge credit must be given to its organisers, who identified and rectified practically all of the problems encountered at last year’s weekender event. A new festival location, additional stages, a much improved campsite, increased facilities for campers, more toilets, adequate car parking availability, and a wider selection of food & drinks vendors meant that before even a chord was struck by the first band that the festival was sure to top the 2009 outing. And although there was an increase in the price of attendance this year, at only €79 for a weekend camping ticket value for money is still paramount.

The stellar line-up of bands is also a huge attraction of course – main stage headliners White Lies and Alabama 3 had an incredible supporting cast of acts in a festival jam-packed with the best of Irish music talent. The wide selection of bands playing across the 3 music stages made for many unfortunate clashes – which is a good complaint to have at a festival, really!

The highlights of Saturday’s performances included a short but oh-so-very sweet set from GRAND POCKET ORCHESTRA in the Monster Mash arena; and a very special Main Stage performance from GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT. Monster Mash headliners SUPER EXTRA BONUS PARTY got the crowd dancing as they always do with hits such as ‘Mushy Shake’, ‘Everything Flows’ and ‘Radar’.  Fight Like Apes’ MAYKAY appeared from the crowd to join the band onstage and close out the set with Night Horses collaboration ‘Eamonn’ – an absolutely rocking performance and undeniably a festival highlight. Cyprus Avenue Arena headliners DELORENTOS were in overdrive as they sent the capacity crowd into a frenzy with a mix of hits old and new including ‘Eustace Street’, ‘Sanctuary’, and ‘Stop’ – and it was a case of ‘jump, or be jumped on’ during an epic performance of hit single ‘S.E.C.R.E.T’.

Even after the headline acts have wrapped up for the evening, there’s still a brand new Silent Disco tent to be investigated! The Silent Disco can and will steal hours of your festival experience, but in the best possible way. A tent full of people – half raving to ‘Maniac 2000’, half simultaneously howling the refrains of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’- makess for some very interesting sights and sounds! A fantastic addition to this year’s Indiependence festival.

Another attractive aspect of Indiependence is its location a mere 15 minute walk from Mitchesltown’s main street – festival-goers are free to leave the site at any time to explore the surroundings. It is quite a luxury for weary campers to be able to take off into town to get supplies in the supermarket, re-stock with some ice cold beers from the off-licence, pick up the Sunday papers and catch up with the world, have a decent feed of pub-grub, or even catch the weekend’s GAA championship action on the big screen in one of the local pubs before returning to the site to continue their festival experience.

Sunday’s lineup had revellers completely spoiled for choice. Scheduling issues made for confusion around the set times of some acts – an issue which will hopefully be rectified for next year’s event. CODES give a fantastic early-evening performance, drawing a big crowd to the Main Stage with hits from their critically acclaimed debut album Trees Dream in Algebra. Hometown heroes FRED get the masses jumping; followed by AND SO I WATCH YOU FROM AFAR who turned the volume right up and rocked Mitchelstown to its core. Over in the Monster Mash Arena SOUNDS OF SYSTEM BREAKDOWN play their final gig of their bank holiday festival trilogy, surely gaining a lot of new fans in the process. HAM SANDWICH follow to give what is probably THE performance of the weekend. Amid a constant cascade of confetti, the band captivated their adoring crowd with their biggest hits as well as showcasing songs from their forthcoming album – which, judging by this performance, is something to VERY much look forward to. Meanwhile over on the Main Stage, THE CORONAS belt out hit after hit and finish out with a cover of Mic Christopher’s ‘Heyday’, which prompts a mass sing-along from their adoring fans and curious bystanders alike. As JAPE take the Cyprus Avenue Arena stage to a fantastic reception, WHITE LIES appear on the Main Stage – and what a choice of headline act. The band’s 2009 debut album is jam-packed with festival anthems – and opening with a hard-hitting trilogy of ‘A Place To Hide’, ‘To Lose My Life’ and ‘Farewell to the Fairground’ gets the huge crowd that have gathered rocking right from the offset. The band debut some new songs to a positive reception, and close out their set with a performance of ‘Death’ which can only be described as epic.

Indiependence 2010 was a huge success, and a significant improvement on last year’s event – its organisers should feel very confident about making plans for 2011. Make sure to keep next summer’s August bank holiday weekend free!

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