My Top 20 Festival Sets of 2011

Posted: 29/12/2011 in Uncategorized

#1  Beyonce @ Oxegen

 

I had purposely abstained from watching any of the Glastonbury footage – and on reflection, I am so so glad that I did. A thrillingly spectacular performance from Beyoncé, with a gargantuan crowd hanging off her every word and hip-shake. With a back-catalogue at her disposal that most pop stars can only dream of, the set flowed seamlessly – with a Destiny’s Child medley included for long-time fanatics such as myself. She came, she saw, she conquered. All hail Queen B.

#2  Robyn @ Lovebox

Lovebox Saturday will be remembered as the day I FINALLY got to see Robyn live – and it was worth the wait. I continually find her fascinating as an artist – the feat of writing and recording a triogy of releases of the calibre of the Body Talk collection whilst touring extensively will never cease to amaze. As with anything Robyn does, this was one slick & stylish affair – but with a whole lot of substance to boot. Stunning.

#3  Austra @ Electric Picnic

Sunday night at Electric Picnic is my favourite night. It’s like a bonus night. Having secured the Monday off and wrapped up all of my required bands-to-see for work, it was time to party. Austra took to the Body & Soul Main Stage in the wee hours and completely blew me away – dancing underneath the stars with my friends to their luxurious electro sounds – absolutely magic, and the perfect way to round off the best Electric Picnic I’ve had yet.

#4 Santigold @ Electric Picnic

Santigold -vs- PJ Harvey – which did you choose? There wasn’t really much of a choice for me – having missed Santi @ the 2008 Electric Picnic, there was no WAY I was gonna make the same mistake again. And thankfully, she killed it. All the greats from her eponymous debut, first listens of new material from the much-anticipated follow-up – an unbelievably brilliant set from start to finish.

#5   Coldplay @ Oxegen

Coldplay are one of those spilt down the middle love-’em-or-hate-’em kind of acts – their die-hard fans obsessive, their opposers outright dismissive. I had always been the latter – but had been told that to see them live is to love them. And they certainly do put on one hell of a show – anthem after anthem, fireworks displays, and even a cameo from our own Christy Moore. It was nothing short of spectacular. Consider me converted.

#6   Le Galaxie @ Electric Picnic

1:30PM may have seemed like a ludicrous time to schedule an act like Le Galaxie at Electric Picnic – but what was done was done, and those with enough cop-on made it their business to be there to catch what was one of the sets of the entire weekend. All out madness from the very beginning, to say that Le Galaxie are unique is an understatement because really, there’s no other act out there like them.  And I, for one, welcome our new glowstick-brandishing electro overlords.

#7   Ham Sandwich @ Sea Sessions

Ham Sandwich are a funny ol’ band… I genuinely do not understand why they are not a lot more renowned and turbo-mega-famous than they are. Seriously. However – summer of 2011 was an indication that perhaps the secret is finally out. They unexpectedly stole the show at Forbidden Fruit – but this set at Sea Sessions was even better. An absolute stormer, unrelenting in energy – moshing, confetti cannons, giant balloons and crowd surfing are mere bonuses to the near flawless standard of musical performance from the band, and their set is the undeniable highlight of the weekend.

#8   Foster The People @ Electric Picnic

Foster The People’s debut appearance on an Irish stage – and and given the large crowd who had no choice but to circle the exterior of the Cosby Stage to catch their set that Friday evening, it was was one of those ‘I Was There’ festival moments. Foster even paid tribute to the experience at the band’s Olympia gig in December. I think he likes us.

#9   Caribou @ Forbidden Fruit

Irish festivals are not renowned for their weather, we all know that and it’s clichéd to even mention it – but sitting on a hill in IMMA watching Caribou performing their song ‘Sun’ and witnessing the actual sun suddenly appear through the dreary overcast sky was a brilliant moment of the 2011 festival season. That, and of course the fact that Caribou generally are quite simply awesome.

#10 Tieranniesaur @ HWCH

Tieranniesaur encapsulate everything that is unique and exciting about the Popical Island Collective on one stage and were one of the most talked about bands in the run-up HWCH weekend. The band’s eponymously titled debut album received praise from critics, fans, and fellow musicians alike, but to witness the songs played live is to love it even more – it’s impossible not to get carried away with it all.  The set proved perfect way to close out Hard Working Class Heroes 2011 – there ain’t no party like a Tieranniesaur party.

#11 Hurts @ Oxegen

Just as serious fear-of-missing-out wass setting is due to a flurry of tweets describing how Two Door Cinema Club are playing an absolute stormer on the Main Stage, Manchester synth-pop duo Hurts took to the Vodafone Stage and almost instantly dispelled any desire to be elsewhere.  Slick, stylish, sophisticated – downright bloody brilliant.

#12 Oh Land @ Electric Picnic

Electric Picnic marked Oh Land’s debut Irish performance – and it was worth the wait. I’ve been a little bit obsessed with both her debut EP & album, so to hear the songs brought to life in a live setting that Sunday morning was a real treat. Outstanding.

#13 James Vincent McMorrow @ Electric Picnic

A packed out tent to hear the man with the golden voice – and sound issues aside, it’s a brilliant set from start to finish. The quieter songs mesmerising, the more up-tempo ones enthralling, all culminating with the epic gradual build of formidable set closer ‘We Don’t Eat’. A Sunday afternoon delight.

#14 We Cut Corners @ HWCH

This gig was a month before We Cut Corners dropped their outstanding debut album – and the anticipation it drummed up for the release was palpable. There may only be two of ’em, but We Cut Corners put on one hell of a show – and this one, I’ll remember for a long long time.

#15 Fight Like Apes @ Oxegen

Oxegen 2011 sees Fight Like Apes set free from the confines of a tent and into the great wide open – but if there’s one downside, it’s the limitations on the traditional venture into the crowd for ‘Jake Summers’ – restricted by the lack of cordless mic and a rather large gap between the stage and the front row of the crowd, stage diving antics just ain’t feasible. But where there’s a will there’s a way – and kudos to Security Guy #2011 who seemed completely unfazed as MayKay clambered atop his shoulders and hitched a ride to greet her adoring fans in the front row. A wholly entertaining performance from Fight Like Apes. The main stage beckons.

#16 Snoop Dogg @ Lovebox

Snoop Dogg was advertised on the Lovebox bill as performing debut album Doggystyle in its entirety – so, it was a VERY pleasant surprise when he not only churned out hit after hit from his extensive back catalogue, but also leant the mic to Warren G to perform the classic ‘Regulate’.

#17 The Naked & Famous @ Oxegen

An unfortunate scheduling clash at this year’s Oxegen festival saw The Naked and Famous go up against the might of The Script and The Strokes. As such, the set was missed out on by many, but held in very high regard by those who were lucky enough to catch it – myself included. An absolute cracker.

#18 Ash @ Indiependence

Main Stage headliners Ash took the Indiependence crowd on a wonderful trip down memory lane – opening with ‘Girl From Mars’, closing with ‘Burn Baby Burn’, and delighting in between with the likes of ‘Kung Fu’, ‘Oh Yeah’ and ‘Shining Light’. Tim Wheeler & Co. can most definitely still work the old magic. Brilliant.

#19 Bitches With Wolves @ Sea Sessions

As The Go! Team put on a sub-standard performance on the main stage, Bitches With Wolves got busy starting their own private party in the North Shore tent. It’s great to see the band like this get the opportunity of an evening festival slot, because it really worked for them – and although the majority of those in attendance may have been unfamiliar with the impossibly catchy pop tunes of James O’Neill, he definitely won a lot of new fans at this one. Turbo craic.

#20 ASIWYFA @ Indiependence

And So I Watch You From Afar set a high standard of rock on the Main Stage of Indiependence this year, with a performance of the standard they’ve set for themselves – nothing short of epic. 

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