Review: Indiependence 2012Tweet
The term Irish Summer seems to be becoming ever more of an oxymoron. It always seems that spring holds on longer than it should and then hands over to autumn sometime around the middle of August. Certainly, during our so called “summer months”, you are never guaranteed decent weather. That, of course, makes it hard to organise an outdoor festival in the country.
The Indiependence organisers would think that the August Bank Holiday would be closest thing to a safe bet in the whole calendar however. Over the weekend, the weather didn’t prove too bad. An odd shower here and there was offset by periods of sunshine. The problem for Indiependence was the weather that came before. The unprecedented rain we saw in July had softened up the Deer Park fields and, before it even got to Friday night, the grass had given away to mud; mud that only got thicker and deeper as the weekend wore on.
Now one of the appeals of a festival for many is sitting around in a circle of friends with a beverage or two and watching the time tick down to your must-see acts. With the feeling of ‘you gotta be tough to battle the mud’ in the air, many of the festival-goers felt this was the preferable way to spend most of their days. For those who ventured beyond the campsite though, there was a quality show in progress.
On Friday, Jape was one of the key attractions on the Friday night. For a man who emigrated three months ago, Richie Egan has been back to Ireland quite regularly over the summer. Anyone who has seen his previous festival shows will know what to expect from a man who has been playing them for about a decade. That’s hardly a complaint though, as he knows just how to keep tent entertained.
As headliner, Maverick Sabre takes to the main stage, Hassle Merchants play to literally twenty people at the Love Music Hate Racism Stage. They are entertaining those twenty people though, as they rattle through the punky tracks from their debut album ‘A Hard Pill to Swallow’. Indie War in particular gets people dancing as much as they’re comfortable with doing in front of a small group of strangers.
Japanese Popstars had the Whelan’s Big Top tent dancing, playing the last slot on Friday. The up-and-coming electro purveyors are cementing their reputation as one of the best such acts in the country and performances like Friday’s show why. As the screens set up beside the stage tell us on repeat ‘The Japanese Popstars Love You’, the crowd find any opportunity to chant “Whoomp, There It Is.”
On Saturday, Raglans are up early on the main stage. They play a fairly vociferous set despite the sparse crowd. They make a point of chatting with the audience during breaks between songs, even though most aren’t very responsive this early in the afternoon. Their raucous folk-rock set, ending in current single Digging Holes, is an excellent way to open a festival main stage. It is likely that they will be seen far closer to the top of the bill in coming years.
The Whelan’s stage played host to Kodaline. A band who have made little fuss announcing themselves thus far, delivered a powerful performance. They roared the message home to the Indiependence crowd, we have arrived! Catchy, slow building tracks built on top of emotional lyrics detailing heartbreak and love, these guys should be given a second glance. Their debut EP is being released on September 9th entitled ‘The Kodaline EP’ and we think you’ll like it.
8pm and it’s time to dance, something Toby Kaar excels at making people do. He relies heavily on his laptop to set his beats, but seems to enjoy the music he plays a lot more than some of his contemporaries. He dances and plays with a smile on his face, making him very active in the music. One of the few DJ style acts with a stage presence.
Feeder rock the main stage from their evening slot. Perhaps they play a little too much of their new material to thoroughly blow away a small festival crowd. When it comes to the classics like Buck Rodgers and Just the Way I’m Feeling, the audience love it. They take the unusual step for a non-headline act of going off and returning for an encore. Everyone knew it was coming and everyone knew what it was going to be – in fact it was probably most of the reason many people turned out to see them. Just a Day may have been a b-side but it is what Feeder will always be remembered for. It was certainly the highlight of the show tonight.
2 many DJs follow them for all those who want to dance on a Saturday night. They know enough to mix it up at a live show, sampling the likes of David Bowie, Chemical Brothers and Metronomy. Just when everyone is tired they bring it down. Just when everyone is getting bored, they charge the energy back up. They have been accused of not changing their set much in the last few years. If it ain’t broke, as they say, don’t try and fix it.
Scroobius Pip is last on the Whelan’s Big Top stage. He demonstrates what a quality front man he is. The crowd don’t seem to know a lot of his music, but such is his presence that it doesn’t matter. He can command a stage like few others in the world. His lyrics are often very powerful and the music matches it at the right times. The quality band help resolve any doubts there may have been about him without Dan Le Sac.
Squarehead play the main stage at five on Sunday. The 90s’ punk throwbacks have elements of Ash, Pavement and Weezer about them. The lead singer even bears a resemblance in a manner to Rivers Cuomo. They keep the songs sharp and upbeat and get the crowd dancing for the first time of the day. The songs off their debut ‘Yeah Nothing’, especially the fantastic This Melody, get the best reaction, but the crowd are happy enough to listen and nod appreciatively to the newer songs that litter the set.
Quirky audio bytes from EleventyFour was next on the agenda as the off beat stylings of Dorothy mixed with the lovely chilled out vibe at the LMHR stage provided a feel good moment of Indiependence. Armed with Goldenplec’s rubber duckies and our donation of a lollipop, she rattled off some hilariously contagious tracks which got us all singing. Highlight of the set was the stirring rendition of Jeff Nelson, which the crowd sang loud and proud.
Radioactive Grandma bring the biggest crowd of the weekend to the Love Music Hate Racism Stage. They play with a good sense of humour to an impressed crowd. “This is a song about festival toilets,” they joke. “It’s called Don’t Look Down.” Even when they break a string, they don’t let it break their stride and keep the crowd entertained with some light-hearted banter. They have a huge audience retention and have more people asking ‘Who are these guys?’ than anyone else over the weekend. “You guys are like Supergrass only better!” shouts one crowd member just before they reach the end of their set. While that’s not quite on target, you’ll likely see these guys playing ever bigger stages over the coming years.
It’s Ham Sandwich who are perhaps the highlight of the weekend. They are a blue-chip festival band and will fill every tent they ever play. It’s with good cause too. From the sexy intro to Click Click Boom to the cover of Donna Summer’s I feel Love to Podge’s eccentric histrionics (here dressed in some form of pale-blue onesie), they are never less than very entertaining. Confetti shoots from cannons at various points and the audience bounce and cheer throughout the whole set. At one point they invite a couple of young children from the front of the crowd on stage to help drumming. It’s spur of the moment and something the children will remember for the rest of their lives. It’s also something that warmed the heart of everyone in attendance.
British Sea Power took to the main stage just before Ham Sandwich finish. Their audience numbers no more than thirty as they crack into Apologies to the Insect Life. The crowd wanders in slowly. It’s up to British Sea Power to win them over, but unfortunately never really try hard enough to. Only Waving Flags and No Lucifer get parts of the crowd singing back. They are perhaps an unusual band to have on in a small festival – with a number of loyal fans but lacking any real mainstream breakthrough – and perhaps would think again about returning to another one. They throw in a some showmanship – playing guitars with teeth a noteworthy example – but ultimately and unfortunately, it’s British Sea Power by numbers that Indiependence sees. Their set was, for this reviewer anyway, one of the only disappointments in the weekend’s music.
It’s hard to follow up Ham Sandwiches visual and audio delight, but Delorentos managed to do just that. These days such polished, accomplished performers, Delorentos take the crowd built up by Ham Sandwich and just eat them up. Powerful and confident and each member bringing their own unique presence to the stage, making them such compelling viewing. With arguably their best album to date just released this year and knocking each festival appearance out of the park, there is a feeling brewing that the world will have to take notice of these guys soon. They are certainly knocking on all the right doors and deserve to be a huge international act.
It wasn’t just the headline acts that were the top attractions of the weekend. The likes of Fresh 90s on Friday and the 80s v 90s disco on Sunday had huge crowds dancing to music from the decades that fashion forgot. The science tent was a fun and informative way to spend half an hour or so and the Silent Disco, judging by the huge queues that built outside every night, seemed to be extremely popular.
The crowd also helped make the weekend. Almost everybody seemed to only be in the mood to enjoy the music and have a good time. To this reviewers eyes there was rarely a hint of anything approaching aggression and certainly nothing to be called violent. Everyone seemed to have a smile on their faces for most of the weekend and, after all is said and done, that made Deer Farm a nice place to be for the weekend.
With quality acts, a calm ambience and other quality attractions, Indiependence is one of the best value weekends you’re likely to find. See you there next year.
Indiependence photo gallery
Photos: Kieran Frost