REVIEW: Temple House Music Festival, Ballymote, Co. Sligo (Sept. 10th-12th 2010)Tweet
Sprawling camp-sites, half mile distances between every gate, stage, site and activity. Thousands upon thousands of people perpetually queuing at every beer tent, food stall, portaloo and tobacco seller 24 hours a day. These are just a few of the things I hate about festivals and thankfully none of them factored at the very first Temple House Music Festival in Co. Sligo last weekend. With existing summer standards like Oxegen, Electric Picnic, Castlepalooza, Knockanstockan, Slane, The Independence festival and many many more already dominating the calendar, it’s about time the North-West enjoyed some of the fun and amazingly enough, Temple House delivered in spades first time out.
Arriving early on the Friday, the entrance to the festival was a joy. No massive queues, no bag searching just easy access and a short walk up to the camp-site (or optional quad bike ride if you felt adventurous….yes, Goldenplec adventured). Even better, the camp-site was small, well equipped with food, toilets, showers, moderately priced storage lockers, a phone charging service and even a camping supply store that provided an almost 24 hour rave/sale service. Even more pleasing was the short two minute walk from your tent into the main arena, despite the mud that built up on Saturday and Sunday. Temple House was already growing fond in my heart long before I set foot at a stage.
After a brief four hours on tent set-up, beer consumption, camping chair purchasing, further beer consumption and relaxation, it was time to leave my cosy two man estate and check out the musical offerings of Sligo’s newest festival. First band to catch the ears was local lads, Oddsocks Revival who managed the impressive feat of filling the Lucozade tent before half the crowd had even reached the grounds. Hard, catchy sing along rock with the showmanship of the pros and an instantly appealing sound. Their recordings don’t do them justice but their live performance will remain one of the crowning highlights of the weekend in this reviewers eyes.
Next up, completely by accident was the Paddy Usher Band. My notes were simple, ‘Great! – Check out asap’. Excellent performance and a continuation of the hard rock buzz started by the Oddsocks Revival. My first experience at the much larger Tennents main stage was more than pleasant as The Walls turned up to perform a fantastic hour of mostly new material from their forthcoming album, Stop The Lights. Steve and Joe Wall’s new live show is as enjoyable to watch as the songs are too hear, with Bird In A Cage, Phantom Power, Drowning Pool and To The Bright and Shinning Sun becoming firm favorites of the weekend.
After the Walls finished, general wandering took over. The main arena was small but extremely well laid out. With the welcoming sun beating down upon festival goers, Goldenplec took the time to check out the grounds and offerings from the incredible number of vendors, sellers, arts and crafts displays, medieval village demonstrations, arts trails and performers, before settling in to experience New Young Pony Club. A neighbouring camper had uttered “go see New Young Pony Club or I’ll kill you” earlier in the day and I felt it might just be best to take this advice, rather than risk possible consequences during the night. NYPC turned out to be one of the real hidden treasures of the weekend. After a reported blistering performance at Electric Picnic last week, the girls (and guys) showed up and rocked the second stage to its core, pulling at least two thirds of the crowd in for the show.
A brief look in on The Chapters was enough to see things haven’t changed much with them and the pulling power of Peter Hook was too strong to resist. ‘Hooky’ was in full on ‘blitz the crowd’ mode when I arrived, thrilling hundreds of dance fanatics with some pounding Madchester/current fav and classic anthem remixes. He looked great, his set sounded great but alas, it was time for the night’s main drawing attraction, Claire/Galway’s ultimate five man indie rock combo, The Stunning. Goldenplec had an opportunity to chat with Steve Wall a week before the show and we were informed this was the only arranged Stunning gig for 2010. Thankfully, the crowd heard the call. As packed as Peter Hook and NYPC’s tents were, they were dwarfed by the hundreds that poured in as The Stunning took the main stage. Opening with Got To Get Away, Steve, Joe and the boys stormed through a set laden with more classic hits than most Irish bands could ever dream off. Even a brief power outage couldn’t stop them and by the time they hammered out the final notes of Brewing Up A Storm, they’d run well over their allotted hour and still the crowd begged for more. An absolute blinder of a show that I only wish I could spend more time basking in.
The Undertones came on shortly afterwards, retaining much of the Stunning’s audience but noticeably losing more than a few. Fergal Sharkey may be long gone but his replacement, Paul McLoone does the job as well as anyone could ask. Appearing like a less flamboyant Morrissey and in great spirits, he spearheaded the band through an incredibly tight, enthusiastic and memorable performance with obvious hits Here Comes The Summer and Teenage Kicks even becoming overshadowed under the mass of catchy, pop rock tunes The Undertones have to offer. Some were disgruntled at the lack of Mars Bar in the set but everyone else left overjoyed with a massively successful, perfect opening day.
With the rain pouring all night, Saturday turned out to be a much quieter affair for this camper. Waking up to a wet tent, wet field, dark sky and never ending rain is always depressing and unfortunately, Dean Mahon and Rory O’Dowd did little to improve the mood. Not unpleasant by any means, but toned down cover songs were just too subtle for a Saturday morning at a rainy festival. Over at the Lucozade tent, The Revolutionary Commandos of the 3rd Secret of Fatima were doing an odd Depeche Mode / Lazarus Soul heavy trance/folk styled show that left most in attendance a little baffled. It wasn’t until Dublin upstarts; The Riptide Movement took the main stage that things really started to perk up. The young band delivered a fantastic performance mixed with incredibly strong hard blues rock crackers. The hard, jam exploding Shake Shake and set closing, Hot Tramp were massive highlights and after starting with less than 20 attendees, the band left the stage with a couple of hundred people calling out for more.
Back in the rain, it was now time to see Mullingar pop rock outfit, The Aftermath. Without a doubt one of the strongest bands Ireland has produced in the last decade and one of the most enjoyable to see live. Still glowing from their performance at Electric Picnic (which included a special guest appearance by B.P Fallon), The Aftermath blasted through a set comprised mostly of material from their début album, Friendlier Up Here mixing in material from their forthcoming record and their now standard cover of The Clash’s I Fought The Law (losing the Colin Farrell accent). Excellent show made even more enjoyable by the added live violinist and keyboard player. Walking out from the tent, the sounds of CODES could be heard coming softly from the main stage. Having never been a massive Coldplay fan, I decided I better check out Ireland’s alternative. An impressive crowd of eager spectators were spread out around the standing area as the band breezed through a fairly impressive set. Live the guys are very tight, musically – they’ll probably make it bigger than The Script once that big single comes a knocking.
Time for food and shelter (well…beer and smoke), the sound of Louth locals, The Trampz were oddly unnerving and distracting. A quick look in confirmed they put on a pretty tight live show but musically, their sound was a little lost on the small crowd. Unfortunately heavy rain at this stage forced this reviewer back to the camp-site for re-substance (more beer) and when the time came to rejoin the festivities, RSAG was playing an excellent show in the Locozade tent. Like the Walls the night before, RSAG’s show is very unique and more than worth a visit for any curious gig-goer. For the rest of us, his music is good old fashioned, beat laden bob along fun, especially in a festival setting.
Over on the main stage it was time for Reef to show everyone they were well and truly back and as far as their live performance goes, they aren’t lying. After a seven year breakup, the band returned in 2010, hitting the UK live scene hard and leaving a slew of glorifying reports in their wake. As one fellow camper (the same one that threatened me about NYPC) put it, “Electric Picnic brought the lightening, but Reef and Temple House brought the Thunder”. Personally, Place Your Hands was the highlight but the show was one of the most electrifying performances of the weekend and with a packed tent, few will forget them any time soon. With the rain clear, it was time to return to the camp-site and begin the nights binge…..note taking and chillax with the sounds of Howard Jones and Donal Dineen from the close by main stage. Just to note, from a distance it sounded like Donal Dineens DJ set was about to unleash the apocalypse but fortunately everything was still in place the next day.
Seeing that Saturday night festivities only ended at midday on Sunday, the last day was filled with conservative restraint and foggy memories. Pleasing shows from Bi-Polar Empire (nice), Little Beauties (too silly) and Preachers Son (best of the three) started the day warmly but lacked the grabbing power of the previous days warm up bands. TKO were the first main contenders to kick things off, but their performance was a little weaker than previous occasions. The band sounded great but the set-list was a little vacant of character with several almost awkward sounding moments. Same could be said for the Whiteliars over on the main stage who managed to lose more attendees than they gained.
The Danger Is were the first serious grabbing band on Sunday, playing an excellent set to an impressive crowd. Almost Cathy Davey like in style, lead singer Niamh Danger is charismatic and powerful in her performance and her charming, shy like appearance between songs is instantly adorable and very hard not to fall in love with. Unfortunately, one brave attendee requested marriage before the rest of us could muster up the courage, next time maybe. Another excellent act well worth checking out if you haven’t heard them. Unfortunately, the crowd dispersed towards the end as one of Sundays main head-liners, The Saw Doctors kicked off their set fifteen minutes early.
Although things kicked off earlier than scheduled, the Doctors unavoidably catchy sound didn’t take long to spread around the arena and as the closing chords of N17 were hit, the lads had a full tent bowing in appreciation to one of Ireland’s most beloved bands. Despite the arsenal of classics at their disposal, the crowd was treated to a choice selection from their forthcoming album, The Future Adventures of ….The Saw Doctors including Takin’ The Train and Indian Summer. A highly rousing show that only added to the already chock full weekend of happy memories. Being fair, Goldenplec took it upon ourselves to visit My Evil Ex who were playing to a surprising number of a people considering The Saw Doctors had rounded up almost the entire crowd. A great show, fantastically delivered and another band for the check out soon list.
Alas, threats of further rain and the quickly dispersing camp-site forced this reviewer to head for the hills but not before we saw Dublin’s modern hero, Damien Dempsey take the main stage with a packed crowd screaming him on. Damien has never been a personal favorite but his charisma and pulling power are far beyond repute. As performers go, he’s one of the most successful folk singers Ireland has produced in a long time and his success only grows as the years carry on. If the crowd looked like it was getting smaller and smaller on Sunday, it was only because they were hiding out in the main tent awaiting Damien’s show.
The first Temple House may not have gotten the numbers they were hoping for but they certainly got the bands, the vibes, the atmosphere and everything else that makes a festival great. Staff were incredible, the venue was packed with countless activities, stages and events and the crowd basked in every minute of it. Having kids around ensured most attendees avoided the usual rowdy drunkenness that’s become synonymous with summer events like Oxegen, but the numerous sports and distractions meant they weren’t under peoples feet either. A truly epic weekend and one that will hopefully be repeated for years and years to come.