Indiependence Festival on August 2nd – 4th 2013
As we woke from our hazy slumber, we were greeted by an old friend, that warm fuzzy fire-ball that was beaming through the layers of our tents. With (not so) bright eyes and (not much) enthusiasm, we entered the main arena for another day of Indiependence.
Being the smart old sods we are, we booked a craft beer tasting session in the Bier Halle. At first glance, the thoughts of sipping beer and palate matching their flavours and smells to accommodating food samples, seemed rather absurd at a festival. But actually, Ed the wine, I mean beer connoisseur, made it much more than just a silly gimmick. As we finished our sitting, and stood up from our fancy chandelier-donned dining-table, we reentered the barn and with a few choruses of Blue Moon, we were then suitably enough refreshed to take on the day ahead.
Due to the incredibly strong lineup on the last day of the festival, we chose to keep it 100% Irish and go through the day checking out some of our brightest hopes.
It had just about stopped raining outside as we began our day in search of musical delights. The plan was to exit the safe and dry confines of the Bier Halle but Touchwood changed our plans. Unlike the bands before them, they dominated the quaint little stage tucked away into the corner of this vast barn. Sam Ali on keys/lead vocals, despite sitting down, commanded the corner with ease. Tunes like Twice Shy from their début EP hinted at some promise from a band that look utterly comfortable on stage. The sound they emit is clearly a nod to that middle-America sound; think any intro/outro tune on Scrubs or One Tree Hill. This is never as obvious as when the guys bash out the title track to the début EP – Elysian Plains. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; if done right, this brand of Americanised crooning is highly enjoyable. The main challenges for Touchwood are reeling in their over the top showmanship, which takes away more than it adds and increasing the tinge of Irishness in their music to make it more believable and honest.
From the first syllable of Sunlight, it is clear that Michael D’Arcy is about to command the stage and deliver an impressive fusion of folk and Irish trad. The five-piece band join in and instantly combine to make a seemingly effortless group of musicians, toying with each verse. From its booming start, Go Soft into the Night, shows a more delicate side to the band who create an intricate mesh of textured tones. True North is an exercise in excellence with D’Arcy the affable giant sweetly and calmly delivering his finest vocal performance of the set. Easy and lazy comparisons can be made upon first listen but, this band deserve far more than that with both melody and lyrics that stand tall above most around them in the crowded folk scene in Ireland. Cornerboy possess something different and this needs to be witnessed in a live setting. Morning Morning, proves to be the most impressive song of the set as the raucous scrimmage on stage is mirrored in the crowd as a grand old ceili bursts out. It’s early doors for Cornerboy but, this band is destined for great things. The next EP will be an important one.
For four simple reasons, the Bier Halle was absolutely packed. If you weren’t there because the GAA was being shown over in the corner on a tiny TV, then you were there for the delicious array of craft beers on offer. No? Maybe you were there to take shelter from the pissing rain or like a sizeable portion of the crowd; you were there to see Orla Gartland. Gartland, of course, has a massive following online and boasts more YouTube hits (9.6 million) than the more established Coronas (4.7 million). Mostly, her channel sees her adapt chart hits giving them the renowned Gartland overhaul. So, when she gets a rousing reception for her own track The Ground which opens her set, it’s interesting to see her humble and aghast response.
Gartland further endears herself by stating that people “are just sheltering from the rain and are thinking to themselves, who is this ginger bitch?”. Jealous, once more shows the craft and skill that Gartland applies to every aspect of her songs. She somehow tippy-toes around the most awkward of words, creating a blissful and accessible brand of innocent music. Roots, a song about leaving home for the first time hints at a lyrical depth we have yet to see from Gartland who stops everyone in their tracks with this emotive song. To please the fans, she delivers a fantastic version of Pink Floyd’s Brick in the Wall, which exudes far more passion live than online. The thing is though, with her growing repertoire, the need for covers will soon be gone as she is clearly growing both musically and lyrically. She ends her set with Devil on my Shoulder, which she released while still in secondary school. The crowd engage and recite every word with Gartland beaming back at them, leaving the stage to a booming applause. So, this girl has just finished her leaving cert and is already selling out venues; it would seem that Orla Gartland can pretty much do as she pleases, with good reason.
Hudson Taylor headlined our Irish Sunday at Indiependence in the cosy confines of the Big Top tent. Having moved from entertaining the masses on the streets to appearing at festivals with a full band, it’s been quite a year for Hudson Taylor. The question of whether the duo can make the giant leap from commendable Irish act to prominent act outside Ireland has been widely pondered in the Irish music scene – we were about to find out. The Big Top tent was about as jam-packed as a full packet of jammy dodgers as the boys took to the stage. The first half of the performance hinted that something special was about to happen and when they debuted their cover of Mrs.Robinson, it happened. Harry and Alfie perfectly channeled Art and Garfunkel in a tremendous cover, sending the crowd buck-bloody-wild . The huge poodles that were, up until this point, being avoided were now the scene of a massive folk-rave with the top on the Big Top starting to come off.
Hudson Taylors’ harmonies have always been strong but tonight, they were sublime. Their famed crowd interaction had also moved up a league too. World Without You, swept the ladies off their feet as they sweetly, softy and expertly delivered this love song. The guys left the stage, well within their allotted time, only to return moments later to a waft of cheers – perhaps they can leave the faux-encores until they properly headline (a small complaint). Nonetheless, Battles resumes the joy-ridden carnage and once these words boom from Harry’s mouth – “Only time will tell if we’re all just cynics on the run, if we’re all just cynics come undone”, the set lifts up another gear.
Then finally to cap of what must have been Hudson Taylor’s finest hour performing on a stage in Ireland. From far left of field comes Shipping Out to Boston, the Dropkick Murphy’s classic. The scenes that ensued were akin to that of Italia 90 and the people who were taking part weren’t even born in 1990. What was proven tonight was that Hudson Taylor are a force to be reckoned with; with major label backing already behind them, a fast growing and loyal fan base beneath them – the next EP/album release will be vital. Judging on this set, one can already see them making the move to headliner some time very soon. No pressure lads.
Indiependence – Sunday Photo Gallery
Photos: Rory Coomey