Protest post-punks Fierce Mild probably aren’t too used to playing gigs at midday, but if they were out of their element, they didn’t let it show. Early though it may have been, the lively three piece’s anthemic message driven music landed with more than enough force to blow the cobwebs away. From the rousing, punchy hymn to the subversion of gender norms (Tracy’s Girls) to the rally cry for LQBT rights (Equal People) Fierce Mild manage to balance a deep lyrical resonance (delivered via three part harmonised the repetition heavy choruses) with catchy punky hooks in a way that seems effortless. (BO’R)
Scheduling bands on Saturday morning/early afternoon throws up the odd anomaly with some bands feeling out of place due to the nature of their sound. Nursing delicate hangovers with little sleep often requires something more gentile in terms of opening music. On the main stage, Kingston brought that compromise between garage rock and more sedate laid-back tunes. Their ‘90s American alt rock infused ska jumps and stomps when needed and then takes a U-turn for more soothing brass tones for those of a more delicate disposition. Sometimes this would occur within the same song as it did in The Duke. A welcome start to the day and also serving as a bridge to more meaty rock action which was set to follow early in Saturday. (FH)
If the head was still feeling fuzzy after Kingston, then Race The Flux’s hefty riffs were only going to exasperate those with throbbing headaches further. However, it would leave those of a refreshed capacity, fully charged for the rest of the day thanks to an electric performance. The highlights from their recent ‘Olympians’ EP; Olympus Mons and Big Fig bristled with menace. Lead guitarist Paul Higgins displayed deft fretwork while singer Joe Padfield offered an entertaining counterpoint to the riffs. (FH)
One of the best things about KnockanStockan is the willingness of its organisers to take a chance on new, unknown acts that are unlikely to pop up on any other festival bills this summer. One such band were complete newcomers Pretty Beast – who played their third ever gig on Saturday afternoon on the Dimestore stage. But if the festival bookers were taking a punt on an unknown quantity, their gamble more than paid off. Pretty Beast delivered a straight-up hard rock sound with streamlined cohesion that bands who’ve been on the road for years could only aspire to. Talking the classic rock song template and underpinning it with backdrop of synths & sample tracks, Pretty Beast showcased an impressive repertoire of catchy numbers. More impressive still was the sheer energy of their performance, particularly hyperactive frontman Donie Keaveney, who culminated the set by climbing an amp stack at the front of the stage and hanging from the lighting rig as he sang. (BO’R)
We met Sinéad White and her new band in the run-up to KnockanStockan and got the feeling that she was building up to her best gig yet at the Faerie Fields, and we weren’t disappointed. The new band, add a fuller – more accomplished – fun-filled sound that layers extra emotion to White’s catchy, bittersweet lyrics. The lack of actual mouth trumpet during Mouth Trumpet was palpably disappointing, but rectified by White conducting an orchestra of kazoos for I Know It later on in the set, much to the amusement of everyone present. This performance exemplified everything Sinéad White is about. It was fun, endearing and just the right amount of whacky. Sinéad White is splendid. (NS)
Rebecca Collins has gained a few PJ Harvey and Anna Calvi comparisons and with diminutive frame and large guitar it’s easy to see why. The outstanding Chiaroscuro carries that brooding sense of longing that Harvey and Calvi permeate with ease. However, it’s a highpoint she fails to match again, with tracks such as Black Triangle – a song Collins said could be about pubes – just not as interesting as her other material which leaves us reaching for the festival timetable and planning our next destination mid-set. (FH)
Losing people’s attention is not something you could level at Twin Headed Wolf. Despite their apparent lack of instrumentation the Kavanagh sisters, Julie and Branwen bring a sense of vaudeville and theatre to the stage that demands your attention. Whether it’s through their striking acapella vocals, mournful organ, or wisps of haunting spookiness from a teapot, it’s riveting in its starkness and simplicity. To perform, as Twin Headed Wolf do, requires an assurance and steadfast belief in what you are doing; otherwise it could come over as trying to be overly quirky. There isn’t a whiff of affectation during Twin Headed Wolf’s set with the sister’s charm and genuine personalities shining through. (FH)
What more can be said about Graham ‘GStar’ Sharpe? The man encapsulates everything that KnockanStockan is about. Ridiculously sound people, hard work and bloody good music. It was GStar’s turn this year to bring the good music to the masses as his band Alright, You Restless played only their second ever gig at a packed out Wishbone stage on Saturday night. It was a performance that had everyone at what was normally a quite serene, laid-back stage on their feet dancing and toasting a true festival hero. (NS)
Elastic Sleep’s standing at KnockanStockan has seen them move from an early afternoon slot in 2014 to a deserved Saturday evening show in The Circus Tent. After a stellar 2014 much has been expected of them and they began this year’s KnockanStockan in blitzkrieg fashion with the mighty reverberating bass of Slip dominating. The twin axis of Muireann Levis and Chris Somers still share vocal duties with I Found Love and Leave You never less than utterly riveting. The only mishap was the unfortunate case of a string on Somer’s guitar just acting the bollocks and snapping, but the rest of the band toiled on resolutely irrespective. (FH)
There was no shortage of acts from the heavier end of the musical spectrum at this year’s festival, but even among this sonorous company, No Spill Blood manage to stand apart as something truly beyond compare. The three-piece constructed a pillar of post-rock noise from bass riffs that make Royal Blood seem as soft as the Andrex puppy by comparison, cataclysmic drums, starry synths, and heavily reverbed booming vocals. At a distance it may have sounded like nothing but a droning clatter, but beneath all the sonic ferocity lay a deftly composed structure, mostly shaped by the haunting synth sound. No Spill Blood demolished their way through the doom-laden swell of tracks from debut album ‘Heavy Electricity’ while almost hidden from sight on a dimly lit stage – letting wave upon wave of sound dominate the Dimestore big top. (BO’R)
The Circus Tent was the place to be if you wanted more cerebral lyrics to go with your head banging riffs. Ostensibly, about science or religion v science Bats treated us to songs on the surface about elephants (Topsy Rides The Lighting), wolves, (Wolfwrangler) and dragons (Vermithrax Pejorative). With no strum, action or note superfluous there is nothing wishy-washy about Bats they strike with surgical precision. Long regarded as one of the best acts in Dublin they reaffirmed that standing at Knockanstockan. (FH)
With The Hot Sprockets introducing the good people of Holland to Soul Brother, the KnockanStockan headline baton passed to their heir apparents The Eskies for the first time. And rightly so, as perhaps no other sound encapsulates the spirit of KnockanStockan more than the vivacious sea-soaked, gypsy, folk-rock explosion of The Eskies does.
Of course, The Eskies are no strangers to the KnockanStockan stage but the burden of headlining a festival has felled bigger acts with ease in the past with even the friendliest of crowds likely to turn at the first sign of weakness. “363,” roars singer Ian Bermingham “363, 363 days a year we don’t have Knockanstockan but for two days every year we have KnockanStockan, the Christmas of the summer,” much to the delight of the crowd.
Ian Bermingham’s impressive command of the stage marshalled the party atmosphere higher and higher with him constantly demanding more from the crowd as the boisterous refrains of Fever, Tear Along The Line and Jailhouse Son echoed across the shallow depths of the Blessington Lakes.
With The Eskies affection for KnockanStockan palpable and mirrored in the crowd’s response The Eskies seized their chance, banished the memory of The Hot Sprockets, pulled the sword from the stone and claimed KnockanStockan as their own.
“Get down on your knees and when I say go, jump up and have the time of your fucking lives!” It’s safe to say everyon obliged. (SB)
When it’s time to pack up the tent or in this year’s case catch it before the wind blew it away, we normally focus on how good or bad the line-up was. KnockanStockan manages to deliver a diverse playbill musical acts and spectrums, highlighting the indigenous talent of Ireland like no other festival; proving the heartbeat of the independent music scene in Ireland still pulses strongly in the process. The KnockanStockan crew must be applauded for delivering arguably one of the best run years of their festival. The layout was spacious and well maintained with the Burrow stage an impressive mini-amphitheatre. It wasn’t just the aesthetically pleasing layout either; the grounds were kept spick and span with hardly any litter lying around the festival.
Access to the festival was more easily navigated and less congested than in previous years, with boutique, and family camping nestled in quieter areas lessons from previous years have clearly been learned ensured that the festival keeps getting better and better. The only problem now being we’ve to wait a full year for the next one.