By Mags Blackburn
Indiependence Music and Arts Festival once again invaded Deerpark and Mitchlestown in North Cork over the Bank Holiday weekend. The sun may not have always shone, and a chill breeze reminded us that autumn was coming. But between the infrequent showers Indiependence displayed many reasons why it sells out every year.
The festival has grown since it first appeared in the town square but even though it now takes place over three days of the August Bank Holiday weekend it still retains the simple ideal of playing and exhibiting great (Irish) music.The full list of the Irish acts supported by the festival would be longer than this review and we’ll get to the bigger Irish acts who wowed at Indiependence. A few of the up and coming acts that featured at this year’s event include Tvvins, The Minutes, Toy Soldier, Kelly Lewis, Acrobat, Vann Music, The Altered Hours, Raglans, Codes, Hudson Taylor, Lisa O’Neill, Orla Gartland, Kodakid, Elastic Sleep, Benny Smiles, The Vincent(s), and Slow Motion Heroes.
The rain stayed away on the Friday night as Acrobat brought their alternative rock to the HMV Big Top. The Dublin quartet have been honing their live set since the release of their debut EP ‘Fade to Gray’ and they brought all that experience to Indiependence. With the drums setting the beat Acrobat produced an accomplished and tight performance.
Tvvins on the Canadian Main Stage brought a blistering and bleeping set. They may have had an early slot but the crowd was ready and willing to groove along with their synth pop sensibilities.
Benny Smiles has been making a name for himself this last while. Bringing fun soulful sounds and clever lyrics Mr Smiles put together a thoroughly enjoyable set in the Biere Halle and even had some pyrotechnics for good measure!
Who says you can have too much synth pop? Not me anyway, and off I went to catch an infectious, lively and well executed set from Vann Music. Their recent single ‘Tina’ with its summery vibes was a perfect complement to the set and sent the gathered audience into a dancing, singing frenzy.
Walking on Cars played to a packed out Biere Halle at last year’s event. This year they were the hotly anticipated band next to the headliner on the main Stage. And they did not disappoint lifting the roof with their now numerous hits but none more so than their breakthrough song ‘Catch me if you Can’.
If you weren’t in the HMV Big Top for Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip’s last Irish gig, then look away now. Closing out an eight year collaboration we came to their church and said our psalms right alongside Scroobius Pip as the lyricist read from his prayer book with Dan pushing the entranced crowd as far as he could with his frantic beats. It will be a performance that will go down in the books and though the duo are going their separate ways their set sounded fresh, angry and had a promise of more about it.
It’s well known that when the Galtees are clear then rain is coming. Thankfully while the East Coast was being washed away on Saturday Deerpark only suffered showers. I was lucky enough to be under the HMV Big Top Tent come half six waiting for The Coronas to come on stage. Unlike the dozens who stood outside the packed tent in the rain in order to catch a glimpse of their heroes. The Coronas announced on Thursday they were the Special Guests of the Big Top. The purpose of the pop up gig became clear soon after their opening tracks as they treated Deerpark to some new material and the upcoming single ‘I’m Not Saying’. Even the rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of those who had come to see them perform, to sing along to their many, many hit songs, and maybe catch a photo as they left.
Rarely do stars of reality singing contests live up to the hype once they hit the touring circuit. Kellie Lewis is the exception since she has been performing and touring for longer than she can remember. The Voice contestant may have become nationally renowned as Doloros O’Riordan’s protégé. With a mixture of covers and her own material Kellie’s stage presence and performance in the Biere Halle was far stronger and engaging than the Irish population has seen thus far. If you get the chance, her show is worth catching.
Honestly, I went to the Hudson Taylor gig having heard many good things but not entirely convinced of their Mumford and Sons aspirations. I left, however, a converted fan. The praise they have earned since they first came on the scene is well deserved. They are a well rounded touring band. With some hints of Paul Simon and even Miley Cyrus the two brothers bring something new to country music. They closed with a cover of Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’, enough said.
Hot on the news that they had signed a deal with Universal Music that week an exuberant and triumphant Delorentos took to the Canadian Main stage. The tent was packed with an expectant crowd who not only wanted to hear favourites like ‘Do you Realise’, ‘Stop’, and ‘Secret’ but also tracks from eagerly anticipated LP ‘Night Becomes Light’. The artwork was ready as were the band that happily played new material and thoroughly warmed up the crowd ahead of headliners White Lies.
It was a quick dash over to the Big Top to catch The Sultans of Ping. Ask anyone since the line-up was announced and if they were from Cork likelihood is The Sultans of Ping were who they were looking forward to. While many were there to say they saw ‘Where’s Me Jumper’ performed live they left with no doubt that they had just witnessed something very special.
Back it was to the Main Stage for Saturday’s headliners White Lies. For me, they caught my attention with ‘Farewell to the Playground’ and made an appearance as headliners at Indiependence 2010. What could people expect four years later? Well White Lies brought everything with them to Deerpark; bells, whistles, and the kitchen sink. And of course the track I had on repeat for about a year.
Wedding duties meant I had to forgo on an extraordinary Sunday line-up. But as a repeat Indiependencer it’s a pleasure to watch the festival grow over the years. The ideals of the festival organisers that things should be simple and that the quality of music cannot be compromised has ensured stellar headline acts and bands who love to return to North Cork.