Adam Lawler rounds up the hottest festivals to attend in the year of our Lorde 2018.
It isn’t freezing, it’s only lashing rain every second day, and the eternal grey that leaves you confounded as to whether it’s morning or evening is occasionally broken up by some sun; hey guys, it’s officially almost Irish summer. That qualifier is needed because an Irish summer isn’t like a regular summer; even our hottest day is undercut with chills, unseen even by the UK, which is like the tropics compared to here, despite their complaints. Summer in Ireland isn’t hot but that’s okay; this year’s festival line-ups look clouty with a chance of Heineken-sponsored rain.
EP is the true UCD festival, appealing to every demographic and providing the mainstream element that every other festival revolves around.
Electric Picnic continues to be the go-to Splenda-esque Glastonbury substitute in Ireland, and this year’s line-up may have the 16-year-old blue WKD enthusiasts shaken to their cores, but its riches are bountiful. Kendrick Lamar, Massive Attack, and N.E.R.D form the headlining trio, with indie queens St. Vincent, Jessie Ware, Sigrid, Garbage, and Wolf Alice mixing icy Workmans cool with the good vibes Chvrches, George Ezra, and Dua Lipa are bringing to the table. In the grand scheme of festivals, and if festivals were paralleled by colleges, EP is the true UCD festival, appealing to every demographic and providing the mainstream element that every other festival revolves around. The giant Stradbally party is placed at the tail-end of the summer (August 31st to September 2nd) so it creates a climactic feeling, the culmination of all other festivals and of summer in general.
Body & Soul remains a mainstay for those who see themselves as chill and at one with nature (read: IADT). The festival takes place from June 22nd to 24th in Ballinlough Castle, Westmeath in a gorgeous forest environment. The outdoor element combined with colourful art installations, vibrant clothing choices, woodland discos, workshops, and discussions, keeps it srongly within the festival ethos of leaving reality and immersing in music. This year is packed with transcendent dance and electronic acts such as Jon Hopkins, Fever Ray, Daithí, and Shamir, plus Irish alt-pop goddesses Saint Sister.
The main pick of the bunch, however, is The War on Drugs, whether you think they’re gorgeous Springsteen-esque long-car-journey rock or “beer commercial lead guitar shit.”
If Body & Soul is the IADT of festivals, Forbidden Fruit is NCAD through and through: a bit pretentious, but ultimately kind of cool. Taking place on the June Bank Holiday weekend in Kilmainham, there is a tsunami of cool acts such as Kendrick collaborator Thundercat, charismatic two-step MC Vince Staples, Glass Animals, and, ahem, Idris Elba, for the thirsty among us. The main pick of the bunch, however, is The War on Drugs, whether you think they’re gorgeous Springsteen-esque long-car-journey rock or “beer commercial lead guitar shit.”
Longitude returns to Marley Park in July. The fact that there’s no camping means picking and choosing the best days remains the culture, but this hasn’t stopped the same 16-year-old crowd from crying out about the hip-hop-centric line-up. Ignoring the fact that it’s truly astonishing that a popular music festival would pick acts based on the music that is popular at present, Friday and Saturday promise to be fiery affairs. Sunday continues to be the chill, indie-adjacent come-down day, having hosted The National, Christine and the Queens, and Father John Misty in recent years. If you’ve been claiming Sunday tickets for years for this very reason, this year is your karmic pot of gold. Solange, Sampha, SZA, and Anderson .Paak form the ethereal basis of the Sunday mood, and with the clout each has gathered over the last couple of years, miss them at your peril; they won’t be back soon.
Knockanstockan is still the go-to small, raucous Irish indie experience; there you will find Munky, Kojaque, and up-and-coming Irish rapper JyellowL, who performed at UCD Fashion Show last year, before it was a trainwreck.
The most interesting prospect, however, isn’t any of the well-established summer bops. It’s the brand new All Together Now festival in the gorgeous Curraghmore House, Waterford, over the August Bank Holiday weekend. For its “maiden voyage” this year they really pulled out all the stops with some impressively high-calibre acts including folk worriers Fleet Foxes, electronic innovator Mura Masa, futurist R&B icon Kelela, Swedish country sisters First Aid Kit, Jape, Ghostpoet, Talos, Mogwai, Róisín Murphy, Chaka Khan… you would be forgiven for having to sit down after reading the line-up.
We may get shit weather, but as everyone’s dad says, if you waited for sunny days to go outside in this country you’d never do anything. We know how to make the most of the rare sunny day, and this summer’s festivals amount to one colourful and vibrant celebration.