BUMP! Festival // The 405 Review
Ireland has a handful of cornerstone music festivals, such as Oxegen, which was cancelled this year; the diverse Electric Picnic; the newly sensationalised Indiependence; the Cork Jazz Festival; and a few more. Over the last five years, the electronic scene remained a strictly underground concept: very few people knew about it, and only a small subculture contributed to the scene. It has altered, but not altered by a whole lot. Ireland, especially Limerick City, is seeing its gradual shift to an underground popularity, creating carbon copies of what happened in the outskirts of Chicago, the downtown of Detroit, the Krautrock basement era and many other eras alike. At the helm of Ireland's electronic scene came Limerick-based Macronite, a monthly underground event that now hosts a vast range of local and international bests in D'N'B, techno, house and a multitude of subgenres of the aforementioned. Furthering the prowess of the event brought about BUMP! Festival, a relatively young event that has an enormity of potential to be one of Europe's leading underground festivals.
Organised by a wide range of Limerick City's finest underground promoters and DJs, BUMP! bore the slogan "A City Reborn" as it presented choir recitals in the famous Hunt Museum; art exhibits in Ormston House, Raggle Taggle Studios and Faber Studios; a DJ scratching workshop in Ormston House; as well as around 40 live acts and DJ sets across the city in five of Limerick's most visited music venues.
Though local DJs highly praised the professional drum 'n' bass performances of Loxy and Fracture & Neptune at Dolan's Warehouse on the first night, it was Saturday--day two--that was to be one of Limerick City's finer gigs. This night was an extreme juxtaposition of separate styles. Hardcore Berlin-esque techno was blaring in the Warehouse section just as dubby chill-out reggae was on the upstairs and experimental, naturalistic DJ scratching hip-hop was being amplified on the Terrace platform of the venue.
Before the techno galore commenced, the Irish premier of the documentary Paris/Berlin: 20 Years of Underground Techno was projected at the venue. The highly informative and exclusively detailed 52-minute film featured some of France and Germany's finest underground musicians discussing the history of techno transitioning from a secretively illegal scene to a European tourist attraction. Directed by Amelie Ravalec, the documentary has potential to expand to more episodes. It will be one of the classic documentaries of music journalism.
The prequel of the hip-hop performances was the young Adam Bentley, who began a subtle warm-up with a speedy, youthful Prodigy-like start, and then developed his sounds into a blend of strong house and typical UK garage circa 1997. Following the smoothly instinctive DJ, two of Dublin's Alphabet Set scratchers came aboard to slip in an eclectic fortress of various hip-hop styles. Mikey Fingers and Deviant both produced an intriguing workshop on typical DJ scratching that day in Ormston House, in the inner city. Nearly ten hours later, referable Quasimoto-like samples were stirred up by Mikey Fingers as Deviant silkily etched his way into the duo, chirping and crab-scratching the decks to the trippiest of Harlem style hip-hop. Compared to a new age DJ Shadow, mynameisjOhn stormed the desks with an abstract and highly innovative collaboration of clean, rudimentary electronics fused with circular tremolo bleeps at high speeds. Then, subtly blending traditional beats to a Motor City rap, you'd question whether the Clare native was more joined to DJ Shadow or Earl Sweatshirt.
The main stage in the Warehouse revealed the factory musician, Giles Armstrong, who has represented himself at Electric Picnic and Life Festival in previous years. The experienced DJ thumped out heavy loaded bass that matched teeth-grinding techno. At intervals, the indigenous show-starter spontaneously ruptured swirling hooks of gut-trembling bass-lines with vein-popping horns in between, resulting in a fine warm-up. One of the most travelled DJs in the underground world, KR!Z, took the stage afterward, continuing the overdose of strenuous techno about. After the owner of Token label departed, headlining act Reeko stole the stage with a hazy, high-pitched ambient intro. The Asturian then propelled out of the anticipated build-up with light tempo minimalism. Finishing off the final Dolan's event of BUMP! Festival, the DJ--who started releasing material in 2002--fed the venue with exploding drums and singular, intermittent beeps.
Despite the highly anticipated 3D lightshow being cancelled on the final night, the festival was a surprising success, especially when considering it was the first time the organisers switched from a camping festival to a city festival. It becomes highly problematic, however, when we turn to the fact that most of the main events were purely underground, often perplexing locals when told that there was an electronic arts festival in their city. Without clashing with popular ideals, the festival's underground principles needed an extra push from the mainstream culture. The entire event was mainly institutionally organised, lacking outside and outer-culture assistance, which positively meant that the subculture's needs were fulfilled. Fortunately, there was no element to deter the chances of BUMP! Festival doubly or triply prospering next year, as they profusely complemented their "A City Reborn" slogan.