Indiependence Festival 2012
Photo by Jeanie McDonald
Indiependence festival made a crisp transition this year from being moderately known to becoming one of Ireland's most acclaimed music events. With astonishing performances by Royseven, Jape, The Kanyu Tree, The Delorentos, Toby Kaar, Kodakid and many more, the festival offered musical variety, choice, very few problematic clashes and an incessantly positive atmosphere.
Dublin-based foursome, Machine Gun Baby, inserted their modest contribution at the start of the festival, flawlessly performing their newer material under The Big Top tent. Though a relatively small crowd attended – which is the norm for gate-openers – lead-singer Stewart Keegan happily complimented the arriving supporters, who were "full of beans and were up for a good show." Their popular single, 'My Skin', almost does the dead-ringer of Creedence and the golden era of Kings Of Leon. On stage, they perform it more instrumentally proficient with a spice of verve and energy.
Shortly after The Big Top opener, This Club took to the Indie Main Stage, only to offer something less conspicuous than their studio takes. Reflecting on their mission statement and their general musical manifesto, their presence would have defied the purpose of the festival, seeing that they have this overly bubbly, sleazily fruity six-year-old birthday party vibe to them. Contrary to that, pieces like 'Add It Up' and 'This Club' offered a Kitsune Records indie-dance that consisted of a constant flurry of affluent synths, steadfast medleys of a post-disco-like funk and almost ad-libbed jazzy electronics.
The first most anticipated act of the festival, on Day 1, saw western-Irish brothers of The Kanyu Tree furnishing a clean and euphorically melodic performance, especially with their cornerstone pieces – 'Radio' and 'Shelf Life'. The beauty of the gig was not entirely in the visual presentation, the individual attitudes or how the brothers executed their notes; it was the communal output of their sound. Complexly harmonious and freshly timed, their ideology of "letting the music do the talking" and "trial and error" proved the discreet professionalism of the group, ending with the ecstatically explosive and emotive 'Shelf Life'.
The first day ended in an okay state with The Japanese Popstars being granted the final gig of the night. Two projectors that barely clenched any form of creativity (saying "Come closer" and "The Japanese Popstars Love You" with inkified backgrounds), predictable smoke machines and an awkward moment of cutting out, the duo struggled to offer what had hoped to be one of the best post-midnight concerts of the festival. That does not steer away from their flaring warm-up; deafening hardcore techno, speedy transitions and a filthily exotic slice of underground acid-house. The suspense of the duo's performance rested with their beautiful bass-fuelled techno after their cut-out slip. But overall, nothing added up to what they were immortally capable of. It was, unfortunately, an anti-climactic drop after Jape's heart-gripping display.
Day 2 began with Waterford-based Kodakid generating one of the finest of indie performances of the entire festival. Though they're a band of "mutual friends," their musical differences were conveyed in their traits on stage. Kevin Power remained loose and laissez-faire on stage, as John Duignan brought to being a feisty and lucrative bassist. Lead guitarist, Alex Soikans added the funk-rock element to their zany performance, generating RATM wah-wah textures. The humorous and insightful Tony Browne complemented the instrumentally beautiful coordination between the four-piece, exposing a rich taste in his frequent use of the cymbals.
Later that evening, one of Ireland's most cherished contemporary artists, Royseven, exquisitely beamed a new light on their commitment to pleasing a crowd of many. It is innately instilled into major label acts to establish an entertaining showcase for a dedicated fandom or, indeed, a collective of piffling music lovers. Though this may be true, it is never a certainty that mainstream acts can portray real enthusiasm and genuine love for what they're doing on stage. As well as that, critical eyes may not see eye-to-eye with major label acts when it comes to making a musically colourful show. Royseven managed to tick those boxes aplenty throughout their short show. Musically, one cannot doubt the virtuosity of the group, seeing their insane inter-label experiences – from Universal Germany, to Roadrunner, to Warner. Vocally, lead-singer Paul Walsh is more refined than he was last year, at Oxegen 2011. Smooth, mellow and strenuous at the same time, the fashionably dressed pop figure profusely proved his passion for "[wanting] to get on stage and [having] a party".
At the end of a calm and insightful interview with Walsh, fifteen minutes after the quarterly-packed show, he stated that The Delorentos were a "fantastic band" and a fine example of figures in the current Irish music scene. He reflected on the fact that this was a four-piece band that never attached themselves to any major label, yet "reliably brought out classic albums." These words certainly didn't betray what was to be the cornerstone indie performance of the three days. Opening chirpily with a high-tempo rhythmic bomb, the show seldom resembled an Irish slant of Arctic Monkeys and Arcade Fire, with the rest of their set affirming a unique display. Though "wrecked" and "tense," as ardent bassist Níal admitted, pieces like 'Care For' still proved to be superfluously magnetic amongst an overcrowded audience of two thousand. Melodious and extravagantly mingled together by each of the group, the chants of "let it come down, down" upped the spirits of the festival. The beauty about this group is not just instilled in their sound, but it's in their off-stage characters as well. They speak on horizontal levels, even with their popular acclaim. Uniquely philosophical, creative and brightly minded, this is a group with no set frontiers, which was already established on their Indiependence platform.
Idiosyncratic, joyous, highly critical, opinionated on nearly every subgenre, Cork's Toby Kaar was a true enlightenment on the festival's DJ list. A playful character on stage, this is a guy who challenges the term 'electronic music', since nearly everything is electronically structured. With this ideology, it was recklessly impossible to pin-point a style or comparison in relation to his music. 'Bread', a cornerstone track of his, is a concoction of Kompakt's Coma, mingled with Gui Boratto's latest track 'This Is Not The End'. Though structurally clean and always wanting to "do things a different way," Kaar's performance matched what he said about the importance of "making music that means something to someone." It wasn't a show that focused on mindless aesthetics, just to get a couple of hundred dancing to a repetitive beat and synth lead. It was neither spoiled of any daunting tedium nor did it conform to any strict norms. It was a cross-fertilisation of different generation and geographic elements, all filed into a compact and sturdy performance.
Not beating around the bush and storming off the start of the show with an electrifying burst of audaciously exciting dance, Jape startled the festival with a cinematically fantastic exhibition. With vocals similar to Cut Copy and an energetically fun feel like Hot Chip and The 2 Bears, this Irish band did themselves a dramatic service by being at the top of festival's rave podium, as well as being the three-day trail-blazer. In an interview with the face of the group, Richie Egan, he mentioned: "I was a bit worried 'cause I had a bit of a chest infection this week," which was contrary to his masterful vocal performance.
Indiependence Music Festival – held in Mitchelstown, Cork – portrayed an array of niceties and few negatives. With the campsite and the five arenas closely knit together, the only deterrence to the time-saving and free-moving festivity was the typical Irish weather that caused the entire surface to act like annoying quicksand. The acts that were most anticipated were the ones who, strangely enough, seemed to create the anti-climaxes or the faultiest shows, bar Beardyman who cancelled due to a chest infection.