Festival Memories #1

With festival season well and truly upon us – not sure how many more launches we can take – we at 4fortyfour thought it time to ask journalists, bloggers, musicians and fans for their favourite (or earliest) festival memories. We’ll post the results over the next few weeks but, for now, here’s your first instalment.

John MeagherJournalist, Irish Independent
There was nothing glamorous about my early experience of festivals. The Trip to Tipp took place just up the road in Semple Stadium, Thurles, and seemed mundane even to a wide-eyed 17-year-old. Everything – from the line-up to the food to the weather – smacked of dreariness.

By contrast, my first experience of Slane was will always have a special place in my heart. It may not be a festival per se, but 1995’s instalment remains the Slane I enjoyed most, even if they night was tainted by “losing” my then girlfriend half-way through REM. Mobile phones were pretty much non-existent back then and we both endured stressful journeys back to Dublin hoping the other had the sense to stop looking through the 80,000 crowd

As an REM obsessive for most of my latter teens, the prospect of seeing them live was tantalising. They hadn’t been on the road for six years before then, remember, but they certainly didn’t disappoint. It would be the last time drummer Bill Berry would play on Irish soil.

But while REM kicked up a Monster racket, it was Oasis who stole my heart. It’s easy to forget how vital they once were. On that evening in July 16 years ago, Liam Gallagher seemed to have it all. His simian swagger and sneering, nasally delivery remain etched on my mind.

Claire ByrneBlogger, Lights Turned On
The bank holiday weekend of August 2002 I set out for Reading Festival – my first non Irish festival. I’d heard horror stories of some UK festivals what with people generally being violently drunk, setting fire to campsites and upending portaloos left, right and centre (not too far off from many experiences at Oxygen, I know I know).

Luckily our weekend was filled with great music, chats with fellow music fans and trying to sneak vodka into the venue at every opportunity. With a line up that offered such rock acts as Muse, The Prodigy, Incubus, NOFX and Raging Speedhorn to dance and alternative acts like Ladytron, The Herbaliser, Aphex Twin and Luke Vibert I was sold from the get go.

My friend and I eagerly tried to see as many of our favourite acts as we could and I recall being at logger heads over how much time I could spend at Aphex Twin before she dragged me over to The Strokes on the main stage. Amen and Raging Speedhorn managed to both blow me away and make my ears bleed at the same time (not literally) and I’ve had a newfound respect for heavy rock/metal bands ever since.

My main memories are witnessing the mother of all bottle throwing mosh pits at Incubus which caused Brandon Boyd to plead with the crowd for restraint, drunkenly stumbling upon a Pitchshifter fan and raving about great it was that they had reformed, dancing like a monkey child to Aphex Twin and gazing goggle eyed at the loud noise that was Alec Empire. It was the music festival that opened my eyes and ears to new music and the appreciation that comes with it.

My first festival was the one and only Ozzfest in 2002, in Punchestown. It was probably one of the balmiest days I can remember, just really oppressively sticky. Of course, it didn’t help that I was wearing a massive biker jacket with a denim-coat pulled over it. I was there to see Slayer and nobody else. My first ‘Circle of Death’ was at Ozzfest, too.

If I remember this correctly, Dave Lombardo of Slayer came out during System of a Down’s set and played a song with them. Naturally, I went berserk and ran straight into the first mosh I could find. Silly me. Being a slight lad of sixteen years, I had thrown myself head headlong into a man’s game. I won’t go into specifics because I genuinely can’t remember. All I know is I landed about ten feet away from where I had originally entered the vortex of B.O and muck, upside down with a woeful bruise on my head.

The next day, I had Mock Exams in school. It was impossible for me to move my neck. I remember being genuinely frightened and exhilarated by that – that I had head-banged so hard, I was looking at permanent damage.

Rick MoodleyThe Fan
The last Trip to Tipp.

1994, a year before mobile phones and texting and in a time when: ‘I’m just in the door of the pub, where are you?’ did not exist!

Aged 18, in 2nd year engineering in ULA, (University Limerick Actually), doing my work experience year and the landline rings. Caller telling me I had won the lotto. Hardly, giveaway being the sound of coins dropping into the pay phone on the other end.

‘Yeah. We’re going to Feile’, the caller says. ‘Meet me in the square at 2’,
‘Grand, I’ll get the train down’.

Next day, got on a special Feile train from Athlone and headed Thurles. Felt kinda out of place as everyone else had a feed of cans. I tried to ignore the ensuing debauchery by listening to some Faith No More on my Sony Walkman, this 1 had a digital clock on it, Apple? Pffft!

Two and a half hours later I arrived in Thurles made my way to the main square along with 8-10 thousand other punters. Fack. How am I gonna find this dude?

Easy, he’s a flaming ginger. 10 minutes after 2 I found him, sorted. Now beer.
Cans of harp in a Dunnes bag on the menu, thanks Bert!

Set up out 1 man tent. Made our way to the stadium. Journey interuppted by some traveller charlatan that wanted to take Berts’ money via a 3 card game, of which Bert duly gave them £60. Sixty pounds in 1994!! I had to drag him onwards.

The approach to the stadium soon gave way to a blur of alcohol fuelled good vibes for the coming weekend. 2 days of excellent performances from Bjork or BJ Ork as we called her in her flourescent dress, the Beautiful South were a surprise turn out for the books. Rage Against the Machine at the height of their power was unreal, Tom Morillo’s Arm the Homeless guitar and Zach de la Rocha eyeballing me is something I’ll never forget.

Funniest moment of the weekend was when a blow up doll made it’s way on to the stage when the House of Pain were on. The next thing was: Danny-Boy’s right boot giving an almighty toe-bog between the dolls legs and launched the poor lady back into the crowd.

The Prodigy gave an unbeliveable performance, although, they were highlighting their new album, Music for the Jilted Generation, not too many of the crowd knew about this, although I had bought it a few months before and was lapping it all up. Keith Flint in a straight jacket, Leroy 7ft8 dancing, Liam hidden, and Maxim Reality with cateye contact lenses, it all actually worked out really well.

Other notable performances: Cypress Hill, Crowded House, Blur, The Cranberries.

Final memory of feile, going to a shop on Sunday morning and getting Lucozade and a Mars bar for breakfast and sitting outside on the kerb. Across the road from us we notice a door in a wall, fairly non descript and every few minutes it would open. We made our way over to investigate where these periodic mini-queues were leading to? ‘Knock, open-wide, see what’s on the other side. Knock, knock anymore, come with me through the magic door’. 1984, Bosco, RTE.

Low and behold, a pub on the other side, met a few randomers, had a few beers, got kicked out, back to the stadium, back to the revelling.

I’ve always felt like doing it again and didn’t until the 1st Witnness and that another instalment.

If you’re a journo, blogger, musician or fan and would like to contribute to our festival memories section, please email itsdarkwerewearingsunglasses at gmail dot com and we’ll get back to you straight away.

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1 Response to Festival Memories #1

  1. Peter444 says:

    These bring back lots of memories for me ….. I have to say in terms of entertainment I thought REM justified their greatness by playing Oasis off the park in Slane ’95. Loved it when burning paper cups were flung into the air during one of the slow songs in REMs setlist. In Feile ’94 the best band for me were Primal Scream who blew me away with their sound.

    Will have to write a few lines for the next post!

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