Part 2 of our Festival Memories comes in a week where there’s been so many announcements regarding festival line-ups. The Sea Sessions line-up was announced which includes Ziggy Marley, Bell X1, Fred, The Delays and more. Temple House Festival added a whole bunch of Irish artists to it’s line-up. The best news of the day is that Yo La Tengo was added to Forbidden Fruit.
Here are some Festival Memories from musicians and music lovers:
Colin Devlin – Musician and lead singer with The Devlins
The great thing about festivals is that not unlike failed relationships, with time you tend to remember only the good things and forget about the bad. Freezing in the pissing rain, queuing for over priced pints in crap plastic cups, medieval toilets, the staggering drunk
lurching around you as you try to watch your favourite band.
For me, as a musician, apart from all the amazing acts you get to see at the top of their game playing songs you know and love, the best part of playing at festivals has been the amazing conversations I’ve had backstage in portacabins with other musicians. Spending the afternoon with Jeff Tweedy from Wilco when The Devlins played Oxygen, doing the same with Ben Harper, or shooting the breeze with David Byrne or REM over a drink.
Watching Nick Cave with his arm around Kylie Minogue was a highlight (a fairly gruesome twosome it has to be said).
When we played at the Electric Picnic a few years back I was so excited that Kraftwerk where on the bill, they were amazing, and we’d finished our set so I was fairly out of it by the time they hit the stage, which as we all know it the only way to deal with a festival from beginning to end. But my lasting memory is of the techno pioneers traipsing through the mud backstage after the gig in full gear trying to negotiate their way to their van. It was very cool to see The Man Machine in full effect in a field in County Laois!
I was eight when Blur and the Crash Test Dummies played at Feile, and cried when I was told I couldn’t go. Ten years later, I attended my first weekend festival, Oxygen 2005.
When the complete line-up was announced, I knew exactly who I wanted to see and what times those bands were playing. In reality, this was a lot more difficult to achieve for a blind festival goer. I had the choice of camping with two groups of friends; the ones who would drink excessively and possibly abandon me somewhere, or the ones who liked completely different music to me. I spent my time being divided between two groups so we could all do what we liked. The fact that our phones were constantly out of coverage didn’t make finding people easy.
I wandered round trying to introduce friends to new music. I reluctantly watch Snoop Dog and surprisingly enjoyed him! The Frames were a personal highlight. During Green Day’s set I concentrated more on not getting trampled on than the actual band.
On Sunday I watched the Beautiful South, Feeder and Mundy. I chose The Killers over Josh Ritter because a friend loved them, but the sound was rubbish. By this stage I was getting ridiculously sunburned but the sun cream was all sold out. I was more interested in staying around for the Foos than going back to the tent.
Next morning we waded through rubbish, out of the campsite and on to the bus for an eight hour journey home. I was exhausted, dirty, half cremated but happy. I’d finally experienced a proper music festival, and although I haven’t been back to one since, it’s something every music fan should do at least once.
Chris O’Brien – Guitarist with The Riot Tapes
In ’93 I went to Lollapalooza. As I was walking through the crowd I heard a loud voice yelling my name. Turning around I discovered that Kim Deal, who I vaguely knew, was shouting at me and waving her arms frantically. Dear God.
She grabbed me and dragged me through a big crowd and past some security and then, to my shock, we were in the wings of the main stage. I asked her, for about the tenth time what was happening; I’ll never forget her response: laughter.
After about 10 minutes Kim took me onto the mainstage and in front on thousands of folks and asked If she could… shave my head!
What could I say?
Sadly, it was a very painful experience, which seemed to greatly amuse Kim.
My friends who I went with didn’t know what was happening until they saw me on stage, looking very pained and losing a foot of hair.
Years later I saw Kim again and reminded her of the experience.
She laughed and called me a “big baby”.
Fergal Moloney – Singer with The Dirty 9s
Sometimes its good to meet your heroes
When I got back from Electric Picnic in 2010, my tent was flooded and subsequently abandoned, my shoes were destroyed, and someone had scrawled all over my guitar. One of these was a good thing!
We were there to perform at the festival on the Poball Gaeilge stage, doing a set 100% in the Irish Language while our guitarist Cian was working for Raidio Na Life, who were broadcasting live from the festival.
On the Sunday Afternoon, while walking around enjoying his backstage access, Cian sees 2FM’s Dan Hegarty trying to get his old friend Glen Hansard to record an acoustic session for the station and YouTube channel, with Glen protesting saying he didn’t have a guitar with him. Cian, seeing this, couldn’t resist and retrieved my guitar which he gave to Glen who went on to play the Swell Season song ‘Low Rising’ on it.
During all of this I was out watching Two Door Cinema Club when I got a phone call saying “Glen Hansard is playing your guitar, come over!”. So in I snuck to the backstage area with Cian’s help, and they say you shouldn’t meet your heroes, but this was one I was glad to meet.
He was a pure gentleman, asked all about our band, posed for photos and didn’t even mind when I burdened him with our CD.
My guitar now has the treasured inscription “Fergal, thank you, you saved my ass Glen H.”
Tony Fitz – Singer with the band Susie Soho
Oscar Wilde called memory “the diary we all carry about with us.”
Our festival memories then, are those rare diary entries which capture a dense cluster of moments we look back on for years and smile about.
There are so many moments that are still vivid for me from festivals gone by: talking to Gary Lightbody in the Treatment area at Wittness more than a decade ago, when no-one knew who he was; seeing Muse in a tent at the Trinity Ball just after Showbiz was released, while trying to ignore the people having sex on the grass just outside; hearing that Gemma Hayes’ set was cancelled at Wittness when the stage she was due to play on sank; playing a mini-festival in Cork and ending up on stage with Damien Rice, playing guitar for his 2 hour long set; having dinner beside The Killers when I played Oxegen for the first time, and bumping into Taylor Hawkins backstage afterwards; cursing the lack of a wheelbarrow when hauling too-heavy camping gear back to a car that seemed impossibly far away at Electric Picnic; and seeing acts like Foo Fighters, Nine Inch Nails, James Brown, Jason Mraz, Rage Against The Machine, The Frames and Nick Cave play sets that reminded me how much I love live music. I have a very full diary.
Anyone who goes to festivals year in year out has moments like these, big and small, that stick in the memory. Everyone remembers who was there with them during those moments. Musicians, fans, even the mad incomprehensible lunatics who never leave the campsite, festivals make diarists of us all. I’m pretty sure that what keeps us coming back.