I don’t know what it is about Sunday afternoons at Indiependence that makes them the best part of the festival. Maybe it’s me – I have had two days to tune myself into the event; two days of virtually no sleep to leave me ready to just go with the flow. Maybe it’s the vibe – it’s different. As my companion Ollie noted, the tumbleweed rolling round the empty Jagermeister stand, heaving with people only a day earlier, suggests that the drinking and partying have taken their toll. Most of the festival goers are sleeping it off in the campsite or watching matches in the Mitchelstown pubs.
It’s not that the place is empty; it’s just that there is a smaller, more chilled, crowd. The people that you meet talk with you rather than shout at you. There’s space and time for conversation and the highs and lows of the past couple of days give a shared experience to lubricate it.
So how was the Sunday at Indie 2016?
Entering the clean and (thank you Lord) dry arena at the 3pm opening time we wend our way to the Beer hall. A head stuck into the main tent revealed a proper trumpet sound-checking. Good enough for me – I’m a sucker for a real brass instrument.
A welcome addition to the beer hall programme is Culture Vultures. Like a radio show on stage a few bands come on, play a couple of songs with limited and mainly acoustic instruments, and chat. We procure the most palatable beer on offer – Chieftain IPA (€6.50 per pint – one way to get us to drink sensibly!) – sit on a converted pallet and take it in. Bairbre Anne belts out a tune and talks with confidence and clarity, so she gets added to the roster for the afternoon. Fang Club wander on stage with acoustic guitar and bass and play a well-constructed and thoughtful song before telling us they are really loud and heavy – they’re on the list. Add these to previously identified targets and we are in for a busy afternoon yomping across the festival site from main stage to big top. We load up with another beer, strap on the seat-belt, ensure our tray tables are up and our window blinds open… and we’re away.
August Wells – Main tent: crowd 4 rising to 40
Guitar, keyboard, violin and trumpet – a chilled, laid back sound with some pretty intense lyrics. Reminded me of Tom Waits but less gravel in the voice and softer in the style. Not “folk”, close to “modern country”. Sung well, played well, good songs – makes for a good start.
Model Aeroplanes – Big top: crowd 15 rising to a hundred or so
Young enough to be my grandchildren. Flowing locks of the early 70’s era. Scottish – coming all the way from Dundee. A guitar based indie-pop band that don’t have a particularly different or distinctive sound but make up for it with bags of enthusiasm. The songs are catchy and well put together – concise and tight. Excellent… move on
Picture This – main tent huge crowd
The size of the crowd is unexpected – this is not normal. Time to sit outside and eat a rather tasty curry. Can still hear the music, which is pleasant but not earth shattering – expect them to be enormous in 2017.
Bairbre Anne – Big top: crowd 50 or so rising to a good number
Tiny human being, huge voice. Comparisons to Adele or Alicia Keys are inevitable and not unwarranted. She writes good tunes and engages with the audience and does not take herself too seriously even though the songs are kind of dark and downbeat in nature. It’s a combination that works. Throws in a contemporary cover, which is good though I longed for something less mainstream and more quirky (eg Ham Sandwich version of Kate Bush) – go find a Jimmy Webb song! Deserves every success
CC Brez – main tent: arrived late – crowd at 150 or so
Funk, reminiscent of upbeat early Simply Red (read all the carefully chosen words, this is not a bad thing!). The perfect Sunday afternoon Indiependence band. Music to move around to and feel the rhythm – great stuff
Bitch Falcon – Big top; plenty
Late again, didn’t stay long. Heavy rock and vocals just a bit too shouty for me. No offense meant, just wrong band at the wrong time
Coasts – main tent: arrived early – crowd 6 so stood at the front, grown a lot by the end
Brace yourselves – it’s the 80’s juggernaut! Scottish. A bit like Talk Talk would have sounded if they had had twice the members and the money to buy lots more instruments. Huge sound, very loud, highly confident. If the world ever finds itself in the right mood, these guys could be enormous. Would fill the 02 (musically) with ease. Super confident lead singer has a good voice and plenty of attitude. This is (again) not a bad thing … liked them
Fang Club – Big Top: a fair few, but plenty of space to get to the front
Nirvana is the obvious influence, get beyond this and understand there is originality and song writing here. Relentless, but with enough moments of light and shade to make it interesting. Very tight musically – filled the “large and loud” Sunday slot traditionally provided by The Minutes with style. Enormous and not easy to follow.
So we take a break, nip back to the tent and get 30 mins “power relaxing” before heading back to …
Wyvern Lingo – Big Top; big crowd
First band of the day that we’ve actually seen before. Positive progression musically and performance wise. They remain a band with a message, but seem to be more nuanced in their presentation of it. Good variation in style and different vocalists give an engaging contrast in the focal point whilst retaining the sense that we are watching one band. Very good.
Another beer is needed, so skirt round the main stage (sorry Ash) to
Jupe – Beer hall; just a few of us
Full credit to the bands that play the Beer Hall. There is a lot going on in front of them (people buying drink, chatting round tables, playing table-tennis… it makes sense, you have to be there!). Persistence and fortitude are the order of the day. Jupe give us this in spades. Whilst their home ground is rooted in pop-rock (their cover is Bob Marley) they have good song writing at their core, and they are a tight group of musicians.
Editors – main stage; nowhere near full
Last leg of the day, and we find the headliners. Editors are a bit of a marmite band, not many people think they are “just OK”. Some see lead player Tom Smith as an arrogant arsehole. He is a compelling yet distant figure that can seem aloof. We like them, and with five albums behind them there is a back catalogue to pick a pretty awesome set from. They do just that, even including a new song to keep the purist happy. Big sound, big performance, big ending.
The big top is still going, but 11 bands into one day is pushing the limits, so we call it and head back to a sleepless night listening to drunken idiots and the incessant rain.
Is it worth it? Hell, yes. Indiependence is small enough to be in control of and big enough to attract an eclectic mix of talented performers from Ireland and beyond. Some will flourish, others will never be seen again – that is the cruel reality of the music business. The thing is that on an Indie Sunday they give their all, and I for one am so very happy that they do.