So with no Mantua this year, my August Bank Holiday weekend didn’t know what to do with itself. It just didn’t seem right to not spend the weekend drinking Buckfast in a soggy field with a bunch of lunatics. With a few festivals offering not-all-that-much-really around the country on the same weekend, I decided to hit a few birds with a stone (stone = Bus Eireann ticket) and visit some people in Cork while taking in some bands at the Indiependence Festival in Mitchelstown. So after a fun night in the wild pubs of Midleton on Friday night, we ventured over to Mitchelstown where the sun began to shine and pitched our tents on a not-too-slopey patch of grass around the perimeter of the local GAA pitch. It was a funny campsite, in that there weren’t many people there, but because everybody was camped around the outskirts of the field (until they opened the edges of the pitch later on Saturday), we were quite spread out. Still, it was a pretty nice crowd and plenty of fun was had each night.
The line-up was a bit patchy but enough to keep me satisfied for the weekend, avoiding the likes of The Blizzards, OCS and Delorentos and trying to catch the better half of the line-up, most of whom I’ve seen a couple of times but one or two that I wanted to see for the first time. Now the biggest problems with this little festival were a few poor decisions with the layout, the unfortunately muddy site on an otherwise glorious Saturday, the constant rain on Sunday and the fact that stages didn’t just run off schedule, they weren’t even running the right day at times! This all made it quite difficult (despite the fact that you could kick a member of The Blizzards from one corner of the site to the other) to catch people because you just never knew when anybody might take to the stage. Other than that, the festival was as good as one could expect from a small festival with a two-day plus camping admission price of €59. There were only two beer tents, but I never had to queue and €4.50 a pint with a nice €2 plastic Bavaria glass is as good as you’re going to get in this country. There was minimal food options, but with the town only a few minutes walk away and an Aldi and Maxol garage next door, there could be no complaints. On Sunday, we even took a stroll around town to get dinner, check out Xtra-Vision and generally spread our wellie-mud since there was a big lull in the line-up.
As for the music… well, as I said, I’d seen a lot of the good bands before, so it was all a bit of a case of catching up with some familiar faces and seeing the same old stuff in stranger circumstances. Carosel continued to pedal the kind of pleasant but bland tunes that aspire to soundtrack MTV “reality” shows about spoilt brats. Meanwhile, The Stone Roses Experience drew a fairly large crowd. Due to the line-up confusion, I didn’t get to see any of Heathers and instead saw most of Ham Sandwich on the main stage as they proved that despite all the radio-friendly hits, their biggest draw is the fact that Podge is as entertaining on-stage as he is in the campsite after a few bottles of Bucky. Waiting to see R.S.A.G. for the bazillionth time, it became apparent that he wasn’t gonna show up, so Messiah J & The Expert came on a little early and played a fantastic set, which really got the crowd going but kind of tailed off towards the end. We quickly ran over to the Red Bull Village (truck) to catch Sickboy for the first time. I’m glad I finally saw these guys because their foot-stomping rock was as impressive a performance as I saw all day. Watching Le Galaxie hurl abuse across the field at MayKay, it was difficult to know what day it was (as the spacey-rock boys were due to play Sunday). But we headed back into the Cypress Avenue stage to watch the Apes do what they do. It was a hit-and-miss set with a couple of problems and half-hearted performances amidst a few great renditions and the usual violent antics of Jamie and MayKay. It wasn’t their best performance, but then, neither was Oxegen. We sat around, listening to OCS crank out the 14-year-old hits from a distance and waited for the belated R.S.A.G. show which drew a decent crowd and was earnest enough to win the crowd over after his no-show earlier in the evening, which MayKay announced was due to his “spaceship not arriving on time”.
Sunday’s line-up was distinctly less cluttered with quality, but we made our way in to see Reemo on the Red Bull stage. Obviously, they didn’t go on at the scheduled time so we were treated to some fairly non-descript acts while we waited in the rain. Reemo eventually came on and played a fast-paced set full of enthusiasm and vastly superior sound to many of the bands on this stage (and others) over the weekend. They also effortlessly walked away with the awards for Best Sunglasses on a Singer and Best Funny Faces by an Actor in a Bass-Playing Role. With nothing much going on, we caught bits of Wallis Bird who was just annoying, Fred and Dark Room Notes before Grand Pocket Orchestra did their best to bring some joy to the increasingly drenched crowd. After Director proved they really haven’t got much going for them and our little sojourn into town, we returned to await the weekend’s big name, Super Furry Animals. The Welsh lads were allotted a 70 min set and belted through some of their biggest hits to keep the determined remainder of the festival crowd happy. Great performances of “Rings Around The World”, “Hello Sunshine” and the brilliant “The Man Don’t Give A Fuck” had the crowd going suitably nuts. We ventured into town again for a cheesy-as-it-gets (for a town famous for cheese) disco in one of the local pubs called Micko’s.
All in all, a decent festival and a good time was had by all I met. Lord only knows if I’ll ever be back here or if my beloved Mantua will return to steal my heart again next year, but credit is due to the organisers for getting a half-decent festival together in a strange location in a small town in Cork. Pics of a few bands are below and loads more on Flickr.