If you’ve been paying attention the last few years, you’ll have noticed that around this time each year, Ireland is drenched in sunshine rather than hail showers. This immediately causes the entire nation to enter a state of delirium in which they believe that this is the beginning of a summer – a real summer. Don’t be so naive. By June, the flooding will be back and we’ll all be back to living in desperate hope that maybe, just maybe, the sun might creep out in the next week and we won’t have to enter into any mass suicide pacts. For the past few miserable summers I was thinking three things: 1) God hates us. 2) They should rearrange the academic year so the kids and the students can enjoy our false summer. And 3) they should also have learned to reschedule the music festivals to this beautiful time of year rather than charging people a fortune to suffer through the swamps during July & August.
The big festival players have refused to budge from their traditional spots on the calendar – a somewhat admirable “fuck you” to vicious mother nature. But next weekend (May Bank Holiday) there’s a new festival looking to fill the sunshiney gap in the market with a cheap festival in one of those places that’s not Dublin. Vantastival takes place in Dunany Estate in “mid-Louth”, one of those magical places that all seem to be “only 1 hour from Dublin!”. Regardless of distance and location, you would be hard pressed to find a better value deal at this time of year. Though their line-up isn’t earth-shattering and contains the odd dodgy act, it’s filled out by some of the best Irish acts around. Sure, headliners Kíla will play everything and anything but they’re never a dissapointment. Co-headliner Jack L would be better off working an all-night shift in a Topaz garage than playing festivals, but apparently there’s still a market for him. If a particularly accurate volcano could prevent him and his devastatingly huge ego from making it to the festival, it’d be much richer for his absence. But never mind that, look further down the line up (here) and see that this is an excellent opportunity to catch a whole pile of those Irish bands that you really should be familiar with in one location over one (hopefully) sunny weekend. Bands like O Emperor, Sounds of System Breakdown, Ambience Affair and Sleep Thieves have been mentioned here before and with great performers like Jinx Lennon on the bill, it wouldn’t be hard to get your money’s worth over the 3 stages. With 3-day tickets costing €85 and the usual array of other attractions like the fantastic Gramophone Disco, this weekend probably represents you best chance to enjoy a small Irish festival this summer that isn’t run by people who know more about ketamine than decent music.