The greatest weekend of music that Ireland will see this year is all over and done with and kicked off my festival summer to perfection!!

My personal mantra being “full price is for fools”, we decided to head up to Punchestown on the Friday armed with coloured TYVEK wristbands ordered from eBay and cheeky grins! Despite last years ingenious creation of a blue armband from a pair of random boys boxer-short-elastic, our home made bands didn’t cut the mustard this year and although I got through the first 3 layers of security, got booted out on the 4th layer and we were back to sqaure one.  Sarah attempted to haggle with the official ticketmaster booth while I went scouting for touts. You can pick them out as when all the other festival-goers were marching straight up hill to get into the venue, the touts are the ones ambling lengthways across the field looking dodgily from side-to-side to offload tickets. Through a stroke of luck or genius, I managed to get talking to a random dude from New York who was working at the festival but was ‘on his break’ and happened to have a few genuine festival wristbands in his pocket! I sweet talked him out of 2, and we were fully branded/banded for the entire weekend! Full camping bands! Nice!! 🙂 Gave the guy 50 squids and praised him for his entrepreneurial spirit and off we jaunted into the main arena!

We were ecstatic to be in and had a quick drink before dashing to the Pet Sounds tent to get out of the shower that came out of nowhere. Were front of stage for Aphex Twin, raving with a load of drugged up teens but throughly enjoyed it all the same. Disappointed that he didn’t play Fingerbib, my all time favourite Aphex Twin choon, but Sarah was anxious to get out and see more acts, so we bounced out of there and toddled off to the Main Stage to hear Interpol. Panned out at the back on the grass and met some random dudes who shared their beer with us and danced to “Evil”. When the Interpol set ended we got in position for the highlight of Night 1, which was the KINGS OF LEON!!! As always, they put in a stellar performance but while we rocked out to the Kings, some of the “fans” around us didn’t appreciate our jumping up and down and one eejit of a girl muttered under her breath cursed loudly that we were too rowdy! HELLO?!?! You’re at a CONCERT you fool!!! We literally got pushed by her boyfriend forward into another group of people who weren’t too happy with being crushed, so THEY pushed us even more!! It was a bit chaotic, (what I think pissed them off the most, is that Sarah and I were laughing loudly and paying no heed to them….we were having a ball, was like being in a mosh pit!) We moved slightly to the side so we could actually dance and SEE the stage instead of being battered around the place and hung with a couple of sound guys from northern Ireland, who had plastic milk containers full of white wine! Not exactly Connoisseurs our lads from the north, but then again neither are we…so we promptly had a few swigs and got back into the swing of things for “Fans”. It was my second time seeing The Kings play live and they are INCREDIBLE!!

Day 2 started with us getting fancy-dressed up for the occassion, with scouser/afro wigs and neon pink and blue outfits. I had a Ra-Ra/Tutu skirt and Saz was in a velour short jumpsuit (!!) and we looked ridiculous but fabulous at the same time!!! We certainly put a few smiles on peoples faces throughout the day and got asked to pose for numerous photos, including one for HOT PRESS Magazine! We looked like something out of a throw back from a cheap 80’s workout video (and had the dance moves to prove it!)

Surprise music hightlight was the Ting Tings! They sound so poppy on the radio, but are much harder live, much rockier. We went mental for “Shut Up and Let Me Go” and “That’s not my NAME!” The tent was absolutely PACKED coz just before they came on the heavens opened but the atmosphere in there was electric and they blew us all away!

After all that dancing, we required refreshment and managed to put in a few solid hours in the infamous Bacardi Bar and downed plenty of mojitos for the exorbitant price of €8.00 for a small glass! ……..Oh, but they were so worth it! 😉

The Counting Crows put in a forgetable performance at the Main Stage but we made lots of new friends as we passed around mini crunchies to our fellow festivalers! Through the ingenious wranglings of my lil bro, we managed to get into the pit before Amy Winehouse came on stage, not knowing what to expect. After all the hype and seeing the “bad kareoke” that she called the Glastonbury performace, I was going more for the spectacle of seeing her than anything else. But boy, did she surprise!! Amy tottered out on stage in un-believably high heels and sipped on what looked like vodka and coke for the set, but was pitch-perfect and really entertained the entire crowd. Being in the pit ment shoulder-climbing was nigh-on impossible, as the security were crawling the place, pulling people down instantly. I tapped one of them on the shoulder when they were near us and asked them for a lift up, but to no avail!! I did get them dancing with us and jived around the pit with one old security dude! The 2 black guys she has doing backing vocals are amazing too and really added to the atmosphere of the show, getting the crowd involved. We had a great time, and was brilliant to see Amy in such close quarters (and not have her throw a punch at us!)

HOT CHIP were one of the highlights for me at Electric Picnic last year and I was really looking forward to seeing them live again at Oxegen. They stole the show for me on Saturday night and there was a big gang of us in the usual spot (front stage left!) so we went wild!!!……”OVER AND OVER, LIKE A MONKEY WITH A MINATURE CYMBAL!” Caught some Justice in the Dance Arena, before The Prodigy finished the night off with a bang, its been 12 years since I saw them last when they supported Oasis is Pairc Ui Caoimh in Cork and gotta say….they still have the energy to headline a major music festival!

Sunday was spectacularly sunny and the old jeans that I bought up to wear, got chopped into shorts for the occassion. With my pink neon leg warmers tucked into my flowery wellies, Sarah said I looked like a German hiker on acid! 🙂 Caught the Blizzards on the Main Stage and they were superb.  They were much further down the bill last year, and I’m looking forward to seeing them headlining one of the tents next year hopefully. lead singer = YUM! It was so sunny, we were just willing him to take his top off!

Was VERY excited about seeing MGMT and they started the set off brill, but had to stop proceedings as people started climbing up onto the tent scaffolding. One lunatic girl climbed up, to much applause and jeering from the crowd, but when she kept going higher and higher I was terrified that she was going to fall to her death. I have no idea how high up she was but it must have been 4 or 5 stories high. She climbed the full way up and managed to TOUCH the canvas of the marquee at the very top!!!!! At this stage, MGMT were off the stage and promoters were imploring people to get down or the band couldn’t come back on stage. Once the brave/foolhardy climber got to the top, she realised she had nowhere else to go…no dramatic ending, she had to simply climb back DOWN! By now, the crowd of MGMT fans had turned on her, realising that they were wasting precious concert-time while she was showing off and they started booing her and throwing plastic bottles and debris up towards her. It was all very dramatic and we were glued to her till she came back down and MGMT were able to come back on stage.

I love the Republic of Loose but had never had the chance to see them live yet, so was determined to get to them on the Sunday, but while they performed well, Mike Pyro the lead singer was pretty obnoxious demanding “Is there anyone out there?!” and “Are ye with us?!” We were rocking our butts off but he seemed to think that all 80,000 people at Oxegen should have been there just to see him. Difference between playing your own gig and a festival Mike!  Met my friend Rob who owns an inflatable fat suit (i MUST get pics!) which I put on and Japanese Sumo wrestled a gang of lads in a mosh pit for the Kaiser Chiefs…very funny stuff! One guy put me up on his shoulders wearing the thing and the inflatable boobs came up under my chin!!

Nearly got crushed to death in the mass of men that was the Rage Against the Machine pit but the atmosphere was electric and the build up before Rage came on stage was palpable. After the “Rage” we skipped over to Pet Sounds to catch Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova and they performed beautifully and Glen was as gracious as ever, thanking us all for being there and admitting they were up against some big acts (Chemical Brothers on O2 Stage and RATM on Main Stage) ….he even said if they weren’t playing that they’d be reliving their youth in the pit for Rage! Consumate performers, ‘Falling Slowly’ brought a tear to my eye and Glen also managed a brilliant version of a Van Morrison song.

All in all, an INCREDIBLE weekend, came away exhausted, utterly hoarse and covered in strange bruises/UDI’s (Unidentified Drinking Injuries!). The lineup was too good to be true, and choosing between acts was SO HARD! After my first taste of the festival buzz this year, counting the days till The Picnic!


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