Small festivals don’t come much bigger than the Indiependence Music and Arts Festival. With its low capacity of 5,000, low price tag for a weekend ticked and heavy hitting line up, it’s no wonder that it has evolved from a free one day event to a mega three day festival in just a couple of years. Situated on the idyllic Dear Farm, Mitchelstown, Indiependence is a mecca for music lovers and partygoers alike.
This Club took to the main stage at 7. After a slow start to the festival their unique brand of funk was exactly what the crowd needed to get going. They played a quick half hour set jam-packed with their signature hits such as ‘Add It Up’.
The best thing about Indiependence has to be the size of the arena. All stages are within view of each other and timetable clashes are easily avoided. This meant that we missed no part of The Original Rudeboys set. They played a blinder and did well to showcase their diverse musical style. The set list consisted of their inner city brand of rap music and they played everything from a Mumford and Sons cover to their signature single ‘Stars In My Eyes’.
I never thought I would be walking away from a Bressie gig with nothing but praise. But Indiependence has the power to do things like that. He gave everybody exactly what they wanted. From his hit singles ‘Breaking my Fall’ to a Martin Solveig cover (Hello). He even threw in something from the Blizzard’s (The Irish Indie band he previously fronted before donning the red trousers and settling for a career as a judge on The Voice in Ireland). He also managed to squeeze in a cover of ‘The Joker’, that is before returning to his indie-pop set list. With both ears ringing from the throngs of screaming girls who occupied the crowd and the alluring call from Jape, who was about to take to the Big Top stage, it was time to bid farewell to Bressie.
Jape occupied the headline slot in Big Top Friday night. They played a host of mesmerizing classics reworked to epic proportions. Watching the musical maestro’s on stage it’s not hard to see why they have built up a solid following. Front man, Richie Egan, effortlessly changed from guitar to keyboard. He even managed to produce some interesting sounds using a combination of his head and a tambourine. The Big Top was at full capacity and the atmosphere was electric. By the time ‘The Oldest Mind’ drew the set to a close it was hard to see if anyone was going to better Jape’s performance.
Raglans started the proceedings early on Saturday afternoon and filled the main stage with their own brand of indie folk. They had plenty tricks up their sleeves to help them draw a crowd including a huge Feeder stage banner which was hoisted during sound check. They also managed to clear the rain during their set. But the biggest draw of all was their musical ability and vocal talent. The 40 minute wait in the rain was well worth it as what followed was possibly one of the best performances of the weekend. It’s a real shame that these guys drew the graveyard shift and ended up playing to less than adequate crowds. But the Raglans are definitely a band to be earmarked as future headliners.
Keeping with the Indiependence tradition of inviting big name indie-rockers from across the water, Feeder took to the main stage to headline the second night. Their set consisted of an hour long trip down memory lane for many of the festival revelers. They also threw in some of the newer stuff for good measure. Opening with the epic ‘Feeling a Moment’ and closing with the generation defining anthem ‘Just A Day’ it’s not hard to see why the crowd got behind the Welsh rockers. The only complaint I did have was that at times the set seemed like a sales pitch for their new album, ‘Generation Freakshow’. But with songs like ‘Borders’ it was a pitch the entire crowd was happy to listen to.
Headlining the Big Top was the enigmatic Scroobius Pip. Being no stranger to the festival, or even the Big Top for that matter, he made himself right at home. With a microphone in one hand, bottle of rosé in the other and live band behind him, it was clear that it was going to be a good show. Nobody was left disappointed as Pip emptied his back catalogue out on stage. With a concoction of genius lyrics and infectious music no one was left standing still throughout the set.
With Beardyman cancelling at the last minute the headline responsibilities for the big top were passed on to Delorentos. The Dublin based indie-rockers put on an amazing show packing out the tent with eager fans cramming in from all angles to be part of the action. They expertly played to the crowd, offering up a host of classic tracks. The reaction to some of better known songs such as S.E.C.R.E.T. is astounding and it’s a wonder the roof wasn’t blown off the big top. A timetabling misjudgment saw them clash with British Sea Power. From the size of crowd Delorentos managed to conjure up it’s a wonder if anyone was watching the other gig over on the main stage.
The honor of closing the festival fell to The Coronas, another band who are no strangers to Indiependence. The Main Stage has not been as busy all weekend and atmosphere is noticeably different from the Delorentos gig. A minor fracas broke out in front of where we are standing, the first of which I’ve seen all weekend. Also cups and bottles are thrown throughout the gig, the only other thing I’ve seen thrown over the weekend were frisbee’s at the Feeder gig. Regardless of this The Coronas put on an impressive display of musicianship. Front man, Danny O’Reilly, is note perfect throughout the night and effortlessly makes the transition from guitar to piano. The set list has everything and spans the bands entire discography. Songs like ‘San Diego Song’ do well to get the crowd going whilst ‘Someone Else’s Hands’ shows us the true depth of the Coronas talent. Overall the set list isn’t balanced. Crowd- pleasing anthems are diluted by clusters of less known songs. This allowed for some quiet periods during the set. But some extravagant stage effects quickly recaptured any idle attention spans. The gig ended on a double encore with the sublime ‘Heroes And Ghosts’ being performed in both Irish and English. But the cover of Mic Christopher’s ‘Heyday’ was the real show stealer.
Indiependence is a small festival with a big heart. It is well run and the atmosphere is always friendly and easy going. The one negative I had with the festival was the security. They deliberately went out of their way to disrupt the laid back atmosphere. People were made feel like a criminals as they entered the arena, with long queues, over excessive full body searches and less than apologetic staff (barring a few of course). Perhaps this is the norm at larger festivals but having attended Indiependence last year I know this is not the case. The security were clearly living in the shadows of the events that marred the Phoenix Park when the Swedish House Mafia played last month. But this was the only blemish on an overall successful weekend. I am sure next year with new security staff the festival could reach even further impressive heights.