Key Notes - an Irish music blog by Steven O'Rourke

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Oxegen 2009: The Good, The Bad & The Ugg Boots

Jul 16

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Thursday, July 16, 2009  RssIcon

Technical difficulties (not being able to find the cable that charges the laptop!) means that Key Notes' review of Oxegen 2009 comes to you 24 hours late.

The Good

Magnetic North
The type of Northern Irish music that usually makes headlines around the 12th of July is not the sort we would typically report on here at CLUAS.  However, over the course of last weekend's Oxegen festival there were four Northern acts that stood head and shoulders above most of their Southern peers.  While both Duke Special and Iain Archer reaffirmed their undoubted talent, General Fiasco and, especially, And So I Watch You From Afar blasted their way on to my musical radar.  Seeing General Fiasco was a happy accident but, after their performance at the launch of Hard Working Class Heroes, And So I Watch Your From Afar were a band I was never going to miss. Both were beyond brilliant and (with a little help from my Belfast born friend) I will be paying much more attention to the Northern Irish indie scene in future.

Stage Managed
I know from experience that musicians are not the most punctual of people.  Indeed, I can count on one hand the amount of times a band/musician has turned up for an interview on time.  However, over the course of Oxegen 2009 almost every single performance started on time. There were one or two notable exceptions (there always is) but kudos must go to the Stage Managers for harassing the bands into punctuality.  It certainly made my job as a reviewer much easier.

The Gig's The Thing
Say what you want about the quality of their music but there are certain bands that sound 100 times better in the live arena than they do on record.  In this case I'm thinking specifically of Republic of Loose.  I've never been convinced about their songs and yet, every time I see them live I find myself singing/dancing along.  They are the great showmen (and women) of the Irish indie scene and, indeed, only Roisin Murphy's stage show comes anywhere close to matching The Loose in terms of entertainment value.  I wish someone would upload their cover of Wanna Be Startin' Somthin' to YouTube soon though!

Ride On
I've reviewed Oxegen for CLUAS for the past two years and generally make use of the VIP parking that us 'media types' (snigger) get to avail of.  However, given the weather conditions on Saturday I decided to make use of the free 'Park 'n' Ride' facilities at Goff's on the Sunday of Oxegen 2009.  Should I get to review it again for CLUAS next year this is the only way I'll be travelling.  It's quick, it's free and it's much more convenient than trying to make your way out of a muddy field in the middle of Naas.  Why anyone would drive when this facility is available is beyond me.

The Bad

Rain, Rain, Go Away
Of course, there is nothing that MCD can do about the weather but it's such a shame that Oxegen always seems to take place in the rain.  It would be a much nicer festival if it took place during the summer!

Muddy Waters
Whilst MCD can't control the weather; they could certainly expect it and have planned slightly better for it.  The conditions on Sunday, in the IMRO tent especially, were little short of shocking.  This tent is located at the bottom of two slopes and so suffers more than most of the tents in bad weather.  However, it's nothing that some of the sawdust that was laid out on the entrances to the festival site could have fixed.  As funny as it was seeing people lose their wellies in mud, it felt as if it could be easily stopped.

This Must Be, Pop
As bizarre as it is that I've used an N'Sync lyric in the heading, it's even more unusual how, erm, popular, pop music was at this year's Oxegen.  Lady Gaga, The Blizzards, The Script, Katy Perry; all pop, all popular.  As Jim Carroll pointed out in his blog on Oxegen, perhaps this is the direction the festival is going.  It's certainly what the kids seem to want from their music festival experience.  While I can see the attraction for MCD in doing this, I wouldn't like to see Oxegen lose all its indie bands.

The Ugg Boots

(VIP) Very Important (I Get) Pissed
There is nothing more frustrating, when you're covered in mud and soaked through by rain, than wandering back to the media area to find people in the VIP bar looking spotlessly clean and bone dry, doing their best to be noticed by anyone with a media pass and a camera.  It's a music festival, get out and see some bands!  You probably didn't pay for your tickets so at least support the bands by standing out in the rain for a few minutes.

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