From big stars to emerging artists, Ed Power selects his personal must-sees in Stradbally over the weekend.
Father John Misty
Mercurial musical joker Josh Tillman uses the cliches of confessional rock as a delivery mechanism for devastatingly bleak views of humanity.
His third studio album as Father John Misty, Pure Comedy, is a darkly uproarious plunge into Elton John-style singer-songwriter pop. It’s by turns funny and devastating — while in concert there’s the added bonus of Tillman’s peppery stage persona.
The source of his angst is no mystery: he was raised by religious hardliners and damaged by childhood tales of fire and brimstone.
“I went to a Pentecostal messianic cult school where I was taught to exorcise demons from my classmates and speak in tongues, and had these insane engineered psychedelic experiences,” he has said of the experience.
“People were lifting my arms up to worship while kids lay convulsing on the floor, talking about seeing their dead grandparents.”
A qualified neuroscientist, as Floating Points English musician Sam Shepherd conjures catchy yet complex electronic.
His 2015 debut album Elaenia was a retro-future odyssey, that referenced Seventies progressive rock and jazz while also capturing the energy of contemporary house music.
“I like to imagine I make music that doesn’t require the listener to have any prior knowledge or reference points,” he has stated.
You can dance to this music should you wish — but standing at the back of the tent and admiring the technical complexity is an option too.
Jasmine van den Bogaerde was just 16 when she enjoyed a YouTube hit with her cover of Bon Iver’s ‘Skinny Love’ (her version, if possible, even more haunting than the original).
She has since blossomed into a fascinating piano-driven singer-songwriter, with the soaring ‘Wings’ becoming something of an anthem (you’ve almost certainly heard it soundtracking a TV spot or advertisement).
“We grew up pretty feral in a house which is beautiful but crumbling,” she says of her upbringing in a gothic manor house in the south of England.
“There are beautiful paintings on the walls and a lovely old piano. I grew up with all my cousins running wild in the grounds.”
The Manchester group have passed the past decade or so as plucky also-rans.
But they’ve ascended to a new level with fourth album A Fever Dream, an urgent conjunction of stadium pop, Radiohead obtuseness and driving beats.
If Coldplay were the best outfit in the world rather than a bunch of soggy millionaires, this is what they would sound like.
“We’re this weird band playing this weird shit and I’m saying this weird shit,” according to singer Jonathan Higgs.
“And people are loving it. That’s the big connection. That’s the big relationship.”
Rapper Staples was raised on the mean streets of Compton and later Long Beach (also alma mater to Snoop Dogg) in Los Angeles.
But while his lyrics are often raw and gritty, his music is unashamedly catchy — his lilting rhyming style paired with spry and outgoing melodies.
He’s a perfect festival act, with tunes that are readily accessible even if you’ve just wandered into the tent to see what the excitement is about.
Run The Jewels
Middle aged rappers El–P and Killer Mike didn’t have very high expectations when they started working together in 2013.
But a project that began as a way of filling their spare time has taken on a life of its own, with the duo’s recent Run the Jewels 3 album basking universally glowing reviews.
Mike is a prominent support of leftwing
American politician Bernie Sanders — but the duo’s politically conscious lyrics are shot through with a sense of humour, as illustrated by the release in 2015 of ‘Meow The Jewels’, the “lyrics” of which consisted entirely of cat samples.
Twenty-one-year old Hannah Rogers — a graduate of the same Brit school that gave us Amy Winehouse and Adele — blends breathy pop with Grimes style electro quirkiness.
It’s a hugely catchy formula, with her debut as Pixx, ‘The Age of Anxiety’, receiving overwhelmingly approving reviews.
“I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be a performer until after I left,” she said of studying at the Brit school
“Certain people were born to do it and other people have to grow into it — I was definitely the latter.”
Ed Sheeran’s fiddle-splashed “Irish” tune ‘Galway Girl’ has, it is fair to say, divided opinion.
To some it is a passionate valentine to the land of his ancestors, to others sub-Riverdance cultural appropriation.
Either way, it has transformed the careers of his collaborators on the song, trad group Beoga.
They will arrive at picnic with another festival appearance fresh in the memory, having joined Sheeran when he performed ‘Galway Girl’ and Nancy Mulligan to over 100,000 at Glastonbury.
After 14 years of hard work, many will judge their “overnight” success well-deserved.
Worth checking out simply for Hannah Reid’s extraordinary vocals.
Initially signed to Ministry of Sound, with whom they recorded breakthrough hit ‘Wasting My Young Years’, the band recently returned with the equally haunting ‘Truth is a Beautiful Thing’.
Florence and the Machine spliced with Kate Bush, with lashings of millennial ennui on top.
Glen Hansard and Interference
The death of Interference singer Fergus O’Farrell in 2016 was a body blow for Irish music.
However, Glen Hansard has worked hard to restore the Cork group’s reputation as one of the great unsung bands of the 1990s and will join the remaining line-up for a one-off Picnic
Special guests are promised. Earlier that evening, the evergreen Frank and Walters play the same stage.
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