Irish bands stand out and everything else we learned at Indiependence

Some top Irish bands stood out at this year’s festival in Mitchelstown, writes Joe Leogue

Manic Street Preachers close Indiependence 2017. Picture: Dara Munnis

1. Something for everyone

Indiependence has carved out its niche by appealing to the coming-of-age, first festival crowd — the 18 to 25-year olds who snap up tickets before bands are even announced.

Previous years saw a night-and-day division in demographics -— older punters bring their kids during the day and leave before the millennials tear it up for the night.

This year, however, while its core demographic remains intact, Indie 17 felt much more mixed in terms of the age profile of the crowd.

This could well be down to the Manic Street Preachers, who first sang ‘If You Tolerate This…’ 19 years ago to the parents of some of Sunday night’s attendees.

It’s a triumphant set, that opens with ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’, closes with ‘A Design for Life’ and in between runs through a setlist that reminds you of how prolific a band the Welsh stalwarts are.

2. Irish bands have the quality mark

Championing Irish has always been a cornerstone of Indiependence and this year is no different. Overhead The Albatross absolutely mesmerise with a sound that reaches out beyond the Big Top while homeboy Talos’s shimmering set wins plenty of new admirers in his home county.

On the topic of making impressions, Fang Club will have more fans checking out their newly-released debut album with an absolutely thumping cobweb-clearer of a rock performance.

All Tvvins stake a claim for main stage status with an energetic, anthemic show, while The Coronas solidify their status as one of Ireland’s top music draws by packing the main marquee to capacity.

Le Boom and Stomptown Brass both deserved bigger crowds for their party performances, and pulled in bigger crowds as the night went on.

The Coronas frontman Danny O’Reilly surveys the crowd during their Indiependence headlining slot on Saturday. Pictures: Dara Munnis

3. More than music

Expectations of a festival have evolved significantly in the time since Indiependence was first held in 2006, with the “experience” mattering as much, if not more, than the line-up in many gig-goer’s minds.

Electric Picnic has undoubtedly led the way in adding the extras to provide a more rounded weekend, but Indie 17 showed that it too caters beyond its live music billing.

The Little Big Tent of Everything does exactly what it says on the tin, and has something different to offer depending on the time of day. Early offerings of comedy are MCed by Damien Clarke, but later more serious fare is showcased through Spoken Word performances - Stephen James Smith’s ode and lament for his Ireland is a particular stand out.

Pictures: Kieran Frost

At night the same venue hosts Under A Plastic Cloud - where DJ Phil Hope spins 45s from the Northern Soul era for music aficionados with an ear for pop curios.

An Alice in Wonderland themed Indie Garden gives chilled-out solace for those willing to pay a premium for an upgraded ticket.

Well known DJs play dancefloor hits at a number of branded dance bars, and the converted shed Beer Hall remains a huge draw in the early hours for the forget-all-pretences 80s v 90s singalong.

4. Superb site

The Indiependence site’s proximity to Mitchelstown is a selling point almost unrivalled by any other festival, with campers just a 20 minute walk away from the town square.

Year on year there are increasing efforts to bring footfall into the town, as businesses offer festival rates for hot meals and other services and the pubs do a roaring trade from GAA fans who don’t want to miss the matches.

However this year saw a notable evolution in this effort. Walsh’s Bar -— no stranger to hosting gigs -— had both the Altered Hours and Barq playing over the weekend, pointing to a potentially lucrative spin off for Mitchesltown.

While Other Voices is a different beast to Indiependence, the Dingle showcase has provided the blueprint for the clever use of Irish town space to host performances.

With a bit of ingenuity and some smart bookings, there’s no reason why Mitchelstown can’t hold some shows that would complement the festival’s offerings and offer an incentive to the Indiependence audience to come into the town for a few hours.


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