5 quirky Irish music festivals you NEED to get to this Summer.

It’s probably the hipster in me talking but there’s definitely an appeal to going a little bit off the beaten track this summer, especially in terms of festivals. Maybe it’s the shorter lines at the portaloos or the bragging rights when you ‘discover’ an as yet unheard of act or maybe you just like things that are a little bit left of centre. Whatever your reason, here’s a list of my top 5 quirky Irish festivals.

5. Castlepalooza

Set in the grounds of Charleville Castle in Tullamore, Castlepalooza is a hidden gem in what will be festival-packed August Bank Holiday weekend this year (a nod to Indiependence and the Galway Races.) Complete with a moate and castle, Castlepalooza has some of the most impressive camping options you’ll find anywhere this summer! Watch out also for the restored 17th century castle which throws open the doors and allows punters to use the toilets! With a wide ranging line-up including Oh Boland, Hvmmingbyrd, Farah Elle, Spud Gun, Le Boom and an impressive comedy set up boasting comedians like Deirdre O’Kane, Fred Cooke, PJ Gallagher among others this boutique festival promises to be another excellent outing.

Tier 3 weekend camping tickets are available via Ticketmaster and priced at €139 + BF

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Castlepalooza Main Stage, 2015.

4. Live on Air

Until David McGowan hauled a decommissioned Boeing 747 to his Quirky Nights glamping site, I’d never even heard of Eniscrone, Co. Sligo. Determined to capitalise on the popularity of the ‘Big Yoke’ and put Eniscrone firmly on the map for once and for all, McGowan is launching Live on Air, a new mixed-genre festical which takes place on May 26th and 27th. The lineup has a distinctly homegrown flavour with acts such as the Riptide Movement, Hothouse Flowers, Wyvern Lingo, Meltybrains? Hermitage Green, Moxie, Disco na mBo as well as recent Choice Music Prize winners, Rusangano Family, all featuring.

Weekend camping tickets, priced at €100 are now sold out but day tickets are still available via Eventbrite.

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3. Ériu – Irish Decompression (June 9th – June 11th)

Dubbed as Ireland’s Burning Man, that sets the bar remarkably high for this festival. Details are sketchy and with performance submissions still open, there are few lineup details. However, if the hype surrouding this gather is to be believed this is a weekend not to be missed. Based around the 10 principles of Burning Man, one of which is participation, there is a heavy emphasis on community and volunteering. Only 500 tickets are sold, with ticket revenue funding the cost of running the festival. This year’s decompression takes place in Stradbally from June 9th – 11th and further details can be found on the Facebook event page.

Low income tickets are available via Eventbrite.

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2. Beatyard (August 5th & 6th)

Beatyard has been knocking around for the past couple of years but this year’s lineup has certainly propelled it to the forefront of my mind. Eh, Mark Ronson anyone? This 2 day event takes place in Dun Laoghaire and the theme is nautical boogie. It’s an urban festival so perfect for those who are fond of their creature comforts and don’t fancy the rough and tumble of actually camping. The lineup has plenty to be excited about with the aforementioned Mark Ronson appearing alongside the likes of Rusangano Family, Horsemeat Disco, Candi Station, Bananarama, Fish Go Deep and Kila.

Weekend tickets are available for €89 + BF via Eventbrite with single day tickets priced at €59.

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1. Townlands Carnival (July 21st – 23rd)

Nestled in amongst the byroads of Macroom, Townlands Carnival is Cork’s best kept secret. With an extensive collection of stages and props that a festival 5 times its’ size would be proud of, Townlands becomes its own utopia for the weekend. Mimicing an old saloon town, complete with swinging doors and shuttered windows, stages are nestled behind elaborate facades that would not look out of place in Acme Acres. The Irish-inspired Sibin stage is home to a number of homegrown rising stars while the other stages play host to a huge variety of musical genres; everything from electronic to techno to reggae to folk is catered for. The hugely diverse lineup attracts people from all walks of life and creates great vibes around the campsite. This year’s line up includes Hermitage Green, Stomptown Bass, Jack O’Rourke, Rubberbandits, Neon Atlas, Le Boom and many more to be announced.

Tier 2 tickets for Townlands Carnival are priced at €105 + bf.

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Jerry Fish playing the mainstage at TLC in 2016

Happy Hour Guaranteed Irish ☘

In honour of our patron saint, Patrick, or Patty depending on your pronunciation (lawl) I decided to do a Guaranteed Irish Happy Hour Special this evening. ☘

Honestly, with the huge range of Irish talent this was not as daunting at all as first feared! Check out the playlist below if you don’t believe me. Although, fair warning, I snuck a bit of cheese in there when I thought no-one was looking.. *cough Westlife.

My personal highlight was resurrecting the classic ‘There’s a Whole Lotta Loving’, the debut and possibly only single from short-lived pop sensation Six. It’s 15 years old this year by the way, just to make you feel every inch of your age. I vividly remember queuing for well over 4 hours outside Roxy Records to meet Six. This was one of several encounters including sneaking backstage at their gig in the INEC and nearly collapsing when we found their dressing room AND (brace yourself, this part is especially cringe!!) giving them no, PRESENTING them, with a calendar that my best friend Aoife and I had spent painstaking hours creating. I think we also learned their dance routine for a talent competition but my memory is hazy about that. We might have just learned it for the craic…. Good times!

Anyway, just to bring this kicking and screaming into 2017, Evoke.ie conveniently put together a ‘Where are they now?’ article to celebrate the anniversary of the single. Sinead, the girl from Cork went on to become Mayor of Cobh while Emma, the blondie Limerick lady with the wild curly hair, her career reached the dizzying heights of co-presenting on Den TV with Socky the Sockmonster. Andy briefly managed another band before selling his soul and going into finance while Liam had the dubious job of being Jedwards’ road manager. Jesus. Sarah, the girl who was drafted in last minute when She Who Shall Not be Named was fucked out now works for BBC Radio 4 and last, but not least, Kyle ‘ridiculous yellow jumper’ Andrews. He spent a brief period working for Screentime Shinawil, the company who produced Popstars (all a bit cosy, isn’t it?) before returning to NI to work for a documentary firm.

The fact that they are all still in touch and still going to each other’s weddings makes my heart very happy indeed. Spoken like a true superfan 😉

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Here are all of Six at Kyle’s wedding in 2014

Here’s the tracklist for the rest of the show and don’t forget you can listen back to the whole thing in all it’s glory over on Mixcloud. Until next week, peace!

An Emotional Fist – Celebrate

Mundy – Mexico

Duke Special – Last night I nearly Died

Hozier – from Eden

Hermitage Green – Jenny

BellX1 – Eve, the Apple of my Eye

Windings – A Better Place

Thin Lizzy – Dancing in the Moonlight

The Sawdoctors – How I feel about You

Picture This – Take my Hand

Jack O’Rourke – Dreamcatcher

Westlife – When You’re Looking Like That

Coronas – Heroes or Ghosts

Six – Whole Lotta Loving

Luke Kelly – Raglan Road

Hothouse Flowers – I Can See Clearly Now

Jerry Fish and the Mudbug Club – True Friends

Saint Sister – Corpses

Aslan – Crazy World

Little Green Cars – Better Day

From the Kingdom of Kerry to the Kingdom of Lesotho

With over 57% of the population living on less than $1 a day, Lesotho, the landlocked Kingdom in the middle of South Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the World.

Over a quarter of the population are infected with the AIDS virus which has wiped out an entire generation. Life expectancy is a miserable 42 years, the lowest in the World.

These people urgently need YOUR help.

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Action Lesotho was founded in 2005 in Kerry. Originally known as Twinning the Kingdoms, it grew into a national organisation and was renamed in 2010. In the early days, the organisation was run soley by volunteers, in both Lesotho and Kerry, who focused mainly on building classrooms and community centres and providing humanitarian aid to orphans.

Thanks to generous funding from Irish Aid and IMPACT Trade Union, Action Lesotho expanded and now employs 10 full time and 6 part time Basotho employees all led by the dynamic Pippa Kearon, the in-country representative of Action Lesotho.

The core objective of Action Lesotho is to break this cycle of poverty by providing the Basotho people with the skills needed to access employment, grow their own food and help meet the humanitarian needs of the most disadvantaged in their community.

Action Lesotho works on 4 key projects; Agriculture, Healthcare and Nutrition, Skills Development and Enterprise Development.

Action Lesotho HQ in Mapotsoe is a hive of activity. Each day Action Lesotho runs a Breakfast Club feeding 70 + children who would otherwise go hungry with crops that are farmed as part of the Agriculture project. Any additional food is distributed to those who cannot take care of themselves and are part of various Healthcare projects. Women are taught sewing, weaving and craftwork in the hopes of developing cottage industries that will make them self sufficient.

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On Thursday, February 9th, Action Lesotho will be running a benefit night ‘For and About the People of Lesotho’ in the Rose Hotel in Tralee at 8PM. Featuring music, crafts, a slide show and a talk by special guest Pippa Kearon, the night will be a celebration of the work that Action Lesotho do.

Come along and support this wonderful organisation and make a difference to the World’s poorest people.

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Happy Hour – November 16th

Making a welcome return to the airwaves this week after a couple of weeks off due to werk. Thankfully, a Minion has been hired and I’m back with a bang.

First Dates, Monday Channel 4, 9PM.

As usual we spent far too much time talking about First Dates. The fact Ian watches this AND has admitted it on live radio is still a source of amusement and obviously blows a serious hole in his Indie Rocker cred. Anyway, without spoiling the whole episode, it was a good ‘un. First up was Sophie and Adam. All I can say is OUCH! And I thought it was all going so well.. Next were the token older couple Meguel and Kevin, neither of whom looked their age and both of whom were sporting some questionable tan. It was all very nice and plesant and Kevin is a serious DILF so the episode is worth watching for that fact alone. Annie and Barry, aside from sharing their names with the main characters in a children’s readers, they also left the country in tears. On a side note, don’t go all XFactor on us Fred. I can’t cope with this level of emotion on a Monday evening! Poshie Masie was back for another go after her previous date ended with her match kindly informing her that he wanted to bang as many women as possible and sew his seed in her (seriously!) Things went much better this week with James, surely a cousin of Jedward with that quiff.

 

Gig Guide

Hudson Taylor play the Bailey Allen, Wednesday November 16th.

Sample Answer play the Roisin Dubh, Saturday Novemebr 19th. Use the code SAMPLE at check out to get 50% off your ticket (yurt)

Wyvern Lingo play the Roisin Dubh, Saturday, November 26th.

Coronas play Seapoint Ballroom, Wednesday and Thursday, November 23rd and 24th.

And, the last EVER Fight Like Ape Galway gig is next Thursday in the Roisin Dubh, November 24th.

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And finally, months and months ahead of time, our Way Too Early Picnic Predictions

Ian reckons Tribe Called Quest, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Foals, Hozier, Blink 182, Two Door Cinema Club, Jamie T, Bloc Party.

And, under strict instructions not to cheat, here are my guesses

Alt J, Jerry Fish, The Eskies, Coldplay, Jenny Greene, MK, King Kong Kompany, David McWilliams, Hanna Wants, The Libertines, Picture This.

Incidentally, EP early bird tickets finish TODAY, so if you haven’t already gotten yours, get them.

You can catch the show in it’s entirety here:

And finally, the tracklist from the show:

1. One More Chance by Bloc Party
2. Inhaler by Foals
3. LoveCats by The Cure
4. Can’t Keep Checking My Pulse by Unknown Mortal Orchestra
5. Higher Love by James Vincent McMorrow
6. Take me Out by Franz Ferdinand
7.Always on my Mind by Pet Shop Boys
8. Good Boy by Sample Answer
9. Corpses by Saint Sister
10. Crouching Bees by Fight Like Apes
11. Ants by Ham Sandwich
12. Come Get Your Love by Redbone
13. Feels Like We Only Go Backwards by Tame Impala
14. Rabbit Hole by Jamie T
15. Time for Heroes by The Libertines
16. Youth by Glass Animals
17. Ampling Amp by Yeaslayer
18. Can I Kick It by A Tribe Called Quest
19. Next Year by Two Door Cinema Club
20. Sweet Jane by Velvet Underground

The Long and Windings Road

This evening on the HumpDay Happy Hour we were lucky enough to get to chat to the lead singer of Limerick folk-rockers Windings, Steve Ryan or Shane Ryan as I called him for a good thirty minutes before he had the grace to message me and tell me his name was Steve. Cringe.

Anyway!

Having been on the go in one shape or another since 2005 and having gone through more personnel changes than the Sugarbabes we got right to the crux of it with Steve who, fortunately, has been there since the beginning. He began by telling us about starting out on the Windings road (geddit?) as a solo act in 2005. At this stage, he didn’t actually have any other band members so he simply played all the instruments himself. Impressed yet? Following the release of his/their first album he slowly recruited members at a steady rate of about 1 per annum and by 2011, Windings were performing as a 5 piece. However, change was soon afoot. In Steve’s own words;

‘Our guitar player (Liam) left to go do a doctorate in Lisbon and then the new guy (Gary) left but then the old guy came back and now he plays base. He was demoted.’

We touch briefly on their last full length album, I am not the Crow, which, incidentally, was nominated for a Choice Music Award back in 2012. Bet you’re impressed now though? We comiserate, about 4 years too late, and Steve jokes about being bitter and getting the acceptance speech he never got the chance to use tattoo’d on his wrist. According to him their sound has evolved a lot since then.

‘Each album has been different for better or for worse’, he explains, ‘people who loved the first album just openly told me that they didn’t like the second album… this is 11 years later if I was still making the same album, still writing the same songs I’d be pretty miserable.’

The current line up of Steve, Patrick, Mike, Brian and Liam are back with a vengance with their new album Be Honest and Fear Not due for release on September 30th on Out on  a Limb Records. Brimful of emotion with some of the most powerful lyrics to date (check out Ambivalance Blues), it’s hard to believe that the entire album was recorded in just 3 days with the help of Tommy McLaughlin (Villagers). This album ebs and flows masterfully covering a whole spectrum of human emotion coupled with some hard hitting lyrics and sweet melodies. In Steve’s own words, ‘I wouldn’t have it any other way’.

Windings are playing a number of dates around the country. You can find all of this info on the Flirt FM Happy Hour Facebook page or indeed on the Windings Facebook page.

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Thanks so much for chatting to us Steve and best of luck with it. We’ll be seeing ye in the Roisin Dubh on Nov 10th!

Here’s the tracklist for the rest of the Happy Hour

Phil Lynott Old Town

Walking on Cars 2 Stones

Talking Heads This  Must be the Place

Windings You’re Dead

Nelly Just a Dream

Delerentos Forget the Numbers

Wombats Give me a Try

Picture This Take my Hand

Moby Why does my heart feel so bad

Florence + the Machine Cosmic Love

Behind the Scenes: Cooper goes to College

Last Tuesday, Today FM’s Matt Cooper took his show The Last Word on tour, broadcasting live from Aras na MacLeinn in Galway. Myself and some other Flirt FM staff went along to help out and here’s what went down behind the scenes of Ireland’s most popular drivetime show (besides the Flirt FM Happy Hour, obvs!)

When we first arrived, Matt was sat behind a giant branded Today FM screen like the all-powerful Oz. Did Matt Cooper have stage fright, we wondered? The screen was quickly moved into position behind the man himself, almost as if he could hear our thoughts. Maybe he had more in common with the Great Oz than we realized. Expect something different indeed!

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The theme of the show was all things Galway and, in true Galway fashion, Supermacs, the Arts, Connacht Rugby and Buckfast were all hot topics of conversation from the wide range of guests, panelists and contributors on what was truly a jam packed show.

Coinciding with the release of the World University Rankings in which NUIG jumped 22 places and was the only Irish University to move up the rankings, the timing for this live broadcast could not have been better. The beginning of the program saw Matt discussing the implications of cuts to University funding with Caroline Loughnane, Academic Secretary at NUIG and Prof. John Boland, Dean of Research at Trinity College. Next up was Natalie Treacy, Sinn Fein Counsellor in Castleknock talking about the shortage of beds in Beaumont Hospital for those with Acquired Brain Injuries and malignant tumours before talk turned to mobile phone apps that aid safer driving, surely a glaring oxymoron?

As we ushered the audience in to take their seats during the news, word filtered through that all round sound man and owner of Supermacs, Pat McDonagh, had kindly brought along some pizzas and the night was off to a flying start! Comedian Bob Henegan, originally a Mayo man and now a member of the largest ethnic group in Galway kept the crowd well entertained as he discussed with NUIG PHD Psychology researcher Elaine Byrne whether Galway was deserving of it’s “friendliest city” moniker. While Elaine waxed lyrical about the native’s genuine and sincere interest in the “stuff of other people’s lives” and the “evocative and magical experience of the Arts Festival”, Matt was quick to draw comparisons between herself and one-man Galway promotion machine Uachtaran na hEireann, Michael D. Henegan was quick to counter with a sharply observed spiel about the inevitable “mushroom cloud of dreadlocked hippies” descending on Eyre Square each Summer to “find themselves” playing bongo drums and juggling balls. I won’t spoil the ending but it’s well worth listening back to and you can find the link to Matt’s podcast below. Bob Henegan will be back for the Vodafone Galway Comedy Carnival in the Roisin Dubh on 25th October.

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The shortage of accommodation, entrepreneurship in Galway and the opening of the Portershed were all up for discussion before the Students v Lecturers quiz (the Lecturers pipped it by a single point) To round out the show, some of the Rabbo Direct Pro12 winning Connacht Rugby team popped in for a grilling following their defeat to the Glasgow Warriors last weekend. Music-wise, Achill singer-songwriter Graham Sweeney and the kinda acapella group the Testostertones hit all the right notes and had the crowd tapping along with them.

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As aspiring radio presenters, it was hugely interesting for us to get a glimpse of exactly how much work, research and co-ordination goes into a single show. Listening to the radio it’s easy to forget that there are a whole team of researchers, sound engineers and runners scurrying around like ants to ensure the whole thing ticks over nicely. The Last Word team were slick and efficient and everyone knew precisely what their role was. It was definitely a lesson in organization and I’m sure we all picked up a few tricks that we’ll be bringing home to Flirt FM for future reference.

Thanks to Matt Cooper and all the team at the Last Word for having us!

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Flirt FM staff pictured with Matt Cooper, The Last Word on Today FM in NUIG

 

The Jacket off your Back

So, there’s a video doing the rounds. You know the one. It’s been clogging up my Facebook newsfeed since Monday and, honestly, I’m pig sick of it.

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Kevin Kelly, organiser of the charity the Jacket off Your Back, posted the video in question which has since been viewed more than 242,000 times and has well over 1,000 shares. In it, it shows one of the campsites at last weekend’s Electric Picnic. The revellers have long since cleared out leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. Two lonely volunteers are slowly folding a tent. The caption? “Omg the smell of piss, drink and muck is unreal, it looks like Idomeni without the refugee”.

Stand by for a serious rant.

There are several things that I take issue with here. First and foremost, in this age of gender-neutral, refugee friendly, sex positive, PC gone mad-ness how DARE this man compare the EP campsite to Idomeni. The refugees in this Greek camp are fleeing war, famine, disease and disaster. At worst, the crew in Stradbally are slinking home with sore heads and soggy wellies.

Secondly, the ingratitude is staggering. He’s biting the very hand that feeds him. In the Irish Times article above, Kelly claims that “I didn’t mean to offend anyone – these are people we will be relying on for support in coming years”. In total they collected over 300 tents and several thousand sleeping bags which will be distributed to homeless people all over Ireland. Last time I checked, 300 is better than none and I’m confident if I was sleeping on the side of the road, I’d be very glad of a slightly less-than-perfect tent or sleeping bag come December.

But what galls me the most are the comments on the video. Sure, there’s no denying the place is like a war zone but let’s look at a few things before we go bashing the “filthy young people” wandering around “ripped to their tits on drink and drugs” and the “disposible society” that we live in.

Firstly, I wonder how many of the people commenting on the video were actually in Stradbally at the weekend and how many are just keyboard warriors looking for another bandwagon to hop on? Thought so. For anyone who was actually at Picnic they will know how poorly organized it was in terms of waste disposal/recycling/general eco-frendliness. Granted there is an eco-friendly campsite, but what about the others? When we arrived and set up camp, a girl wandered over offering us a clear plastic bag for cans and recyclables. One bag. Among 10 people. While we’re not full blown alcoholics, that bag was filled well before midnight on Friday. And where were we even supposed to put these bags of rubbish? The bin, I hear you say. What bin was this I wonder? The food outlets in the campsite barely had a bin not to mind any kind of skip that people could lob bags of rubbish into. And for the dedicated do-gooders, I don’t know too many bus drivers who would allow a sopping, stinking tent back onto their bus, do you?

If people are slow to take their black bin to the kerb outside their house, what makes you think they’ll drag bags of recyclables across 3 campsites? Picnic could take their cue from Townlands Carnival. For every two bags of rubbish filled and returned to the recycle point, punters were given €10 back on the cost of their ticket. Punters, not volunteers. If they incentivise recycling, I guarantee the uptake would be huge. People snarkily commenting about the lads over at the Euros and the videos of them picking up cans need to wise up too. Sure, they were doing their bit but so were hundreds, if not thousands last weekend in Stradbally. They just didn’t go around making videos for the world to see. Camping in a mucky field, picking up soggy sleeping bags just doesn’t attract the same headlines as beer bottles in Bordeaux.

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Photo taken in Charlie Chaplin Campsite.

Secondly, the weather forecast last weekend was atrocious and boy did it deliver. It lashed rain for most of Saturday and much of Sunday night too. The walkways through the campsites and leading towards the main arenas were knee deep mud in many places and anyone foolish to camp within the vicinity of a walkway woke to a deluge of mud and flood. Naturally, these tents were abandoned well before the campsites closed. For the organisers part, they had plenty of warning that the weather was going to be less than ideal. What action did they take? None. At Indiependence, a plastic path was laid running right through the campsites all the way to the main stage. At Life Festival, boggy areas were covered with bark and at Knockanstockan sawdust saw off the worst of the weather. Electric Picnic tickets are by far the most expensive of the lot and yet, not one thing was put in place.

My next point is the toilets. Althought they were miles better than previous years, one toilet block per campsite (especially the bigger campsites like Jimi Hendrix and Oscar Wilde) is simply not sufficient. I would dread to think about the bum to toilet ratio over the course of the weekend. Honestly, if I had the apparatus to pee standing up you better bet I’d be going by the nearest fence rather than the toilet blocks.

And as for Kelly’s comments that the place smelled of “piss, drink and muck”, cop on. You put 55,000 people in a field cutting loose for a weekend, what do you expect? Eau de Parfum?

I was at last weekend’s festival and apart from one lonely a4 poster asking for tents to be donated to Syrian refugees I didn’t see one other single bit of advertising. If Kevin Kelly was serious about collecting his donations, he should have started advertising months ago. In all the coverage in the run up to the weekend I knew all about the stage times, the line ups, the new look Rave in the Woods and had heard all about the secret room in the Heineken Sound Atlas but I did not once see mention of a tent donation scheme. There was definitely room for a Jacket off your Back tab on the ticker tape running along the head of the Electric Picnic website. What was to stop him highlighting the issue long before any wellies set foot in Stradbally? Was it Roy Keane that said fail to prepare, prepare to fail?

But what irritates me most is the smug older people up on their soapboxes. It’s easy to say that it’s all the young people who were previously burning out tents at the shit show that was Oxegen that are the problem but the demographic of Electric Picnic includes plenty of families, pensioners and parents alike. You can’t tar us all with the one brush. We brought our tents home, dried them out and will dust them off and reuse them for festival season 2017 as did most of the campers around us, young and old alike. I’d like to see some pictures of Feile Trip to Tipp in 1990s or Puck Fair in Killorglin and see how clean they were left when the crowds left. I have my suspicions that we have not moved on as far as we’d like to think.  Electric Picnic has carefully cultivated an image of being an artsy, ethical, family-friendly festival but there’s no denying that this is no longer strictly the case. I think that the organisers need to take a look at how they can tackle the issues highlighted in the video and, in the meantime, Leave Those Kids Alone.