After years of contemplating we finally made it to the beautiful setting of Blessington Lakes for the independent, not for profit music festival Knockanstockan. Here's a few words on the festival and the bands I got to see at Knockanstockan.
From the onset it's important to state that we went as a family with three kids ten and under, staying in the family campsite and leaving early on Sunday. This restricted the amount of bands I got to see at Knockanstockan. The organised entertainment for the kids was very good with a decent small play area adjacent. Unfortunately despite great efforts from volunteers the majority of the campers in the family area did not have kids with them and with music going until the wee small hours there was no escaping the full on resulting bass-thumping sound throughout the night. The site was very compact and therefore I feel it's not possible to tick all boxes needed to have a family friendly festival. Some of the bands I seen live were very poor while I discovered some excellent bands worth writing about. Here is the list of great bands I got to see this weekend.
The Viking Project
The first band on The Moon Stage on Friday were the 'dirty folk rock' band The Viking Project. While there were a good few dirty folk rock bands at Knockanstockan the best of these were The Viking Project for no other reason than their set was full of great tunes like this one;
John Blek & The Rats
Cork band John Blek & The Rats brought a charming Americana folk sound to the Circus Tent on Friday for one of the musical highlights of the weekend. There's a superb debut album in this band.
Windings have been around for ages but this was my first time seeing the band and I was massively impressed. Some of the sounds coming from the five piece were genuinely jaw dropping.
The first band to impress on Saturday afternoon were Fusion Trip. This is a serious band of amazing musicians that produce genre hopping jazzy/rock sounds.
I caught the first half of Canada's Markas Carcas's set in the Circus Tent. Markas is a quality vocalist with a gritty edge to his songs. It was near on impossible to divert your attention away from the stage due to Markas's guitar playing style and impressive performance.
Sarah Red did not disappoint on Saturday afternoon on The Faerie Stage. Her voice is so pure and songs like this one were performed with grace and charm despite some minor guitar/sound issues.
Twin Headed Wolf
Twin sisters Julie and Branwen were mesmerising on The Faerie Stage on Saturday with their enchanting style of folk music.
The Amazing Few
The most entertaining performance came from The Amazing Few on The Moon Stage. No words can describe the madness that comes in the form of an 'Amazing Few' gig. It's just forty minutes of good sweaty fun from a very talented band.
Fox E. & The Good Hands
This is the third time I've seen Fox E. & the Good Hands perform at a festival and yet I'm still blown away by their songs and musicianship. They are such a great live band. Hopefully it won't be too much longer before I can review an album from the band.
Hassle Merchants were the best band at Knockanstockan. Their punk rock sound has matured and been refined over the years to a sound which is very marketable. They have a super vocalist and a bunch of protest songs which are well written and relevant in today's world.
I can understand why Raglans are getting the current push as they are a really good band. Their Fratellis/Oasis sound is timelessly popular if somewhat unoriginal.
ElevetyFour kicked off Sunday on The Faerie Stage with a weird and wonderful set of great songs, sound cutouts, a run around the field, singalongs and dancing galore. Standout tracks were new single 'Snapshots', 'The Friend Song' and this one about eating cake in Sicily while on holidays.
Lights Camera Sundown,
The last band we seen were 'Lights Camera Sundown' in the Circus Tent as part of Saucy Sundays. There's real potential in this band with their male/female harmonies, superb vocals and quirky folk songs.
Check out some great pics and individual band reviews here: http://www.dublinconcerts.ie/knockanstockan-2012-photos/
Thanks to Knockanstockan for introducing me to new Irish music like Twin Headed Wolf, Lights Camera Sundown, John Blek & The Rats and Fusion Trip. There's a potential for Knockanstockan to continue to grow over the years to something not too far off Glastonbury. The site is amazing with views of Blessington Lakes high up in the Wicklow Mountains. I feel that the line-ups need to be more diversified. I heard many comments from other parents stating that there were not impressed by the music they heard over the weekend. I get that there's a nice community feel at Knockanstockan with the bands and musicians all knowing each other but that type of community feel could also prevent outsiders from feeling welcome and this needs to be looked at if the festival is to grow further.