That pretty much sums up my Mantua experience this year, although there’s plenty to fill in the gaps with. Arriving down in Ballaghadereen on Friday night at 10pm but due to the rain and mud there was absolutely nowhere to park, not even temporarily (3,000 people and no contingency car park? WTF?). There were three cars full of musical equipment that the SEBP lads needed to get into the site as they were due to play in a few hours. Eventually, we parked the cars at the side of the road outside the venue and lugged the gear in while the drivers kept watch. The gardaí were understandable and were suitably baffled at the lack of parking facilities. There were no Streisand style walkouts however. After an hour of waiting around and with the gear locked up, it was up to us the three drivers to go back into the town, park on the main street and then get a shuttle bus out (and pay a fiver for the privilege). With the hassle we had trying to get gear on site, it was no wonder 65 Days of Static cancelled (Though I hear that they turned up in Knock Airport with no one to meet them and no knowledge of where to go so they flew home. )
We finally got into the festival at half past midnight and so it was time to catch some music. I first caught a bit of Digital Mystikz in the Alphabet Set tent and they were flooring the crowd with bass. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay long as I had visuals to do so I headed back to the main stage and in the middle of making shaky faces and waiting around to play, we watched 65 Days of Static’s adequate replacement, Ten Past Seven. It was a rockin’ set somewhere close to the Rednecks sound with a bit of a punkier influence. I also managed to get this great photo of Rory in mid-flight.
After that, it was time to do some visuals for the Bonus Party which went really well. The lads are getting tighter and tighter and it was great to see such a turnout for them. It was also the largest crowd (800-1000) that my visuals were shown to. Here’s a short clip of Skyline and a photo from the stage:
Saturday started with a nice trio of The Skatalites (who brought the sunshine), Los Langeros and The Sultans of Ping who were funny more than anything else. After this came, the mighty Jinx Lennon. Aoife Mc from the Indie Hour had Jinx on the show and told me how good his live show was previously, but the Dundalk troubadour slayed the audience with his unique and spot-on commentary on modern Irish life. Taking in FÁS courses, unwelcome uncles, rascism, template for singer-songwriters, electricians, hospitals, chip van owners and of course, forgiving the cunts, Jinx is the only singer songwriter in Ireland keeping it real and direct. It was such a breath of fresh air, despite (or because) of the alcohol consumed, it moved me. Definitely the unexpected highlight of the weekend.
Jinx Lennon – Forgive the Cunts
The rest of the night was spent in the Alphabet Set tent where I caught Blue Food, Frogpocket (Intense violin breakcore madness, see below) and more. I missed DJ C though and a few acts such as Sixfoot Apprentice, Ikeaboy and Richie !Kaboogie had their sets cut short by some clever clog who hotwired a tractor and drove it over some peoples tents and into the comedy tent where people were gathered. Two people were brought to hospital and the culprit was not found. This inadvertently led to the generators being turned off for the Alphabet Set tent and some disappointed artists and punters left with nothing but a relentless Drum and Bass tent to dance in.
This was a pointer to the lack of organisation at the festival. Security was practically non-existent after Friday night except for at the main stage, where even then people kept getting backstage and causing hassle. Little things like lack of artist wristbands meant a 40 minute convincing session with security to let us in while lugging gear, no front cover on the main stage means people can crawl under it, no safe place to leave equipment, the non-existent portaloos (the organisers built holes in the ground instead) to the larger things like the dangerous ditches where many a drunk ended up, the pond in which a girl slept in overnight and had to be taken to hospital with possible hypothermia, the horrible relentless drum and bass tent (I like drum and bass just not 24 hours of it!), lack of parking and the extortionate prices of shuttle buses for a 3km journey. I hope the organisers can sort out these issues for next year as it definitely had a lot of good points and was a great small 3,000+ people festival.