Body & Soul 2016 Review
Fresh faces and fair weather greeted those who arrived early at Body & Soul 2016. A newly expanded site offered more choice and space than ever before with new stages serving up an eclectic mix of music, while retaining the same feeling and sense of wonder from previous years. The crowd sensing as much, cheered and hollered in the campsite collectively as the excitement and suspense for a wild weekend built early on.
First up was Ye Vagabonds, purveyors of bespoke folk on the Wonderlust stage. A soft, gentle start to proceedings, brothers Brían & Diarmuid Mac Gloinn were in fine voice as they moved through a set replete with close vocal harmonies and beautiful acoustic instrumentation. Perfect to ease your way into it.
Dublin producer EMBRZ, otherwise known as Jack Casey, took to the Midnight Circus, a welcoming crowd greeting his arrival. His ambient electronica wooed the audience and got feet dancing, pulling passersby into the tent.
Hailing from Canada, BadBadNotGood graced the main stage. Espousing intricate instrumental music with saxophone as the centrepiece, they lean towards an experimental fusion of jazz and prog-rock with hip-hop rhythms. Their virtuoso display of musicianship left many feeling fresh after their nuanced and polished performance.
With some minor sound issues at the start, The Gloaming took to the main stage at dusk to lead us into the night. With some grumbling about the setting being unsuitable, the trad super-group silenced the chattering crowd as the set progressed with ‘The Pilgrim’s Song’ and ‘Song 44’ both eliciting huge responses from those in attendance. Beautiful and elegant.
Dublin four piece Girl Band made the main stage their own, opening in a swirl of crunchy guitars and wailing vocals. Their sound is unique and powerful, raw and energetic and their menacing set closed out Friday evening in a haze of hectic noise, a fascinating, guttural cacophony.
Starting off Saturday with always more than just the music to mind, a quick sidestep led us to Extraordinary Everyday Feminism, a robust discussion featuring Lian Bell & Roise Guan with Margaretta D’Arcy. Topics covered ranged from the power of collective in protest, to the need to protect whistleblowers, to the gender pay gap and a lot more in between.
Crowds gathered at the Midnight Circus tent for Euro 2016 as Ireland took on Belgium. Easily the biggest audience all weekend, they swarmed towards the tent before the game, the security forced to shut the doors with hordes crowded outside awaiting entry. Pity about the score though.
With a sound that incorporates pop, dance and electronica, great grooves and a front man unafraid to bust a move, Neon Indian got the main stage swaying and moving, dancing and shaking. Brainchild of Alan Palomo, the hip swinging singer was the energetic centrepiece the audience rallied around, the group’s upbeat, energetic display garnering much support from the gathered faithful.
Sam Shepard, neuroscientist by day, producer by night, AKA Floating Points, was joined by a live band that incorporated deft musicianship into the ambient atmospheric electronic fair. A mesmeric set that moved at a dynamic pace, the analog synth sounds coupled with live instrumentation made for one of the stand out sets of the weekend.
The last legs of the evening brought us to the Bulmers Lounge to catch Galway folk-prog four piece My Fellow Sponges. Plagued by sound problems from the outset, the group soldiered on, blazing through a set that got wellies booting around the tent in no time, calling on all those sitting to rise and dance late into the night.
Beginning again for the last time, awoken by the heavy patter of rain, heads poked out of tents for the final rebirth. The unending onslaught of persistent adverse weather overnight turned the pathways to a mucky mess and Sunday started as festival feet slipped and slid towards the stages.
In conversation with Una Mullally, Drum N Bass legend Goldie offered respite from the persistent rain as the affable, charming figure discussed his personal outlook and explained his lust for life, talking all things graffiti, alchemy and dyslexia.
Thoughts soon turned to music and the main stage, as Rusangano Family delivered a grungy, electronic hip-hop set with a focus that leans towards the exploration of identity through honest and compelling lyrics. The audience, engaged throughout, splash and sway to the bass heavy beat at the soaked stage, dancing on despite the deluge.
At the My House tent, DJs battled it out with a musical dedication. Bowie vs. Prince brought a throng of mourning fans ready to dance it off. The packed tent staged furious displays of emotive dancing in homage to fallen idols. A fitting tribute.
The Lucient Dossier Experience offered up performance art mixed with live music at the Absolut Art Bar. Their interactive, avant garde circus style display was energetic, incorporating interpretive dance and pageantry to create a visually unique theatrical spectacle. Easy access to Absolut cocktails aided in the enjoyment immensely.
Travel delays nearly scuppered Santigold’s closing set as she warmly apologised to the soaked awaiting masses on arrival. The onstage set up takes longer than expected but the patient crowd soon warm to the American singer’s infectious, upbeat grooves as she whips through a whirlwind set at breakneck pace. Costume changes and flashing colourful big screen imagery all add to the joyous occasion as Santigold rips through pop hits like ‘Can’t Get Enough of Myself’. An energetic display closes the curtain with a flourish much to the dismay of all in attendance as muddy boots trundled off in search of aural nourishment elsewhere.
Body & Soul 2016, until next year…