KnockanStockan 2014 Day 1 Review
Wandering through a rich meadow around Faery Fields, totem poles, circus tents and over sized childlike mushrooms on a Friday afternoon, it’s like another world. A world rich in bohemian artistic expression, where the most happy chilled out people you will ever encounter gather to celebrate the richness of creativity. That place is Knockanstockan. It’s named after its birthplace Ballyknockan, the granite village overlooking the stunning scenery of Blessington lakes. The independent music festival has been around since 2007, giving birth to and nurturing some of the very best in Irish music. No sponsor driven machine, it’s run primarily by volunteers. It’s got an old fashioned Woodstock kinda vibe. Everything and everyone is cool, retro and relaxed.
This year the Sun Gods smiled upon KnockanStockan supplying endless hours of sunshine, making everything sparkle. Amongst some of those sparking diamonds glittering in the Faery Field were Liza Flume and the band Come On Live Long. Liza charmed her fans with her pure porcelain vocals and fragile melodies. Quirky and folksy in places, upbeat and contemporary at times, she glided through a set that was too short.
See also: KnockanStockan 2014 Day 2 Review
Come On Live Long appeared onstage weaving a spell of soundscape sky filling melodies. Honest raspy vocals drive their atmospheric, layered, laid back sound. They sound bigger than they look. With “Billions” there’s clever use of sampling and maximised dramatic arrangements giving that full fat ambiance. Interestingly, they dedicated it to their van that died this week and was scrapped. “Little Ones” strikes up a woozy, snoozy feel discreetly building to a crashing crescendo that’s almost Arcade Fire at times. Hints of early Groove Armada and possibly an echo of CHVRCHES in places, it’s an electro-pleasure for the senses. With the sun lighting the gentle slopes of this grassy theatre, Come On Live Long were the perfect fit.
Charming troubadour Conor Linnie is up next. His second year at Knockanstockan, he has a band with him this time. Two vocalists, a drummer and add depth and weight to Conor’s infectious folk melodies. Not to be pigeonholed, Conor demonstrates an ability to float easily up and down the hardcore folk scale. Easing his audience in with addictive fiddle opening harmonies, he performs a set that ranges from cute love songs to bluesy, rootsy uplifting field fillers. “Cherry Blossom Bloom” is illuminating his style. His lyrics are irresistible: “My ephemeral beauty / Your fleeting grace came like a kiss / To simply console me/ Enfold me in a warm embrace.” “Moths” sees him move upbeat with his natural finger picking guitar style. “Praying Mantis” from his recent “Astray” album has a distinctly electric rhythm and bluesy honkey tonk hue, before he gives it all he’s got with a cover of Paul Simon’s “Graceland”. Flower fairies all over the Faery Field are dancing in celebration.
Elsewhere it was a quick dash between the main stage Grabber’s Cottage and the Circus Tent. Indie guitar guys Enemies lashed out their instrumental textured rock at Grabber’s Cottage to an appreciative crowd, whilst the infectious 80’s retro remixers Cocaine Ponytail shocked and awed the crowd in the Circus Tent. An impressive array of instruments and outfits kinda said it all before they even played a note. Top hats, matching waistcoats, glamorous Robert Palmer girls and Elton John glasses made sure this gig was dressed to kill. The band are the essence of funky fun. They performed a pick and mix of flawless falsettos, Human League keyboards, Frankie Goes To Hollywood drum machine, Scissors Sisters harmonies and a gob stopper of B52’s frantic pace. How did I not know about these before now? Chatting to punters around the site, they were the talk of the tent. I only got half the set but it was the full monty. Well done Cocaine Ponytail, come back soon.
Meanwhile, after a midnight sprint back to the Faery Fields, three guys and a monkey head were taking their places onstage. The massive fairy, with it’s eyes lit up, beamed into the crowd eagerly awaiting the magic. Tucan came on and wowed the audience. To be honest, I didn’t know where to start with them. They appeared to be three acoustic guitars and a drummer. How misleading they proved to be. The three guitars unfurled a wealth of original, sampled and layered music. They took what seemed simple enough harmonies, built up the layers, added a few secret ingredients and rolled out the finished product. The first one had Mediterranean laid back holiday vibe, the second one was Kelly Charles “You’re No Good For Me”, the third one Daft Punk’s “Around The World”. After that, they did new material that went electric into a 70’s TV cop show theme tune, then ambient electro guitar rock. The crowd lapped it up, groovin’ all over the field, drawing customers from the nearby bar and Indian massage tepee tent. Tucan wrapped up the night at this end of the site sending out the love till the early hours.
Review by Ciara Sheahan