KnockanStockan 2014 Day 2 Review
As the second day of Knockanstockan dawned the sun rose, the early mountain fog dissolved, leaving a festival site refreshed and ready for action.
Strolling past Grabber’s Cottage, a faint melody caught my ear. It was The Magpies onstage, their Italian front man Paolo resplendent in a black satin shirt sounding slightly Leonard Cohen. The song was “The WoodY House”, a quirky little number with a wandering harmony, kind of waltzy, kind of eccentric. Charming nonetheless. The laid back afternoon Knockanstockaners seemed appreciative, swaying and dancing round the stage. The Magpies have an indie feel, slightly dark, atmospheric. They diversified their style for their Saturday afternoon set, Paolo serenading us with an Italian lullaby. Unexpected and very nice. Thanks Paolo.
See also: KnockanStockan 2014 Day 1 Review
The Magpies were quickly followed by Land Lovers. Uplifting cheery pop rockers fell victim to the threatening clouds at times. They blasted a comprehensive set of indie happy melodies to a responsive gang of rain dodgers. “Band Apart” with its flavours of The Frank And Walters, a special song written about Blessington – “Blessington Village of Loomers” were some of them. Their sound reminds me of The Mock Turtles, similar rising choruses, definitive driving bass lines, clever lyrics spreading their infectious indie optimism. It’s the hooky and catchy, “Band Apart” with that cute percussion was hummed and grooved to in nearby tents. Fast adrenalin laden “Vittima Di Cucina” waking up any sleepy festival heads with its urgent pace, Elvis Costello style delivery and abrupt ending. “Confidants”, their 2011 album is worth a listen, lots of variation, rich arrangements and glossy finishes.
The next set of promising instruments came from White Chalk. The lushness of their set is evident in the cello, mandolin, keyboards, selection of guitars and drums. Slightly folksy in places, yet pop rock in style, they add what appears to be classical inserts over slightly trad bass lines, mix in velvet vocals and dramatic drums. The glorious arrangements result in a big sound adding depth and density to all their material. Fronted by Conor Quinn the showstopper track was “The Architects” from the “Golden Kids” EP. The earnestness in Quinn’s voice as it rises through verses of revolution, and “Architects pickin’ up the pieces”. Edgy riffs, crowd calls, and tight delivery don’t go unnoticed amongst fans as the sun beams down. “Carnival Of Lights” is another one that’s well received. Refined violins, enduring electric bass, pure vocals and well placed key changes give it that feel of a journey.
Donegal based band In Their Thousands took to the stage in The Faery Field as the sun set. Piercingly pure vocals laced through the dusk light as they opened with “The Calm Before”. Leading straight into “The Storm”, the quaintness of Villagers springs to mind. In Their Thousands are thankful and gracious, possibly not realising the power of their performance as punters came out of the nearby bar to see where the music was coming from. As “The Storm” concluded in perfect crescendo the field was almost full. “Cheer Up It’s Only A Dream” was introduced as a song written for the lead singer’s nephew. An atmospheric lullaby, soft and comforting with an essence of the sea created onstage, it’s beautiful. “Vive La Revolution” follows, delivered initially in a tone of Rufus Wainwright’s “Complainte De La Butte” from Moulin Rouge. Spooky chords, clever percussion and deft punctuation give this song speed and soul. Heavier guitars hit the end with lyrical cries from the title. “The Pattern” finishes out their set. A lonesome lulling towards a gentle country and western flavour. Blue lights capture the atmosphere as dancers waltz through the Faery field not letting go of the ending.
The ten thirty slot on the main stage at Knocakanstockan is what I would call prime time. Prime time for the funkin’ groovin’ gang from Dublin, commonly known as The Hot Sprockets. Now I would say I’m fairly good at getting to the barrier. Whether it’s at T in the Park, The Phoenix Park or Marlay Park, the barrier has never eluded me. Except for now. In a field, in Ballyknockan. The Hot Sprockets have it packed as tight as a Ryanair suitcase. Graphics of “My Little Pony” and cartoon lady parts project into the night sky as they hit the stage with atmosphere builder “Quarter Roam”. Soper whips up the crowd with his endless addictive energy. Lashing into “Shake Me Off”, images of Nancy Sinatra’s pert bottom suddenly appear above our heads. The crowd are loosing it with musical madness as THS belt out their stuff. “Cruizin” kicks in, with its infectious delta blues chorus calls and whoooo whoooo’s. That’s the AIB add in case you’re wondering. Frankie’s extended harmonica is stretching the vibes. “Homeslice” with its folksy feel calms it down a bit, fans singing back the words with heartfelt love. This feels like a moment in time. THS carry on to tell us how much they LOVE Knockanstockan, before breaking into “Honeyskippin'”. Rockin’ it off Mick Jagger style, Soper picks out fans in between lyrics asking “How you feelin’ MOFO?”. “He’s feeling fineeeee” shouts Soper, “Everyone’s feelin’ fine and tasteeee”. Honestly, THS could breathe life into a funeral home. Moody groovy “Bad Jim” blues it up again before “Soul Brother” sends the field into boogie woogie orbit. “Shake Me Off” is like electric shock therapy. Making everyone literally lift off the ground with its power. The set is over before we know it. After much thanks, dedication to the Knockanstockan team and promises of more fun next year, THS exit the premises. Considering how much these guys have rocketed up the ratings on the festival circuit, it’s nice to see their honesty, integrity and appreciation for this festival. They did Latitude last week, are doing The Green Man soon. Before we know it, it will be Glasto and T in the Park.
Review by Ciara Sheahan