Due to a combination of logistical and financial disasters, our Oxegen experience is limited to the 3rd and final day of the festival. We’ve missed out on a load of great bands and lot of rain – arriving into a muddy Punchestown feels like being sent to man the trenches.
Reports from Friday and Saturday indicate that Nick Cave was amazing (Shane McGowan appeared for a song), Pendulum rocked, Lily Allen was great and the likes of God is an Astronaut and And So I Watch You From Afar won themselves plenty of new fans. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs set suffered at the hands of the weather while TV on the Radio bettered their last Irish show at Tripod show.
We’ve missed a lot, but there’s no time to mourn – Fever Ray is onstage already. The dark confines of the Dance Stage shed perfectly suit the visual aesthetics of their show; all dry ice, blinking lanterns and eerie silhouettes. The same can’t be said about the sound though, the muffley synth rumblings and minimal beats drown out most of Karin Andersson’s distinctive vocals. The amazing laser display can only achieve so much; musically it’s an anticlimactic mess thanks to an awful venue.
Once readjusted to the daylight, we have a look at White Lies on the O2 Stage. To Lose My Life is a solid tune, but that aside sadly there seems to be a lot of filler here; their take on Joy Division/Editors shtick has us bored quickly enough.
Friendly Fires on the Heineken Music stage prove a much better choice, building something more energetic and interesting out of the same post-punk ingredients as White Lies. Having an extra drumkit and some trumpets, they’ve got the crowd lapping up electro-tinged numbers such as Paris and Skeleton Boy.
One of last year’s EP highlights; Foals are consistently amazing live. The band put on an energetic, intense display, their one drummer managing to somehow match the combined ability of Friendly Fire’s two. They air a new song from the currently under-construction second album (a sparse, vocal heavy number that slowly builds into a disco finale), but it’s mainly the old singles that strike gold, Olympic Airways and Red Socks Pugie in particular.
Taking a break from bands whose names begin with ‘F’, we give Wild Beasts a look on the New Band stage. Their vocal somersaults remind me a lot of The Dirty Projectors, but a lot more chaotic and random as songs seem to change pitch and direction about every 5 seconds. It’s interesting, but a bit confounding and ultimately grating.
A brief rain interlude clears just in time for The Ting Tings, our guilty pop pleasure for the day. In fairness to this duo; there’s something instantly likeable about their simple, catchy pop. As we enjoy an all to brief burst of sunshine, the mud and the damp are all but forgotten.
More cheery fun is to be found at Of Montreal on the Red Bull stage (which is painfully branded up to eyeballs), whose live shows seems to be about 50% theatrical chaos, 30% costume changes and 20% musical whim. That said, I don’t know much about this well-doted band; but there’s not much substance here to win me over (bar a pretty great cover of Bat for Lashes’ Daniel).
Next up is Jane’s Addiction, who are as great a band as they a ridiculous example of rock star pomp. Veteran showmen, Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro own the stage from the get go; a strutting, gyrating, guitar soloing teleportation to the age of Wayne’s World and Bill & Ted. Farrell’s banter about drinking whiskey, not wearing clothes and being Irish is completely inane and childish, but exactly what you’d imagine a Jane’s Addiction show to be. Closing with an anthemic Jane Says, they’re easily one of the highlights.
Florence & The Machine are putting on a great show, but we arrive too late – as we negotiate the muddy trail to the Red Bull stage we can hear her fiery voice in the distance, soaring through the final bits of Rabbit Heart. The tent is rammed and everyone looks suitably impressed/elated… “Raise It Up!”
As The Killers work their way through a myriad of hits on the main stage; we brace ourselves for the Irish swan song of Nine Inch Nails. Reznor and Co seem very out of place here amid all the pop stars, haircut bands and wellie shakers, but such is the setting for the final NIN tour. Opening with the monsterous riffage of Home, it’s an intense, clinical performance as sharp and brutal as the music itself. The current (and presumeably final) band lineup are top notch, mirroring Reznor’s beefy aggression. March of the Pigs, Something I Can Never Have, Head Like a Hole; song after song they deliver a spectacular performance unlike anything else Oxegen has to offer. Biding farewell with a crowd assisted rendition of Hurt, NIN bring to a close our brief but thoroughly enjoyable festival day out.
So how was your weekend? Who rocked your world?