Oxegen Festival - Dublin, Ireland
Holly Arnold | Friday, 18 July 2008
With acts quality enough to lure music lovers over the sea, this year's Oxegen boasted a line-up impressive enough to rival its foreign counterparts. Set in the vast Punchestown Racecourse near Dublin, the festival offered a musical smorgasbord of entertainment.
From over-the-top fairground rides to the late night DJ booth, festival organisers offered an all night party atmosphere right in the heart of the campsite. Suffering from a later start date, and therefore more limited line-up, Friday's musical selection rested heavily upon the shoulders of the mighty Kings Of Leon, who more than lived up to the challenge. Other noticeable performances from the day came from the Editors, who charismatic performance put Interpol's lacklustre performance to shame. Battles, meanwhile, got the party started with an energetic but tad repetitive set.
On Saturday, it wasn't until Newton Faulkner's 3pm performance that things got going. Surprising the audience of rock and indie lovers, Newton shone with just a guitar and his voice as his weapons, finishing his set with an impressive solo rendition of 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. Carrying on in the same spirit, The Wombats did what they did best and churned out their catchy tunes with enough energy to ensure even the biggest music critic danced.
Elsewhere, UK beat boxing champion Beadyman took to the Bacardi tent and put in a fun and memorable performance. New kids Vampire Weekend, clearly shocked by the sheer size of the crowd they pulled in, offered a professional yet lively performance, distinctive enough to separate it from the scores of male based indie on offer. After an infectious and unashamedly poptastic set from Alphabeat, Pendulum cranked up the tempo by thrashing their solid baselines through the tent, getting people in the right spirit for the night's main events.
This, however, was where the festival ran into some problems. Suffering from scheduling conflicts, you had to choose between Hot Chip, The Zutons and The Charlatans followed by Prodigy, Justice or The Verve. Rather than a relaxing night of music, the evening descended into a lesson in time keeping and decision making.
The Zutons, however, made up for the stress. Providing an uplifting and genuinely fun performance, they made the audience forget about the other bands on and fully enjoy their show. A foolish attempt to consume both the Verve and Prodigy resulted in capturing the egotistical anthem-free first half of the Brit-pop reformers and the energetic yet sadly barely audible middle section from the infamous dance collective. Abandoning the two disappointing headliners in search of a solid performance led to French dance act Justice, who ploughed through a heart-stoppingly electric performance, finishing off the day with a surprising level of energy.
Sunday brought about the same level of entertainment and scorchingly hot weather to boot. We Are Scientists made the most of this, playing a blinding set to a relaxed and eager crowd. The Pigeon Deceives then cranked up the enthusiasm, delivering their infectiously catchy tunes and receiving healthy up roaring feedback.
With MGMT's crowd too large to fit into the badly planned smaller tent, Reverend And The Makers entertained disgruntled fans with powerful vocals and cocky mannerisms. Band Of Horses mellowed things down and provided an interesting deviance from the guitar led music sampled throughout the festival.
Later in the evening, The Raconteurs previewed much of new album Consolers Of The Lonely, playing a self indulgent, confident set rife with killer basslines and exciting lyrics. Unfortunately clashes once again came into play, with most choosing to dedicate their time to the visually stunning Chemical Brothers. With their set finishing in enough time to catch Rage Against The Machine’s classic encore track 'Killing In The Name Of', the weekend ended on a high.
Despite low expectations, Oxegen delivered a top class line-up with plenty of entertainment all round. Scheduling clashes were thankfully only a minor blemish on an otherwise sterling weekend.