Knockanstockan is quite possibly the best small festival I have ever been to. Despite knowing little about most of the line-up I was optimistic and rightly so. Knockanstockan encourage revellers to join their party even more so if you’ve never heard of any of the bands. The festival offers a fantastic blend of music styling, most frequently a funk-folk and rock blend. It’s unique design clearly the result of lots of hard work by organisers.
There’s two main stages (the Sun and Moon stage) accompanied by the Circus Tent and the weirdly enchanting Faerie Field. There’s also the Big Blue Bus, some porcelain animals to attack with archery and random mattresses for those struggling to get back to the camp site.
The atmosphere is very laid back, proved by the many roaming dogs, children and hippies with frisbees. The most widely recognised act was probably Bipolar Empire who played a pretty impressive indie set on the Sunday night.
The best thing about Knockanstockan is discovering new acts, for example Louis Barabbas. After wandering into his eerie mix of Tom Waits’ style vocals and Nick Cave style Murder Ballad intentions, he declared this next song is about being fed up of your wife and killing her. He made a fan of me.
Another band worth mentioning are The Fitzafrenic, who I’d seen about four years ago covering Arctic Monkeys and RHCP in a shed. After their indie-rock set, accompanied by singer Conor McGrath’s saxophone, they ended on a high note with a cover of Madness One Step Beyond. Any passers by soon joined the mayhem sending everybody into raptures.
Upcoming Bray folk-ers Cujo Family have already gathered a pretty large cult following and it’s easy to see why, they played an energetic, old-fashioned folk set.
The beautiful weather soured briefly on Sunday, but thankfully picked up again and those who didn’t bail were treated to possibly the best day of music. We Cut Corners, a band you will enjoy more every time you see them, played up a storm. Everything about their music is unique and enjoyable. (I will feel genuinely disappointed with Ireland’s music scene if these guys don’t make it big.)
Sunday night ended with quite probably the most enjoyable act of the weekend, The Candidates. Don’t be put off by the generically indie-sounding name. These guys are brilliantly funky, and really had the crowd breaking out the moves. Their selection of covers won the crowd over with the likes of Hendrix’s Crosstown Traffic, James Brown’s Get On Up and Kool and the Gang’s Jungle Boogie.
The one minor criticism was the difficulty reaching the festival. There were two relatively small buses running to bring people from the carpark and from Blessington to the festival which took nearly two hours. Although this seemed to make no difference to festival go-ers. Overall Knockanstockan is a fantastic independent festival and I urge everyone to support it and go along.
By Declan Marron.