Fight Like Apes, Jape and more impress in Tullamore.
Castlepalooza returns for its 10th anniversary with a stellar bill, rivalling the very best the festival has ever presented. ‘Palooza is dear to the heart; firstly because it’s my local, and secondly it was my first taste of the wonders of summer festivals. With ludicrously high expectations, I buzzed inside around 4 o’clock on Friday. Let’s get down to it!
My first taste of the weekend started strong as we found ourselves in the Cityjet Tent. With a Kanye-like presence, Rocstrong dived headfirst into ‘Go Head’, the crowd doing their best to keep up. The momentum never diminished throughout a funk-inflected set, as the festival's early arrivals were treated to a real force of nature.
Signing off an energetic first day at Charleville Castle was Alex Metric. The English DJ had little trouble stirring an already-enthused crowd within the Cityjet. Wrapping up a bill full of disco and house, Metric’s remixes were stand-outs.
Over on the main stage were beloved Irish heroes, Jape. Taking tracks from the latest album, This Chemical Sea, Richie Egan and company delivered generous helpings of the older material too. Dismantling crowd favourite ‘Floating’ and reshaping it into another animal altogether was one of many moments of genius that topped off a very special set.
Back at the Cityjet Stage the following evening, Late Night Tuff Guy followed by Aeroplane made for a rhythmic, infectious brace. Over at the Bierhaus, techno wizard Sunil Sharpe overcame early technical difficulties with aplomb. I had listened to his Boiler Room set earlier that week, but trust me when I say that it serves Sharpe very little justice.
Stumbling upn Bentley Riddims, what I witnessed inside the Tullamore Dew Courtyard was bottled mayhem. With an entourage on stage possibly larger than the crowd itself, Riddims spun tribal tracks with a manic intensity.
Appetisers on Sunday didn’t come tastier than Hare Squead. The frightfully young Dubliners' brand of rap and rhythmic soul was an early evening treat – make sure you find the time next month to catch them on the Body & Soul stage at Electric Picnic.
There was a large Irish presence across the four stages, but not many come bigger than adored indie-popsters Fight Like Apes. The castle's front yard filled out in the rain, with people screaming and headlining in tandem with the reckless glory on stage. ‘Pretty Keen On Centrefolds’ was an early highlight before the likes of ‘Tie Me Up With Jackets’ and ‘Jenny Kelly’ encouraged mass joshing.
Elsewhere, Alexander Nut delivered brought everything from hip hop to dubstep, creating a stimulating experience as the masses got lost in his raw experimental sound.
Still dizzy from that revelry at the Cityjet Stage, I happened upon an exciting little act you might know as DJ Deece. Following Nut’s set was no mean feat but the young Kildare man more than delivered. The name behind Somewhere? at The Workman’s Club played a diverse set that had merged hip-hop crowd pleasers with funky house. Do sign-offs come better than this?
Castlepalooza retains its status of being one of our country's most intimate and magical music festivals. No better way to spend the August Bank Holiday weekend.
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