- 30 Aug 16
Some of the world’s greatest acts will assemble for this year’s festival; we pick out the ten you can’t afford to miss.
The Chemical Brothers
Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons were party-starters in chief when Oasis invaded Knebworth a full 20 years ago – and you’d best believe they know even more about leading a knees-up now. Throughout an unparalleled career, the pair are widely recognised as one of the first truly arena-sized electronic acts on the planet; they’ve since gained a reputation as one of the top arena-sized acts in the world, period. No strangers to Stradbally, expect a high octane headline set from the dance dons.
Matty Healy and co. unleashed their second record earlier this year – and promptly scored a number one on both sides of the Atlantic. The Manchester boys have certainly come a long way since last visiting Stradbally in 2014, but other things have stayed very much the same: their pop effervescence and genre-straddling range of influences are still present and correct, informing an album which can grace radio airwaves, dancefloors and festival stages with equal aplomb. The aforementioned Mr. H is a pretty engaging showman too, so expect more than a few of the faithful to get excited when the louche lads hit the stage.
Festival veterans for more than a decade, the English quintet rediscovered their mojo on last year’s In Dream, abandoning the gritty rock of The Weight Of Your Love in favour of a return to the more explorative and electronic sound that had signalled their evolution through the years. Indeed, it’s difficult to believe, when the familiar riffs of ‘Munich’ or ‘Blood’ strike up, that it’s been a full 11 years since The Back Room launched Tom Smith and friends onto the scene; it’s harder still to believe when they’re in full, energetic flight on stage.
Ask any number of hip-hop stars who the biggest figure on the scene is, and a fair selection will nominate Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones. A perennial challenger when arguments erupt about who is the greatest MC of all time, the Brooklyn native is noted as a king of contemporary storytelling, with his awesome flow and sharp lyricism paired with soulful production. An enduring icon, his second Irish stop in as many years is not to be missed.
With a Mercury Prize nomination safely tucked inside the Savages satchel, Jehnny Beth’s noise-rock outfit are ready to shake Stradbally to its core. They’re well set to do it too; the aforementioned award-nominated Adore Life bears the self-same post-punk hallmarks of 2013’s Silence Yourself, but with even more of the gut-wrenching, visceral power that’s marked them out as one of the most striking rock bands of recent times.
Years & Years
The magic point where EDM meets radio-friendly pop, the English trio have made leading frenzied dance-pop parties an art form – as anyone present during their Olympia Theatre run last year can attest. Olly Alexander is an endearing frontman, and you’d have to be a stick-in-the-mud of the very highest order not to find something to enjoy in the likes of ‘Borders’, ‘Desire’ and their ubiquitous hit single ‘Kings’.
Super Furry Animals
The Welsh masters of psychedelic rock ended a five year hiatus last year – and how. 20 years after their debut album Fuzzy Logic, the inspirational, imaginative and utterly incomparable outfit continue to be a live act beyond compare. Gruff Rhys is still a magnetic frontman, and their space-age grooves sound as fresh as they’ve ever done. Their propensity for surprise makes them a perfect festival proposition; miss it at your peril.
The Big Apple’s finest young MC, the 21-year-old is a throwback to the golden age of East Coast rap. Marrying his prodigious talent on the mic with an appreciation of classic sounds, his intelligent, hard-hitting lyricism made B4.DA.$$ one of the most exciting hip-hop releases of last year. The Brooklynite told Hot Press that being King of New York isn’t enough, and that he’d rather be King of the World. His energetic show means Stradbally is likely to be conquered this time round.
The Australian’s Damascene moment arrived when she realised how much Britney Spears had achieved by age 12 – thankfully, it’s a decidedly different path that Jacklin has since followed. The best points of alt-country and indie-folk – underpinned by witty lyricism and a rich, distinctive voice – are showcased on her masterful debut album, Don’t Let The Kids Win, which has drawn comparisons to the likes of Fiona Apple, Gillian Welch and Joanna Newsom.
Her debut album Emotions And Math doesn’t beat around the bush so much as dive headlong into it. The Californian may specialise in raw, bluesy guitar pop, but the classically trained Glaspy can run the gamut from minimalist folk to fuzzbox indie in unfailingly impressive style. Whether in confessional or confrontational mode, her personality shifts along with her tunes, which makes her one of the more intriguing newcomers on the scene in recent times.