My best Andy impression – “I want that one.”
On a Sunday morning, a little rough around the edges, I made my way to Bellurgan Park in Co. Louth for Vantastival. The sun decided to shine which didn’t actually help my condition at all. Thank god for sunglasses. Typical! You wait for 8 months for summer and when it arrives for an hour or two, you squint and groan like a dehydrated Victor Meldrew.
Their sunglasses were actually for the sun, not to hold their eyes in
One of the first things I noticed about this festival is how happy and friendly everyone was. The atmosphere was almost Disney like as I was walking around the field. I parked up Wanderly Wagon, and wait for this, camping was in the same field as the stages for the gig. You could go down and park your van beside the main stage if you wanted. I met a crowd from Waterford and they were parked up right beside one of the smaller stages, but they don’t sleep much. How handy is that. No lugging your gear away with you for miles on Blue Monday. As the young fella of the Bukley’s once said – Hallelujah!
Krazykombis.com provide the best colouring book ever!
Vantastival seemed to have a more family orientated vibe to it than Festival of the Fires. I imagine that a lot of the families with campers find this festival a bit more accessible. There were activities organised for the kids all day, which had to be a draw too. The crowd here wasn’t huge, but that isn’t a bad thing. There was atmosphere, but there was space too. Kids under 14 were free, under 18 it was €30 for the weekend. Adults were €40 for the day or €89 for the weekend. Pretty much the same price as Festival of the Fires down the road. I stocked up Wanderly Wagon with what I thought would be enough beer for the weekend on Thursday. I was all out by Saturday night, reckon I must have spilled some. So I wandered up to get a can, purely to fit in like. €2.50 for a beer which was €2 euros cheaper than the gig in Westmeath. You’d have to support them, with them being so considerate ‘n’ all.
George Formby never made it look that good
There was plenty going on besides the music. One of the main fringe events on Sunday was the camper cook off. The idea here is that you get a crew of cooking campers to circle their wagons and you give them all the same ingredients as each other and you get them to compete a la ready steady cook. The bonus here is that these folk of the road were a bit more competitive and you don’t have to keep checking your pockets to make sure that Antony Worral Thompson isn’t picking them.
The cider provided was purely for cooking
Have you seen those soups and ready made foodstuffs by Cully and Sully? Well that fella dealing out the instructions above is Cully. He’s one of the Ballymaloe Allens, he must be the cool one, because he has a culinary camper van that he uses to travel around to festivals in. I had a quick chat with him and he was telling me how useful the van is as a promotional tool for their grub and more importantly, himself and the family have a great buzz traveling around to different festivals. Keep sketch for him at Electric Picnic.
I’ve had flats where the kitchen wasn’t as well laid out as this van
They were competitive, but more importantly. they were out to have a laugh. I’d love to tell you who won, but I don’t have a clue. If anyone knows let me know. I got hungry looking at them so I went off to Wanderly Wagon to cook my bit of steak and have a power nap before the serious shenanigans began.
Gypsy Rebel Rebel
From where I’d parked I could hear the rousing reception that Frankie Gavin and De Dannan were getting, but I needed protein. The night before, the main stage had been graced by one of my favourite Irish acts – Cathy Davey. I missed it but I quizzed the sound engineer about how it went. Always good to get a dispassionate bystander’s opinion. He said she was great and I wouldn’t be inclined to think she wasn’t. Gypsy Rebel Rebel were banging out some Bluegrassabillyfleetwoodfolk Hop that went down a treat. They played here last year and it’s no surprise that they were asked back. Folky feisty fun. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon in a field.
Full on 4 to the floor from the electro lads in La Galaxie. It was the right band at the right time. The thumping beats and high energy delivery was received well by the crowd and the band feed from it. The night was unseasonably cold and it wasn’t doing the lads electronic doo-daa’s any favours, but they good humouredly improvised and seemed to be actually getting a buzz from it. Did we notice? Nah. We were too busy bouncing.
God is an Astronaut
The last band to take to the main stage on the night were God is an Astronaut. this band have a dedicated fanbase, built up over the years by this original and uncompromising band. They can provide light ambient soundscapes that have you drifting away with them only to be bombarded suddenly by a sonic assault of their combined power that feels like the equivalent of being wiped out in an eight foot swell off the coast of Sligo, but in a good way. Power and pause. These lads have a sound and dynamic the brings the feel of a roller-coaster to their performance. Dips, turns, rises and falls, but never leaving the track. Exhilarating. When it comes to original Irish bands, these lads have been one of the good ones for a while now, but stay away if you’re of a delicate disposition or have a heart condition.
That girl’s got her festival face on. Love it!
As with a lot of festivals that I get to, the bill attracts the crowd, but it ends up being the crowd that actually make the gig. This crowd were uber friendly. I had people coming over asking about Wanderly Wagon and we swapped tips, tricks and horror stories. Tanya came over as she has the female equivalent of Wanderly. I lent her my table and she invited me to her place for Irish Coffee. Her van smelled much nicer than mine and she had a Winnie The Pooh Kettle. I enjoyed this field day just as much as I had enjoyed the one the day before, but it was a different vibe. Part of the enjoyment was just getting out for a jump around a field for a weekend for the first time this year. It’s here! I’ve been building up to this for the last 8 months and as a result I think I over did it a little bit. But I still had some in the tank to make it down to Dungarvan on Monday to sing with metal bucket on my head. To do wha? I’ll tell you in the next post.
Safe Tavels, Don’t Die
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