Barn Dance VI – 29th April 2013
It was around half two on Good Friday when I got a message from The Chapters telling me that I was on the guestlist for Barn Dance VI, and so between yells of excitement and packing our meagre supply of booze, my friend Caoimhe and I hurriedly made our way to the shuttle buses in Donnybrook.
Luckily for us, we were able to bypass the lengthy queue and hop straight onto a bus, though rather unfortunately, we were subsequently met by a school teacher offering passengers narcotics, and a bus driver from Dundalk who had absolutely no idea where on Earth he was going. Whilst tailing Francie, the bus driver who will be forever remembered as an absolute “bollix” by everyone on the coach, we managed to make just about every wrong turn possible on the winding roads of the Wicklow mountains. Some time later however, we did actually arrive at the farm in one piece.
For the first few hours, Caoimhe and I spent our time sampling the pizza from The Big Blue Bus and the amusements. Trust me, when I say the bumper cars got competitive, they got competitive. We then flitted between the stages, seeing acts like OldSkool and This Club in the Live Arena (both of which we agreed we weren’t quite gangster enough for) and a fabulous trad/pop crossover act called Super Céilí who describe themselves as ‘Céilí Haus’ in The Saloon Barn. They must be seen to be believed.
It was a quarter to ten when things really started to get crazy though, as Delorentos took to the stage in the Live Arena. Somehow I’ve managed to evade every Delorentos gig ever, so I was pretty excited to finally catch them live, and they certainly lived up to my expectations. Their unique brand of upbeat, alternative rock had the inebriated crowd singing and dancing along as best they could. Unsurprisingly it was songs such as Right To Know, Did We Ever Really Try and the closer, Little Sparks, which created the most hysteria, but for a festival crowd, well, they couldn’t really have done much more.
Escaping from the Live Arena was an impossible feat at this stage, so seeing The Chapters was a somewhat failed mission, but luckily we managed to get front row for my all-time favourites, yes, you guessed it, The Riptide Movement. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen these guys, and when I say a long time, I actually mean four months… I was really excited to hear some of the new material they’ve been working on, and fortunately for me, it was a 50:50 spilt between new and old songs. It was a brave move, but one which certainly paid off as I had numerous people come up to me after the gig asking what their name was and how to find them. The fact that I was singing along to almost every song, even the unreleased Animal, probably led a few folk to the conclusion that I’m some sort of super-fan. As if…
After this we were in dire need of some air and refreshments, so we went for a wander with the bottle of water kindly given to us by TRM’s Mal Tuohy from the stage. Caoimhe attempted to tame the mechanical bull whilst I stood and laughed, and then we investigated the Dance Barn, which was probably the only disappointing stage for us, though many in the audience were in a delighted trance, so I’m sure they were loving every moment!
Our night came to an end with a bottle of champagne, two bottles of Jägermeister, and a dance-extravaganza with Le Galaxie. It was in these final few hours that the crazy atmosphere of Barn Dance came to a head, but it really was the best kind of crazy. Le Galaxie performed within an inch of their being, and the audience were utterly captivated from beginning to end.
Without a doubt, Barn Dance has definitely become one of my favourite festivals ever. Not only are you sticking it to Catholic authority by effectively attending a massive piss-up in a barn on Good Friday, but there’s the added bonus of it being one of the most mysterious and varied festivals out there. The range of music combined with the secret location just adds to the fun, and to top it all off you’re even raising money for charity, and to be honest, if all that hasn’t sold you on the idea, then I don’t know what will!