Thankfully, it’s not the end of the road for the festival itself, and its promoter, Shane Dunne, told the Irish Examiner that “a deal has been done for an open-air festival close to Cork City”.
The newer Indiependence will be of smaller capacity, depending on public health advice, but it’s a good boost to hear that one of the biggest promoters in the country is showing confidence in gigs and music going forward. Obviously, nothing is certain right now, but the continuation of Indiependence will also be a massive boost for Cork, which has been under-represented as a venue for big music festivals over the years.
During a normal summer, Cork music fans are up and down the motorway, heading to Longitude, Body and Soul, Life, Electric Picnic, Forbidden Fruit, and more, plus most of the big-name music concerts are held in Dublin, too. Live at the Marquee and the Independent Park series of gigs have aimed to arrest that flow of fans out of Cork in recent years, and Indiependence has also put Cork on the map since 2005.
The Indiependence organisers are from Mitchelstown themselves, and have been reluctant to go into details of why they are moving on, and they have also expressed regret that it has come to this. Indiependence all started very modestly, with a few gigs in the town square. Moving to a much larger site in nearby fields, in 2010, it wasn’t a huge success straight away, with some terrible weather damaging sales and attendances, but, soon, Indie was on the up. It peaked over the last few years and has drawn between 10,000 and 15,000 music fans to Mitchelstown year in year out, which has been a huge boost to the local economy. The town always rowed in behind the festival, and it was well-run, particularly in more recent years, as the organisers gained experience. It was one of the more smoothly operated events in Ireland.
My memories of the festival are many, and I always enjoyed meeting young people there who were at their first festival. Indie became a coming-of-age, post-Leaving Cert festival that filled the Oxegen gap, and for many Cork youngsters, it will have been their first weekend away camping at a music festival. Longitude has also become established as one of these post-Leaving Cert gatherings, but because of the camping at Indie it will have a certain extra nostalgia for those who went there.
I used to travel up and down to it, rather than camp, and I did many radio shows live from there, plus I did gigs there every year from 2010. I also co-ran the Urban Village stage a few years ago, with MCD, and, in fairness to Indie, they tried to host as many local acts as possible. That year, we welcomed Mango x Mathman, Erica Cody, Shookrah, Outsider YP, JyellowL, Sequence, Tebi Rex, Kojaque, and others to that stage alone, but, ultimately, Indie hosted many more artists over many more stages over the years. Public Enemy playing Mitchelstown was also something I never thought I’d see when I first listened to them when I was a teenager.
My own gigs were usually at the dance stage and we had some truly wild nights. Between Bacardi, Red Bull, and Heineken, there was always a great line-up at these stages, though my early memories of these gigs are predominantly of mud and rain!
Indiependence was a muddy pit until they moved to better ground, but it was always great fun. One wet, miserable day, I was entertaining Scottish DJ the Revenge, whom I knew from other Cork visits, and he told me he opened the door to the bathroom in his nearby hotel and he ended up in the bedroom of festival headliners, Bastille! It was all a bit Faulty Towers, but it added to the charm and we all have great stories of great parties and sessions down at Indie.
I’m getting nostalgic now and one thing is for certain: When we do attend music festivals again, we will all be more appreciative of everything!
I’m looking forward to the next episode of Indie and many more great times ahead!