It’s been exactly two years since I was at a proper music festival, so last weekend's trip to Trabolgan for It Takes a Village was a much-needed glimpse of a world we all used to take for granted. It was the closest thing to a normal music festival that I’ve experienced yet, and the festival, still operating within the current restrictions, was a terrific advertisement for not only our music scene but for the whole community and infrastructure that surrounds the music and arts scene too.
For those who don’t know, It Takes a Village is an intimate annual festival that takes place down in Trabolgan holiday village in East Cork. The model of the festival is interesting, in that music fans are encouraged to stay in the on-site accommodation that comes with the ticket price. The festival apartments and chalets are all located right next to the music arenas, and those staying can also take advantage of many of the other holiday village facilities too.
The festival had built up impressive momentum before the pandemic changed everything, but this weekend they got back to it, running at around half capacity during a fantastic weekend. The plusses of this festival are many. Everyone stays on-site and it encourages a community vibe over the weekend. The comfortable accommodation suits many of those who have become a little weary of the huge logistical problems and hassle when it comes to camping at bigger festivals, and the line-up is usually aimed at a slightly older crowd too (as opposed to some of the mainstream events). The intimate site means it’s all very walkable and it’s all covered, but it’s still located on a beautiful coastal area in East Cork. It was all ideal on a pretty sunny and warm weekend in September.
This weekend we were treated to an all Irish line-up but if I’m honest, when I was looking at the line-up beforehand I didn’t even notice this. The strength of music in this country at the moment means that a cursory look through the line-up illustrates how our artists are as good as any. Fishgodeep, Yenkee, Strangeboy, Gemma Dunleavy, Nealo and many more were featured, and it was a wonderful mix of music, comedy, art and more.
Ultimately, a festival is as good as the people who attend, and there was a palpable sense of relief that we were all back doing what we do best over the weekend. This applied to those attending and those working and performing too. Every artist on the stage spoke on this, and everyone I met agreed that it was amazing to be at an actual festival again. Everyone was vaccinated, and the usual safety procedures were applied too, and it felt safe even at the after-parties, which stretched deep into the night.
The limited crowd meant that the events were confined to three stages, and it helped concentrate the minds nicely too. I dunno how many great acts I’ve missed at big festivals over the years due to schedule clashes, or the distance between arenas. There’s very little of that here. It was easy to jump between areas and there was no sound bleeding into other areas too. Lots of artists, old and new, made lots of new friends this weekend, and this applied to the veterans as well as the emerging acts such as Blakkheart, Art of Algebra, and Strangeboy.
There are tons of Irish acts emerging and festivals such as It Takes a Village are providing a decent springboard for many. The Good Room, who run the event, have always been creative when it comes to booking acts, and they even managed to coax the legendary Sligo crew Those Nervous Animals on to the stage again too. It was a fantastic weekend and the late-night house parties will live long into the memory too; I’m looking forward to next year already.
If you fancy one more cheap and cheerful taste of the festival season before the month is out you could do worse than checking out Upstart Festival this weekend. The Glounthaune Community Association and Cork County Council have put together an impressive line-up for this Saturday, featuring Fyünkay, Pontious Pilate and the Naildrivers, A Cow in the Water, Flywheel and Pretty Happy. Glounthaune is only a short train ride from the city, and the party starts around 4pm this Saturday, so it should be fun, with tickets going for only a tenner!