Review | Body & Soul 2015

Photos: Timi Ogunyemi – @tweetymonkey

It’s been almost a week since we packed up our tents, decided to leave some chairs behind at the campsite (because fuck that), and generously donated some leftover cans to those still on the session. And while the guy dressed as a seven foot wraith returns to his desk job at KPMG, the gaggles of girls and boys in flower crowns upload their meticulously chosen instagram photos (#festival #friends #SeeYihLeavingCert), and the children wonder if dad in a morph suit was just some kind of strange and unusual dream, Body & Soul 2015 is immortalised in all of our slowly returning memories.

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Truly, this year’s edition was fantastic; a terrific concoction of music, art, culture, and glitter. Artists and organisers outdid themselves with beautiful attention to detail, with no stone, stump, tree, or patch of moss left undecorated. Arriving with a crate of cans that was slightly over the allowance wasn’t a problem (‘Just keep moving I don’t care’), and asking for directions was a lesson in modern art (‘Go left at the teddy bear and flowers duct-taped to the fence’). While the walk to the campsite was grim for our shoulders, once we arrived and set up, it already felt like our home away from home.

I won’t pretend to remember the order of artists, what day was what, who was where, who I was, but there were some truly knock-out performances on main and small stages alike. Goat embodied everything festival culture is about – buzzing about in beautiful and intricate costumes, and damn good live music. With two albums under their (feathered and jingly) belt, they’ve established a loyal fan base while welcoming outsiders with open arms. Their performance was tight and controlled, while still giving the illusion of spontaneity. Everything about their set was energetic, without ever losing themselves, with ‘Golden Dawn’ standing out as the set highlight.

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Nightmares on Wax stole Saturday night with a glorious journey through George Evelyn’s discography (and the sweet and inspiring story of his journey to success). At around the midpoint of the set, a friend and I became seriously overwhelmed by Evelyn and his band’s diverse performances of genre and style (at one point we counted around 10 genres, listed them off, and shouted ‘fuck sake’). The set went too quickly, and I wager most of the crowd would have danced there all weekend if they could.

But in terms of the music, Nightmares on Wax were second only to Leftfield who closed the festival in a cathartic blur of rain, strobe lights, and gorgeous visuals (both in the show and definitely in the minds of a lot of people there). The bass almost ploughed the field, and the deafening yet melodic drones made us all see and feel some shit. Mostly sticking to the long (long, really long, like 16 years long) awaited Alternative Light Source, there was one or two oldies for those who were around for Leftism the first time.

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Notable mentions go to the Mother DJs who seemed to be constantly playing in the forest, providing us all with some much needed soul, funk, and disco. Their energy and style make them the most fun DJ set you’ll see in Dublin today, and they’re something you could bring your Ma to. The highlight of the weekend for many, however, was pretending to see Talking Heads perform Stop Making Sense live in the lighthouse cinema. It’s as close as we’ll get to a time machine but no matter how many times we shouted ‘take it off!’ at a young digitised David Byrne, his suit only seemed to grow bigger (just the way we like it). So involved were we that the chorus of ‘one more tune’ at the close was met by disgruntled and confused faces of staff, who seemed frustrated at the need to point out that this was, in fact, a DVD. The Vodafone Comedy Tent was another treat, and catching Tallaght’s Al Porter during a rain shower was my happiest coincidence of the weekend. Foil, Arms and Hog brought brilliant energy in their sketches, and were really sound when I got a light off the tall one afterwards.

Body & Soul is growing, with this year’s line-up and execution being the best yet. And though it’s cliché to say it, this festival is so much more than the music. Large enough to afford the anonymity required for some of my questionable fashion choices (no regrets), but small enough that the cosy atmosphere follows you from campsite to stage to falafel van. It may seem that I am romanticising the experience, so here’s a few bad things – it took us over three hours to queue to enter, it took me longer to queue for the (one) ATM than it did to drive home to Dublin, and it rained. Once. But those complaints seem trivial compared to the highs of the festival, and in the end, nothing could take away from the sense of community and amicable minutes-long friendships made. It was a triumph, a complete success, and I am literally counting down the weeks until next year.

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