Planet of Sound


As exhaustively documented, times are tough on the Emerald Isle, so the moment to lose oneself in the arts has never been more pertinent, writes Grace Duffy.

THE ANNUAL ENDING of term at university coincides with the advent of festival season for a reason. Scores of disillusioned students, drained from exams look to the coming summer months with anticipation and excitement as they debate which music festival most merits their time.


The Oxegen music festival is naturally at the tip of everyone’s tongue, and even has something resembling a decent line-up this year. Admittedly, the Kings of Leon and Snow Patrol are headlining, but there’s a vivid snap of variety to be found on other stages. The ubiquitous Lady Gaga will be putting in her inaugural appearance on these shores, as will fellow pop star-cum-mannequin Katy Perry.

The token indie mafia are well served with Razorlight, Nick Cave, and The Killers to look forward to. Oxegen 2009 is characterised by a leaning towards the nostalgic, as Blur and the Manic Street Preachers make veteran appearances alongside the Pet Shop Boys.

Indeed, the event’s commerciality has given way in recent years to a more diverse spectrum of music. Rage Against the Machine were the highlight of last year’s festival and Nine Inch Nails and Jane’s Addiction cater to the more eclectic tastes among this year’s clientele. A weekend of wellingtons and revellery awaits!

For those interested in a quick trip across the water – and Ireland’s lack of diversity where festivals are concerned ensures there’s always a few – Britain’s already marvellous selection of weekenders has grown by one this year, with the addition of the Sonisphere festival. Taking place in Knebworth, Hertfordshire, north of London, the strictly rock gathering features Metallica and Linkin Park as headliners as well as Avenged Sevenfold, Machine Head, Lamb of God, and Mastodon.

This being the inaugural year, such a hallowed line up is impressive, and the organisers are pulling out all the stops to ensure it builds on its potential. As such, deposit schemes are in place for securing a ticket and Metallica Guitar Hero is [somewhat ingeniously] on offer on the main stage.

A weekend ticket with camping will set you back £157.50 and various coach and train packages are available also. There’s an exciting thrill of adventure in travelling to see bands that just can’t compare to staying at home, and a four-day weekend of chaos, distortion, and feedback is hardly something to be sneered at.

The Electric Picnic boasts Basement Jaxx, Flaming Lips and Echo and the Bunnymen to name but a few and promises a heady variety of all things cultured and exquisite. Oxegen and its cohorts across the water provide tempting food for thought in the meantime, a welcome distraction from exam pressure and a focal point on the horizon. Choose wisely, and let the season commence!