The Beatyard crew took a gamble last year with their first weekender festival. For years the Beatyard festival was a ‘conference’ type umbrella event, spread over a week or two in various Dublin venues, with electronica, hip-hop and various other leftfield music, talks, workshops and showcases.
The first Beatyard bank holiday fest concentrated all this into one seaside weekender, and the event at Dun Laoghaire Harbour was one of the most chilled, smoothly-run and straight-up pleasant music events of 2015.
Beatyard was a sidestep past the blockbuster city festivals like Forbidden Fruit and Longitude, targeting an older audience without going down the usual by-numbers legacy route.
So even though we had Sister Sledge, Barrington Levy and Craig Charles spinning classic soul, Four Tet headlined with some blinding techno in parts, and we had Rusangano Family, Meltybrains?, Optimo, Madlib and Lindstrom. Even Neneh Cherry refused to pander to the nostalgia crew, with a set of twisted electronic funk with her band RocketNumberNine.
This year they’ve probably locked down a similar crowd — there’s a drawing class with Don Conroy as a hint to the target age group.
There’s a bigger nod to funk, soul and disco this year, especially on Sunday. Overall headliner George Clinton’s hands are directly or indirectly all over nearly every single album in your collection.
The Funkadelic and Parliament legend is one of the true funk originators, whose influence on house and hip-hop transcends nostalgia, with him playing a big part in recent albums by Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar.
Sunday will also bring some cosmic soul-jazz from Roy Ayers and heartbreaking soul from Charles Bradley and an early evening set from one of Ireland’s most bankable festival acts, Jape.
The biggest head-turner on the bill is Boney M — one of the most deceptively avant-garde disco acts in history.
For every simple Daddy Cool or Rivers of Babylon, they’ll throw in some frankly bonkers left turns like Rasputin and the vocoder sci-fi of Nightflight to Venus.
Dub legend Lee “Scratch” Perry is also making a return after his crackpot show in Dublin in March. Expect much echo-chamber effects, frazzled electronics and the 80-year-old Upsetter making contact with different dimensions.
Make sure to get there early doors tomorrow for an afternoon show by Rubberbandits, whose surrealist comedy and genuine pop know-how often paper over their genuine seditious edge.
There’s also a big concession to house fans, with a four-hour set from Detroit pioneer Theo Parrish tomorrow, while Danny Wang will head down a house and italo route tomorrow as well.
Then again, if it all gets a bit too much, Mattress Mick (!) is giving a talk, so maybe he’s got a bed out the back.
With ping-pong, videogame competitions, Banter discussions, boat trips, kids’ areas and a food court that’s almost as big as the main stage area, Beatyard has you covered.
We’ve only scratched the surface here — check the-beatyard.com for the full line-up and other info.
The Beatyard runs tomorrow and Sunday at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Tickets are €49 per day, or €79 for a weekend ticket.