Life Festival jumps the gun on the bank holiday weekend with the first big weekender of the summer season – while also avoiding the clash next week of Open Ear and Forbidden Fruit and all the surrounding capers.
After being hatched as a sideshow drum & bass event at the Glade in Glastonbury in 2004, Life has been running in Ireland since 2006 – growing from 500 psytrance fanatics at Charleville Castle, to Ireland’s most high-profile electronic music festival.
In 2007 and 2008 it followed a breaks, dub, dubstep and D&B vibe, with acts like Dreadzone, Coldcut, Krafty Kuts, Skream and Max Romeo. But the following year they roped in Carl Craig, Green Velvet and Andrew Weatherall, setting the stall out for the next decade – mirroring Irish clubland’s relentless pursuit of techno.
After events in Ballinlough Castle and Cutra Castle, it’s settled at Belvedere House in Co Westmeath, with its four arenas, its forest walkways and lakeside stage – that has hosted two legendary afternoon parties with Ricardo Villalobos over the years.
They’re boasting that this is their biggest year to date – in capacity and DJ profiles. The addition of Fatboy Slim will no doubt upset the purists, but I reckon he’ll do a deeper dive on Sunday night than his regular catch-all festival sets, playing his chart hits and too-obvious bangers.
Armand Van Helden is the big coup here – with a guarantee of timeless, playful house. Check out his b2b Boiler Room set with Jackmaster for a masterclass in how to actually make the BR zombies actually dance.
Expect another taps-aff disco-house slaying from Chicago legend Honey Dijon – who’s on the record saying she’s not some chin-stroking DJ for the cool kids: “I’m a party DJ, I wanna see some titties jiggling, some asses wiggling and some dicks bouncing.” PS, her Boiler Room mixes are unreal too.
Jeff Mills is hardly a coup, as he’s a regular visitor, but the Detroit techno Wizard is always a must on any bill, with a guaranteed relentless decks and 808 pounding. And with the likes of Blawan, Motor City Drum Ensemble, and Adam Beyer b2b Joseph Capriati, there’s no shortage of rewiring techno.
To get things off to a ruckus tonight, there’s a three/four-hour grime and rap showcase on the main stage, with Dublin heroes Mango x Mathman followed by Yungen, Bugzy Malone and Godfather Wiley.
Also tonight, Dublin-based ArtSoul singer Loah teams up with electronic composer Kormac, building on their collaboration for the recent St Patrick’s Festival – Loah was part of Kormac’s Equivalent Exchange showcase with over 30 musicians at Vicar Street.
With dozens of of acts I’ve only touched on a few here – hit life-festival.com for the full rundown.