It takes some nerve to start up a new festival in Ireland these days, but even with all the moans of over-saturation, there’s still room for one more if it’s done right.
All Together Now is an especially bold endeavour, as it’s not some low-stakes under-the-radar event set up as a labour of love. It’s immediately entered the ring with designs on being a big player, knocking heads with Electric Picnic and Body & Soul.
Since Electric Picnic changed the Irish festival scene for good around 2004 and 2005, we’ve had many variations on a theme – summer city festivals like Forbidden Fruit and Longitude; winter showcases such as Metropolis, food, comedy and family-friendly weekenders, and even a music festival focusing on talks, lectures and interviews – Dublin Vinyl would’ve been laughed out of the pub a few years ago.
But All Together Now is going for a refinement of the classic formula that made the initial Picnic and Body & Soul festivals such a rite of passage – manageable crowd sizes, a boutique’ presentation, plenty of extracurricular activities and of course a thoughtfully curated line-up.
It all takes place in Curraghmore House in Co Waterford, with the official site enticing would-be punters with drone footage of the lush woodland, landscape gardens, lake and streams. There’s also an added touch for lapsed festival heads who may feel shut out by the young ravers and trap fans at Forbidden Fruit and Longitude. The festival is strictly over 21, which really means they’re aiming for a crowd considerably older than that. The line-up also reflects the pool of music fans they’re trying to grab – who may have said, “I remember when the Picnic was good” a few times over the years.
Prog techno veterans Underworld, leftfield electro-pop queen Roisin Murphy, avant-garde composer Nils Frahm, indie-folk faves Fleet Foxes and the Queen of Funk herself, Chaka Khan pricked up ears on the first announcement, alongside spot-on electronic names such as Chicago house hero The Black Madonna and Booka Shade.
Since the first announcement, the event has settled on 16 stages of music, arts, spoken word, theatre, comedy, food demos and a wellness area called the Lawns of Tranquility. But don’t be imagining it’s too chilled – the Afterburner rave made famous at Glastonbury, Bestival and more recently Metropolis will be banging out techno and spewing out flames into the early hours.
With over 100 performers there’s a lot to wade through, and there’s plenty of left of centre acts to keep the more curious satisfied. But there are still a few essentials to tick off. Prince’s backing band from his amazing new jack swing 90s era, The New Power Generation, will be throwing out the likes of Gett Off, Diamonds and Pearls, Money Don’t Matter 2 Night and all the classics; bassict Thundercat is all about the virtuoso jazz-funk odyssey; Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def brings some veteran hip-hop gravitas and Conor O’Brien will be trying out some long-awaited new Villagers material.
If your stomach and ears can take it, Mogwai will be unleashing their depth charge post-rock noise, but for a more joyous fist-up celebration, Hercules and Love Affair are all about the classic house vibes with bonus vogue dancing.
And if it’s all getting a bit tiring, reggae legend Jimmy Cliff is playing at the perfect time – Sunday afternoon for a dose of last-stretch good vibes to get you through it all.
With such a diverse range of antics to get up to we don’t have space here – hit alltogethernow.ie for the full lowdown.