Feile Classical is a long way from Tipperary in the 90s


It must be odd for Feile veterans listening to people complaining that Electric Picnic was ‘better in my day’ — which was only 2004-5.

As the original Irish festival OGs, Feile heads have been carrying around memories for nearly 30 years — memories that get hazier by the year.

And if it was all a blur back then those memories won’t be coming back — the original Trips to Tipp happened way before social media or any kind of viable internet. It’s even hard to find many photos of the madness of those few years when Semple Stadium was a trailblazer in our unrelenting love for an all-day sesh in a field.

Many of the original Feile punters aren’t actual ‘revellers’ anymore, but there’s still an ‘I was there’ buzz surrounding the whole thing — our version of Woodstock fuelled by warm Bulmers.

And in an era when nostalgia gigs, reunion shows and heritage acts are raking in more cash than new artists, Feile Classical makes no real concession for the younger crowds here, who might’ve spent all their pocket money at Longitude, Forbidden Fruit and the Picnic anyway.

While the Feile line-ups  of old were absurdly eclectic — Meat Loaf, Iggy Pop, Bjork, Prodigy, De La Soul, Simply Red and Chris De Burgh all featured — it’s way more streamlined this time round.

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Feile Classical is aiming to jog fans’ memories of the 1990-97 parties, with an all-Irish line-up of classic 90s indie bands that would’ve featured heavily in Hot Press or the Beat Box on Network 2. And riffing on the recent obsession with repackaging dance music and hip-hop with a classical twist, the Irish Chamber Orchestra will be adding a little more heft to songs you’ve heard hundreds of times on radio, Reeling in the Years or student club nights.

The six Main Stage acts — An Emotional Fish, The 4 of Us, The Stunning, Hothouse Flowers, the Frank & Walters and Something Happens — are all still a big draw at festivals, but this’ll be their first time on such on focused nostalgia trip.

And even between the main event, there are afternoon talks, debates and photo and poster exhibitions — with many punters out to spot their younger selves surrounded by a sea of cans, no doubt. Like Other Voices, there’s also a ‘Music Trail’ with bands playing in pubs all round Thurles for free all day until closing.

And for the more adventurous the buzz won’t stop with the orchestra gigs, with a few after-parties over the weekend. The choice pick would be former loose-limbed Prodigy dancer Leeroy banging out 90s rave and hardcore — and none of that new stuff they were playing at the Picnic a few weeks ago, tut tut. The Stunning, Jerry Fish, Will Leahy, Mickey Mac and a silent disco will also keep things late over the weekend.

And with craft beer and prosecco bars, glamping and a selection of fine food, it’s a long way from the Tipperary of the 90s.

  •  Feile Classical runs tonight (Friday) and tomorrow. For all the info, see feileclassical.ie
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