Festivals Return… But Not As We Know Them

by James Hendicott

At the weekend, live music came back in what’s been rather optimistically dubbed a ‘festival’ format, at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham.

For the record, I wasn’t there. Now, of course we understand that returns to live music are not going to come with all the fun of the fair.

Government of Ireland Pilot Music Festival. Photo shows: (l to r) Kathryn Snell, Emma Kavanagh, Michelle Morrin and Sarah Mulvey. Photograph: Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland

There is plenty to be said for doing ‘something’, even if that something is largely the segmentation of an audience to watch a stage that looks substantially far away, and a whole lot of kerfuffle to get in. To those who went: despite our skepticism we hope you enjoyed yourself, genuinely. We’re all happy, I think to see that road to live events edging back open, and the fact that there were no confirmed covid cases associated with the event at the time of writing is definitely positive.

Read more in this weeks Dublin Gazette out in stores now

On the flip side, though, shows like this don’t even look like gigs, and it’s hard to imagine they appeal to the average gig-goer, let alone those in search of the buzz of a festival. After all, if there’s one thing you definitely don’t go to a festival for, it’s to watch music from a vast distance as you hang out with the same people you walked through the door with, stood on the same tiny patch of grass.

And look, I understand it, truly I do. Conservatism is sensible in the face of the unknown, and this is simply that conservatism. I just think to have any desire to attend these events, I need them to go back to having some soul, and a hyper-controlled environment and strict limitations on behaviour are the absolute polar opposite of what a festival should and shouldn’t be. So bring on the experimental events, the first dabbles with post-corona live music.

Jennifer Cassidy having her Antigen test before the Pilot Festival in the Royal Hospital Kilmanham Dublin on Saturday 3rd July 2021 the exent was a major success – PHOTO (MICHAEL CHESTER)

If my favourite act were on and I could have the front pod, I’d give it a go. But let’s not pretend we’re anywhere near where we were, and let’s not reframe these things as being even an approximation of a festival. They’re a pale, unappealing shadow, but steps forward can’t be bad.

Click on link to read more in this weeks Digital Edition

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