Oxegen 09: You may not have heard of them yet, but you will
They're the bands that are almost certainly going to be the next big thing, and you can see them all at Oxegen. Here are some of our favourites.
Friday, New Band Stage
As you'd expect of a woman married to Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme, Spinnerette's Brody Dalle knows how to kick up an old-school garage rawk ruckus. As front-woman of The Distillers, the Melbourne singer often confused attitude with art. She's got the balance right with her new band -- their self-titled debut is a blast of old fashioned rock and roll badness.
Airborne Toxic Event
Saturday, New Band Stage
Mikel Jollett was a successful music journalist and aspiring novelist when he was struck down with a potentially life-threatening illness. So he did what any late 20-something would upon being confronted with their own mortality: chucked his laptop out of the window and started a rock and roll band. Named after a chapter in a Don DeLillo novel, Airborne Toxic Event have swept to breathtaking success -- in Dublin recently, the audience knew the words to every song, although ATE's album had only just been released. There are, admittedly, blatant winks towards Arcade Fire in their swoonful orchestral pop. But Jollett's baroque voice takes Airborne Toxic Event to an entirely different emotional zone and you know he's singing from the heart.
The Gaslight Anthem
Saturday, Oxegen Stage 2
Bruce Springsteen is playing Dublin the same weekend as Oxegen. For those who can't be in two places at once, however, here's the next best thing: five earnest New Jersey-ites who populate their songs with blue-collar dreamers and love-lorn Every Joes. Back in New Brunswick, Springsteen has been known to turn up to their shows -- perhaps he's searching for fresh inspiration.
Saturday, New Band Stage
Looking like he's escaped from a sci-fi rock opera based on the writings of the Brothers Grimm, the elfin Patrick Wolf is that rarest of creatures: a pop star dripping in originality. Granted, he's borrowed some of his scrawny alien oddness from 70s Bowie and could probably do with a few more hot dinners. However, his songs are a lip-smacking collision of earnest chamber pop and gorgeous singer-songwriter angst. Also, isn't his day-glo hairdo simply fantastic?
Saturday, Red Bull Academy
Hilariously, if misleadingly, hailed by one US magazine as the indie-pop Bananarama, Brooklyn girl duo Telepathe deal in fuzzy DIY electro-pop -- it' s a sound that owes a little to The Cocteau Twins and a lot to the My Bloody Valentine leanings of their producer, TV On The Radio's Dave Sitek. On their debut album, Dance Mother, the twosome conjure plenty of art-school weirdness (what would you expect of a group whose lead singer is a yoga instructor named Busy Gangnes?). Plus, there are are oodles of pop hooks, too. The result: music that is perfect for solemn chin stroking, but which also invites you to dance in a middle freaky manner (try not to do both at once though -- you may spill beer all over your iPhone).
Sunday, Red Bull Music Academy
Cowled monks, nude cave-men and surreal backing videos were some of the highlights when Of Montreal rolled into Dublin a few months ago. All of which would come on like a dreary schtick, were it not for frontman Kevin Barnes' remarkable ability to simultaneously channel Bowie and Prince, without looking like a shameless plagiarist. At the Button Factory, Barnes stripped to his undies -- we dare him to do the same in the middle of the great Irish outdoors. Actually on second thoughts -- we don't.
Sunday, Oxegen Dance Arena
Sounding as if she's been defrosted after a thousand years beneath the tundra, Fever Ray's Karin Dreijer Andersson is perhaps the creepiest vocalist this side of Ronan Keating giving it the full Michael Bolton. One half of elctro-duo The Knife by day, she goes as Fever Ray by night, plying disturbing, slowly uncoiling synth-dirges. Her (untitled) debut is regarded by many to be one of the year's most outstanding LPs -- even if you are inclined sleep with the lights on afterwards.
Sunday, Oxegen Stage 2
The Horrors used to be a dreadful comedy rock outfit, whose chief claim to notoriety was front-man Faris Badwan's endlessly hilarious hair. In the past two years, though, a great deal has changed for The Horrors. For one thing, Badwan became quasi famous after briefly dating Peaches Geldof. Oh and they've blossomed into a fantastic dark-psychedelic act -- as anyone who has enjoyed their self-titled second album, produced by Portishead's Geoff Barrow, will attest.
Miss Kitten and The Hacker
Sunday, Oxegen Dance Arena
Icy euro chic comes to Kildare in the shape of Swiss/French duo Miss Kitten and The Hacker. Like a sort of chilly art-house take on the Pet Shop Boys, the duo divide labours between ironic vocals (Miss Kitten) and clipped pop beats (The Hacker). Oxegen's dance arena has developed a reputation as a bit of a raver only zone -- this pairing are worth venturing into the unknown for.
Sunday, New Band Stage
Prone to lengthy psychedelic jams and with a singer who sounds like a trainee Antony Hegarty, Wild Beasts aren't a band you'll forget in a hurry. From Kendal in the English Lake District, they've patented an agreeable batty sound, bringing together elements of shoe-gaze, sci-fi rock and world music. Even their track titles demand a second glance: on their debut album you'll find such curios as Vigil For A Fuddy Duddy, The Club Of Fathomless Love, Woebegone Wanderers and -- fantastically -- She Purred While I Grrred.