Loaded: Plenty of banks for your buck
Another year, another Oxegen. And anyone who thought the festival was getting stale has been jolted awake with this year's line-up, which for me is easily the best to date.
Among the 150 performers are some seriously big names and you can be sure the chequebooks were flashed to deliver the likes of Jay-Z, Eminem, Muse and Black Eyed Peas.
I'm especially looking forward to Jay-Z, whose 2008 Glastonbury headlining slot proved that hip-hop royalty can work at such festivals, and if Black Eyed Peas come anywhere close to the form that they managed at the O2, Dublin, earlier this year, that's a show not to be missed.
I can't imagine Arcade Fire are coming cheap either, especially as Pod Promotions had been trying everything in their power to secure them for Electric Picnic. To be honest, the Canadians' natural home would be the smaller environs of EP with its older age profile, not least when you consider that they played one of the all-time great Irish festival gigs there in 2005. Still, the prospect of hearing them play material from their forthcoming third album, The Suburbs, is tantalising.
Elsewhere, we're truly spoiled for choice. Besides those mentioned above, I'm hoping to catch Vampire Weekend, Empire of the Sun, Villagers and Vitalic on the Friday, Two Door Cinema Club (below), Hot Chip and Wild Beasts on the Saturday, and Echo and the Bunnymen, The Temper Trap and Laura Marling on the Sunday. The latter is responsible for one of the best albums (I Speak Because I Can) of the year.
Other acts I'm hoping to get around to include Yeasayer, The Middle East and Tinariwen.
Meanwhile, tickets are still available. During the heady days of the boom years, the thoughts of tickets still for sale just a fortnight before the event was unthinkable, but not this year. Single day tickets cost €99.50 and four-day camping tickets can also be bought.
- One thing I don't like about Oxegen -- and Electric Picnic, come to think about it -- is getting there. A significant traffic jam is par for the course. For those who eschew driving there is a decent public transport service.
As usual, Bus Eireann is offering a return service from Dublin city centre to Punchestown. Tickets cost €40. There's also a service from Cork city -- return tickets cost €40 and tickets must be bought in advance from the bus station. It's a pity that other cities -- Limerick and Galway, in particular -- don't have a similar service.
- Cathy Davey plays the Heineken Green Spheres stage on the Saturday, but tomorrow she plays at the inaugural Astral Plains festival in Birr Castle, Co Offaly.
Last week, we offered three pairs of Astral Plains tickets to readers who could name Davey's latest album -- The Nameless -- and the winners are Paul Humphries, Aisling McWeeney and Eimear Tooher. Enjoy.
- And now for something completely different. If you have been smitten by Glee and reckon you have the vocal prowess to play in front of 50,000 people, you could win the opportunity to perform at the very first game to be held in the Aviva Stadium -- or Lansdowne Road as it will always be known to true sports lovers.
A Connacht/Munster rugby selection take on a Leinster/Ulster side on July 31. Today FM's Ian Dempsey is playing Simon Cowell for this one and those interested are asked to send an email to email@example.com with a link to performance video footage via YouTube channels or single video uploads, MySpace pages or Google video.
According to the marketing blurb: "The audition song should be one to best represent how the Aviva Choir will get the crowd singing along and enhance the party atmosphere on match day. Song choice and performance style is down to the choir -- from the most traditional to modern innovators -- all are welcome, but remember: the repertoire and style should match the occasion."
Entries must be received by Wednesday, June 30.