4. Oxegen 2008
Deciding between the top four was tough and 2008 would arguably be a notch or two higher had it more hip hop on the bill, you kids don’t know how good you have it with the likes of Longitude and Forbidden Fruit for top tier hip hop!
2008 was the first year the campsite opened on the Thursday night which allowed for 25% more craic to be had over the course of the weekend. Bands like Rage Against The Machine and The Verve were seen as a major coup and were both among the busiest and best loved of the festival. By this stage the Dance Arena was one of the main draws for the festival and didn’t disappoint thanks to the likes of Justice playing to a crowd that would’ve been sous-vide had it been packed into that sweatbox any tighter!
At the time MGMT were seen as the most exciting band on the planet, which might have explained why people started climbing the structural poles of the 5000+ capacity tent to get a better view of them in their shiny get ups. This resulted in the gig being halted for half of their allotted time slot to get the maniacs down safely – Irish people just can’t have nice things!
Highlights: The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy, Justice, Aphex Twin, MGMT, Hot Chip, Rage Against The Machine, Roisin Murphy.
Lowlights: Scouting For Girls, R.E.M, The Fratellis, The Ting Tings.
3. Oxegen 2009
Looking back on these line ups has highlighted just how lucky we’ve been to witness so many massive acts in a festival setting considering how small an island we are. 2009 had quality oozing from its Kanye-frame specs. This felt like the year they got the balance between alternative, electronic and commercial just right (Katy Perry played on the same stage as Nine Inch Nails for Christ’s sake).
The main stage represented a nice blend of breakthrough pop and tried and tested stadium fillers. I wonder what Lady Gaga and The Specials chatted about backstage?
Red Bull Music Academy was a welcome addition, bringing the likes of Florence & The Machine, M83 and Crystal Castles to Punchestown via a relatively intimate tent considering the size of the acts at the time.
The Dance Arena was where I spent the bulk of the festival, with Tiga, Boys Noize, Digitalism, Crookers and Bloody Beetroots representing the electro heavyweights.
You know a festival is doing well when they don’t even know where to put The Maccabees and Passion Pit so they just plonk them at the bottom of the poster.
Highlights: Blur, M83, Boys Noize, Crystal Castles, Pet Shop Boys, The Mars Volta, Bloc Party, Nine Inch Nails, Foals, Lady Gaga, Fever Ray.
Lowlights: The Script, The Ting Tings, Paolo Nutini, The Saturdays.
2. Oxegen 2010
The runner up, it fought a hard battle against the eventual winner but at this stage surely we’re all winners, aren’t we?
This is a no brainer – Jay-Z and Eminem (when he was still one of the very biggest acts in the world) among the headliners, being flanked by the likes of Dizzee Rascal and D12? Hook it to my veins! Chipmunk, Tinie Tempah and pre-EDM Example were also welcome additions amongst the usual plethora of indie, electro and pop.
Disco legends Earth, Wind & Fire added a touch of class to the main stage meanwhile the second stage played host to the likes of Groove Armada, a rejuvenated The Prodigy and Fatboy Slim before he turned into a peddler of atrocious house and EDM.
By this stage, the crowd at Oxegen had changed from the ever-benign skinny jeaned indie kids to a more nefarious audience. Maybe that’s what happens when you’re the biggest festival in the country and everyone wants a piece of you. I don’t know, but needless to say there were scenes in the campsite that year that wouldn’t have looked out of place during a UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon in the late 80s.
Highlights: Jay-Z, Eminem, Dizzee Rascal, Faithless, The Prodigy, Armand Van Helden, Fatboy Slim, Jamie T, Hot Chip.
Lowlights: Newton Faulkner, Ellie Goulding, Steve Angelo.
1. Oxegen 2007
Two words – DAFT PUNK! To this day I don’t think there’s been a more fabled performance in Ireland than when the two French robot blokes rocked up to Punchestown with their pyramid stage/spaceship. At the time I would’ve guessed there was 15,000 people at their performance but judging by the online reaction and general chit chat ever since there must’ve been at least a quarter of a million people in attendance. It was a show that became the catalyst for the explosion of electronic music in this country, don’t get me wrong, we’ve always had a penchant for house and techno and licking the occasional dove in Ireland but that gig had an untold effect on the landscape of Irish music culture.
Who else played that year I hear you ask? Who gives a shit – the reason you go to District 8 every weekend or festivals like Life and Forbidden Fruit can creditably be traced back to that fateful July night in 2007. OK fair enough, 2007 doesn’t win on Daft Punk alone but you get my point. This year also had the likes of Interpol, Queens of the Stone Age, Wu Tang Clan, Air, 2 Many DJs, Bloc Party, Arcade Fire, Klaxons, Brian Wilson, Modeselektor and a pre-world domination Justice.
The one thing that goes against this year was the biblical flood that took place leading up to and during the festival which resulted in all in attendance getting symptoms akin to trench foot!
Highlights: Daft Punk, Daft Punk, Daft Punk, Daft Punk, Daft Punk.
Lowlights: Avril Lavigne (purely because of how she stands for photos with fans). The Goo Goo Dolls (name another one of their songs, I dare you), The Fratellis (see The Goo Goo Dolls).
Now, anyone for a Charcoal Grill?