This August bank holiday weekend saw the return of one of Ireland’s newest festivals. Beatyard returned for its second year after the success of 2015. This year they pulled no punches with the lineup, with legendary acts like Lee Scratch Perry, George Clinton’s Funkadelic and Boney M as well as plenty of other fan favourites. Once again taking place in the lovely and scenic Dun Laoghaire harbour, The Bodytonic crew provided concert goers with a weekend jam packed with music as well as food, art and games.
Upon arrival to the festival it immediately becomes clear that this is intended to be so much more than just a music festival. There were plenty of other attractions to check out over the weekend, the the Eatyard in association with Just Eat providing plenty of high quality food as well as penalty shootouts, face painting, retro games and lots of stalls selling everything from clothes to trinkets. There were also talks being given throughout the weekend which included Mattress Mick and George Clinton himself.
Lee Scratch Perry went down really well, playing a set that was packed full of reggae goodness. The Jamaican producer is best known for his work with Bob Marley and The Wailers as well as his long music career. Perry put on a surprisingly energetic performance, despite being 80 years old this year.
Shortly after the end of his set, Snarky Puppy came out pulling no punches. Kicking things off with Tarova, the first cut off their newest album, the band provided the festival with an endless onslaught of funky, jazzy goodness. There were multiple times throughout their show where members got an opportunity to showcase their musical prowess, with the extended guitar solo and percussion solos being particular highlights. The entire time they were onstage the band seemed genuinely delighted to be playing, with bassist and bandleader Michael League grinning from ear to ear throughout the show. The latter half of the bands set went in more of a jazz fusion direction with tunes like “What About Me?” and “Shofukan”, as opposed to the funkier cuts that dominated the earlier portion of the gig.
When Boney M took to the stage they showed that they were in no way afraid of playing a larger than life show. There were no shortage of hits to be played with “Sunny”, “Daddy Cool”, “Rasputin” all making an appearance. Their performance was extremely energetic, with plenty of dancing and audience participation to keep everyone in the groove. Taking a few moments between songs to chat with the audience. Before launching into “Rivers of Babylon”, Liz Mitchell, the bands sole remaining original member took a minute to thank everybody for coming out as well as talking about the bands history, explaining that “Babylon” was the bands first number one, which was a nice touch before their rousing rendition of the 1978 hit.
The music on the second day was very much the same as the first with plenty of funky music which was perfect for the sunny weather which was only interrupted by a few clouds throughout the day. Jape played the main stage, with the electronic indie rock sounds. While they put on a good show I couldn’t help feel that they felt slightly out of place amongst the rest of the lineup.
After Jape, Roy Ayers stepped up to the plate. His laid back funky sounds were greatly enhanced by his vibraphone skills, something that’s rarely seen in bands these days. They also utilised audience participation, splitting the audience into two halves getting them to sing two parts of a vocal melody. Their set even featured a guest appearance from George Clinton, which went down really well.
Stomptown Brass put on their second set of the weekend on top of the Jameson Bar once again putting on a really fun and engaging show. Amassing a crowd of followers as they walked through the site playing tunes before ascending to the stage they played a really tight set that not only showcased their instrumental abilities but their vocal skills too, with one such example being their cover of The Jungle Books “I Wanna Be Like You”.
Unfortunately, Charles Bradley had to pull out from the show due to illness, which meant Funkadelic were the next act on. The band came on and wasted no times at all getting down to business. The band, which was comprised of several vocalists, keyboards, guitars, bass and drums had an absoloutely huge sound. The early portion of their set featured a much more aggressive sound than I would’ve expected, but eventually they got into the meat of the set, with classic tracks from Clinton’s epic career like “One Nation Under A Groove”, “We Got The Funk”, and “Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You?” all making an appearance. The highlight of their set was definitely the epic “Maggot Brain”, the song, known for its legendary guitar solo managed to captivated the whole audience. Throughout the set Clinton kept a relatively low profile, not wearing any particularly eye catching or colourful clothing, as he’s often known to do. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was beginning to feel his age, having just turned 75. Despite this he managed to but on a pretty energetic show for the most part.
As the crowd were siphoned out of the arena I took a moment to appreciate how much effort had gone into making this festival much more than just a music festival. At this point most of the attractions had been dismantled and I realised that everything that had gone into making this so much more than just another music festival made it really stand out from many of Dublins other festivals. Here’s hoping it’ll be back again next year bigger and better than ever.