A Uniquely Irish Festival: Other Voices 2016

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Music Editor Aoileann Kennedy spent a day dosing at Other Voices, in Dingle. Here’s what she thought of it.

I pride myself on my ability to procrastinate. Last study week, I outdid myself and finally experienced the Other Voices festival in Dingle, Co.Kerry.

Other Voices is a truly unique experience. It is a celebration of the vastness of Irish culture, extending beyond music. It celebrates art, poetry, storytelling and discussion. Imagine the ultimate Irish pub night and elevate it even higher: that is close to what Other Voices feels like. Actually getting into St James Church, where the show is recorded and the biggest names play, is very difficult. Tickets can’t be bought, names are drawn from a hat. However, there are so many other acts playing in the different pubs and cafes on the Music Trail that this doesn’t take anything away from the enjoyment of the festival.

The point of the festival is that you can stumble into a pub and see an act you’ve never heard of before and fall in love. The atmosphere is akin to a night in your local, with the difference being you’re surrounded by some of the biggest names in Irish and international music. You’re just as likely to bump into Hozier as you are your next-door neighbour, a uniquely Irish concept.

‘You’re just as likely to bump into Hozier as you are your next-door neighbour, a uniquely Irish concept’.

What stood out to me more than anything was the fact that everyone mingled together. There was no separation of artist and fan, or higher-than-thou hipster. After watching a live stream of Girl Band performing, we got to chat to them in Benners Hotel, the epicentre of Other Voices. As we left, we bumped into Rejie Snow, fresh off the stage from his performance in the Church. He too agreed that Other Voices was unique. Local band Strange Attractor, who played twice over the weekend told me that the experience was like nothing they’d had before, as did Bad Bones after their amazing set in Nellie Fred’s.

Other Voices is a snapshot of all that is good about Irish culture. The headliners in the Church are the tip of the iceberg. How you really sense its true nature is by walking the streets, stopping into the pubs on the trail and in the Banter room. It’s in these settings that it gets its reputation as a boutique festival, setting itself apart from larger festivals like Electric Picnic. It creates a sense of intimacy that is completely unmatched by any other event like it. It is a music lover’s paradise. It has something for everyone no matter your taste. I can only hope that it is able to retain its magic going forward as it draws more and more attention to itself. It has already evolved so much in the past few years. There is a fear that it may outgrow its home in Dingle. A small town can only accommodate so many. I for one hope it stays put, as its setting is a huge part of what makes it special. Dingle has its own permanent air of magic, given its setting at the edge of Ireland and the edge of Europe. It would be a shame to lose that.

‘Dingle has its own permanent air of magic, given its setting at the edge of Ireland and the edge of Europe’.

Whatever the cost to my GPA, Other Voices was absolutely worth it. Those of you entering into your final semester should absolutely mark it down in your calendars in December. As for the rest of you, I’ll leave that decision up to you.

Other Voices begins airing on RTÉ on 2nd February at 11:30pm, and will feature performances recorded in Austin Texas and St James Church Dingle

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Aoileann Kennedy  |  Music Editor 

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