With a reputation for being a quaint and friendly operation, CastlePalooza has carved out a nice little niche for itself since its 2005 inception. It helps that it really is located in a castle (Tullamore’s Charleville Castle to be precise) and despite this being my third visit there’s still something mightily impressive about the thought of partaking in the usual festival carry-on against such a unique backdrop. Prior arrangements meant Friday’s festivities were a no-go, and I was particularly gutted about missing Scroobius Pip, who was a great last minute addition. Instead, we arrived early on the Saturday but not, as was planned, early enough to catch Roisin O’s set. Instead, she sound-tracked our beleaguered efforts at setting up camp as we took residence in the brand new Moat camping area, which was located about 50 yards from the main entrance.
Our first port of call was to the main stage and Cry Monster Cry, a brotherly Dublin duo who are near-impossible to describe without the use of the word harmony. Their ambling folks tunes were tender, very easy on the ears and the perfect way to ease oneself into the day’s proceedings. The Statics then brought the ’90s back with some memorably jangly indie-pop tunes that were catchy, assured and strongly reminiscent of The La’s finer moments. With a relatively small site it isn’t surprising to find that CastlePalooza doesn’t quite have the same wealth of extra-curricular options as some of its counterparts. The country and trad tent was a nice new addition this year however, as was the return of the Eat My Shorts film festival which again provided some interesting snapshots of life, as well as some free popcorn and bottles of cadet to boot. As evening approached Little Green Cars lived up to their growing reputation with a fine set in spite of some early sound wobbles. With a big wall of sound that begs to be sung along to you can see why these six young Dubliners are tipped for big things.
As day became night, it became clear that this year’s attendance dwarfed previous years. As such the site felt a bit too packed at times, particularly on the walkways between the two stages. Such problems were also being felt elsewhere as the on-site ‘off-licence’ was only selling crates after 8pm, with stock problems continuing through to the Sunday. Not a big deal you say, and I would tend to agree but when you have a system that forbids attendees to bring their own alcohol in (even to the campsite) then the least one expects is that the system in place works properly.
Back to the music and we find Jape have suddenly morphed into Richie Egan’s super synthesized journey, tearing up the main stage with some epic build-ups and funky, progressive jams. Now a guaranteed party act, Jape won over plenty of new fans here and even the dodgy timing of one new song can’t detract from a blinding set. An unexplained 45 minute running delay meant I would miss White Collar Boy but not, as previously feared, Cloud Castle Lake. Swings and Roundabouts, eh? CCL’s sound is initially jarring, sandwiched as it is between mostly upbeat electronic acts. With perseverance though, their beauty seeps through via intoxicating high pitched cries, and an intense, gripping atmosphere. Strangely brilliant. REID proved his top set at Forbidden Fruit was no fluke, handling the packed tent with ease as the masses lapped up his substantial beats, before party-goers Le Galaxie arrived with their usual glow-sticks and turned the grounds into a full on rave. Maybe the king didn’t approve however, as the power was cut before the end of their set.