Last weekend was a bumper one for Irish music festivals, with artists such as Kelis and Lily Allen rocking Love Sensation in Kilmainham, a stellar lineup of Irish and international DJ talent at both Solas Festival and Yurt City, and Another Love Story at Killyon Manor.
Another Love Story is the ‘sleeper hit’ of the Irish festival circuit, with this year marking the sixth time that revellers have descended on the 18th century manor run by Zoe and Roland Purcell.
And in an era in which musical gatherings across the world have become saturated with corporate sponsorship, timetable clashes and intoxicated teenagers, it’s a breath of fresh County Meath air.
The lineup, which this year featured German electronica maestro Christian Löffler alongside Irish favourites such as The Redneck Manifesto, AE Mak, Wastefellow and Attention Bébé, while impressive, was never going to match the likes of Electric Picnic, Forbidden Fruit or Longitude in terms of international ‘punch’.
But that’s not the point. ALS, as it is also known, more than makes up for this in terms of spirit – every single attendee is there for the collective experience, sharing good times with old friends and making new ones.
It’s essentially a really sound gaff party.
As Emmet Condon of Homebeat, one of the architects of the festival, told The Point of Everything blog in 2017, Another Love Story is carefully curated to offer something different to mainstream festivals – it is deliberately kept small in order to maintain a consistent vibe, year on year.
“I think musically and in terms of production and in terms of what the festival is offering people in terms of an experience. We’re trying to keep ALS as progressive in those terms as we can,” he explained.
“It’s not about a certain headliner, it’s not about getting a big-name act. That’s my big thing about the other festivals – I feel like they just throw bands on at times without any thought to a flow or a sense of progression through the day; it’s just put big name, big name, big name, big name.”
Compare this, for example to Electric Picnic, which was founded as a ’boutique arts and music’ festival some 15 years ago. While it is still enjoyable – last year’s jaunt to Stradbally was excellent, despite our low expectations – the festival has morphed into something of a corporate playground in the past few years.
No more was this evidenced by the ‘announcement’ last week that former Irish footballer Kevin Kilbane (or ‘Zizu’ to some) was to DJ at this year’s festival, at a stage hosted by AIB Bank – a concept that we would argue is somewhat out of sync with the original artistic vision of the late John Reynolds.
But I digress. Arguably the most refreshing aspect of Another Love Story – albeit an understated one – is the collaborative attitude of those present to waste management.
All food packaging, utensils and receptacles at this year’s event were recyclable or compostable – beer brand O’Hara’s introduced a reusable steel cup, in lieu of plastic glasses, for example.
Were discarded cups or plates left lying around, it wouldn’t take long for a fellow festival goer to pick them up and dispose of them in one of the colour-coded on-site recycling bins.
The net result of this was a festival site – and remarkably a campsite – that was as free from rubbish as the festival drew to a close on Sunday evening as it was when the first revellers arrived on Friday lunchtime… mud notwithstanding.
Festivals and litter have gone hand-in-hand since Woodstock – each year, social media breathes a disdainful sigh at the ‘absolute state’ of a particular festival grounds after a major event has taken place, despite the efforts of organisers, and in some cases, corporate sponsors.
At this year’s Roskilde in Denmark for example, Carlsberg sold only organic lager in sustainable cups, while at the UK’s Isle of Wight and Bestival events, Old Mount Cider offers monetary incentives for those collecting a bag of rubbish.
But such measures are ultimately lacking without the collective impetus of those in attendance. Apathy is not an excuse.
@anotherlstory I’m super proud to say this is picture of the campsite at 7:30pm Sunday of the festival. It’s spotless ! A massive thanks to all the green team leaders & volunteers as well as the campers #als19 #leavenotrace pic.twitter.com/TgMDdCs6yu— garethreville (@revfsh) August 19, 2019
While Another Love Story is a lot smaller than most events – the capacity is limited to around 600, as opposed to a staggering 57,000 for Electric Picnic – the ‘little festival that could’ has shown that it is possible to run a successful festival while not spending most of your time tripping over discarded beer cans and half-eaten kebabs.
Which can only be a good thing. Roll on ALS 2020!