Summer Festival Previews – Sunstroke
by Fran Winston
Sunstroke Festival – Punchestown Racecourse 13th & 14th June
If you thought there was no more room in the calendar for another summer festival you were wrong. The latest addition to the seasonal music landscape is Sunstroke (an ironically optimistic name for an Irish festival) which launched with great fanfare in Dublin’s Bloody Mary venue last week. In the midst of numerous dance and pop festivals, Sunstroke stands out as the only alternative rock festival in Ireland.
Mind you it is wrong to say that it just launched. This was more of a relaunch. It had previously run from 1993-95. First in Dalymont Park before getting kicked out of the northside after the 1994 gig and having its last hurrah in the RDS the following year. The first-ever Sunstroke was a mere £23.75 a ticket (although that was a more significant sum back in the day) and the line up read like a who’s who of the rock scene at the time including Manic Street Preachers,, INXS, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and, inexplicably Paul Brady (maybe he was edgier in the 90s). Although Red Hot Chilli Peppers were supposed to headline the initial gig they were forced to drop out leaving California rockers Faith No More to top the bill (RHCP made up for it the following year headlining in 1994).
Fittingly, given the legacy, Faith No More also headlines the first day of the “rebooted” festival. But unlike the 90s offering, this is clearly aimed at the older and more discerning rock fan. Although some contemporary acts such as Black Veil Brides make the bill the big draws are all elder statesmen at this stage. Alongside FNM, The Jesus and Mary Chain will also take to the stage as will Sepultura, Deftones and Bowling for Soup.
Unlike the 90s offering this is a two day event and I have to say I feel the Saturday line up is far stronger than Sundays. It is a pretty niche offering which should be a welcome addition to the festival circuit for those who never felt like their musical needs were being met by what is already out there. Expect lots of black, lots of leather (even if it’s a scorcher), lots of headbanging and memories of the good old fashioned mosh pit (it’s unlikely they will actually have one for health and safety reasons but weren’t those fun back in the day?) As a two-day festival it also offers a camping option – and how often do you get to say you camped out at a racecourse!
The previous incarnation of sunstroke became somewhat of a victim of its own success. Since this is more of a nostalgia-fest it should prove a more sedate affair that can run and run once it gets support from its target audience. So if you love alternative rock and think guitar is the most important instrument in any line up you should enjoy this.
Tickets are available from http://www.ticketmaster.ie Day ticket €79.50, weekend ticket €139.50, camping ticket €169.50 (including booking fee).