One of the great joys of attending the many exciting festival or cultural events across Ireland during summer months is the sheer range and depth of homegrown musical talent you’ll find across the multitude of stages and tents.
One of the new festival kids on the block, All Together Now, in the stunning grounds of Waterford’s Curraghmore Estate, is no exception with some of the Ireland’s most exciting music talent playing across the weekend. Here’s 10 fantastic Irish artists to check out at the festival this year.
Few bands have come close to making the kind of impact this Dublin-quintet have achieved in the past year. 2019 has seen this exciting punk band bagging a Top 5 Irish album, a five-star review from the Guardian, a recent Mercury Music Prize nomination and a performance slot on US TV’s The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, so this homecoming slot will undoubtedly be another career highlight thus far.
Listen to: Dogrel, the critically acclaimed album described as a “perfect debut” by The Guardian.
Lisa Hannigan & Stargaze
One of the finest Irish singers of her generation, Lisa Hannigan has found success across the world with her dreamy & striking folk songwriting. After three hugely-adored albums, she has just recently collaborated with Amsterdam-Berlin classical collective Stargaze on a new project to reimagine and re-invigorate her back catalogue in a live setting. The result should be a slice of absolute magic!
Listen to: Live in Dublin, the result of her creative collaboration with Stargaze which should be an inviting taste of what to expect.
RTÉ Concert Orchestra
Fast becoming one of Ireland’s national treasures, you’ll be just as likely to hear this RTÉ Concert Orchestra leading an Abba tribute as you would be to hear them accompany Handel’s Messiah. This latest musical adventure is set to be just as special with the Orchestra performing the work of acclaimed songsmith Leonard Cohen, with a few special guests set to join them.
Listen to: Flicker Featuring the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the live album released with Niall Horan earlier in 2019.
Irish hip-hop is currently having a cultural moment and a whole diverse scene of exciting MC’s, rappers and producers are finding audiences, both domestically and abroad. One of the leading figures in this is Dublin-born Kojaque (real name Kevin Smith), who mixes inventive sampling with jazz beats and poetic lyrics that portray Dublin life. A rising star, the rapper recently performed at both Glastonbury and Longitude and was nominated for the Choice Music Prize.
Listen to: Deli Daydreams, the debut EP which The Irish Times called the “best Irish release of 2018”
King Kong Company
An unmistakably Irish act with an increasingly devoted fanbase, King Kong Company are regularly mentioned as the best current live Irish act and are the obvious addition to any festival line-up. The group’s boundless enthusiasm and creativity doesn’t just extend to music. In 2017, they also released their own craft beer, Commotion Lotion. With their enigmatic live show, this is a must-see festival performance.
Listen to: My Name is Now, the throbbing dance track from 2018 which has become a setlist favourite.
Melding folk, classical and electronica with ethereal vocals, Saint Sister are one of the most exciting young Irish bands at the moment. Having toured the US earlier this year, international recognition is surely on the horizon for this atmospheric band whose live show includes harp, played by band member Gemma Doherty.
Listen to: 2018’s debut album Shape of Silence, who could resist the dreamy melodies and tales of youthful confusion on this fantastic album?
One of the most acclaimed Irish songwriters in recent years – and the soundtrack to Cruinniú na nÓg, our national day of free creativity for under 18’s just over a month ago, SOAK’s 2015 debut album won her a Mercury Music Prize nomination and a legion of loyal devotees. For her follow-up, the Derry-born singer has expanded her musical palette to include catchy indie and dream-pop but has lost none of the stunningly musical giftedness that the world fell in love with.
Listen to: 2019’s Grim Town, SOAK’s second album, which The Guardian called “life-affirmingly raw pop”
Playful but powerful, Pillow Queens are a vital snapshot of modern Ireland’s creative identity. The sound, indebted to some of the great guitar pop, is both rugged and catchy while the band’s lyrics often touch on progressive and political topics. Following a summer of playing at festivals, it will be worth seeing this band before they ascend to the mainstream.
Listen to: How Do I Look, one of the best Irish songs you’ll hear all year.
Describing themselves as “new wave trad”, Beoga have brought their diverse and genre-bending music around the world for over fifteen years, but their visibility peaked in 2017 when they collaborated on the track “Galway Girl” with superstar Ed Sheeran. The result was a global hit, over 700 million Spotify streams and a guest slot at Glastonbury festival. Formed in County Kerry, they’ll relish playing in front of a local Munster crowd!
Listen to: The band’s most recent album, Before We Change Our Mind, described by The Irish Times as “a bold step forward”.
If they say the best Irish music often marries different genres together to create magic, then Clare-born Daithi was certainly listening. Creating a unique mixture of synthesised electronic music with fiddle loops and lyrics inspired by the West of Ireland, Daithi has become a festival mainstay and always draws a large & enthusiastic crowd.
Listen to: Mary Keanes Introduction, the sublime electronic track featuring Daithi’s 90-year old grandmother which beautifully bridges the future & past of Ireland’s history.