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Oxegen 2008

Oxegen '08 was the fifth Oxegen festival to take place, following the dissolution of its predecessor Witnness in 2004. It took place on the weekend of Friday July 11, Saturday July 12 and Sunday July 13 at Punchestown Racecourse near Naas in County Kildare, Ireland. For the first time the festival was a three day event. The festival was headlined by Kings of Leon on the Friday, The Verve and R.E.M. on the Saturday and Rage Against the Machine on the Sunday.

Build-up

Tickets

Presale tickets went on sale at 8 a.m. on Friday November 30 2007 at a cost of €197. Actual sale tickets went on sale at 8 a.m. on Friday March 7 2008, with 4-day camping tickets priced at €244.50 and 3-day camping tickets priced at €224.50. Thursday camping passes cost €20 extra. Three-day weekend camping and four-day weekend camping tickets along with day tickets for Saturday July 12 were sold out by Monday March 10 2008. A very limited number of three-day (no camping) tickets and day tickets for Friday July 11 and Sunday July 13 were still available for a period after going sale, before the Oxegen website announced at 14:09 on Wednesday May 7 2008 that all tickets were sold out. On Friday June 13, in what they described as “a move to combat touting”, MCD put a limited number of extra weekend tickets on sale for Oxegen 2008. The tickets were made available from the official website and Ticketmaster from Friday June 20.

Line-up confirmation timetable

November: On November 27 2007 at 5 p.m, Kings of Leon became the first band to be announced to play Oxegen this summer. The band topped an online poll which asked festival-goers for their dream line-up and so the band were immediately asked and confirmed. Vocalist Caleb Followill said: "We love playing in Ireland, the fans are brilliant and we can't wait to play Oxegen 2008". They headlined the opening night (Friday) of the festival.

February: On February 15 2008, R.E.M. were confirmed for Oxegen 2008, the second act to be announced and joining Kings of Leon. Meanwhile Kaiser Chiefs confirmed themselves and Rage Against the Machine as Sunday night headliners on their official website; however this announcement was edited on February 18 to bear no mention of Rage Against the Machine who had yet to be officially confirmed. The words "directly before headliners Rage Against The Machine" were removed from the page. Tim Burgess also revealed that The Charlatans would be appearing although that too was hushed up soon afterwards. The Pogues too confirmed themselves online

On February 19 at 16:29, Kaiser Chiefs, The Raconteurs and Ian Brown were announced on the official website , followed by The Fratellis, Interpol and Counting Crows the next day . February 21 saw Hot Chip, Justice, The Chemical Brothers, Aphex Twin and Alabama 3 added to the line-up . Finally, at 09:14 on February 22, Rage Against the Machine were confirmed as headliners by the organisers . On Sunday February 24, The Verve were confirmed on the official website for an appearance at Oxegen 2008. Stereophonics, Band of Horses, Seasick Steve, The Courteeners and Future Kings of Spain were all confirmed by the official website on February 25 , with official confirmation of The Prodigy , Panic at the Disco, The Feeling , DJ Koze, Kaz James (BodyRockers) and Crookers on the following day.

March: The e-mail sent out with pre-sale ticket information to those registered on the official site confirmed that Bowling for Soup, Kate Nash, Editors, The Hoosiers, Newton Faulkner, Pendulum, Scouting for Girls, The Zutons, Battles, Róisín Murphy, Lightspeed Champion and David Jordan would also be playing These twelve and Richard Hawley were confirmed by the official website on Monday March 3 . On Thursday March 6, Tom Dunne's Pet Sounds show on Today FM (between 7 pm and 10 pm) broadcasted an Oxegen Special previewing this year's line-up alongside festival highlights from previous years. Meanwhile Hot Press was amongst the first news outlets to confirm that Amy Winehouse would again be scheduled to finally appear at Oxegen (although there is no guarantee that she will, given her current condition) . Several bands and musicians such as Echo & the Bunnymen, The Wombats, The Pigeon Detectives, The Subways, Ben Folds, Delays, The Script, Kavinsky, Mindless Self Indulgence, and Boys Noize also confirmed themselves to play Oxegen '08 on their own websites before later being confirmed by the official Oxegen website.

On Wednesday March 5 in the late evening, the Oxegen website began a revamp for the release of the tickets on Friday March 7. On Thursday March 6, Oxegen 2008 was officially launched with the confirmation of appearances by Amy Winehouse , The Pogues, The Charlatans and The Swell Season, featuring Oscar winners Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. A breakdown of the acts was also revealed for the first time . A spokesman for promoters MCD said: "This year's line-up is one of the strongest ever. Music fans have quite literally the most diverse and strongest line-up of bands we have seen in Ireland. We are expecting tickets to sell very quickly." Glen Hansard told the Irish Daily Mirror: "I think Oxegen is just as exciting as appearing at the Oscars", saying "it's a dream come true for any Irish musician" . The festival line-up was widely praised by the print media. The Irish Examiner called it a "fairytale line up for a festival", adding that "the fairytale of Naas will come alive this summer".

May: On Tuesday May 6, Tom Dunne confirmed a host of other acts on his Pet Sounds show on Today FM. These included Manic Street Preachers, Feeder, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Ting Tings, Black Kids, MGMT, Bell X1, The Coronas, Concerto For Constantine and Delorentos. These and others including The Kooks and Groove Armada were confirmed by the Oxegen website the following day, along with details of the Dance Stage. The headliners were confirmed to be Unkle, Justice and David Guetta respectively for the three days. Also confirmed for the Dance Stage on the Friday were Calvin Harris and Annie Mac amongst others, for the Saturday were Boys Noize, Mylo, Kavinsky and Japanese Popstars amongst others and for the Sunday were Luciano, Kaz James, Crookers and Does It Offend You, Yeah? amongst others. On Friday May 16 at 09:36, more acts were announced; these were The National, Tricky, The Go! Team, Feeder (again), The Pigeon Detectives, The Enemy, One Night Only and The Whigs.

June: On Monday June 9 at 11 a.m., forty new acts as well as the full stage line-up was announced on the official Oxegen website. New acts confirmed included Mundy, Aslan, Captain and Sugababes for the Friday and Eddy Grant, Flogging Molly and Fight Like Apes for the Sunday.

July: In early July, the showtimes for Oxegen 2008 were released. The line-up for the Bacardi B-Live Arena was also announced.

Cannabis controversy

On February 27, there were calls from the Catholic anti-drugs agency, Crosscare, which runs counselling programmes in the Dublin Archdiocese for teenagers caught with cannabis at Oxegen not to be arrested. They claimed: "Our time is being wasted every year by mostly Leaving Cert students who don’t have an addiction problem but have been arrested for a smoking a joint" . Justice minister, Brian Lenihan rejected the proposal saying that it would amount to the legalisation of cannabis, of which Mr. Lenihan is severely intolerant .

Events

Platform III

Bands with Kildare connections were invited to compete in 2008's Platform III competition to win a slot on the Oxegen bill, in which two winning groups were selected to perform on the New Band Stage at Oxegen '08. Editors and The Killers have previously made their Oxegen debuts on that stage. Platform III Project Manager, Susan Boyle said that at least one band member should have Kildare connections. The winners were Kill City Defectors and Schmackey and the Salads.

Red Bull Local Hero Skate Tour

Four Irish bands playing at Oxegen '08 played free live outdoor performances as part of the Red Bull Local Hero Skate Tour. On Wednesday June 18, Future Kings of Spain played in Waterford. On Thursday June 19, The Kinetiks played in Ennis. On Friday June 20, Concerto For Constantine played in Letterkenny and on Saturday June 21, they played in Belfast. On Monday June 23, The Coronas played in Dublin.

Local skaters were invited to skate with the Red Bull pro skate team who then selected the best skater from each venue crowning him or her the ‘Red Bull Local Hero’. The ‘Local Heroes’ from each venue then attended the Red Bull Vert Ramp Camp at Oxegen where they received coaching from some of the world's top skaters including leading European Vert skater Mack McKelton from Germany and European Street Skating champion Philipp Schuster from Austria. The Local Hero’s prize also included weekend festival passes to Oxegen '08.

Some of the world’s best skaters were invited by Red Bull to perform a series of gravity defying demonstrations throughout Oxegen '08. The riders performed on the Red Bull Vert Ramp (a skaterboarder's Half-pipe) which has been used as the playground for professional Skateboarders in such events as X Games and the World Skateboarding Championships in recent years. This enormous structure, which comes for the second time to Ireland, has proved daunting to the world’s best riders in the past standing 10m high, 15m wide and 14.2m in length, completely covered over with clear ‘window’ panels and open on both sides for public viewing.

Production

Blog

For the first time, the official website featured a production blog, which detailed events taking place immediately before the festival.

Tuesday June 24 Two hundred TV production people, CCTV specialists, electricians, plumbers and other professionals were at Punchestown preparing the grounds for the masses, with numbers rising as the festival time approached. The weather was described as a "little grey". In the previous couple of days, portacabins had arrived onsite for the professionals to set up their offices. Communications systems were in with phone lines, internet and radios being established. 2,000 panels of heras fence arrived the previous day along with 1 km of steelshield. The blue campsite had started to be built. The fencing, lighting and security towers were erected with signage to point festival-goers in the right direction. Trackway was also being laid that week. On June 23, there was a pre-event planning meeting held onsite and attended by the local council, gardaí, fire services, health board officials as well as the MCD site team, event control and safety officers.

Thursday June 26 The Bacardi Team inspected the site for the Bacardi B Bar. They ran another Bacardi B Bar at Oxegen’s Glaswegian sister festival, T in the Park. Red Bull were in Punchestown to begin work on the Red Bull Vert Ramp which had free live outdoor performances as part of the Red Bull Local Hero Skate Tour. Positions were marked out in the Arena for tent and stage builds. Tent companies were due to begin arriving from the UK on Saturday June 28 with tents scheduled to be up by Wednesday July 2. Green Room and New Bands Tents were marked out whilst Pet Sounds production offices were placed today behind the stage. In the Backstage Areas, the Media Area was placed in the Paddocks where MTV, Heineken TV as well as Phantom, Beat, Spin and Spin South-West broadcast from live over the weekend. In the Campsites and Car Parks, the road infrastructure, new to Oxegen in 2008, continued. The roads in the car parks were completed and work was commenced on the roads throughout the Blue campsite. Campsite receptions were erected on the 26th and RED Campsite works were said to be "coming along nicely" Plumbing works started in earnest on the 26th, with plumbers starting installation of the 25,000 litre water tankers that were positioned around Punchestown for the event. These tankers were continuously replenished throughout the festival weekend. There was the facility to use anything up to one million litres of water throughout the arena and campsites. Markets stalls also had to avail of this water. There were 100 drinking water taps throughout the festival site, free for all festival-goers. Free showers and hand washing facilities were scattered around the site. As part of its green initiatives, no waste water went into the grounds at Punchestown, with all waste water being stored until it could be pumped offsite and disposed of in an eco-friendly way.

Wednesday July 2 In the Arena, the Green Room’s touring Kayam crew were at Punchestown and the King Poles were up, these being the structures the tent hangs from. When gates to the Arena opened on Festival Friday it could hold anything up to 9,500 people. Other tents erected on the 2nd were the Heineken bars as well as the T Tent on the Tarmac area which served steamy brews throughout the weekend. The Festival Ferris Wheel also arrived on the 2nd, taking three days in total to be erected. In the campsites, from the 3rd onwards there was to be a one way traffic system in place as the more staff arrive onsite. On the 3rd, the site crew laid out the Gig Rig field in the Blue Campsite so Thursday early arrivals could enjoy of some of the best cover bands around. A lighting check for the campsites was scheduled for the 5th. The walkway to the Arena from the RED Campsite was completed on the 2nd. Backstage, artist Dressing Rooms were starting to take shape and Jonny was said to be "sorting the Blue M&Ms from the rest!" Oxegen 2008 ran off 14 Mega Watts of power – each mega watt could power a town the size of Kildare for a weekend. 28,000m of cable was used to transfer this power. There was 180 generators dotted around the site so a stock of diesel was kept onsite to ensure supplies remain intact. The festival was also making a big push to use renewable energy this year so some of the generators were running on 100% Bio-Fuel. Anything from the towers in the campsites to the sound systems of the Main Stage were powered from these generators. 22 Event Power staff were onsite throughout the festival weekend.

Friday July 4 One week before the festival, Heineken came for a site visit for their new addition to this year's festival, the Heineken Green Space tent. This area, with a capacity of 500 festival-goers would have a prime position from which to view the 02 Stage as well as HEINEKEN TV, showing the best bits of the festival from the Main Stage plus band interviews, chats and Bluetooth content for mobile phones. All the bars on site were up by the 4th and were just starting to be fitted out with coolers and taps. The Bacardi B-Live area had slowly begun to be built, with only the roof to be added. In the Campsites, The Swamp Circus was fielded on the 4th in RED. It performed three shows daily from the Friday. The Centras, Hair Salon and Cinemas were also sited with initial works. The Green Campsite was fully laid out, with all services installed. Backstage Jonny was said to be "out there, white paint in one hand, umbrella in the other", marking out a 5 a side football pitch as part of one of the headline acts's riders (Kaiser Chiefs possibly?). Thirty of the nearly 200 traders were onsite and in position. Work started on the 4th on some of the 600 bright and beautiful flags that will cover the site. Buí Bolg designed art structures and installations which were then onsite and would be be erected that Sunday for testing. A Stone Henge Welcome Way to Oxegen as well as HOLLYWOOD style OXEGEN letters were in the pipeline.

Tuesday July 8 In the Arena on the 8th, the Green Room, Pet Sounds Stage, Heineken Green Space, Bacardi B-Live Arena, IMRO New Sounds Stage were all erected. The funfair was behind schedule but making progress. The last stage to go up was the New Bands which was scheduled to happen that day. The roof was going up on the Main Stage, the Big Wheel was up and the stage in the Dance Arena was complete. In the Campsites, with the campsite managers onsite for over a month, on the 7th the Event Control team arrived onsite. Designated BBQ areas were laid out in the campsites – under three towers in Blue and two in Red. The Funfair was scheduled to be set up in Blue on the 8th. Fire lanes were marked out. Backstage, the artist check-in was ready, the layout of the dressing rooms behind all stages were marked out, the dressing room riders were in, Amnesty International’s backstage tent was up.

The festival's Project Manager, Louis Harte, was interviewed over breakfast on the 7th.

‘We started planning Oxegen 2008 immediately after the 2007 show. Our aim for 2008 and every year is to have the best line up, best layout and best facilities to keep the show as one of Europe's great music festivals. A team headed by the Promoter & Festival Director, Denis Desmond have planning meetings every two weeks for the 52 weeks from one year's festival to another. The team covers all aspects of the festival with Talent Bookers, Site Design and Decor, Health & Safety and Event Control represented. Site visits on cold winter days are all part of making the show happen. Its hard sometimes to imagine how great next year's Oxegen will be when every bit of you is freezing cold! We order all the equipment for the festival from January to March and this year it has included two Big Tops to take 9,500 people each (as big as two Point Depots), 1,375 toilets, two huge Outdoor Stages, three hundred miles of electric cable, five hundred Floodlights and enough food to cater for nearly 4,500 staff. The really exciting part is when we start to build the site and we have been here for fifteen days so far - everything is going to plan. We'll be ready for our first campers at 12 noon this Thursday.’

Riders

Parsnip crisps, onion rings, energy tablets and "organic ground coffee sourced in Dundalk" were just some of the whimsical desires of the world's biggest music acts, reported the Irish Independent. Organic foods were top of the menu including a selection of organic chocolates and smoked fish. Bands such as R.E.M., Kaiser Chiefs and Stereophonics were very precise in listing their requirements down to the finest detail, such as "Wrigley's Extra Blue Menthol eucalyptus chewing gum". Amy Winehouse's dressing room was stocked up with Kosher foods and crackers. Several acts asked for a steady flow of Red Bull and energy tablets. US bands such as Rage Against the Machine and Interpol had a basket of American-style crisps "specifically New York Cheese flavour" taking up a corner of their changing area.

The VIP welcome area had an alpine theme with exotic plants, including very rare kangaroo paw plants as well as the exclusive Bluetooth cafe, Xbox area and Wi-Fi cafe. The luxurious dressing rooms were described as "comfortable and stylish with very ambient lighting and comfortable couches". The drinks cabinets contained a selection of world beers in the hope of having something to suit everybody's taste. However, some artists were a little bit pickier, ordering fine wines not by name, but by grape.

Publications

Problems

  • There was some difficulty selling all available tickets for Oxegen 2008 but they eventually sold out in May.
  • Planners for Oxegen 2008 want to cut the parking facilities by one quarter, despite massive problems last year when a downpour saw the parking facilities shut and transferred to another area away from the site. Because an estimated 70% of emissions at Oxegen are associated with travel, festival goers are strongly urged to consider one of the public transport options to get to Punchestown for the festival. Bus Éireann will be running express services from destinations around the country and Dublin Bus will operate a shuttle service from Parnell Square. Car drivers can use the Oxegen Park and Ride site, and take the free shuttle bus to Oxegen. Those wishing to drive are encouraged to car share and as an incentive a free parking ticket is provided when you present four camping tickets at any Ticketmaster outlet.
  • On Thursday July 10, a bus of forty festival-goers from Newry caught fire on a Dublin motorway en route to Oxegen. No one was seriously injured although food, clothes, tickets and camping equipment were burned in the blaze and the southbound lane of the M50 motorway had to be shut down with diversions put into place at Finglas and Ballymun, causing further traffic delays. Those involved in the incident arrived at Punchestown in time for kick off on Friday evening, with festival organisers MCD dispatching a new bus, replacing their tickets and camping equipment and supplying food vouchers. They reported they were delighted to make the Six-One News.

Festival

New additions

  • Campers at Oxegen '08 were in for some environment-friendly changes to the year's sites and camping gear.
    • Oxegen '08 was awarded Carbon Neutral status, making it Ireland's biggest ever Carbon Neutral event. In keeping with World Environment Day (June 5), organisers announced that they have been working closely with The Carbon Neutral Company to look at ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions produced from the festival.
    • The reusable Eco-cup was introduced to reduce the 10% of CO2 emissions attributed to waste that is unrecycled, i.e. landfill emissions. Festival-goers purchasing a drink at any of the bars could pay a €3 deposit for the Eco-cup for their first drink. When buying further drinks the customer exchanged their old cup for a new one at no extra cost and at the end of the night (from 10 p.m. onwards), they could either be exchanged for a full refund or taken home. Irish owned company Earthstream Bio Packaging also offered all Oxegen food vendors the opportunity to use bio-degradable packaging.
  • The Hot Press Signing Tent made an appearance at Oxegen '08 and was running throughout the three days. On the Friday, Tricky, Editors, Paddy Casey, Mundy and Interpol were amongst the artists who appeared. On the Saturday Feeder, The Hoosiers, The Wombats, Scouting for Girls, Justice, The Coronas and The Charlatans made appearances. On the Sunday, The Blizzards, Alabama 3 and Republic of Loose were present. Free gifts distributed to those in the queue included CDs, smoking papers, a competition to win 1000 CDs and three month subscription cards to hotpress.com.
  • The IMRO New Sounds Stage debuted at Oxegen '08, with Blood Red Shoes headlining on the Saturday night and Dry County headlining on the Sunday night.
  • The Xbox Live Stage made its first ever European appearance at Oxegen '08. Boasting a massive 46 sq m, high-quality LED cinema screen, the Xbox Live Stage featured live performances and VJ sets from the likes of MTV’s Eclectic Method. The Xbox Live Stage also showed films, including I Am Legend, Lethal Weapon, National Lampoon's European Vacation and South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. Fans with Thursday camping tickets could also look forward to a special Batman night. The Big Screen also gave fans the chance to test their competitive edge with some great games including arcade classics like Sonic the Hedgehog, Pac-Man, Sensible Soccer and the movie quiz, Scene It?. The Xbox Live Stage kicked off proceedings at 12 noon on Thursday, and ran from 10 am each day of the festival until late. Xbox 360 also took to the Main Stage with EA Games's popular Rock Karaoke game Rock Band with festival-goers offered the chance to pick the songs to sing along to and rock the world. There was a vast range of artists, bands and tracks to choose from; including Guns N' Roses, The Police, Radiohead and The Clash.
  • An Post were present at Oxegen '08 allowing festival-goers the opportunity to mail home their passports and driving licences used for identification purposes upon entry. Festival-goers could also top up their mobile phones, post special commemorative Oxegen postcards and buy lottery tickets. Money could even also sent from home via Western Union.
  • Stage 2/NME (formerly The NME Stage and previously The Ticket Stage) was renamed yet again and was, for the 2008 festival, known as the O2 Stage.

Weather

Weather conditions were considerably better than at the 2007 festival which was marred by mud and rain. Friday and Saturday were relatively cool whilst the warmest day was Sunday. The Blizzards frontman Niall Breslin, again performing on the Main Stage on the Sunday, noted the difference in the weather conditions from the previous year. In a change from 2007, grass was still visible by the end of the weekend.

Performances

Oxegen 2008 was notable for the number of covers performed by the participating artists. On the Friday, Amy Macdonald began proceedings with a cover of "When You Were Young" whilst The Saw Doctors performed "About You Now" as seen on The Podge and Rodge Show plus Beastie Boys song "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)", Tricky performed "The Lovecats", Ben Folds performed a cover of The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights", Bell X1 closed their Green Room headlining set with a version of The Flaming Lips song "Do You Realize??" and Cat Power's performance included a version of Smokey Robinson's "The Tracks of My Tears". On the Saturday, Bowling For Soup performed the intro to "Paranoid" and then merged it into "I Wanna Be Sedated" by The Ramones, Newton Faulkner performed covers of "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)", Hot Chip performed a version of "Nothing Compares 2 U", Feeder did a verse of "Monkey Gone to Heaven" and "Best Of You whilst Manic Street Preachers performed Nirvana's "Pennyroyal Tea" and their cover of Rihanna's "Umbrella" which was reprised in the Green Room the following night when Ian Brown tested his microphone with a quick "Ella ella, eh eh eh". "Valerie" was performed twice on the Saturday, first on the Main Stage by Amy Winehouse and later, on the O2 Stage, the original version was performed by The Zutons. On the Sunday, The Feeling performed two covers - "Video Killed the Radio Star" and "Take on Me" - whilst The Blizzards performed a cover of "Black and Gold", Republic of Loose funkified Akon's "Locked Up" and The Raconteurs covered Jape's "Floating".

Thursday

For the first ever Thursday night at Oxegen a number of entertainments were supplied. There was a circus, a silent disco, a banjo orchestra and a couple of tribute bands. The red camping site hosted the Swamp Circus Theatre. The Cloghoppers, the smallest banjo orchestra in the world, performed on unicycles, alongside the aerial artistry of Emily Rose. At the silent disco, dancers had a choice of two DJs on their FM headsets. Unfortunately, the silent disco was cancelled on thursday night due to a small scale riot in which several festival goers were slightly injured due to being crushed against steel fencing surrounding the tent. The Rocking Back The Clock Stage featured tribute acts such as The Stone Roses Experience, and AC/DC cover band, Hells Bells.

Friday

"Guess Again" was the first song performed on the O2 Stage by Future Kings of Spain whilst Amy Macdonald opened the Main Stage. Making her Oxegen debut, she commented:
"It's really cool to open a festival because everyone is in such high spirits, but it's especially great to open this one. Us Scots and Irish are always in the mood to party."
The Kinetiks followed Dirty Epics onto the Green Room stage. Nominated for the "Hope For 2008" at the Meteor Awards, The Kinetiks said beforehand they relished the prospects of playing in front of their biggest audience to date. Lead singer Gaz Harding (23) said:
"We're not nervous, just looking forward to it. Obviously the tent is massive. We're going to go and do what we do and hope that everyone will be blown away and we can go out and have a great night afterwards."

Following an appearance on the New Band Stage on the Friday, Liam Finn uniquely performed again on the Saturday on the same stage as a last minute replacement for Ida Maria who cancelled her set due to illness.

Sugababes made an appearance on the O2 Stage following a much publicised last minute cancellation of an Irish show supporting Boyzone the previous week. They entered the stage to Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music", opening with "Hole in the Head" and continuing with the likes of "Round Round", "Freak like Me" and "Push the Button". At one point there was some sound difficulty and the show had to be stopped until one of the Sugababes was handed a replacement microphone by someone called Darren from backstage whose name the audience repeatedly chanted for a period.

Editors made their fourth consecutive appearance at Oxegen on the Friday evening. Following stints on the New Band Stage, NME Stage and Green Room they this year appeared on the Main Stage. Opening with "Bones" - a song first performed at Oxegen in 2006 - the band's set also included "An End Has a Start", "Escape the Nest", "The Racing Rats", "All Sparks", "Bullets", "Blood", "Munich", "Fingers in the Factories" and "Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors".

Interpol, having previously second headlined the Green Room at Oxegen 2005 and second headlined Stage 2/NME at Oxegen 2007, second headlined the Main Stage on the Friday night of Oxegen 2008.

Saturday

The Verve headlined the Main Stage on the Saturday night, opening with "This Is Music" and completing their set with "The Drugs Don't Work", "Lucky Man", "Bitter Sweet Symphony" and "Love Is Noise". Richard Ashcroft referred to the area's main use as a racecourse when he informed the crowd:

"The dressing rooms are dead good, they've got pictures of the jockeys and the champions on the walls [the site is usually a racecourse]. The funny thing is all the trainers have got all the same name over here. I guess if you've got the look... Anyway this if for Tony Soprano, Tony Montana and all 'The Rolling People'."
He then politicised "Bitter Sweet Symphony" by criticing the United Nations - "Shame on the United Nations, shame on the United Nations, the people of Zimbabwe need you" - and dedicating it to Zimbabwe and all the slaves (including Cristiano Ronaldo who was only earning £120,000 per week). Days later, Ashcroft was struck down by severe pharyngitis and a chest infection, forcing the band to cancel another festival appearance at the Italia Wave Festival in Livorno. At the end of The Verve's set at Oxegen, The Prodigy were still performing over on the O2 Stage whilst Manic Street Preachers had just finished headlining the Green Room. They opened with "Motorcycle Emptiness" and "You Stole the Sun from My Heart" and ended with "If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next" in a set which also included "The Masses Against The Classes", "Autumnsong", "Your Love Alone Is Not Enough" and "Nicky Wire's favourite pop song of 2007", "Umbrella". A Welsh flag was draped across the stage throughout their set. "A Design for Life" was introduced with the following statement from frontman James Dean Bradfield:
"How many drinking songs do you think we have here? One, two, four or five? Well, give me a fiver and I'll buy you a drink. This is a Welsh international drinking song".

R.E.M. played a crowd-pleasing marathon set of 21 songs on the Main Stage, including favourites "Orange Crush", "The One I Love", "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?", "Bad Day", "Imitation of Life", Losing My Religion", "Man-Sized Wreath", "Hollow Man" (before which the sharply suited Michael Stipe alluded to the song's first live performance at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin) and encore songs, "Supernatural Superserious", "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" and "Man on the Moon". Throughout their set a wall of Warholian images were displayed in the background and on the big screens on either side of the stage.

Amy Winehouse took to the Main Stage before 7 pm just two hours after flying in by private plane. She swigged from a glass of vodka and coke whilst she sang along to anthems including "Back to Black" before finishing her set with "Rehab" and "Valerie". A backstage source revealed:

"Amy was looking very frail but she was determined to have a couple of drinks even if it was against doctors' orders. She came in and left straight after the gig and caused very little fuss."
Amy gave a taste of her new material, which carried obvious Carribean influences, supported by her choice of a tropical-printed mini-dress. Despite fumbling over the words to "You Know I'm No Good", a happy-looking Amy performed an upbeat set of crowd-pleasers, enhanced by her energetic backing singers. Speaking only to introduce the band and to dedicate a song to her husband Blake, Amy seemed well and in good spirits. She was paid nearly €100,000 for her 70-minute performance. Medical staff had been ordered to be on standby at the stage over fears that she could collapse after her recent 14-day stint in hospital.

Little Man Tate were forced to cancel their appearances at T in the Park and Oxegen 2008 after a night out in Brighton on the previous Wednesday left singer Jon Windle with a broken jaw. The quartet were celebrating signing to local label Skint Records when in an unprovoked attack Windle was set upon by a group of thugs. A spokesperson said:

“The guys were out on Wednesday night celebrating with their new label Skint, when Jon was attacked by a group of thugs outside a club who were obviously looking for trouble. They badly cut up one of his eyes and fractured his jaw, so it would be impossible for the band to play either festival. They are really gutted.”
They were due to open the 02 Stage on the Saturday. Also cancelling on the Saturday was Ida Maria who was due to make her Irish debut appearance on the New Bands Stage but was unable to perform due to an "acute lymph infection". She was replaced on the bill by Liam Finn, the eldest son of Crowded House frontman Neil Finn, who performed a second set on the same stage.

In the Green Room, The Ting Tings second ever Irish appearance was timed with a downturn in the weather, with heavy rain prompting a large crowd into the marquee to witness a set that opened with "Great DJ" and closed with "Shut Up and Let Me Go" and "That's Not My Name". Gardaí closed off all entrances to stem the huge crowd, although the situation was not quite as serious as at MGMT in the Pet Sounds tent the following day.

Camille O'Sullivan arrived on the Pet Sounds Stage in a kimono and a trilby and stripped down to a saucy dress and Wizard of Oz style sequined stilettos for "In These Shoes", which she performed in an array of pin-up poses. She miowed and purred her way through the set, crawling onto the speaker to fondle security. A burlesque show of epic proportions, Camille ended up stripping down to just a sexy corset and fishnets teamed with a pair of wellies in true festival fashion. Her band, complete with a mini brass section, were the perfect accompaniment to the sultry singer, following her lead throughout. In a final number she cocked her tail and flaunted her sexy curves, winking at lucky audience members and ignoring the "get them off you"s from one eager gentleman in the crowd. She gave a final thank you to her obliging band, before leaving a stunned and delighted crowd clutching a bottle of wine in one hand and her dress in the other.

Seasick Steve told the crowd at the Pet Sounds Stage:

"Man I like coming up here – y’all special. Ireland got me started when I thought I was all done. God damn you rock – y’all gold."
Following a session with his Three Stringed Tranz Wonder he moved onto his one-string Diddley bow. During "Thunderbird" he selected a rain-soaked poncho-clad female member of the audience, brought her up on stage, put her on a chair and dedicated the song to her and all the women in the audience. He then embraced her at the end.

Sunday

Rage Against the Machine were the Sunday night headliners on the Main Stage. The band, who arrived onstage 15 minutes late, sparked mass mosh pits in the crowd as they blasted through their back catalogue. Frontman Zack de la Rocha greeted the crowd with: "Good evening. We are Rage Against The Machine from Los Angeles." Despite the sound cutting out briefly on a number of occasions, the band drew huge cheers for the likes of "Bombtrack" and "Bullet in the Head" as De La Rocha strutted across the stage and guitarist Tom Morello riffed through a number of tracks. Unlike their T In The Park performance the previous night, the band said very little throughout their performance. Rage wrapped up their show with a two song encore that ended at approximately midnight with "Freedom" leading into their biggest hit "Killing in the Name".

Earlier Kaiser Chiefs took to the Main Stage with frontman Ricky Wilson diving head-first into the crowd before his band had played a single note. He reminded the crowd that Rage Against the Machine would follow them, saying that they would play "Killing in the Name" last. Wilson then delivered a raucous performance by climbing the stage rigging, repeatedly diving into the crowd during the first songs before later running around the security area behind the mosh pit and leaning into the crowd. Kaiser Chiefs opened their set with "Everything Is Average Nowadays", "Everyday I Love You Less and Less" and "Heat Dies Down", ending with "Oh My God". Three new songs - "Never Miss A Beat", "You Want History" and "Half The Truth" were also performed live. The Blizzards frontman Niall Breslin also referenced Rage by announcing to the Main Stage crowd that they would be "reliving our youth tonight" when they would be in the mosh pit with the crowd for the band's performance. They thanked fans for the Meteor Award they won for their previous year's performance at Punchestown and performed a cover of the Sam Sparro song "Black and Gold". Later The Kooks frontman Luke Pritchard was embarrassed after having his trousers pulled down as he disappeared into the crowd during the band's final song. The crowd laughed as his rear end was displayed on the large screens by the Main Stage and Pritchard exited the stage with an expression of irritation on his face.

The Feeling were second on the Main Stage and played up their roots with frontman Dan Gillespie Sells referring to his Irish mother who couldn't be there to witness his performance unlike in 2006, telling the crowd he used to go to Féile as a boy and at one point saying the Irish drinking phrase "Sláinte" to the bemused crowd who witnessed covers of "Video Killed the Radio Star" and "Take on Me". The band opened with "I Thought It Was Over" and "Fill My Little World" and ended with "Love It When You Call" in a set that included "Never Be Lonely", "Turn It Up", "Join with Us" and "Sewn". Eddy Grant opened the Main Stage with his song "Killer on the Rampage" and caused consternation amongst crowd members by repeatedly saying he was in Dublin until one crowd member yelled, "You're not in Dublin" to laughter from the stewards and surrounding festival-goers.

On the O2 Stage, The Pigeon Detectives frontman Matt Bowman engaged in some raucous antics with the crowd, pouring bottles of water over himself throughout the band's energetic performance and throwing them into the crowd still half full. At one point he climbed onto a pile of five amps before diving back down onto the stage and apologised for the band having to cancel a performance at Bud Rising in April due to a broken wrist sustained performing a similar stunt. The band opened with "This Is An Emergency" and finished their high octane set with "Take Her Back" and "I'm Not Sorry".

Republic of Loose brought Styles P to Oxegen to assist in their set on the O2 Stage whilst Isobel Reyes-Feeney was also present to provide vocals for "The Steady Song" and "Break". Frontman Mick Pyro informed the crowd about having the flu and asked the audience to sing along to "Comeback Girl". The Chemical Brothers headlined the O2 Stage beginning with "Galvanize". Before the band took to the O2 Stage there was an onstage marriage proposal, with Belfast girl Michaela Murphy (23) popping the question to her boyfriend Paddy McBride (27) after arriving on stage on a motorbike. Paddy said "Yes". The engagement saw Michaela present Paddy with a bass guitar and a plectrum instead of a wedding ring. It was arranged by Franc of Weddings by Franc from BBC Television who will include Michaela and Paul in his new BBC series.

Kate Nash closed her mermaid-themed set with "Foundations" and squeaked as she was bombarded with fruit when she sang the line: "You said I must eat so many lemons...". The Subways made their Oxegen debut by opening the O2 Stage on the Sunday afternoon and delivered a powerful set which ended with a bare-chested Billy Lunn screeching the lyrics to "Rock & Roll Queen".

Meanwhile, at the Pet Sounds Stage thousands packed into the marquee to witness MGMT's set, with many more queueing outside. Extra stewards had to be called in to deal with the sudden crowd surge and many trying to escape the heat inside the tent found themselves trapped by the crowds and security cordons. MGMT finished with the track "Kids" after a twenty minute delay midset following one errant female punter’s decision to scale all 20-25 feet of one of the tent’s lattice support towers after "4th Dimensional Transition". This triggered a spate of copycat climbing, with the band continuing performing "Pieces of What" until security had to shut-down the show. In the midst of the commotion, frontman Andrew VanWyngarden was heard to say: "I guess they're gonna stop the show unless you guys get down, I'm sorry" to widespread booing from audience members.

Ian Brown brought the Green Room to a close with "F.E.A.R.". Taking to the stage with a lone trumpeter playing The Godfather theme, Brown treated the crowd to a version of The Stone Roses song "Waterfall". He asked the crowd: "You been drinking a lot?" to loud cheers before he tested his microphone with a verse of Rihanna's "Umbrella" acapella.

Tom Baxter spent the weekend trying to avoid his idol Shane MacGowan, this despite the the British folk singer performing in the Green Room just before MacGowan's band The Pogues, performing at their first Irish festival since Féile in 1991. Bypassing the opportunity of meeting MacGowan up close and personal, the singer of chart hit "Better" opted to mingle among the crowds. Baxter told the Herald:

"I haven't met them (The Pogues) before but I don't like to meet people like that. I don't know whether meeting your idols actually enlightens you that much. I just bought their album Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash because I'd lost it years ago. I've been listening to that so I've really wanted to go see them live. I never think it's worth meeting these people. I've met a few of my idols and I never know what to say to them.

VIP guests

€150,000 worth of drinks were available for consumption in the pampering zone of the VIP area.

Singer Lily Allen was spotted walking hand-in-hand with her Chemical Brothers boyfriend Ed Simons. The pair smooched as they sat in the private VIP bar and strolled through the crowd to watch some of the bands. Lily told the Irish Daily Mirror: "It's party time and I'm definitely going to be having a few drinks. Festivals are always crazy but the ones in Ireland take madness to a new level. We're having a ball."

Divine Comedy singer Neil Hannon set tongues wagging that he had rekindled his broken marriage with Orla Little after they spent a day together. An onlooker said: "They seemed very happy and it looked like they werea very normal, very together married couple. Neither of them semmed worried that they would be spotted together and Neil kept giving her little kisses on the cheek." Hannon was spotted in the crowd on the Friday night watching Ben Folds on the O2 Stage before sneaking backstage to enjoy the set from a better angle. Politcians were not exempt from enjoying the festival either, with Communications Minister Eamon Ryan spotted on Friday also watching Ben Folds.

Also on the Friday night, supermodel Helena Christensen and Kings of Leon musician Jared Followill were spotted at the side of the Main Stage watching Interpol's performance at the first ever Friday night of Oxegen. Helena's boyfriend is Interpol's lead singer Paul Banks. She is also quickly becoming an Oxegen regular, having the previous year been spotted at Punchestown in the company of Michael Stipe and Josh Hartnett.

Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, on one of his infamous benders, was believed to be at the festival with a 19-year-old Russian waitress he met in a London lap-dancing bar.

Chris Pontius a.k.a. Party Boy from Jackass was seen hanging out in the VIP bar where he described Oxegen as "awesome" and said he was most looking forward to seeing Amy Winehouse. Also spotted at the Main Stage for Amy Winehouse's performance was Newton Faulkner.

Elsewhere the lead singer of Reverend and the Makers, Jon McClure, joined his fans in the Green Room for a photo. Lord Henry Mountcharles and his wife Iona were spotted enjoying the sunshine on the Saturday. Miss World 2003 Rosanna Davison and boyfriend Wesley Quirke were spotted at the Pet Sounds Stage enjoying Camille O'Sullivan's set.

RTÉ personalities such as Pat Kenny, Rick O'Shea and Jenny Huston were also spotted in the VIP area. David Gilmore and Dermot Gibson were sighted a number of times walking through the Blue campsite.

Food

[Breakfast, bagels, tea & coffee]

  • Tea & Toast again provided breakfast.
  • Bagel Factory provided over thirty flavours of bagels.
  • Callum’s Real Coffee offered coffees, smoothies and juices.
  • Steamy Tea had their special tea & coffee dispensing backpacks on hand to serve up hot beverages for campers.

[International cuisine]

  • Pasta Mista provided Italian food.
  • Taco Man and Flaming Cactus provided nachos, burritos and tacos.
  • Café Mao provided Thai food.
  • Now & Zen provided Chinese food.
  • Wok ’n’ Roll provided stir-fries and other oriental dishes.

[Traditional]

  • Seacow provided fish and chips.
  • Abrakebabra returned to provide kebabs.
  • Kiosk Man provided confectionary, drinks and other essentials.
  • Fireworx provided a German style barbecue.
  • Eat Fat Pig and The Celtic Hog Company provided spit roasted pork.
  • The Real Irish Burger Company and The Real Irish Sausage Company provided the best quality Irish beef and pork in their food.
  • The Splendid Chicken Company provided burgers.
  • Goodness Gracious catered for vegetarians and vegans.
  • Moon Food had a vast range of vegetarian pies.
  • Ben & Jerry’s converted American school bus had an array of ice cream flavours.
  • Choc Allure provided a chocolate fountain ready to serve chocolate covered strawberries and other treats.

Safe sex

The Crisis Pregnancy Agency was at Punchestown to distribute safe sex packs. The group's Caroline Spillane said they were handing out safe sex tins providing information and a condom, "So people will have information about practising safe sex, but also they will have a condom if they choose to have sex."

Crime

Over two hundred gardaí were on duty every day at the 2008 festival, according to the garda press office.

  • Gardaí staged a huge undercover drugs swoop at Oxegen '08, arresting hundreds of revellers and fifty suspected drug dealers. The operation by plain clothes officers had been planned for months before the festival. Sources said the swoop targeted a team of dealers who were planning to make a huge payday. The suspects were taken to Naas Garda Station for questioning whilst fans caught in possession were cautioned. One Oxegen source revealed:
    "There were hundreds of arrests and some extremely high-level drug dealers were hauled in too. It was the biggest operation of its kind ever staged at the festival and sends out a big warning to people who think they are above the law."
    A Garda source added:
    "The operation was a huge success."
  • On Friday July 11, a young male working at Oxegen 2008 was arrested as part of a garda investigation into an alleged sexual assault. The juvenile was questioned at Naas Garda Station in Kildare for a number of hours before being released without charge later that evening. The two people alleged to have been involved in the assault were workers at the festival with the incident reported to have taken place in the staff camping area on the Thursday night. The woman was treated at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin. A garda spokesman said:
    "There was an alleged sexual assault at the festival. The complainant was a female in her early 20s."

Another sexual assault claim was being investigated on the Friday night. The incident allegedly took place in one of the campsites. The Union of Students in Ireland warned festival-goers to exercise caution after a quantity of date rape drugs was stolen from a pharmacy in Dublin. Amongst the items taken were Valium and Rohypnol (Pron. ROH-HIP-NOL), and the USI said that while there was no reason for alarm, campers should be extra vigilant.

  • In another incident a woman suffered first degree burns on the Friday night of the festival, after a male "friend of a friend" accidentally burned the festival-goer with a makeshift blow torch. Her hand was reportedly severely burned and some of her hair was singed. A garda spokesperson said:
    "While we have not made any arrests at this stage, Gardaí at the site are following a number of definite leads."
    The festival-goer was taken to Naas General Hospital where she was treated before being released.

Aftermath

Reaction

The Belfast Telegraph described Oxegen 2008 as "a huge success, with no repeat of the mud-bath that marked last year's event".

Publications

Hot Press published a special issue reviewing Oxegen which was made available from Thursday July 17.

Returning bands

Within a week of playing sets at Oxegen 2008, a number of international bands announced they would be returning to play other Irish shows before the end of the year.

On July 14, MGMT announced a November 3 date at the Ambassador Theatre which had sold out by July 18. Also on July 14, Black Kids announced two Irish dates in October - October 20 in Mandela Hall and October 21 in the Academy. On July 16, Scouting for Girls announced a December 14 date in the Ambassador Theatre. On July 17, Flogging Molly announced a November 7 date at the Ambassador as part of the Eastpak Antidote Tour 2008.

Thanks

On Friday July 18, the official Oxegen website issued " A BIG THANK YOU!", thanking fans for making 2008 the greenest Oxegen yet, with 70% using public transport and the amount of waste being dramatically reduced by the Oxegen Eco Cup.

Broadcasting rights

MTV UK & Ireland was the official live broadcast partner for Oxegen '08. MTV's coverage of Oxegen '08 will premiere with the OXEGEN Festival Weekend on August 2-3 with over fifty hours of programming across MTV’s portfolio of channels, including MTV Two, VH1, MTV Hits, MTV One and TMF as well as support from http://www.mtv.co.uk .

2fm and 2XM broadcast over fifty hours of music during the three days of the festival. Jenny Huston, Jenny Greene, Cormac Battle, Dan Hegarty, Dave Fanning and Mr Spring presented radio coverage of the event. RTÉ 2XM WebTV also made a debut at Oxegen.

Other broadcasters present at Punchestown included FM104 and Phantom FM.

Stages

Oxegen 2008 had at least eight stages. These included the Main Stage, the 02 Stage, the Pet Sounds Arena, the Green Room, the Dance Arena, the New Bands/Futures Stage, the Bacardi B-Live Arena and one new addition, the IMRO New Sounds Stage.

2008 Line-up

The acts that played the festival:

Friday 11 July Saturday 12 July Sunday 13 July
Main Stage:

Main Stage:

Main Stage:

Friday 11 July Saturday 12 July Sunday 13 July
The O2 Stage:

feat. Darren

The O2 Stage:

The O2 Stage:

feat. Styles P
Isobel Reyes-Feeney

* cancelled due to a broken jaw


Friday 11 July Saturday 12 July Sunday 13 July
Green Room:

feat. Sharon Shannon

Green Room:

Green Room:

Friday 11 July Saturday 12 July Sunday 13 July
Pet Sounds:

Pet Sounds:

Pet Sounds:

Friday 11 July Saturday 12 July Sunday 13 July
Dance Arena:

Dance Arena:

Dance Arena:

Friday 11 July Saturday 12 July Sunday 13 July
New Band Stage/Futures:

New Band Stage/Futures:

New Band Stage/Futures:

* cancelled due to "acute lymph infection" and replaced with Liam Finn


Saturday 12 July Sunday 13 July
IMRO New Sounds Stage:

IMRO New Sounds Stage:

Friday 11 July Saturday 12 July Sunday 13 July
Bacardi B-Live Arena:

Bacardi B-Live Arena:

Bacardi B-Live Arena:

References

External links


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