It's day one of Vantastival and we have arrived in the midst of a mini heatwave. It's into the twenties and the pale Irish heads on display threaten to combust like matchheads. With the tent successfully pitched it's time to explore. We give the climbing wall a half hearted try, then the go-karts, the ring toss, and the space hoppers. It's ice cream weather and we mill through a couple of cones before they melt. It's a proper family-oriented festival. The kids are made to feel welcome everywhere. The bands are starting in a few hours but in the meantime, the Firestone bar is pumping out reggae and the deckchairs that are made of tyre rubber are surprisingly comfortable. Although it's easier to get into them than it is to get up again.
Drogheda-based We Eat Electric Light kick things off in the shade of the woods with some mellow electronica. The duo mix beats and synths with atmospheric guitars while they trade vocal duties. Dundalk youngsters Just Mustard have just released their first EP and bring the rock to the rechristened Volkswagen main stage. Nix Moon are the quintessential festival band; baggy trousers, flowing hair and beards, and a dedicated bongo player. Edie Brickell And The New Bohemians would be proud of their grooving and harmonising. They play an excellent set and really get the crowd moving. They're playing another show at the Firestone stage later so I may have to go to that for another hit.
Back at the Firestone, Saint Sister manage to enchant the whole room armed only with a harp, a Korg, and a loopstation. The duo bring an inventive spirit to what could have been generic mellow folk tunes. Then Nix Moon are back for their second set in as many hours. This time around I'm no longer surprised at how good they are but the songs sound even better as they become more familiar. The smaller venue quickly fills up with cavorting bodies and many are left outside having to enjoy the audio version of the show. The weather is so good that no one complains.
As twilight descends on Beaulieu House, darker forces rise. Drogheda's Black Svan are a ferociously heavy metal band with accessible tunes. They've toured Europe with Fozzy and Stuck Mojo. The main stage lights and smoke machines go into overdrive as they blast through the songs from their debut album 16 Minutes. As the adrenaline rush of Black Svan fades, it's time to retire for the night. Worn out but exhilarated. Bring on day two. But first, sleep!