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Sunday, July 11, 2004

The Shins vs. The Darkness in Oxegen Deathmatch - It's a tie!

The Darkness were moved into headline position at this year's Oxegen Festival to replace the ill Mr. Bowie. This put them head to head with the Shins who took the stage about 1/2 hour before on the New Band Stage in a tent just over 100 yards away from the Oxegen Main Stage.

Inside the tent, the Shins played a much re-arranged set from what they had been playing at other european festivals this summer (we'd caught them previously during a torential downpour at Roskilde in Denmark the preceding Saturday.) Lead singer James Mercer played some of the bands' most downtempo songs all in a row, saying "We're trying to get the quiet ones out of the way before the Darkness starts."

A few minutes later, the Darkness was heard revving up behind us and many of us made a mad dash towards the middle of the field. (Sean Hoffman was already stationed there, where he remained for the duration of the Darkness' set.)

The hits went off well, the 2 or 3 the Darkness have, but despite owning their debut album, Permission to Land, their other songs couldn't hold me live. And unfortunately, the naked fan who ran across the stage during their set had done so the night before at their performance at T in the Park in Scotland, and no such bonus was in store for us here. Between Darkness numbers I could hear the Shins back in the tent, and more than once I high-tailed it back to catch some of my favorites from Chutes Too Narrow.

The Shins finally quit just after 10 p.m., leaving the festival with the Darkness as the last remaining band playing. Of course, Oxegen closes the beer tents at 10 p.m. as well and the festival started to wear down.

We said farewell to my wonderful friends Pete and Laura and their entourage and headed for the busses, catching the final Darkness hit, "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" on the way.

After a pleasant journey back to Dublin, we called it a night. Thus ended for me, my 3rd consecutive Oxegen/Witnness Festival, and my 4th straight year of rocking in Europe.