It wouldn’t be a festival without the uncertainty in the weather conditions, and as they shifted from heavy rain to beaming sunshine and back three times an hour, there was still a large turnout for the early opening time as buses pulled up coming from all across Ireland. Day One of Longitude had started.
While the showers may have been scattered, the talent was constantly on show across the four stages, and as Wyvern Lingo opens the main stage, Haelos set up on the Whelan’s stage. A three-piece electronic band whose numbers double in the live environment with soothing and pulsating synths relax the crowd from the get go. A sudden downpour of heavy rain arrives as the band move into the second half of their set and as the numbers in the crowd increase, the tent is full by the time the band finish their set.
A large portion of the crowd makes their way to the Main Stage as one of the most anticipated acts of the day, Catfish And The Bottlemen take to the stage. The four piece are loved by the Irish fans, and having played a couple of shows here a few months back, momentum has gathered for the band as they look out from the stage and see a large, dedicated following. Opening with single ‘Kathleen’, the energetic frontman Vann McCann bounces about stage between vocal duties. ‘Cocoon’ gets one of the best reactions so far and the fan favourite track is loud and energetic before ending on the very dynamic ‘Tyrants”.
Over at the Heineken Stage, French Cuban twins Ibeyi get a large crowd as many pour in to see the duo. Mixing piano and a number of percussive instruments together and fusing hip hop and electronic influences, the pair create a unique soulful listening experience, and with sounds from the Yoruba culture, there aren’t many acts that are comparable. Being open about their background to the awaiting audience, the personal connection is strengthened as the interaction between the crowd and artists are well worked, as the crowd sing back lines from ‘I’m On My Way’ and clap and sway to ‘Mama Says’. The pair are harmonious and the twins have wonderful chemistry that spills into their performance.
Surprise of the day came from the Irish four-piece Otherkin. Playing on the Whelans stage, the self described ‘grunge pop’ outfit had one of the more energetic sets of the day, and pulled a respectable crowd despite the late slot, along with the overlap with Little Dragon and Ibeyi. Those inside the tent warmed up quickly with their energetic yet distorted tones, and before long even the band’s crew got involved, picking up the first crowdsurf of the day
Just before 7pm, Metronomy take to the stage one by one, and having released one of the best albums from 2014, the crowd stretched far back into the field, all waiting for the signature sound that is known so well, and some of the biggest hits so far. Before long, ‘Love Letters’ makes an appearance and the crowd are in full flow, singing and dancing to the smooth and infectious melodies of the track. The interchanging of members doesn’t slow the momentum down, and as a testament to the band, each member clearly completely in sync with one another, and this has a direct impact on how tight the music is in the live environment. The mellow ‘I’m Aquarius’ was the highlight of the set, as the calming tone resonating throughout Marley Park on the summer’s day was a sight to see.
Meanwhile, on the Heineken stage, one of the spectacles of the night was stirring. Young Fathers, a hip hop driven trio hailing from Scotland provide some of the most passionate tracks on show at Longitude. Having won the Mercury Prize for their debut LP, people are really starting to catch on to the energy that they bring to the table. Performing songs such as ’27’, ‘John Doe’ and ‘I Heard’, the busy tent take no time in warming up and the powerful percussion patterns are enough to send the crowd into a frenzy of dancing, and with barely any words spoken, the band fly through track after track with even more energy than is on offer on the studio recordings. Finishing with an explosive burst of life, and some incredible dance moves from the band themselves, the crowd are left stunned at what they witnessed.
As the sun started to set and the cold air began to take over, there was only one place to be for perfect end to any festival. Headliners of the Heineken stage SBTRKT get a rowdy crowd, even 10 minutes before the start time, and the numbers keep growing. Before long a dedicated following is packed into the tent and and kicking off with the melodic synth driven electronic music mixed with a stunning array of lights that cut through the tent, the crowd are constantly moving and jumping throughout the set. After a short anecdote about how the song was written, ‘New Dorp, New York’ featuring Vampire Weekend’s very own Ezra was incredibly received and the animated crowd continue dancing.
Bringing a close to a stunning day of music all across the board, the sold out Saturday show has a lot to match up to. And only in its third year, the festival has already received much attention, and no doubt from the stellar line up this year, more eyes will be firmly set on the future. Niall Cregan
Longitude 2015 is the very idea of the modern festival laid bare. Deprived of the home like security of a campsite, a refuge where revellers can recharge, all that remains is the roar of the party. It’s merely a side step in reality where people play harder, live louder and, obviously, wear bindis, short shorts and gangland bandanas. It’s carnevale devoid of canals but relocated to the picturesque Marlay Park. It’s a time when people can put on masks and finally be themselves. Where they can deny the diet, celebrate their sexuality and, for a few hoarse moments, scream, hoot and roar to their favourite musical artists. Because what Longitude 2015 seems to really be about is great Irish and international artists playing a lineup that encourages mixing, matching and discovery. 2015 may be the best line up in the festivals reasonably short history and though Friday may have been a good aperitif, for many it’s the weekend that has the most tantalising draw.
Of the early goers most must surely be torn between synth pop break outs Years & Years and home grown talent Princess. The latter are playing their final gig ever, and though the surroundings of the festival give the event the magnitude it deserves the spritely hour of three o’clock is lacking in solemnity. It’s also not the last time of the weekend that the Whelans stage feels isolated, as often as it feels like a music lover’s hidden camp.
The case against is the swaying, thriving masses summoned by Le Galaxie over on the main stage. Where everywhere else seems to agree that it is the afternoon (grassy knolls, good natured cheers etc.) the Dublin quartet magic together a full midnight party vibe. Their neon chops get the crowd going for the first real time that day and in return for their enthusiasm the band hand up a memorable beat laden set.
From dark disco to sunshine chills, Glass Animals gear the atmosphere down without losing too much of the euphoria. Despite performing on a main stage for the first time in their career they offer an enlivened, pristine set. Instantly accessible to newcomers and an enjoyable mimicry of their recorded work for dedicated fans, the group prove themselves a live force worthy of their new found position.
Jungle (above) pick up the reigns from there but despite playing hits slathered with all the keyboard washed, anachronistic funk you could wish for there’s something sterile in the delivery. Not bad at all but a break in the tempo of the quality so far. Luckily Toro Y Moi is already tearing it up over at the Heineken stage. Songs that lean on folk and easy listening on the artists recorded work are transformed by him and his band to be punchy psycho-funk anthems. The sound is strangely flattened but with the groups cohesive musicianship it’s still good enough to make you nostalgic for a type of music you never knew existed.
By the time that’s over Caribou (below) have taken to the stage and shrunk it down to a more intimate and manageable size. The group have been an impressive live force for years now but despite the heavy and aesthetic rhythm section giving the crowd something to chew on, outside of the hits, it’s just a little bland this time.
Luckily a quick dash leads to Girl Band who are typically charged. Effortlessly they hand up the performance of the day with their unique, lifting brand of noise rock. The crowd are adequately enthused even if a few surprised, blanched faces make a dash for the exit when they realise the band’s name may have been a little misleading. Yet it remains a fact, Girl Band really are worth all the fuss.
After that shot of adrenaline there’s a mild air of apprehension around indie stalwarts Alt J (below). What if they only play the slow songs? What if they don’t play ‘Breezeblocks’? It’s a sign of the bands dedicated fandom that they can cause such anxiety but it’s a credit to the bands performance that they can dispel it. Looking professional the UK group launch into their hits from both of their lauded albums. The light show pierces the encroaching darkness and the music of tracks like ‘Tesselate’ and ‘Taro’ make the crowd into a rough and ready choir. Yet perhaps it’s the cold that wins out. For the folly of youth, underdressed as it always is, the night proves a little too much and many are leaving before Alt J even voice their intention to wrap up. Eoghain Meakin
Still, there’s always Sunday and though many may have lost the good fight and decided to miss the festivals finale the crowd is rejuvenated by those fresh faced day ticket holders no doubt drawn by the night’s high profile finisher. But that’s all far in the future. For now people seem happier to take their time, sit on the grass and watch the performers from a comfortable distance rather than in the crush of the first five meters. Perfect setting for Jose Gonzalez who, despite having more weapons than people may give him credit for, is still primarily a chillwave artist.
From there one could choose to join Dublin favourites Spies or WIFE in the leafy nook of the Red Bull Academy Stage. The latter may be best known for his black metal work with the excellent Altar of Plagues this venture sees him bring the same creative flair to ambient, organic and echoey electronica.
It’s starting to fill up now and people are looking for something to bounce to and the angular riffage of Everything Everything may just be the ticket. Looking well in space pope garb they treat the crowd to a mix of old and new confirming themselves as the vanguards of off kilter guitar driven pop. The crowd blow hot and cold for the set but when the guys play fan favourite ‘Photoshop Handsome’ as a closer it’s like the alarm going off at the end of a disco nap.
Not a bad idea if you’re feeling a little tired on your feet but now that the drink is flowing again better watch way you lay your head. A bad spot would be the Heineken stage during Tove Lo’s (above) set where a surprisingly large knot of fans are churning the ground to mud. Sweden’s current top export she puts her vocals to stunning effect over a pop genre mash up that live sounds raucous and exact. By the time she gets to ‘Stay High’ the audience are in raptures.
Erstwhile James Blake (below) and his band take the main stage. The man may lack presence, seated as he is, but the big bass he employs give some of his most famous tracks a full, heavy crunk feel. Yet strangely many have chosen to miss the Mercury and Grammy nominee. It’s a strange moment but there is one good reason to miss his last few songs and that’s because Danny Brown, Detroit’s finest son, is offering his wares. Assisted only by a flamboyant DJ, the two of them put on a seriously energetic, ballsy show. It’s possible that Danny Brown is the highlight of the weekend. His quickfire raps mixed with the punchy set list put a smile on everyone’s face.
Then, just like that, it’s the final chapter. The whole audience coalesce in front of the main stage. It’s a beautiful evening stretching into a crisp night when Chemical Brothers (below) appear out of the dry ice. This is what lots of people have been waiting for and it’s exactly what you’d expect. Except, that isn’t actually a compliment. Chemical Brothers are such an institution that they seem to have become as unwieldly as one. Though each track is an absolute belter it comes exactly where you expect and even the visuals, as entertaining as ever, will be familiar to anyone who’s been to see the duo before. Disappointing more than upsetting it doesn’t kill the whopper impact of tracks like ‘Saturate’ and since, now that the food stalls have begun to close, people are subsisting on good vibes alone there’s plenty of satisfied emotional bellies.
For many this just can’t go wrong and the crowd bounce and soar. It’s sad that this is the end but Longitude 2015 has outdone itself. Not only has it put together a killer line up but it’s list of amenities and support were top draw. Decadent without the despair, fun hopefully without the fear. We’ll have to see, but this was truly a good one. Eoghain Meakin
All photos by Colm Moore