Review: Longitude Festival, Ireland, July 19-21

longitude

Longitude is the newest Music & Arts festival to hit Ireland, acting as the experimental ‘sister’ festival to its long established sibling Latitude over in Suffolk. Sharing artists over the weekend, the organiser’s Festival republic would have been hoping for nice weather and good tickets sales for its debut and they got both as the three-days were blessed with glorious weather. Set in an idyllic part of Ireland which brought the Irish out in force while leaving those without tickets to get scalped by the touts on Grange Road.

The Festival started Friday and saw early sets from Tom Odell hitting the main stage with his radio-friendly hits including “hold me” to a small but enthusiastic crowd (mainly girls). This was followed by Jake Bugg who declared “I’ve came on early for ya” (about 3 minutes I think) and was either very eager to get on with it or desperate to get off stage! Neither Jake (nor Tom for that matter) would be my “cup of tea” but I watched on, as did the crowd which had increased in size since Tom Odell earlier and were more boisterous with it.

Later on Django Django brought some much needed spirit to the main stage, before my highlight of the day; Foals played a 75 minute set that showed why they are one of the best live binds on the circuit, although unfortunately the Irish crowd didn’t seem to get the oxford lads brand of “math-rock” which had Yannis shouting down his mic “Your meant to be fresh it’s the first day”. The only time the crowd seemed overly involved was when they played “My Number” which is a shame as it was one of the sets of the weekend. It was then down to the French Electro-Rockers Phoenix to headline Friday evening. Opening with ‘Entertainment’ the lead track to their 2013 LP ‘Bankrupt’ they delved deep into their archives with tracks from ‘Wolfgang Amadeus’ standing-out on their set-list.

Where Longitude lets itself down a little was after the music finished. Unlike most other weekend festivals around Europe it doesn’t have camping, which also means there is no onsite after-hours entertainment (this must assumedly be due to the size restrictions of Marlay Park) which meant it was back into Dublin on Friday night where Foals did a 2 hour DJ set at the after-show party in the Green-room of the city’s Academy.

Longitude+Fans+007

If the crowd were a-little tame on Friday then Saturday was a different proposition altogether. With the sun shining and drinks flowing, local-boys Kodaline took to the stage early on and they could have possibly warranted a later slot on the bill considering the size and reaction of the crowd. Once they had finished it was time for me to trek through the forest to the small Woodlands-tent where one of my favourite emerging bands of 2013, Londoners Wolf Alice were playing. Ellie and the boys did Dublin like it was Dalston as they flew through a 30 minute set featuring Bros, Fluffy and ‘Every Cloud’ and remained professional when a group of young buffoons at the front of the stage threatened to cause a scene. By Saturday evening I was exhausted (a sentiment shared by many in the crowd), drunk, and flirting with sun-stroke. It was left to home favourites Villagers to induce a set of mass sing-alongs to ease away the pain before Brooklyn headliners Vampire Weekend finished the night off with an enthralling set littered with sing-alongs throughout. ‘A-Punk’, ‘Oxford Comma’ and ‘Ya Hey’ generated much fan fair before closing with an energetic rendition of ‘Walcott’ that sent us on into the night.

Kraftwerk

For those of us who survived the first two days, arrived on Sunday a little quieter, I for one was feeling a little tired, hung-over, and increasingly gingerly, so it was over to the Heineken stage where London Grammar provided the perfect tonic with Hannah’s beautifully melodic voice ripping out the damage my body ensued the day before. If London Grammar were melodic then Drenge were raucous, the Sheffield brothers create a lot of noise for a two-piece and caused a fair bit of disruption on what was the most chaotic gig of the weekend, we went through (several) string breakages and technical problems which induced an impromptu karaoke from the crowd supported by Eoin who played a lone hand on drums while the problems were resolved. Eventually, his brother and guitarist Rory remerged with a new guitar, nervously saying “this is fender telecaster, never played one of these before” All this resulted in the set running past curfew which had the stage-coordinator throwing a minor paddy… I’m sure the boys will be invited back (hopefully)

Bringing the weekend to a close was one of the most anticipated sets of the year, Kraftwerk in 3D. Ralf Hutter and his band entered the stage at 9.15 wearing lycra suits which looked slightly odd in the late-evening twilight. Tracks The Robots, The Model, Autobahn and Neon Lights went down well with many in the crowd but I found the 3D graphics show to be in-affective. For all of the talk in the build-up to their headline slot was regarding the 3D show, it came across flat.

Reflecting on Longitude, to some the weekend was a chance for a drink in the sun or to take in the ‘atmosphere’ with their mates, to others (like me) it was about getting deep into the music which was on offer and at 149 euro, it’s not the most expensive 3-day festival you’ll ever go to, however, I feel the organisers must include more variety in the future to cement Longitude as a premier fixture on the festival circuit. Variety and camping are two important elements to any big festival and maybe that’s restricted here by the size of Marlay Park? However, the one feather in the cap Longitude does have is the excellent sound quality that every stage and tent provided. One thing for sure is the people of Ireland will be back next year.