Sunday at Forbidden Fruit was a slightly confused affair with cancellations from both Earl Sweatshirt and Ross From Friends impacting much more greatly than those of Paul Alwright and Stephan Bodzin the previous day. With stage times being changed and no updates being provided on site there was a confused vibe to the early portion of the day with many in attendance opting to bask in the sun rather than seek out unknown sounds.
With this being his first ever festival set, FLYNN had every right to be nervous, however, once he set foot on stage he was comfortable, relaxed and well able to entertain. His mix of deep soul and pop and a slight hint of hip-hop at times gave his set a distinct sound, showcasing a wide vocal range and vocal dexterity reminiscent of Maverick Sabre. The backing band was synced perfectly throughout and put on a show to be proud of. As far as first performances go, you couldn’t ask for more. Remember the name, because FLYNN is most certainly on his way to the top.
Due to the aforementioned cancellations, the northside’s finest Fehdah got a Brucie Bonus in the form of an unadvertised opening slot on the main stage on top of her scheduled performance on the Irish stage. Fehdah was so good that we headed to both shows were she delivered an impressive array of Afro-Irish neo soul with an impressive band including her sister and fellow artist of note Loah, who had played a fine set on the main stage herself the previous day. Fehdah’s incredible voice and sweet harmonies shone through across both sets. Like No Other and Kathmandu standout songs in both performances. Keep an eye on Ireland’s most talented musical family in the coming years.
Katie Laffan has written some lovely quirky pop songs such as I Don’t Mind and Tastemaker and there is no denying that she has talent, but sometimes you’d have to question how seriously she takes it all. Of all the Irish acts we witnessed across Forbidden Fruit, Laffan’s approach was by far the most laissez faire. Whilst others are clearly striving to progress as performers and looking to hook in new fans with professional standard performances, Laffan’s set has a decidedly ‘ah sure, it’ll be grand’ vibe to it in comparison. A disappointing performance from someone who is clearly capable of so much more.
While English producer/DJ George Fitzgerald didn’t put on the most memorable performance, it did more than enough to satisfy his predominantly young fans. Fitzgerald’s DJ set wouldn’t exactly be described as dance, but it’s mesmerising, repetitive sound made it difficult not to tap your foot. Sample-heavy at times, the set contained both moments of smooth, soothing textures and moments of discourse and clashing chords, it’s not hard to see why Fitzgerald has made a name for himself across Europe. One of the better DJ sets of the day.
Playing simple pop tunes with an electronic tilt, SG Lewis was left with the unenviable position of having to both play his own set and fill in for Earl Sweatshirt, who had pulled out a week prior citing mental health concerns. Lewis’s set of memorable hooks and choruses was impressive at first, however, after half an hour he found it difficult to maintain punter’s interest. This won’t have been helped by the poor standard of his guest vocalists who missed more notes than they hit. SG Lewis definitely falls into the category of overly safe croon-core, white soul that’s currently painting the charts beige and in the end his set felt like a really long sofa commercial that was attempting to be sexy for no reason at all.
It’s not often in Ireland that you see a performer walk onstage wearing a bulletproof vest, but that is exactly what happened at the beginning of one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend. Drawing the largest crowd of the day, California rapper Vince Staples set the atmosphere straight from the off, as his entrance was marked by the opening piano motif from one of his biggest singles, ‘Get Off My Dick’. From the moment the opening notes played, and a piano was projected onto the large screens behind him, people were seen running from angles towards the front of the stage.
The set was exhilarating, high-intensity and energetic throughout and it was clear to everyone that Staples is a performer in the prime of his career. With no band or DJ accompanying him onstage, his ability to fill the space onstage and to grab his audience and hold them in the palm of his hand throughout was a joy to behold. His allotted hour was both bass heavy and energy heavy and was a testament to a man at the top of his game. Staples will not be forgotten anytime soon.
There was a real wow factor to Staples set he laid down a marker for the rest of the main stage acts to follow one which none of them came near.
And the award for laziest stage production goes to Four Tet! Scrap that, what production? There was none. No lights, no visuals, just one man and a table and the lack of anything significant on stage permeated into the crowd who soon lost interest in Four Tet’s half-arsed aesthetic.
In fact, his set went down worse than the random local DJ who lashed out some hits from the side of the stage while the tech-crew were building Justice’s set the previous night. Perhaps it was the fact that he had a better table and at least looked excited to be there. Four Tet on the other hand brought less excitement and vigour to the table than your average librarian brings to a book burning. It’s crying shame that one of the up-and-coming Irish acts couldn’t have had a shot at this prime time, main stage slot instead of this bonanza of lacklustre.
Perhaps it was the fact that overall, day two at Forbidden Fruit was pretty beige, but by around 10 o’clock many people had decided to call it a day and there was a steady stream of people heading out the exit gates. Perhaps it was because they suddenly wanted to buy a sofa in the morning or perhaps it is the fact that Bonobo is a lot of things including a fine musician, but a bankable festival headline act not so much.
Bonobo’s slick mix of jazz and world music is wonderfully crafted and his live band are excellent, the horn section in particular stealing the show on more than one occasion. Singer Szjerdene’s performance as ever is a delight to behold especially on Towers. Simon Green has obviously put a lot of thought into the visuals which are outstanding throughout. However, the overall experience is perhaps simply too sedate for the uninitiated to work their way into, especially as there are no hits to speak of to be found anywhere in the set and the overall experience feels much more subdued than a festival headline slot ever should.