On a scorching, clear-skied, June bank holiday Saturday, Forbidden Fruit kicked off the summer in style at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Now in its 11th year, Forbidden Fruit has seen an evolution. From Fatboy Slim, The Flaming Lips and Beirut, to Bon Iver, Glass Animals and Underworld, the festival has welcomed a variety of performers and attendees since its conception.

This year, the ground welcoming glitter-drenched festival-goers in their droves, bringing a certain euphoria to the ground of Ireland’s Museum of Modern Art. The site is covered in colourful flags, bars and innovative experiential activations from well-known brands. Past a giant apple sits a ping-pong table. Near the entrance sits an ice cream truck next to a vape stand.

Looking beyond a merch tent, the Trinity Orchestra floods the main stage – they literally take up the entire stage – with a set dedicated to pride. A girl draped in a pride flag sings an orchestral rendition of Deee-Lite’s ‘Groove is in the Heart’, and Forbidden Fruit has officially begun.

The Lighthouse Stage is full to the brim. Enrobed in darkness with blue and pink strobe lighting, it could be any hour of the day or night. Early ravers have already taken residence in the space. Opening with ‘Kissing in the Valley-O’, Chubby Cat comes into her own as a live act on the 2FM Rising stage. Cat’s mesmerising vocals drew in a crowd of bodies who danced their way into the tent. After a range of shows across Berlin, Brighton and London over the last couple of weeks, a sizzling hot summer is just beginning for Chubby Cat. Teasing summer with a new tune, the dancey ‘Oh Honey’ which is due to be released in the coming weeks.

Paris Texas at Forbidden Fruit 2024 .Photo by Owen Humphreys www.owen.ie

Paris Texas, hailing from LA, California (a 13 hour plane ride as explained by the band), gives a lesson in crowd interaction – getting the crowd to chant a call and response ‘Paris’ ‘Texas’ minutes after they take to the stage. At the same time, a DJ set rings from a tiny tent amongst the food trucks, Confetti naming the area. The tent rings out with Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Everywhere’, followed by Eurythmics ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)’.

Paris Texas finish their set. Ice cream and water are secured. Back at the aforementioned Confetti tent, The Kook’s ‘Naive’ rings out. Arctic Monkey’s ‘Mardy Bum’ follows suit. The sun is shining and what seems like the whole of the city has taken residence at the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham.

Freddy Gibbs brought a crowd of old and new fans to the main stage. Hands in the air, words memorised and new fans chanting along with callouts to the crowd. Packing out the 2FM Rising tent, SHEE marks the halfway point of Forbidden Fruit day one. The DJ has recently toured with weekend headliners Barry Can’t Swim and worked with Irish duo 49th and Main. Pint of Guinness in hand and a can of Rockshore on the decks, SHEE fires up the crowd with euphoric energy that says he’s enjoying the experience just as much as they are. A rising star about to take full orbit.

Legends of the nineties and noughties Groove Armada filled the Undergrowth stage before they even began. Following on from Interplanetary Criminal with only a brief moment to breathe, the DJ set opened with a funky mix of ‘You’ve Got the Love’ and what can only be described as the sound you’d imagine a spaceship makes, using the build-up to launch into Empire of the Sun’s ‘Walking on a Dream’. Highlights of their set include a rendition of Fred Again’s ‘We Lost Dancing’ and Bicep’s ‘Glue’ – paying tribute to the night’s headliners. The philosophy of their set was as follows: Build up. Slow down. Breathe. Now dance. The duo have made their comeback and it’s mighty.

Nia Archives at Forbidden Fruit 2024 .Photo by Owen Humphreys www.owen.ie

As golden hour descends on Kilmainham, so too does Nia Archives. Gracing the main stage, the Bradford DJ beamed her way through an electric electronic set. ‘Hollaback Girl’ rang through the air while Palestinian flags flew in support from the crowd at the main stage.

Irish duo Le Boom kicked off the festival season with a performance that indicated they could become festival must-sees this summer. Their self-reflective brand of electronica captures the Irish experience. Reminiscing on the endless summer days of  your youth, and lamenting mass emigration and the search for belonging. It’s a euphoric experience highlighting the power of music to bring people from all walks of life together. ‘We’re gonna play a tune. And this one’s for all your mates who fucked off to Australia’, Andy calls out to the crowd, his voice wrought with emotion.

The Confetti tent hangs on with some stragglers dancing to Charli XCX’s ‘I Don’t Care’ on the walk from the Undergrowth stage to catch Bicep on the main stage. A sea of people washes over the grounds with Bicep drawing the biggest crowd of the night. Their heavy electro-dance music provides an escape and a wave of ravers sink into their techno tunes. However, the pull of Le Boom was strong. A gig too good to leave, Saturday night at Forbidden Fruit ended with a return to their set to close out a joyous first day – Ciara Byrne


Nelly Furtado at Forbidden Fruit 2024. Photo by Owen Humphreys www.owen.ie

Despite the weather never quite reaching the heights of the previous day, Sunday continued the good vibes to kickstart festival season once again, with early 2000’s icons and glitchy electronics coming out on top.

The days and weeks leading up to the festival, it was impossible to avoid the mad scramble and excitement for tickets, as fans looked forward to turning back the clock with Canadian superstar Nelly Furtado. When her time finally came, she was greeted by the biggest main stage crowd of the day, as queues for food were emptied with the opening notes of ‘Say It Right’, one of the biggest hits from her multi-platinum selling album Loose.

The hits just kept coming, as she jumped straight into ‘Maneater’, with flames and back-up dancers bursting into life. There were certainly patches where the crowd were subdued by some of her lesser-known hits, but the likes of ‘Broken Strings’, a track which many seemed to have forgotten she featured on with James Morrison, and ‘I’m Like A Bird’ quickly snapping people back into life. She closed her fifty-minute slot with a series of Timbaland collaborations, in ‘Promiscuous’ before returning for another chorus of ‘Say It Right’ remixed with Bicep’s ‘Glue’ to cap off a brilliant set.

Barry Can’t Swim at Forbidden Fruit 2024. Photo by Owen Humphreys www.owen.ie

Prior to Furtado, Edinburgh DJ Barry Can’t Swim took to the main stage, to cap off what’s been a mad few months for the new biggest DJ on the street. He dropped his debut album When Will We Land? in October, and went on to play a 7AM rave in the Guinness Storehouse followed by a sold-out Vicar Street show in March. With a live set-up consisting of a drummer, and two keyboards, he opened with the title track from his debut, before jumping into ‘How It Feels’ and ‘Always Get Through’.

Despite the impressive animation on screen throughout, there were points in the set where you noticed the sheer amount of open space onstage, in particular when his accompaniment departed for more ambient segments of the set. It’s difficult, of course, for electronic artists at times to fill the stage, but you felt despite this there was more that could have been done, in particular when you contrast it with the more experienced acts such as FourTet and Overmono (although, granted the latter two were in the dark rather than the midday sun).

The glitchier tracks in the setlist were certainly the highlights, and you could feel the energy rise as the set carried on. For the penultimate track, Barry was joined by Northern Irish poet somedeadbeat to perform his track ‘Deadbeat Gospel’ before capping off the set with ‘Blackpool Boulevard’. It was an impressive set, and would make you consider booking tickets for his next headline show.

It wasn’t only the main stage that impressed, with the likes of Qbanna (despite her technical difficulties) and Big Sleep in particular drawing big crowds to the 2FM Rising tent, continuing their ascent as one of the city’s most exciting outfits. Welsh duo Overmono impressed once again on their Irish return as they delivered a flawless set headlining the Undergrowth Stage, whilst Swedish DJ Seinfield impressed earlier in the day on the same stage.

The weekend was capped off with a brilliant set by English electronic legend Kieran Hebden, otherwise known as Four Tet. Taking tracks from across his twelve-album discography, as well as a sample of Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Call Me Maybe’, Effortlessly cool and an irresistible vibe setter, it offered something for both the new electronic fans, who came across Four Tet for his work with Skrillex and Fred Again…, and those who’ve been listening for years. The perfect way to cap off a brilliant start to dancing outdoors once again. – Cailean Coffey