Longitude Festival 2013 at Marlay Park on July 19th – 21st 2013
Everyone is well settled in after a successful first day at Longitude, as the crowds filter in from early doors to disperse to their various earmarked gigs around the venue. Justin and Ros went along to see what day two had to offer. Here are a few of their choice picks…
The colours pop off the backdrop in the Heineken tent as Blue Hawaii begin their set to a mostly horizontal crowd – “I feel like I should talk to you guys for forty minutes, you look pretty relaxed.” The duo begin with a deep, bassy ambient track that picks up a beat, and singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston layers up her vocals with a sampler. They seem to have their own little cosy vibe onstage, gently jostling against one another behind the synths and exchanging the odd word or glance during the songs. A few pockets near the stage are pulled to their feet by the bouncier, trancier tracks as the singer’s vocal melodies build over one another, rising above as the most important, organic-yet-modified sound in their arsenal. She sits down on the stage at one point, a playful dig at the crowd; most in the tent may have chosen to watch from a seated position, but the final reaction speaks volumes.
Around this time, the belly-top and tank-top clad crowd would see the hottest period for the weekend. As people lathere themselves in both booze and sun-cream, the turnout for Local Natives on the main-stage is rather impressive. You & I sees the half-sitting and half-dancing crowd sway along as Ryan Hahn leads the sunburned masses in this topsy-turvy tempo driven song. Hahn then declares that his keyboard, and only his keyboard, was lost traveling from Berlin over the weekend, leaving them desperate to find something similar to perform with. Hahn declares that “You know a man without a keyboard is like no man at all” before roaring “KEYBOARDS” and “IRELAND” to the crowd who duly repeat the words back in unison. Luckily for them, Villagers are on the same stage to lend keys to save the day. Taylor Rice then leads out Who Knows, Who Cares before the set finisher and highlight of the set, Sun Hands, booms out from the stage. The backdrop of blue over the floral Longitude branding on stage cuts an unusual presence, but one that both the crowd and Local Natives are glad came out for the closing and aptly named Sun Hands.
They’re certainly one of the more colourfully dressed bands we’ve seen, primary coloured and fresh faced in the marquee of the Woodlands Stage. Before they begin, a security man behind the barrier beckons everyone off the grass and signals for them to move closer to the stage – we still can’t figure out if there was a health & safety issue or if he just likes the band. The gig lifts off with a punky Bros early in the set, and this momentum is retained for You’re A Germ, with its nice, shouty call-and-response new wave style. “That was fun” says the guitarist – no arguments from us. The band move between slow burning, harmony layered songs to a more full-on garage style, and they seem taken aback at the full tent that has turned out for their set. They may well be reminiscent of a host of bands – particularly those of a 90’s bent – from The Bangles through The Breeders to Elastica, but what does that matter. Our guitar man called it right…this was fun.
A boisterous crowd has gathered at the front while most remain seated on the grass at the main stage, nicely atmospheric as smoke floats across it in the bright evening sun. From the intro of Given To The Wild onwards the band does their best to involve the crowd, and credit where it’s due, this is one of the most up-for-it crowds we’ve seen all weekend. Even a rubber doll, as yet unsullied it would seem, gets in on the act as The Maccabees progress through a set that only gains in momentum. It’s too hot to go too mad, so people give each other room to dance as the odd welcome breeze ripples through the crowd. Strobes pierce the smoke during Precious Time as the guitar solo builds effectively, moving to a new level with every moment. A Maccabee even gets a rousing version of Happy Birthday from the assembled at one point – it’s just one of those gigs where a band and a crowd connect effortlessly, and one that unexpectedly but markedly swells in good vibrations.
Villagers were one of the most anticipated acts for the day ahead and throngs of punters flock along to catch Conor et al perform at what must be their largest Irish crowd to date. It must be a nice feeling for Villagers, and Conor most specifically, that the Irish crowd by and large are now heralding them as the stunning live and recording act that they are. Nothing Arrived is the first track to catch the imagination and perfectly dresses itself to the perfect day on offer. The chugging and constant, yet subdued, tempo matches perfectly to the chilled-out vibe popping from the sun drenched crowd. The Bell, Becoming a Jackal and Earthly Pleasures make up a sublime section of this set that sees Conor release himself more than we have seen in the past. Sometimes, concentration can consume the band in their quest for perfection but maybe the sun, and maybe the crowd, aided this time around for this flawless set. Conor’s confidence is clearly on show as he faces up to the crowd and exudes charisma. He introduces the impressive band, including the red/orange (the debates rages on) pants wearing guitarist before closing out the set with Ship of Promises. For a band that are so incredible on their recorded output, the translation into the live setting is superb. As Conor leaves the stage he apologies for the “boring bit in the middle” – don’t worry Conor, we didn’t notice.
For many, the last time an Irish crowd could have caught these guys was at Oxegen, way back in 2010. So it seems apt that Oxegen’s cooler, younger and estranged cousin (Longitude) would see the guys return to headline the second day of this city festival. Drawing the strongest crowd of any headliner for the weekend, Vampire Weekend explode on to the stage with Cousins. The tempo does not drop for quite some time as Ezra Koenig and co. blasted through Diane Young, Holiday and Horchata as the crowd let loose in sunny style. The crowd do try and vocalise that summery and African-tinged guitar that Vampire Weekend have now come to own; they also try to imitate Ezra’s stereotypical inflections and lilts to mixed results. Every song, be it an album track or a lead single, receives the same bonkers reception as they pleasure the crowd with A-Punk and Oxford Comma. The band are also able to slow the tempo down (a little) for the delightful Giving Up the Gun, but even this receives a Vampire Weekend nuclear outro as they raise the volume up once more. The band exit the stage with everybody in little doubt of their return. Blake’s Got a New Face and Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa round off a pulsating set from a band that many presumed would be a flash in the pan back at Oxegen in 2010. While many around them have failed and faded into obscurity (well howdy, The Kooks), Vampire Weekend and their expansive brand of indie-pop is here to stay. Let’s just hope some lovely booker in Ireland snaps them up for another huge outdoor gig sometime soon as all in attendance will no doubt welcome them back with open arms.
Longitude – Saturday Photo Gallery
Photos: Owen Humphreys