Longitude Festival 2013 at Marlay Park, Dublin on July 19th – 21st 2013
Not feeling the usual slog of a three-day festival, due to sleeping in our own lovely beds; Ros and Justin slapped the sunscreen on and looked forward to the day ahead. Considering the standard that Longitude had set itself on Friday and Saturday, the final day had a lot to live up to.
Thankfully, contrary to one passerby’s thoughts about this time slot on the timetable – “is this like, a whole set like, where like, they like, just say things like innit bruv, all the time like” – anyone in close proximity naturally face-palmed as the misinformed (to put it politely) gig-goer disappeared down the forest trail. Within moments of Hannah Reid and co. taking to the stage, it was soon obvious that the hype surrounding this trio is more than justified. Hey Now instantly captures the old-school flavour to Reid’s voice and boy can this girl sing. What also impresses is her suspense in not attacking notes and choruses, rather reservedly harnessing her voice in a slick and powerful manner. Strong does much the same, as the trio channel a sound more fitting to the 90’s; think Massive Attack with one main attraction – the voice. Dot Major and Dan Rothman keep everything running like clockwork from their respective positions, either side of Reid. It’s during Strong that the wooden guards on the tent-pillars can be heard pulsating from the tremendous amount of bass being outputted on stage. Wasting My Young Years builds into that dreamy crescendo before Metal and Dust becomes the perfect closer to an exhilaratingly fresh, withdrawn and laid-back set. Once again, due to the size of the crowd, expect to see London Grammar fill a venue back on Irish soil soon again.
It’s a big space for just two men to fill, but Japandroids kick off the main stage on Sunday afternoon, starting as they mean to go on – “That song was like a double espresso and two Tylenol!” Younger Us is dedicated to their last Workman’s Club visit, appropriately enough, before guitarist Brian King plays some ecstatic air drums along with David Prowse’s intro to The Nights Of Wine & Roses. Evil’s Sway contains “the only drum solo you’re gonna hear this weekend”, one we’ll want to tell our grandkids about – King’s talked it up a bit too much, though; it’s practically over as soon as it begins. There’s a sense of wild abandon to a Japandroids gig – both men rattle out the songs with conviction, and at times the tempo seems to involuntarily increase as they progress, such is the vigour with which they go at the job in hand. The set ends with King up on Prowse’s bass drum, as a small but dedicated crowd shouts approval.
East India Youth
The abiding memory of William Doyle, aka East India Youth, in the Heineken tent is the fantastic backdrop, a rolling vista of geometric shapes and lines. Unfortunately, the set just never seems to get into the gear that his recorded output seemed to promise. To be fair to Doyle, though, the early shifts in the tent have been of a similar slant all weekend, with people opting to lie on the grass rather than move closer or dance. As he begins his afternoon set, an ambient chime builds to a cacophony and then clears as the bass drum takes hold. He dons a bass guitar then for Heaven, How Long, throwing it all around him to wrench sounds that seem to get lost amongst the synthetic arrangements coming from his laptop. Ambient beats and vocals mix with more abrasive sounds throughout, and it’s a frequently interesting fusion, but there’s something about this particular gig that’s difficult to engage with. This seems like a set better suited to a small venue in a more forgiving time slot, far from the obtrusive sunlight and the languorous mood it provokes.
Hot Chip were back to Ireland to front up on the big Longitude stage, and we’re not sure if the Irish crowd had quite geared themselves up for the sheer amount of dancing involved in a Hot Chip set. From the very first beat to the very last, it was impossible not to tap your summer shoes and nod your sun-stroked head. One Life Stand became one of the first dance classics for the evening as the 7-strong band on stage played out what can only be described as some funk-ass shit. Night & Day follows a similar path but the lyrics become an almost summary of the scorching hot weekend that has been, as the crowd roar back – “Let’s sweat, let’s sweat (you know I’m thinking about you) night & day & night”. Over and Over becomes the anthem we all knew it would be before Ready for the Floor thrills the crowd as the final song of the set. Despite their sound evolving and progressing tenfold from this, one of their earlier tracks, they fully bring the minimalistic song into the festival arena and make it into a huge singalong anthem. Hot Chip, our feet hurt from dancing but god dammit was it fun.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
There’s no fear of missing Karen O on the cavernous main stage, decked head to toe in sparkling green as Yeah Yeah Yeahs open with Sacrilege on Sunday evening. The band, joined by an added bass player, takes a giddy run through all four albums while the singer goes about the showbiz routine of losing a clothing layer every so often. Drummer Brian Chase grabs the maracas for Mosquito, Nick Zinner moonlights on keys duties every so often, Karen O incites the crowd with foot on monitor action; the crowd need no real coaxing, though, in full voice for the Gold Lion “woohoo” refrain and particularly on Cheated Hearts. The singer passes the mic into the front rows during this, letting a few voices take control for a time. Zero is another one the crowd get behind, as is Despair, both with moving feet and voices. The party mood is already well underway before the giant inflatable eyeball appears from backstage and bounces over the crowd’s heads. Maps comes with a Happy Birthday interjection for…someone…until a suitably raucous Heads Will Roll sees one final mass air-punching moment in a spirited set.
Four keyboards sit lonely on stage. The festival buzz is at an all time high as the mass crowds look forward to sending this immaculate weekend off into the memory with style. The four German pioneers make their way to their perches and begin this expansive audio-visual trip. Robots becomes the first song to set the pulses racing as the huge 3D screens beam old-school animated imagery from behind the four lone men. A quick glance to either side and behind reveals an eery sight as the mass sunburned faces peer through the 3D glasses supplied to festival goers upon entry that afternoon. The Model brings us further through the back catalogue of Kraftwerk, an act who define a generation of music. They are to electronic music, as what a USB stick is to a computer – you simply wouldn’t have one without the other. By the time Autobahn is pumped out, anyone that you may have heard bemoan the set since Monday morning is now leaving the main arena, leaving everyone else to stare open-mouthed as the 3D elements come shooting towards the crowd. The experience is not like any other gig you might experience any time soon, it is musical art played out in the huge surroundings of Marlay Park. It could be said that this experience might work better while inside a more enclosed area (their art museum tour for instance) as some of the 3D graphics fail to live up to the expectation. It works in the same kind of way as when you head along to your local cinema for a 3D experience and only a few moments really stand out as anything special. At least on this day, you haven’t just paid over the odds for your ticket; you’ve already received a cracking day of music. But if you happen to love, appreciate and enjoy the music of Kraftwerk like so many do, this will be something that will live long in the memory. Computer Love and Boing Boom Tschak become the highlight of the set, where the visual and audio masterclass on offer blends so effortlessly together that you begin to forget that they did not always exist side by side when performed live. There was always going to be a mixed opinion on this festival super-headliner but one can’t help but think that what was witnessed was something extra special – a special end to the special weekend.
Longitude – Sunday Photo Gallery
Photos: Owen Humphreys