Metropolis returned to the RDS this year, boasting art installations, conversations and an eclectic line-up spread across its many function spaces right in the heart of Ballsbridge.
Though not quite able to replicate the exciting roster of previous years-Todd Terje and DJ Jazzy Jeff were delectable if not safe replacements for 90s RnB heavyweights, TLC while Jungle and their one album to date have worn out the festival circuit for the time being-the festival was still able to brag a diverse and attractive mixture of artists.
Reverting back to a 2-day event (last year began with an opening party on the Thursday headlined by DJ Shadow on the eve of the anniversary of his seminal 1996 album, ‘Endtroducing’), Metropolis allowed students and professionals alike to relax on the Friday before taking a leap down the rabbit hole on Saturday.
Despite an impressive headline appearance from Leftfield who played ‘Leftism’ that day, Sunday sold by far the more tickets, which draws into question just who their target market is (Leftfield attracted predominantly 30-40 year olds seeking a nostalgia trip in the form of the 1995 dance classic Leftism).
Yet with an increasing thirst for the rave-filled days of the 90s (Dave Clarke and Kerri Chandler have both experienced resurgences in recent times for example), surely there was a pull for this decade’s generation too who flocked in their thousands on the Sunday.
Saturday’s sales were made all the more unusual considering Sunday’s clash with Barn Dance’s Dawn of the Dead in Wicklow and with Halloween looming large on Tuesday. Perhaps, by saving going out until Sunday, this enabled revellers to go out on Friday and maximise the bank holiday weekend.
But alas, enough sales analysis. More about the music.
Mount Kimbie stand firmly at the intersection of dance culture and the indiesphere. The duo-formed in London-seasoned a sound dubbed post-dubstep in the early noughties with EPS, ‘Maybes’ and ‘Sketch of Glass’ as well as studio albums, ‘Crooks and Lovers’ and 2013’s ‘Cold Spring Fault Less Youth’. Furthermore, songs like Sullen Ground and Bells_5 even incorporated techno into their oeuvre.
After a period touring individually with DJ sets, they performed at the Warehouse Stage last year for the festival’s opening party to support the aforementioned DJ Shadow, teasing new material in the process. That night’s most identifiable tune, Delta, a driving krautrock epic was joined this year by ten equally as brilliant numbers in the form of the Warp-accredited ‘Love what Survives’.
They revisited the Warehouse stage, this time for the unflattering 18:00-19:00 slot, which granted them just enough time to promote their new album as well as songs from their previous two. Joint-frontman, Kai Campos joked that they were surprised to be welcomed back after performing a “stinker” the previous year. But the truth is, the band could actually be more proud of that show.
A lot of this wasn’t necessarily their fault however-an hour was far too limiting for their now sizeable output of-let it be mentioned-fantastic music. And even at that, their album has only been out for less than two months so they could be afforded some leeway. Nevertheless, it just felt too detached from their show, one far more fleeting than the profile they create. The sound quality didn’t help while time constraints led to their set feeling rushed. But you couldn’t help but be reminded that they’d been away for a while and needed to rediscover their confidence and fluidity.
Mount Kimbie will find their formula once more-some songs fell flat next to eachother while their vocals-though always more languid than gaudy-could do with a little dusting off of the cobwebs. Despite this, you could never really expect Dominic Maker to reach the heights of King Krule on You Took your Time-who features on the studio version of that song-for example.
And musically, not much could be faulted. Made to Stray sounds as euphoric as it did when it first came out. And coalesced with frenetic squelching sounds, came an extra enjoyable element to it. T.A.M.E.D. meanwhile provided one of the biggest sing-alongs of the weekend-not bad for a song only making its debut into our ears at the start of September.
Andrea Ballecy, in addition-who accompanied them during their show last time out-can feel very happy with her performance of the wonderful new single, You Look Certain (I’m not so Sure). So Many Times, So Many Ways, finally also slotted in rather nicely, leaving ‘CSFLY’ where ‘Love What Survives’ took off.
Overall, their shows need improvement. This came off far too weak. Not irrecoverable by any stretch though. That being said, it’s a shame they hadn’t got more warm-up shows under their belt and been given more than an hour after most people would have had their dinner to show what they were capable of.
Very much putting in a flawless performance at the Main Stage however was 20-year old Wicklow-raised, Bonzai.
The Mura Masa collaborator has put in quite the shift in the last couple of years, releasing three EPS, a couple of standalone singles as well as organising her own showcase at District 8 earlier in March. And this has obviously put her in good stead because Bonzai’s performance was one that fully belied her years, evoking memories of a fully-fledged Missy Elliott or Little Simz.
Her energy and enthusiasm is infectious and can’t help but make you shimmer with delight at her undoubted accelerating trajectory. She beamed with a playfulness and confidence which fully enthralled you. And this was showcased best on the trap-infused infused Doses and KBG.
When she invited the crowd onstage for a dance, it felt like a celebration. A celebration knowing that deep down this was a breakthrough moment for her. Bonzai, with her gliding melodies and vivacious chopped vocals has every making of a future pop star, one that appeals to the dance head, the RnB head and every head in between in equal measure. A triumphant outing indeed.
Signing the Warehouse Stage off in style was techno general Richie Hawtin. The venue was teeming with people wanting to experience the cavernous uplift of the Canada-based producer and DJ’s unique blend of ambient house and Detroit Techno.
Made more abrasive for the occasion, this set was both transcendent and hypnotic in equal measure, sending the raver on a sonorous spiral of intoxication yet always making sure to keep them at one with their friends and their sanity.
This was 4/4 debauchery at its finest and a marvellous finish to…well, a decent day at Metropolis.