WITH Forbidden Fruit, Body & Soul and a load of outdoor gigs already consigned to the memory bank and blurry Facebook photos, this year’s festival season is chugging along nicely.
And as we near the season’s halfway mark, we’ve got out sights on Marlay Park in Dublin for the third edition of Longitude. The weekender at Marlay Park is the youngest of the big-budget festivals, and after doing the business for two years already, it’s set to be a keeper.
Coming seemingly out of nowhere in 2013, Longitude tapped into the market of slightly refined festival fans who want the greenery, big tops and sunset headliners, without having to go feral in a weekend of wet wipes and washing their teeth with beer can dregs. With Kraftwerk as headliners and a line-up featuring Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Foals, Vampire Weekend, Gold panda and Totally Extinct Dinosaurs, Longitude set its stall out from day one as a real crossover affair — quality left-field acts without getting too wilfully obscure.
Last year the techno and house element was ramped up, with the likes of John Talabot, Julio Bashmore and Mano Le Tough a few standouts among main stage headliners Ben Howard, Massive Attack and Disclosure in the middle of their all-conquering year. This year we’ve got another three bankable acts as headliners — with Hozier’s name already etched on the trophy of Irish act who’s ruled the last 12 months, with home crowds and US fans lapping up his moody blues.
The Chemical Brothers are another safe bet, playing two decades’ worth of solid club and crossover festival classics, and one of the most spectacular visual shows of the season, as showcased at Glastonbury a few weeks ago.
On paper, tomorrow’s headliner Alt-J’s subtle shimmery indie and delicate ebbs and flows may be a hard sell after Caribou’s celebratory house set, but the trio had no trouble filling out the 3Arena last September. Still, I’m laying money on a mass exodus to see Glasgow glitch king Hudson Mohawke (above) finish off the Heineken stage.
Elsewhere, there isn’t much segregation between guitar acts and bleeps on the main stage, as Le Galaxie, Little Dragon, Metronomy, Jungle and James Blake add to the light and shade, as well as the dedicated Heineken and Red Bull dance stages. The Whelan’s Live is also returning this year, with headliners Nick Mulvey, Wolf Alice and Girl Band — in a cruel clash with Caribou tomorrow, for me.
Young Fathers (Friday)
Edinburgh trio Young Fathers have been reductively called a rap act, but they’ve been stumping critics for years — more so after their Mercury Prize win.
With a debt to TV on the Radio, Roots Manuva, Neu! and the grimiest dub and dancehall, they rein it all in and stop it derailing with a sense of urgency, genuine pop wit and a live show with all the dials up to 10.
Dan Snaith is double-dropping tomorrow — playing jackin’ house late afternoon with his Daphni hat on, then hitting the main stage with Caribous at dusk.
Caribou sank a flag on the Irish festival landscape at Forbidden Fruit 2011, and they’ve been a fixture ever since, with home runs at the Picnic and Body & Soul.
Since 2001, Caribou has evolved from insular laptop electronica and sonic collages, to off-the-grid joyous house on albums Swim and Our Love.
And Wimbledon may be over, but you can still get your kicks when Snaith and his band show up in their
all-white clobber — one of the defining live images of the last few years.
GIRL BAND (Saturday)
Girl Band Band have been ‘ones to watch’ for a few years now, and with their debut album ready to drop on Rough Trade soon, they’re about to claim 2015.
Distilling the best bits of post-punk and industrial from the last few decades, their glitchy percussive guitar slashes recall The Pop Group, Jesus Lizard, Big Black and PiL, with a militarist techno edge.
Their LP Holding Hands With Jamie is due in September, and hopefully we’ll get some new tracks tomorrow to keep us going till then.
No one wants a full-on grunge revival, but left in the hands of Drenge it’s not such a dirty word.
Undertow, album two from brothers Eoin and Rory Loveless, fleshes out their earlier ragged guitar-drums racket with bass and a sinister psychedelic edge.
As for the grunge nods, they’re not into the earnest chest-beating that ruined everything — they take the Sabbath blueprint with hints of Dinosaur Jr skuzz and a sneer worthy of cult psychobilly act Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster.
Chemical Brothers (Sunday)
WE thought we were sick of the Chemical Brothers after years of Hey Boy/Hey Girl overkill and a sense that their indie collaborations
were running out of steam.
But watching their Glastonbury set knocked that pretentious idea sideways, as they tore through 20 years of crossover tracks that helped steer club culture through the 90s and beyond.
Ed is taking a time out, but Tom and Ed’s live replacement has all the tools on hand.
Original version in Irish Star