Gig Reviews Music Reviews

Music | Review: Longitude Festival 2014

Tourist on the Heineken Stage at Longitude Festival 2014.
Tourist on the Heineken Stage at Longitude Festival 2014.

Sunshine brought good vibes to festival goers at Longitude in Dublin’s Marlay Park this weekend.  The three-day no camping festival is like a mix of Electric Picnic and Forbidden Fruit, the audience are an eclectic bunch when it comes to their taste in music, most of which you wouldn’t entirely see among the Top 40 charts, but would still feature acts that do pop up in that genre occasionally.

Friday 

The first day’s highlights belonged to George Ezra on the Main Stage, who played a fantastic set to a huge audience early in the afternoon, which is a big step for the man given he only played The Sugar Club in late 2013.

Bombay Bicycle Club were on many people’s lists heading into the festival, they also didn’t disappoint,  but their new album provided crowd pleasing songs to ease their winning formula to the masses.

Slightly underrated was Bipolar Sunshine in the Whelan’s 25 tent.  Following some substantial acclaim after his Liverpool Sound City appearance, the UK artist held his own to an almost new fanbase.

Elsewhere…Bonobo, Bastille, Parquet Courts and I Am The Cosmos proved popular around the arena.  However Elliphant seemed to disappoint, with many leaving the Whelan’s 25 stage possibly due to raw and sheer loudness of the band/stage which was beyond deafening.

Headline act Ben Howard was one of the final acts on the night apart from previously mentioned Bonobo, playing some new material from his upcoming album, but the audience wanted to hear the hits from début ‘Every Kingdom’.  There were lulls in his set, too many perhaps for those wanting to end the night on a high.

Saturday

The day was a complete sell out for both Weekend and Day Ticket holders.  The clouds may have hidden the sunshine, but the heat kept creeping through.  As with any good festival line up, there will be clashes and today was an example of that.  So stage hopping was must.

Tvvins kicked things off on the Main Stage as they returned to Marlay Park for the first time since their opening slot at Arcade Fire’s headline show back in June.  Lar and Conor’s mix of vocoder indie rock was welcome with it’s ambient beats and intense stage presence.

Eagulls wowed many looking for some good rock to shake any hungover feelings from the night before.  The Whelan’s 25 seeing it’s modest amount of audiences at this stage.  And let’s face it, the line up there was going from strength to strength with NoNoNo, San Fermin, and O Emperor followed.

Stand out sets of Saturday were down to most of the Main Stage I’m afraid, especially Hozier who gave his next door neighbour an unforgettable birthday shout-out.  Every thing the Wicklow songwriter did was cheered and applauded, with previous single ‘From Eden’ getting the biggest one.

The 1975s Matt Healy seemed to just fine despite citing ‘lack of sleep’ throughout the performance.  Their sound just blows the crowd away everytime, their Rock with Pop sensibilities relates to the average Longitude reveller.

Sam Smith may have seemed a little out-of-place, but later joined Disclosure on the Main Stage for ‘Latch’.  Much of Disclosure’s set didn’t seem to get anyone going, proving once again that most of the people here want the big tracks, the singalongs, and the good times with non-repetitive beats.  It’s the fickle end of stick for festival setlists unfortunately.

Many seemed to give the excellent Chvrches a pass by deciding to watch from the bars before returning for Haim, who fell victim to the only slight downpour of the whole day.

On first arrival, the Heineken Stage seemed a ghost town for the Disclosure masses, but by the time Le Galaxie hit the stage, the tent was almost brimming with fans new and old.  A notable part of their set was the opening tracks ‘Humanise’ and ‘Love System’ which got the crowd pumped.

Sunday

On the final day, much of what has been taken in from the festival is that scheduling is key.  The Main Stage is made up of a largely laid-back, fall asleep in the grass with your friends sort of line up.  First Aid, Banks, James Vincent McMorrow, and Massive Attack all fit that image, but somewhere in the middle is the high-energy Rudimental, a bit bizarre as everyone seems to be in an anti-climatic state when the Dublin native McMorrow comes on stage after.

Longitude Festival is the smaller version of it’s sister festival Latitude in the UK, channeling the same style too, an arena where the signs and tents are boutique, the crowd chilled, and the weather nothing short of perfect for mid July.

We Cut Corners were far better from when they played another festival set recently.  They did admit at one point during their set that they ‘saw Haim last night, we just lost our sh*t”, which might explain why their very happy to be opening the Main Stage for those who arrived early.  A cover of Kanye West’s ‘Bound 2’ rolls into their own ‘This Then’.  Sounding top-notch through most of their set, it was surprising that some of their songs ‘Blue’ and ‘YKK’ from latest record ‘Think Nothing’ didn’t get a better reaction.  Highlight of the whole show was their cover of The Beatles ‘Helter Skelter’.

Canvas competition winner Rosa Kearns opened the Whelan’s 25 stage with a wonderful version of Weezer’s ‘Say It Ain’t So’.  The tent is a bit empty at 2pm on a Sunday, but by the time Kearns finishes her set with some of her own songs and a cover of ‘You’ve Got The Love’, there is a healthy crowd gathered to watch the stand alone figure hold her own.

Kya La Grange is aptly named given we’re on the edge of the Grange Road, a more than half full tent at the Heineken Stage seem to blow the young singer away with her band doing their best to give a big performance.  There is a feeling that they weren’t expecting this size of a crowd, but it all goes down well, especially ‘Cut Your Teeth’.

Marius Lauber, aka Roosevelt follows on the same stage, again the tent is almost full, the music is summery sunday indie pop and his track ‘Elliott’ is standout amongst a set that could at times sound like one huge Joseph Gordon-Levitt movie.  It is really dance music for those who just want to sway from side to side with Dutch lager or other tipple in hand.

Elsewhere…Otherkin were in keeping with the noise-rock and loud Whelan’s 25 area.  Julio Bashmore and New Jackson offered something of a getaway for those who weren’t fans of Massive AttackJames Vincent McMorrow was a bit special seeing as a hometown favourite is the second last act on, but everyone sits down, a totally different vibe here compared to the Disclosure set on the same stage the night before.

Dirty Old Town Speakeasy

Guitar playing showcase, comedy, and just about everyting inbetween, the Dirty Old Town Speakeasy  is nestled across from the Whelan’s 25 tent, and beside the ‘rave in the woods’ atmosphere of the Red Bull Music Academy.  Unless you’re in the tent itself, you can’t hear much of it outside in the deck chairs or converted caravans.  Republic of Telly’s Kevin McGahern seemed to slide in unnoticed during Saturday’s line up, while the roots and bluesy rock of B & The Honey Boy stood out on Sunday.

Red Bull Music Academy Stage

If you’re looking to hideaway from the main stays of Longitude’s arena, then Red Bull Music Academy is one those places to do so.  Full of DJ’s including the excellent Mano Le Tough, Somadrone, and Shane Linehan.  The decor is a small stage beside the stream, away from the Red Bull bar and laid out amongst the bark and tree stumps for chairs.  The vintage radios hanging from the trees are also nice to look at, an unsual feature.

Heineken Sound Atlas

Another retreat to take a break and have fun, with a  free photo booth for passport sized photos, a ping-pong table, chalkboard walls and it’s own bar, the Sound Atlas area is popular all weekend.  The only times the pop up area emptied was when big acts like Disclosure or Rudimental would take to the Main Stage.

TXFM Tent

Last but not least, radio station TXFM were just left of the main arena.  Small but popular, the music was good when band’s were setting up.  A great spot for up close interviews with Bombay Bicycle Club, We Cut Corners, and James Vincent McMorrow to name a few.