In terms of footfall, Forbidden Fruit 2017 immediately extends to us a bizarre dichotomy between its size and patronage. Entering the grounds of the RHK, there’s a noticeable swell in brightly-garbed, gurning youths peacocking around under rays of sunshine; far more so than the ‘too-much-of-a-good-thing’ crowd straggling outside the gates would suggest has landed here for Sunday’s proceedings. It’s all rather striking – a beautiful, historic space transformed so colourfully into a swirling carnival of cocktails, face-paint, and, for today anyway, a dance music haven of sorts with a hell of a lot packed in to a tight area.
Getting between stages is swift and effortless, the tents housing the Outcider Stage and Bulmers Live Stage are positioned in such a way that commuting today (notably to the main stage) isn’t the gruelling trek to be experienced at festivals larger in scale. In fact, it serves as an opportunity for some prime people-watching, and as boundless hordes of attendees intersperse, all smiles and hand-slaps, it’s encouraging to see the peripheral areas quickly fill up with bonafide music lovers, instead of the sesh-heads who have peaked too early and relegated themselves to vomit on the sidelines. Scenes, yeah?
Our first taste of Sunday’s weighty lineup is Soule, who commands the Bulmers Live stage from the off with her brand of infectious, future RnB and electronica. A showcase for 100% homegrown talent, this area will host some of the best and brightest Irish artists today, and we’re more than happy to return to catch Bad Bones’ intense, bleep-heavy performance. Visually striking, Bad Bones has grown from strength to strength and will no doubt become a festival stalwart this summer and beyond.
In between, Kink provides a driving, four/four set that seems to build up a crowd that’s understandably wavering at that time of the day. Analogue excursions reign supreme and via heavy leaning on the electronics he’s brought in tow, it’s an enjoyable taste of what’s to come later in the evening with Moderat, albeit in a slightly leaner fashion.
The lineup breakdown over the course of the three days is geared towards those who like to pack in as much as possible and offers little in the way of annoying overlaps. There’s space to take in amusing spectacles; drinks flung merrily from amusement rides and the snaking, shaking queues forming around the various bars and eateries pocketing RHK. It’s in these sun-drenched, muggy moments that makes you appreciate how well put-together Forbidden Fruit is. That being said, we’re too wrapped up in the festivities to give Mura Masa the attention they clearly command, but the noise they’re making travels well (a little too well, but we’ll get to that in a bit…).
As the day goes on, the grounds seem to be bursting at the fences and it can be overwhelming trying to find some space to breathe. Thankfully, our earlier observation remains accurate and the outlying tents take the brunt of the populace away from the Main Stage, where Nicolas Jaar offers a set of slow burning glitch and ambient synth melodies. At times slightly harder in edge than we’ve come to expect from Jaar, his vocal contributions are a welcome addition to his experimental, esoteric selection. There’s a clear lull in atmosphere as he closes down for the night, and rather than twiddle thumbs an exodus en masse drives crowds towards the intrusive beats rolling across from Motor City Drum Ensemble and Maceo Plex in the tented arenas.
Not that the music being played is unwelcome, it’s just unfortunate that the layout – while handy for getting around – doesn’t do much for the grounds’ acoustics. Thumps butt in from all directions, and though it wasn’t as apparent during Jaar’s set, it becomes taxing when when attempting to focus all attention on one artist. Still, the time has come for today’s main spectacle, the one and only Aphex Twin, who after what seems like a lifetime of stage and screen setup, begins blasting out complex syncopated rhythms and glitchy breakbeats to a crowd that has grown considerably larger in all of twenty minutes. It’d surprise us if there were any left on the outskirts, as a sea of heads roll and follow the hallucinogenic visuals that warp the crowd and show them mutated versions of themselves.
It’s a strange set. Ranging from breakneck rhythms and cutting, angular electronica, there are distinct elements of older material that are bent out of shape and reformed into brutal noise. It all kind of feels a little lost in this field that has quickly become drenched in rain, and you can’t help but feel that if these visuals, and this music, was played in a huge indoor space – a hangar or a warehouse – it would work so much better. But considering State’s Sunday trip was centred around seeing Richard D James do his thing, it’s been a pleasure. Considerably more so for young Ryan Wyer we’re sure, Aphex’s youngest collaborator who makes a celebratory appearance as the set winds down to near silence. And with that, it’s back to reality. I mean, it’s only 10.45pm.