Now in its third year, Forbidden Fruit has had to reinvent itself to keep up with the fluctuating Irish festival landscape, not on the scale of Oxegen, mind you, but enough to leave Kasabian and Primal Scream sitting uneasily atop the bill. The niche, the mainstream, the buzz-worthy and the heritage mingle in the rather beautiful confines of the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Kilmainham and State was on-hand to see how it all turned out. Here’s what we thought:
Austra – Undergrowth Stage, Sunday
Maybe it’s Frobidden Fruits’s more-hipster-than-most clientele, but there seems to be a fair amount of apathy between artists and audiences at the festival this year – the bands don’t give much and the crowds are hesitant to give much of anything back – but Austra, late on Sunday evening, truly break the stalemate. Their performance is all ethereal dance routines, three-part harmonies, flashing lights and tribal electronic pop, and it’s also a joy to watch. (George Morahan)
Chic – Original Stage, Sunday
As the crowds grow to watch Chic, and as is with nearly any party, the good times come with them. Nile Rodgers and band are on some sort of perpetual greatest hits tour which amongst its many benefits holds strength in showcasing some exemplary playing. Rodgers’ own sublime guitar licks are one half of the Chic centerpiece; the late Bernard Edwards’ bass-lines being the other. The latter duties are now carried out by Jerry Barnes but for the most part this performance was all about the songs and this is the second notable benefit of Chic’s raison d’etre; nearly everybody here knows these songs. Most of them are Chic’s (‘Le Freak’, ‘Good Times’, etc.) but Rodgers’ writing/producing credits are so extensive that ‘Let’s Dance’, ‘Upside Down’ and ‘He’s the Greatest Dancer’ etc. very much belong in Forbidden Fruit 2013’s preeminent set. (Steven Dunne)
Crystal Castles – Original Stage, Saturday
Alice Glass comes on stage with a microphone in one hand and a full shoulder of Jameson in the other. And for the next hour, Crystal Castles‘ roadies and the Original Stage’s security team look on unnerved, in constant dread of what she’ll do next. One has a near-fatal brush with a mic stand that is unthinkingly flung in his direction, while a hapless roadie is given a strenuous work-out cleaning up after Glass and making sure a baying crowd don’t consume her mid-performance. Such a fun set.
‘Plague’ and ‘Baptism’ are dispatched back to back and sound like a man being repeatedly punched in the face on an Ibiza dancefloor before ‘Wrath of God’ roars out of the speakers to instant gratification. ‘Crimewave’ coasts by on Glass’ emotive robot-voice for three minutes with two-thirds of HEALTH stood side of stage, while ‘Alice Practice’ is its ever-loveable mess of spasming 8-bit soundbites and Game Boy nostalgia. Glass, not for the first time, leaves the stage to meet her people, only she stops short and starts scrawling something in the ground with her microphone, leaving Ethan Kath and his lookalike on drums to bash out some impressively intricate noise.
Things die down after ‘Celestica’, as the band turn their attention to instrumentals, and the crowd is disappointed, but not as disappointed as Glass when she realises that she can’t pull out her own hair. A quick rendition of ‘Telepath’ and we’re done. No ‘Child, I Will Hurt You’, no ‘Courtship Dating’, but no problem when you’re watching a drunken toddler under loose supervision. (GM)
Cyril Hahn – Lighthouse Stage, Sunday
This is as close to karaoke at a festival as you will get. All your favourite songs, from Toro y Moi to Jessie Ware, remixed and blasted out of the speakers by one Cyril Hahn, and hey, it sounds pretty good. There are no new discoveries made as such but some kinda-new-old favourites are given their day in the sun. Destiny’s Child’s ‘Say My Name’ kicks thing up a notch, of course, when closing the set as the voices of Beyoncé, Kelly and Michelle are merged and submerged deeper and deeper. The manly, gargling omni-voice unlocks a greater yearning in the song and leaves the crowd dancing away to themselves, eyes closed and singing every word. (GM)
Daughter – Original Stage, Sunday
It’s a strange time for Daughter. They’re debut album, If You Leave, is only a few months old, but now festival season is upon us and their timid yet emotionally-fraught indie stylings have to get noticed amid the commotion of other bands. Essentially, they have to prove they can make themselves heard in congested arenas such as this, and they do a pretty good job of doing so here. It helps that the faithful is front and centre, spurring the band on and declaring their love between songs, but the music stands up for itself. Opener ‘Winter’ is home to some lush flecks from the guitars of Igor Haefeli and Elena Tonra while ‘Still’ follows it up with some thrilling loud-quiet-loud dynamics and Haefeli’s unorthodox use of a violin bow.
There are lulls in which Tonra smiles sheepishly and retracts into her shell, but ‘Human’ is reassuringly loud and possesses raw confidence. ‘Youth’ builds on the gains made by ‘Human’ and then ‘Landfill’ as the crowd sings back with intensity. The band are heartened, they might still pull this off. (GM)
Everything Everything – Original Stage, Sunday
It’s only been a couple of months since Everything Everything were last in Dublin, but they’ve tinkered with their set while they were away – and for the better. Though they number among their more famous songs, ‘Cough Cough’ and ‘MY KZ UR BF’ are deployed early on to great effect. Both have an infectious and, crucially, danceable energy that cuts through any initial band-crowd awkwardness. The deal is sealed with the pulverising ‘Suffragette Suffragette’, which inspires hip-shimmying, pogoing and even some moshing. Arc favourites such as ‘Duet’ and ‘Torso of the Week’ find a growing crowd in good voice, but ‘Kemosabe’ is today’s centrepiece. It’s all supersonic guitars and unreachable high notes, just a dizzying three minutes of indie-pop that shows that the Manchester band have learnt how to put their swelling arsenal of tunes to best use. (GM)