by / June 4th, 2014 /

Festival: Forbidden Fruit – What State Saw

It’s not really summer until the festival season kicks in and last weekend’s Forbidden Fruit got things underway in style. State will bring you coverage of events across the country throughout the coming months, starting with what our team got up to in the green fields of Kilmainham. As ever, we delved deep to find the cream of the crop from top to bottom….

2 Many DJs – Original Stage (Sunday)

Eclectic, schizophrenic sounding set lists, big on good times and bouncing tunes, yup you know what you’re getting when you’re at a 2 Many DJs show. If there’s one thing that festival life has taught us, and it probably is only the one thing, it’s that you can’t beat the sight, or indeed the partaking in, of collectively grooving and getting yer dance on with a couple of thousand strangers communing under the summer’s starry skies. After a day of what was a predominantly dance/electronic outing it seems like the most logical and fitting way to raise a parting glass of the apple flavoured alcoholic juice to Forbidden Fruit and another successful outing. 2 Many DJs? Me thinks not. (Philip Dunne)

dOP – Lighthouse Stage (Sunday)

As the rest of the festival patrons are getting their good time boogie kicks at 2 Many DJs or partaking in a spot of hipster pop at Wild Beasts, the driving house beats and techno squelches leaking out from the Lighthouse Stage are drawing what’s left of the remaining and more discerning late night stragglers like moths to a smouldering disco inferno. dOP, the French electronic trio, deliver a set tinged in deep house and funky jams with some sweet assed soulful vocals laid down on top. They have the advantage of having a live vocalist which gives the growing audience a focal point missing from many of the day’s previous electronic acts. They’re an outfit that I hadn’t caught before and were a personal highlight of the day, a timely reminder, as if one was needed, as to why we put ourselves through the trials and tribulations of a festival going summer. (PD)

Flying Lotus – Undergrowth Stage (Saturday)

LA beatmaker Flylo lets out the first bars of music as the amazing ‘Layer 3’ visual show gets underway. With a screen behind him and another transparent screen in front, he is encapsulated in the space between the two with his laptop and MPD. In a similar vain to Pfadfinderei’s visuals for Moderat’s February gig at Vicar Street, the doubled up screens allows for an amazing 3D effect unlike any you’ve seen before. While the images at the Moderat gig were static, the images here are a fully animated mix of geometric patterns, floating jellyfish, stars and more. It really has to be seen to be believed but the visuals are so entrancing that they supersede Flylo’s music, with the audience cheering with each change and half of them holding up their cameras trying to take a bit of the experience home. That said, there are plenty of glitchy beats from his diverse back catalogue to the party hopping. (Dave Desmond)

Fuck Buttons – Undergrowth Stage (Saturday)

This starts as an almost overwhelming attack on the eardrums as relentless distorted chords create a wall of sound amidst processed screams and industrial percussion. All the while two cameras at the front of the stage feed the duo’s digitized image onto the psychedelic backdrop behind them. As the gig progresses, the pulsating rhythms, drones and noise eventually give way to more melodic moments, with their newer material bringing us somewhat closer to understanding their mysterious nature. Songs like ‘The Red Wing’ with its slow, driving beat get the crowd moving their feet while its infectious groove allows the mind to zone out to the visuals. ‘Olympians’ tops things off nicely, providing an almost euphoric contrast to the filth and grit of some of the heavier tracks. (DD)

Gold Panda – Undergrowth Stage (Sunday)

As the day’s first cold beers and ciders are hitting the right spots with the festival goers and Kimainham’s manicured surroundings are warming to Sunday’s vibe, Derwin Schlecker takes to the Undergrowth Stage. There’s not much visually to engage with as he gets to work mixing up the beats, melodies and bowel loosening bass lines. But aurally there’s plenty to keep crowd going as he lays on a set spanning from 2010’s Lucky Shiner album up to last year’s Half Of Where You Live. Tracks like ‘You’, ‘Junk City II’, ‘Flinton’ are played with added whump in the 4/4 giving the early doors ravers something to get their dancing chops into. The set ebbs and flows through boppy joyous choons like a chilled out babbling brook in which the mid-afternoon revellers dip their dancing toes. Good sustenance for the long haul ahead. (PD)

Kid Karate – Lighthouse Stage (Saturday)

Now a trio thanks to bassist Ian McFarlance (of Squarehead and Tieranniesaur), there’s some added shading to Kid Karate’s balls-out garage-rock stomp. It’s a small tent but the people in it are jumping and shouting along with every song. Sure, it’s a bit derivative but when done well, there are few types of music more invigorating and exciting. It’s loud, it’s fun, and there’s not much more you can ask for. Fair play. (George Morahan)

Lisa O’Neill – Original Stage (Saturday)

Lisa O’Neill is used to performing to a few hundred people, but they’re usually packed into one small room rather lying down and spread out grassy amphitheatres like the one in front of FF’s main stage. “I don’t know how to talk to you because you’re so far away”, she admits, so she continues on like this is just the next stop on her tour of Ireland’s intimate venues. Each song is prefaced with a story about its inspiration and origins. Not only are they enlightening but charming as well, and the smallish crowd at her feet is attentive while still able to relax in 21-degree heat.

Her voice may be divisive but it is beguiling, cracking and soaring in a way that doesn’t sound inauthentic, much like her storytelling, which touches on makeshift Elvis dummies and the last wishes of a dying uncle. Her personality comes through on songs such as the sumptuous ‘Elvis, I Gave You Irish Stew’ and the low-key protest of ‘No Train to Cavan’. Naturally, such quiet beauties are undermined by noise from other stages but that’s the risk you run when bringing a conversational style to a rhetorical arena. (GM)

Little Dragon – Original Stage (Sunday)

Contrary to an ominous weather forecast and looming clouds, the sun finally shines down on the main stage for Little Dragon’s set. With much of the material taken from their most recent album Nabuma Rubberband, Yukimi Nagano does her best to engage with the crowd but unfortunately much of the sound seems to get lost on the wind, which detracts greatly from the performance. And while songs like ‘Nabuma Rubberband’ and ‘Let Go’ are performed perfectly, one can’t help but wonder why they weren’t programmed for the Undergrowth Stage at the same time, allowing Public Enemy to take to the main stage to much greater effect. (DD)

Nils Frahm – Undergrowth Stage (Saturday)

Putting Nils Frahm in a tent adjacent to a really loud rock band over at the Lighthouse Stage probably wasn’t the best move in programming history, and while the heavy drums and guitar riffs from outside do seem to put him off at first, he soon captivates the crowd with his melodic, droning compositions. After testing the water with a subtle piano piece on the upright he decides to skip another quiet number and goes straight into his most popular track ‘Says’. Amazing shiver inducing drones finally raise the volume levels enough to drown out the chatter and noise from outside. Other new compositions mimic the echoing arpeggiators of ‘Says’ while Nils drums out percussive patterns on the Rhodes on one hand while manipulating his Juno 60 and Roland Space Echo with the other. After a flurry of deconstructed synth noise, the gig ends in an epic piano piece, played on the Steinway Concert Piano, including a brief drum solo played with mallets against the piano strings. From adversity to the most spellbinding turn of the weekend. (DD)

Public Enemy – Undergrowth Stage (Sunday)

Judging by the proliferation of Public Enemy t-shirt wearing, balding, beer bellied, former B Boys wandering the arena from the get go, Chuck D and co are one of the Sunday’s biggest draws. Given that the last time they played a festival here (Electric Picnic 2011) they headlined the Electric Arena on the Saturday night, it was a bit of a puzzler as to why they were scheduled so early on in the day’s proceedings. After a prolonged soundcheck-come-hypeman build up, the band take to the stage amid their trademark clarion call of blaring sirens; sea of clenched fists pumping into the air to welcome New York’s finest. PE bring the noize and they bring it hard, hitting us fast and heavy as they take us on a whistle stop tour of their back catalogue.

Chuck D and Flavor Flav trade rhymes over DJ Lord’s wheels of steel as Professor Griff and the S1W play out their militaristic manoeuvres to the heaving crowd to the soundtrack of hits like; ‘911’, ‘You Got Game’ and a raucous and righteous ‘Fight the Power’. By the time we’ve traded one last “Yeah boizzzzzzzzzz” with Flav and given the S1W one last fist pump salute, the panto-hip-hop party masquerading as a Black Power rally has sated our inner B’boy and we exit the tent back on the hunt for our next festival kick. (PD)

The Notas – Lighthouse Stage (Saturday)

Tasked with opening the smallest stage at Forbidden Fruit, the Notas continue to grow in front of our eyes. Attracting tens of early birds to the Lighthouse, the multinational five-piece ease through the motions with some mood, atmospheric rock. The music borders on sparse, it borders on epic but apart from Maurice Hans vocals, which are deep and full of foreboding, there’s little that really grabs at you in the early going. That changes with the last three songs. The music sounds big for one thing, and the ears are filled with drum rolls and ghostly synths. While it sounds driven and energetic, you can still hear the sound of Foals and the xx in the Notas. Undertones of longing and slinky calypso beats mesh rather well, making this a rather promising set all told. (GM)

Thundercat & Captain Murphy – Undergrowth Stage (Saturday)

When Thundercat played at the Sugar Club in 2013 it was without a doubt one of the best gigs of the year. Unfortunately this time round there seems to be issues with the visuals, more than likely caused by the set up for Flying Lotus’s 3D show that’s coming next. The lack of spotlights on the band gives the show a sort of school concert feeling, with the only lights shining into the crowd and almost blinding us at regular intervals. The sound is poor too, with Bruner’s bass lost badly in the mix and the backing vocals almost entirely inaudible. When Captain Murphy, aka Flying Lotus, finally turns up the visuals finally get going and the vibe completely changes. He arrives on stage with a bottle of Jameson, offering swigs to the rest of the band and finishes the gig off by coming down to the crowd, exchanging quips and spitting rhymes as the place begins to heave. A glorious ray of evening sunshine gleams through the side door as the gig comes to an end. (DD)

Warpaint – Original Stage (Sunday)

Another odd choice of programming with Warpaint belonging either in a tent or else not until darkness has settled on the outdoor stage. Their blend of dark, whoozy rock is mesmerizing nonetheless as the two main vocalists Theresa Wayman and Emily Kokal trade off and alternate between keyboards and guitars. Jenny Lee Lindberg’s hypnotic basslines provide the perfect backdrop for haunting vocal harmonies while electronic snippets of sampled percussion fill out the sound. As the dusk begins to settle the place starts to fill up and the sound begins to take hold. Another fine performance but possibly a little lost on the audience today. (DD)

Wild Beasts – Undergrowth Stage (Sunday)

While 2 Many DJs play the hits on the main stage, Wild Beasts offer a more intimate send off to the weekend in the Undergrowth Stage, curated by Hidden Agenda. Hits like ‘The Fun Powder Plot’, ‘The Devil’s Crayon’ and ‘Hooting and Howling’ are all enough to keep the crowd enthralled while Thorpe’s theatricality commands attention, his voice in stark contrast to Tom Fleming’s as they take turns at the mic. Against protests from the stage crew, Thorpe gives the crowd the encore they’re chanting for, saying “Let’s get heavy” before launching into ‘All the Kings Men’. A solid show to finish out the weekend. (DD)

Young Knives – Lighthouse Stage, Saturday

They haven’t been seen in a long time but with every passing album Young Knives further outgrow their original “Mark from Peep Show: the Band” schtick. All the anger and frustration has come to the surface. Where once there were buttoned-up suits and ties to hold them back, the trio now start their sets with psychedelic wigs-out. They have embraced their weirdness. Always a dexterous rock band, there are hammering guitars aplenty and moments of feeble-hearted indie to fall back on. At their best, however, they reach bruisingly melodic heights and match them with Marquee Moon-esque riffs. There’s still time for the odd chorus of “Now they’re suffocating on their own shit”. As ‘The Decision’ makes clear, the band have come a long way. It sounds rougher but still out of place. There are moments of almost disturbing rage, and there’s little stylised or tame about Young Knives these days. This is the look and sound of a band that are done with smiling politely. (GM)

Photo: Ste Murray