In just its second year of existence Metropolis at the RDS still holds an air of mystique for Dublin’s festival goers. Being an indoor event it also shelters revellers from the unforgiving Irish weather that so often dampens the mood of even our summer festivals.
Thursday night’s proceedings are technically classed as an opening party rather than an official full day of the festival. Only one of the halls is open with just three acts on between 7.30pm and 11.30pm. It may not sound too enticing on its own but if you’ve bought a ticket for the whole weekend and don’t mind a bit of a groggy head in work on Friday morning it’s a nice little bonus. With the RDS being fairly accessible from most parts of Dublin we can see Metropolis going from strength to strength over the next couple of years.
On to the line-up as Thursday evening kicks off, the doors open at seven and Kormac takes to the stage at half past. With a set consisting of a nice mix of DJing, accompanied by a live drummer and even a guest vocalist, there’s an interesting dynamic throughout. Often a live DJ set can fall into the cycle of mix-a-bit, pump the crowd up, mix-a-bit, pump the crowd up, but it’s not an accusation you could level at Kormac, who will also go on to play an excellent set at his after party in the Button Factory later on.
Next on stage are Mount Kimble – another mix of live and electronically programmed instruments. The band insists on switching instruments after every song which takes away any chance they have of gathering momentum with the crowd. With vocals so heavily effect-laden, they could have been coming from the bottom of a tinfoil well; all a bit middle of the road. Toward the end of their performance we hear a young woman enthuse “Atmosphere’s kinda dead though, isn’t? C’mon everybody!! Keep it lit!!” failing to realise the issue is actually getting it lit in the first place.
There’s a break of about half an hour before the crowd really start to pour in for DJ Shadow. It’s a fairly diverse cross section, the odd late teen to twenty-something face with pill-sunk cheeks but predominantly thirty something dance heads too conservative to delve back into the underground rave culture they were once immersed in. They still love the tunes but they’ve swapped the individual cans and a smell of piss for six euro pints and fire safety regulations, like switching from skydiving to abseiling.
As for DJ Shadow himself, the set is a little flat. In this particular hall the crowd is spread out quite wide in relation to the stage so DJ Shadow’s light show fails to have the desired effect on the majority, leaving us largely unmoved throughout. The biggest reaction he gets all evening is when he thanks the Irish audience for their loyalty over the years.
So far, Metropolis is a bit of a mixed bag but it’s only an opening gambit – a testing toe dipped in the water in terms of the whole weekend. Friday and Saturday night look offer more time on site and a much greater variety of acts…
Metropolis photographed for State by Leah Carroll