It’s not often that the weather gods smile on Irish festivals but this year’s Forbidden Fruit proved to be a lucky exception with the site on the grounds of the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Kilmainham bathed in pleasant sunshine for most of the weekend.
It’s the one element that was out of the organiser’s control but they managed to get pretty much everything else spot-on, with queues for the bars and toilets kept short and the site kept impeccably clean all weekend. Overall it was a great weekend.
We hit the festival on both days to catch some of the musical talent on show.
The revellers sitting in the sun on the hill facing the Original Stage were treated to a superb mid-afternoon set from Vann Music.
The Dublin four-piece blended electronic and organic instruments together during an energetic set that went down well with the dedicated few who had made their way to the festival early in the day. Their cover of Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ went down a treat, as did the pounding anthem that is ‘Into The Night’. Closing things out with the one-two of recent singles ‘Tina’ and ‘Life In Real Time’, the lads went down a storm and we could probably expect to see them higher up festival bills in years to come.
Keeping things Irish, next up on the Original Stage was Lisa O’Neill. The Cavan lady has won many plaudits for her idiosyncratic style and she was a delight here. Her brand of jazzy folk is probably better suited to an indoor arena but she managed to make it work on the big outdoor stage. Her relaxed stage manner won the crowd over and she doesn’t seem to let anything phase her, not even a guy prancing around in a bra who she gently ribbed without being too cruel towards his unusual antics. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay to see her whole set for we were off to the Lighthouse Stage, tucked away in the opposite corner of the site.
It was on this stage that New Secret Weapon played a short but blistering set. So blistering and loud in fact that there were several people walking around backstage with their fingers in their ears to protect them from the noise at times. Part heavy rock, part Doors-like extended jams, New Secret Weapon are a ferocious live prospect. At one stage they even managed to knock over some of their symbols such was the ferocity of their playing. ‘Look At The State Of It’ was a highlight as was the epic closing track of their set ‘The Ballad of Gilgamesh’. This was good old fashioned rock and roll at its best and there is much to be admired in the musicianship of all three of the band members.
Speaking of excellent musicianship, next up on the Original Stage were Northern noise merchants And So I Watch You From Afar. Trading chugging guitar chords and screeching riffery with pounding drums, the heavily tattooed and bearded purveyors of post-rock instrumental music delivered a masterclass that was lapped up by the huge crowd that had gathered to see them. Their tunes are so dynamically interesting, dropping off at the right times to let the crowd catch their breath before exploding into life again. There was even time for some gloriously excessive cowbell action during ‘S Is For Salamander’ – Christopher Walken would have been proud of their efforts.
The one major downside of every festival is that inevitably there will be tough decisions on which acts to see when they clash on the timetable with another band that you’re hoping to see. This was the case with the headliners on Saturday night but we eventually plumped with Flying Lotus and weren’t disappointed. Perched behind a massive transparent screen that covered the front of the stage, he delivered a great set that was complimented by the 3-D show that was broadcast on that massive screen. At times the -D show was a bit too much of an assault on the senses but it was impressive nonetheless and Flying Lotus’s set brought a great first day at Forbidden Fruit to a satisfying conclusion.
The Flying Lotus show the night before set things up nicely for what was a much more dance orientated affair on Sunday. It was back to the Undergrowth Stage where Flying Lotus had played the night before to catch the joyful ball of energy that is Daithí early on in the day. Gleefully dancing around while he worked his violin assisted magic on stage, he delivered a great performance that steadily enticed more and more people in to the tent as the show went on. A likable performer who seemed delighted to be there, he’s finally set to release his first album this week and on this evidence it should be a cracker.
Staying in the Undergrowth Stage, Gold Panda was up next. He drew a huge crowd with a set that started off laid back and blissed out before getting progressively heavier as it went on. Between this and Daithí’s set before him, this was a great way to start the day and get the blood flowing in the legs with a healthy dose of dancing but there was even better to come with the next act that was to grace this stage.
The tent was completely wedged by the time Public Enemy took to the stage. The atmosphere was incredible as the crowd showed their love for the legendary band who were recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a fact that they reminded us of early in the show. Live hip-hop shows can be something of a hit and miss affair but Chuck D and Flavor Flav are masters of their craft and had the crowd eating from the palm of their hand from the start. Flavor Flav’s antics, be they slapping the bass, leaping all over the stage or venturing into the crowd during ‘Fight The Power’, are especially fun to watch. They could have easily packed out the main Original Stage but there was something special about seeing them in a more intimate setting and this was probably the gig of the weekend, with ’31 Flavors’ in particular nearly blowing the roof off the tent.
After several hours inside a tent it was a pleasant surprise to discover that the clouds of earlier in the day had given way to yet more glorious rays of sun, the perfect early evening setting for Warpaint to strut their stuff on the Original Stage. While they may have been more at home in the more indie-rock orientated line-up of the previous day, the band still managed to enchant the crowd with their ethereal harmonies. After unleashing ‘Undertow’ and ‘Love Is To Die’ early in the set, they became the second band of the weekend to perform a Bowie cover with a cracking rendition of ‘Ashes To Ashes’. They really are a quality live act and they delivered a great mix of songs from ‘The Fool’ and their recently released eponymous sophomore album.
Last but by no means least on the Original Stage were the mighty 2 Many DJ’s. The Belgian duo drew a huge crowd, that spread all the way back up the hill, and delivered a knock out hour and a half set that seemed to go by a whole lot quicker. The ecstatic crowd responded with the enthusiasm that the Soulwax men deserved and it was the perfect ending to what had been a fantastic and diverse weekend of music.
This article originally appeared on dublinconcerts.ie on 3 June 2014