Tuesday 16 January 2018


Ed Power

Ed Power


marlay park, dublin

Vampire Weekend's jangly anthems could have been penned with a balmy summer in mind. 'Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa' and 'Oxford Comma' are perfect evocations of hazy, lazy afternoons at the country club – clever, slightly conceited even, but not to the point where it's going to make anyone's teeth grind.

Led by the debonair Ezra Koenig (pictured), Saturday's headliners demonstrate a heavier side, too, as they dip into new album Modern Vampires of the City. The rocking Diane Young, in particular, suggests the Ivy League schooled New Yorkers should leave their Wes Anderson comfort zone more often.

Earlier, there's a home-town welcome for Conor O'Brien's Villagers.

In the abstract, O'Brien's songs seem in danger of tripping up on their own contorted ambitions. In a doomed alterboy falsetto, he sings about shapeshifting and an out-of-body experience while his music lurches between lightness and intensity. Somehow it all comes together, rollicking oddities such as 'Earthly Pleasures' and 'The Waves' taking flight under skies so blue they resemble a visual effect.

From the same corner of the alternative pop universe come Los Angeles' Local Natives. A chugging combination of Arcade Fire and Crosby, Stills and Nash, their best tunes locate a tender spot between the folksy and the avant-garde.

For fist-pumping dance fans, day two's must-see is Berlin producer Paul Kalkbrenner, whose second stage performance is a masterclass in uplifting melancholy. His set is built around hypnotically minimalist basslines: half an hour in, it starts to feel as if you are undergoing a metaphysical experience – or at least it might if a fellow reveller hadn't just spilled a pint over your backpack (no, hug won't make up for it).

Mid afternoon welcomes Dubliners Kodaline to the main stage. In a line-up dominated by the painfully trendy, the Swords group are here to wave a flag on behalf of uncomplicated arena rock. Whatever tastemakers may think (Kodaline are already on the way to becoming a punching bag of rock journalists) in south Dublin it's clear they are among their own, the wobbly lipped 'All I Want' and 'High Hopes' are slurped down with the same enthusiasm that parched revellers are glugging slush puppies from a concession stall at the rear of the venue (the saccharine content is roughly similar you suspect).

Hipsters in search of respite could do worse than make their way to the dance tent where Blue Hawaii are delivering an affecting suite of disembodied electronica. Singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston sways wanly as producer Alex Cowan twiddles knobs and flits through a repertoire of frowns. What a shame only a few dozen festival-goers are here to witness their sweet, sublime weirdness.

Irish Independent

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