Thursday 22 March 2018

Festival: Royal Hospital, Kilmainham

Ed Power

Ed Power

As glowering clouds gather over Kilmainham, there's an awful moment of realisation that Forbidden Fruit is about to fall victim to one of those nasty surprises at which the Irish summer excels -- in this case, a spirit-sapping drizzle that threatens to go on all night.

With winds swirling and the sky an ominous shade of grey, you feel for Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, the nine piece funk ensemble from Chicago charged with rousing a festival crowd oozing mid-afternoon indifference.

As they give it their everything, hardcore fans down the front respond by punching the air. Everyone else has one eye on the band and one on a horizon turning gloomier by the minute.

Seeking refuge in the warm, dark depths of the Undergrowth tent, an early surprise are Brooklyn's Bear In Heaven, a punk-dance outfit featuring a frontman dancing with pants-on-fire exuberance.

Next door, a packed Lighthouse stage welcomes Newbridge's Jack Colleran, aka Mmoths. His music is unadulterated dance-pop escapism, plumbing the depths of happy/sad sublimity on the single 'Heart'.

You can saunter to the front for The Field. It's hard to know whether this reflects the inclement conditions or if it's to do with a cult club act performing a thankless pre-teatime slot on the main stage. Nevertheless, they're a game trio, their blissful Nordic tempos soon attract a decent attendance.

With the drizzle on the point of becoming a deluge, people are raving in their raincoats. It makes for a surreal, curiously uplifting sight.

Things are altogether more stygian at Factory Floor's Undergrowth set.

Three arty Londoners with fashion show pouts, clearly they think pop should be as much sensory assault as entertainment. Dark and portentous, they are fairly nakedly enthralled to their idols, the 1970s' industrial group Throbbing Gristle. But all the sulking turns out to have a point; lift-off achieved, tunes like 'Real Love' are blisteringly effective.

Opening night headliners Leftfield have two feet in the past. Once considered cutting edge, their montage of gargantuan bass and world music samples nowadays places them unambiguously within the genre half-jokingly, half-fondly referred to as 'Dad techno'.

Still, on a soggy night in Dublin, rumbling anthems like 'Release the Pressure' and 'Inspection (Check One)' do exactly what is required, raising your pulse and making you forget, if only for an hour or so, the chill in your bones.

Irish Independent

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