Review of Longitude festival in Marlay Park, Dublin
The ferocious churn rate of 21st Century pop is brought into focus by the line-up for the second Longitude festival. Eighteen months ago headliners Chvrches, Haim and Disclosure would surely have struggled to fill the back of a city centre pub.
A mere eye-blink later they're lording it over the wide open spaces of south Dublin– a reminder of how quickly bands proceed from obscurity to ubiquity in modern music (unspoken is the understanding they can slip down the greasy poll just as easily).
The youthful bill is mirrored by the attendance. In 2013, Longitude was presented as a sort of urban equivalent of Co Laois's Electric Picnic: an esoteric shindig with tree-hugger undercurrents and a crowd skewing alternative and mature. Schlepping around the expansive site, there was a sense that, no matter your vintage, you were sure to spy someone more haggard than you: a crucial comfort to the 30-something concert-goer.
Twelve months on, the atmosphere is very different; the beer-bellied grey-hairs packing Marlay Park last summer to see Kraftwerk and Yeah Yeah Yeahs supplanted by hordes of 20-nothings and teenagers. Squint and you might be at Oxegen, the late-adolescence rite of passage that took its final bows only a year ago but already feels as sepia-tinted as the Feile events of the early ’90s.
Following performances by Bastille and songwriter Ben Howard on Friday, Saturday is an adrenaline rush of conceptual pop. Chvrches combine stomping electro- riffs and anguished singing from pixie-proportioned frontwoman Lauren Mayberry. One of the biggest turnouts is for the next main stage act, Haim, an all-sister trio from Los Angeles whose influence on fans goes beyond musical – a striking percentage of females in the audience borrowing their hayseed sartorial style.
Of the smaller stages, the techno arena draws the largest footfall. Thunking sets by Cyril Hahn and Le Galaxie attract capacity crowds, with late-comers required to dance on the grass outside (those looking for the exit are forced to run a gauntlet of splashing lager and wobbly man-guts).
In the woodlands ringing the site are located a spoken word ‘speakeasy' and the Whelan's tent. The latter witnesses tidy showcases by indie outfits San Fermin and O Emperor while doubling as refuge for the festival's crop of old people (ie, over-25s). Huddled in small groups, they nod along to the cathartic guitar music, grateful to be, for a few moments at least, among their own.