Real Estate - "Talking Backwards" (taken from Atlas)
It's been far too long since Real estate last blessed the listening public with their melancholic, dreamy pop but, finally, the New Jersey band have released the first single, "Talking Backwards", from their upcoming album Atlas. Still among the best of the perpetual twee-pop movement which the indie rock world will never really leave behind, Real Estate have crafted yet another three minute pop song to guide us into the summer months and make us feel a little like we're all living on a 1960s beach.
Whilst the track deviates very little away from the sound that the four piece have established over the last few years, it does show everyone why not changing too much is a good idea when you've ot a winning formula. Whether its the track's simplistic sounding yet intricate guitars or its effortless but beautiful melodies, "Talking Backwards" is the sound of perfection minus the hard work that comes with it. Martin Courtney's honeyed, relaxed vocals lull the listener into Real Estate's chilled out world, before the lyrics establish that this is, indeed, a song about frustration, miscommunication and the enevitable demise of a relationship. Lines such as "And the only thing that realy matters / is the one thing I can seem to do" are all the more effective when comunicated through Courtney's laidback deliver, given that sometimes life isn't theatrical, sometimes situations just pass people by in the calmest way possible, and there's nothing that can really be done apart from listen to a sad pop song and get on with life. Real Estate's calm melancholy is one of the easiest feelings to relate to, and that's one of the major aspects that makes them special.
Real Estate may get their fair share of criticism for their almost formulaic approach to music, however, as long as summer evenings exist and as long as young adults live aimless, unfocused lives, they will always have an audience. Add on to that the fact that they're an efortlessly talented band who appear to just not give a fuck about what is happening in the rest of the musical world and we've still got one of the best indie rock bands on the planet. Welcome back, boys.
Last day of the festival and I have mixed feelings going in. Mainly because today was the day that Modest Mouse’s live set was meant to enter my life before they decided to focus on their album for the first time in seven years, but also the fact that Japandroids are so low on the bill irks me slightly. However, putting that aside, I opt for a taxi cab rather than a bus as nothing less than the apocalypse is going to make me miss a minute of Japandroids opening set and, by jove, the price of a taxi was worth it. Despite having roughly four fans at the festival, Japandroids manage to fill their forty minutes of the Main Stage with the most exhilarating, exciting set of the weekend. Brian King and David Prowse rage their way through a fine mix of Celebration Rock and Post-Nothing with more stage presence than the majority of bands here who are twice their size.
Constantly grinning at their tiny audience, King dryly introduces the mighty “The House That Heaven Built” as their ‘hit single’ before ripping into what may be the loudest song of the weekend. “Younger Us” is absolutely thrilling and manages to pull a singalong from the curious crowd who start to gather around the stage and by the set’s closer “Evil’s Sway” the band have certainly earned themselves a new fanbase. It’s with a satisfied smile that I notice many festival go-ers leaving the merchandise stand with crisp, new Japandroids t-shirts throughout the rest of the day and it’s apparent than Japandroids will be a lot higher on the bill the next time they set their sights on Ireland.
I caught only a little bit of Frightened Rabbit’s set, however based on crowd reaction, they certainly should not have been billed below Mark Lanegan whose position was apparently based solely on his reputation. His grunge-y alt rock neither engages the audience of a summer music festival nor sounds particularly interesting. His set is boring and plodding and makes me yearn even more for Modest Mouse to change their mind at the last minute and push him off the stage.
Whilst the crowds congregate for Hot Chip to hit the Main Stage, I look for any alternative possible and find myself at the Woodlands’ stage in front of Tom Watson’s favourite band Drenge. The British duo are a little in the vein of Japandroids but all the more aggressive and scuzzy. With a starting audience of two (me included), the band have a hard time playing whilst Hot Chip take the main stage, but they make the most of it. Probably the heaviest band of the festival, they play a high pace, blistering set and manage to draw one or two more spectators, however it’s technical difficulties that get the best of the young duo. Eoin Loveless’ (perfect name for the singer of this particular band) manages to break not one, but two strings at different stages of the set and with a lack of tech people at the ready, a few vital minutes of the set are lost at a time when people were just starting to filter in. Other problems include the guitar just being a bit shit really and Loveless’ vocals being way too far down in the mix, however the band do manage to close out memorably with Loveless throwing himself on the ground in front of the audience whilst playing the last song and a fun filled few rounds of high fives for every member of the audience. Although today wasn’t their day, Drenge are a truly exciting prospect.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs take to the stage in a storm of glory. Karen O and her men are met with complete hysteria and Karen O holds an unbelievable amount of power over the audience before her. Although Kraftwerk are headlining, it would be easy to think that the entire audience are there to see the New York indie icons. And iconic is the perfect word. Costume changes, giant eyeballs, a happy birthday singalong and “that” jacket make Yeah Yeah Yeahs one of the most memorable sets of the weekend. They provide the best possible festival set with crowd pleasers such as “Maps”, “Zero” and “Gold Lion” all getting a run around and there’s a wonderful moment where Ms O hands out the microphone in order to get audience members to sing along. The band prove that you don’t have to be a dance band to make people dance and it’s hard to understand why they aren’t headlining the festival.
Kraftwerk have a lot to follow and, sadly, they don’t quite reach the heights of the other headliners of the weekend. Despite a stellar back catalogue, the fact that they’re, y’know, Kraftwerk, and their 3D set, the band receive one of the most subdued reactions of the weekend. Being in the front row meant that I am fully able to becoming immersed in their 3D effects, however the effects are merely a gimmick and after a while the 3D glasses started to itch and the effects lost their impact. Kraftwerk do little to draw the audience in themselves, with the band just standing behind their desks for the whole set. Whilst it was a crowd pleasing set, “The Model”, “Trans Europe Express” and “We Are The Robots” all get plays, those who aren’t massive fans are left a little bored , especially considering the excitement of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and all the bands that have preceded them.
Overall, Longitude was one of the best line-ups (and weathers) Ireland has seen. Despite a few problems with how the promoters billed the bands and the incredible lack of vegetarian options (I ate pie for three days straight), the festival was a success and hopefully, there’ll be many more to come.
Yet again buses foil my plans and, sadly, I arrive late to witness Dublin folk-pop duo Hudson Taylor closing out their set. Despite their atypically sparse live band, the band certainly hold their own on the Main Stage and, after encountering a smaller acoustic performance of theirs, later in the festival, it’s safe to say Hudson Taylor won’t be so low down on the bill in future. Their catchy folk-pop is unbelievably easy to like and judging by the screams of various girls every time one of them moves, they’ve got everything going for them.
Whilst people slowly mill in for what is the only sold out day of the weekend, Funeral Suits take to a tiny crowd on the Woodlands Stage. Looking a little bit like they’ve been living in the woodlands, the band take to their brief 30 minute slot with the vigor of any main stage band. Whilst the epicness and electronic touches of their debut “Lily Of The Valley are slightly lost in such a small venue, tracks like “Colours Fade” and “All Those Friendly People” are enough to engage an audience who don’t really seem to know who they are. Also, in probably one of the coolest moments of the festival, the somewhat.. intoxicated singer releases his guitar from his own charge and hangs it round the neck of a speechless young lady before the band exit the stage.
After Funeral Suits, I race towards the Main Stage to catch the second half of Kodaline’s set. Providing an explanation for why Funeral Suits’ audience was so small, Kodaline seem to have drawn one of the biggest crowds of the weekend, despite their lowness on the bill. The band certainly earn singalongs it seems a little more based on the fact their debut has just gone number one in the Irish charts rather than any effort from them on stage. “All I Want” is beautiful however the Dublin foursome do very little to differentiate hearing them on record from seeing them on stage and their being clad in black sunglasses and outfits screams that seeming cool is a lot more important to them than actually having an engaging, memorable set. Not bad, but not great either.
Local Natives have no such issues. Local Natives certainly succeed where Kodaline fail. Despite losing their instruments to the terror that is Irish airlines, the band put on a perfect festival set comprised mostly of tracks from recent release Hummingbird, but with a few old hits thrown in for good measure. Looking completely at home on the sun soaked stage, the band engage their fans with absolute knockout tracks such as “Breakers” and “You & I” and they win over a waning crowd battling through queues to get beer before the big guns hit the stage, with their easy banter and general cheeriness on stage.
It seems like every festival goer has packed themselves into the Main Stage area before the wonderful Villagers take to the stage. As we’ve come to expect from Ireland’s best indie-folk band, their set is completely stellar. Two albums in and the band are already at the top of their game and their even mix of tracks from their more popular Becoming A Jackal and the more experimental Awayland would be perfect for any audience of Villagers fans. However, that proves to be a problem on this particular day, as the vast majority of the people packed together in front of Mr O’Brien and his friends are there for Vampire Weekend and Vampire Weekend only. Much of the band’s set is greeted with an overwhelming ‘meh’ and a sunny afternoon before one of the world’s happiest bands isn’t quite suited to their ‘winter nights and whiskey’ brand of folk. After Conor O’Brien ponders ‘“What the fuck is up with the sun?”, the band throw themselves into a few crowd pleasers but it’s not enough to calm down the Vampire Weekenders and the band leave the stage apologising for ‘the boring bit in the middle’. It’s a sad end to one of my most anticipated acts of the weekend but it reflects very little on the band, but the audience they had to please.
Of course, Vampire Weekend’s set is a storm from the word go. Playing in front of a floral backdrop, the band exude confidence and have every fan in the palm of their hands. It’s easy to forget just how many amazing singles Vampire Weekend have created but after the blistering opener of “Cousins”, the mass singalongs just keep coming. “A-Punk” leaves the whole park shaking with the sheer hysteria of fans, “Giving Up The Gun” sounds beautiful, “Ya Hey”, with it’s apparently theological focus, gets the biggest singalong of the weekend. Ezra Koenig’s vocals are perfect and the band are just so incredibly tight that they sound more impressive live than on record. Rather than allow their professionalism to suffocate them, their encouraged singalongs, their impromptu encore and the fabulous dancing of the bassist makes sure that by the time closer “Hannah Hunt” comes around, every single person in Marlay Park is grinning from ear to ear. As the band make their way from the stage, the sound of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” emanates over the crowd resulting in a beautiful scene of mass ballroom dancing from the audience and the ending to another perfect night.
Spread over three of the twelve sunny days ever recorded in Irish history, Longitude Festival's inaugural run even had the weather out to support its stellar line-up. The little sister to Britain's Latitude Festival, the line up of over 100 of the best indie, pop and dance bands around today, making their way to congregate and perform in the beautifully set-up Marlay Park of Dublin, was always going to be at least a little bit awesome. However nothing could have prepared me for just how amazing the three days turned out to be.
As a whole, aside from the music, the festival was beautiful. Despite previous trouble with this particular music venue, Longitude pulled out all the stops to make a perfectly family friendly festival. Set up like a woodland, the area was crowed with delicate decoration, quirky touches and a great variety of foods, things that are quite undervalued by many concert organizers. Spread across five stages, as well as an interviews tent, there was something for everyone and the atmosphere was both safe and enthusiastic.
But enough with the aesthetics. Longitude managed to pull in one of the best line ups seen on our not-as-green-as-you-probably-think island so let's jump into the music.
Thanks to a late running bus service, regrettably I witness around half of Dublin natives' The Cast Of Cheers' opening the festival as a whole on the Main Stage. Sounding like Two Door Cinema Club having a fight with Abedisi Shank, their quirky indie rock make for perfect festival fodder with its frantic angles and oddly catchy choruses winning over more than a few casual spectators.
With excitement and bags of anticipation, I push myself through crowds of floppy haired, skinny jeaned hipfolk in order to get prime position for young English artist, Tom Odell. Despite his brief 45 minute spell on the main stage, Odell more than impresses with renditions of most of the tracks from his recent debut Long Way Down. Although Odell's piano led pop isn't entirely fitted to intense heat and hazily drunk festival goers, he comes into his own racing through insanely catchy tracks such as "Can't Pretend", "Hold Me" and the beautiful opener "Grow Old With Me". Hit single "Another Love" is placed midway and somehow manages to get an absolute storm of a singalong from a still sparse crowd. Despite coming under harsh critiscisms from media outlets who don't believe words with fewer than five syllables should be utilised in song lyrics, Odell's sheer charisma and constant smile make him one of the most enjoyable acts of the weekend.
Whilst Jake Bugg takes the Main Stage, I head out to explore the festival. After witnessing the mighty Foals be interviewed, I catch some of Mmoths' eeriy indie dance on the Heineken Live Project Stage. Although Mmoths seem to have all the right ingredients, the set feels a little boring and doesn't quite manage to whip the excitable audience into a frenzy. Back on the Main Stage, second headliners Foals have no such problems. Looking every bit a rockstar, Yannis and his merry men storm their way through bombastic arena filler after arena filler. Whilst they devote a good portion of the set to classics such as "Spanish Sahara", it's when the band focus on their recent release, Holy Fire, that they really come into their own. Highlights include the absolutely massive singalongs of "Inhaler" and "My Number" and, of course, Yannis' unbelievably cool invasion of the audience. It seems like Foals' days as an indie rock band are numbered, as the set displays all the confidence and musical nuances of a band heading for stadiums.
Headliners of Friday night, Phoenix, certainly have a battle on their hands in following up Foals' fabulous set but they more than manage to establish themselves as a, surprising, highlight of the festival. Their set is relentlessly upbeat and vocalist Mars never stops moving. It's one of the few points of the festival where the band on stage manages to make every member of the (ultra cool) audience jump up and down, singing like an idiot and when they zip through their back catalogue, it's easy to see why. Hits like "Lisztomania", "1901" and "If I Ever Get Better" sound so fresh and catchy that it feels like a shame that people seem to forget about Phoenix when thinking of the big guns of indie. When Mars propels himself into the heart of the audiences and performs not one, but two tracks on the shoulders of his adoring fans, their position as headliners on this bill is fully consolidated. A perfect close to the evening, Phoenix leave everyone smiling as they make their way home.