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.