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.