- 15 Jul 18
There’s a number of prominent festivals taking place across Ireland and the UK this weekend, not less of which is Longitude’s bigger, older brother, Latitude. There’s a significant range of acts and genres to bring people out en masse, but based on the half a dozen or so acts that Hot Press interviewed in preparation for Longitude, excitement for this these three days seemed truly unmatched.
Post Malone, Migos, J Cole and Irish breakthrough star Jafaris did the business yesterday. You can read about that here. And today, the reigns were handed over to another contingency of Irish and international hip-hop/grime acts. A surprise amount has gathered in early to catch Big Shaq at work. He only plays a couple of tunes, teasing the crowd with ‘Man’s Not Hot’ a few times before finishing off with the song that – let’s be honest – most people were there to see him play.
Tearing up the gaff on the Heineken Stage at 3pm is Dublin rap/grime duo Mango X Mathman. Their set was predictably fiery and, with Mango having tuned our ears to understanding what grime can sound like with a northside Dublin accent thrown behind it, his verses sound ridiculously sincere. There’s also a ferocious bite in his style, which pairs well with his ferocious live energy. He makes you think that any interaction with him would likely end the MC shirtless, dancing round you, dressing you down in a rap battle you haven’t a hope of winning. Their adaption of ‘You’ve Got To Show Me Love’ as a closer is a highlight.
Next to the Main Stage to see Sigrid. Leaps and bounds beyond anything else happening in pop music at the moment, it seems incredible that Sigrid hasn’t release a debut album yet. She’s got an LP worth of hits and the live magnetism to go with it. From the offset, she’s bouncing across the stage, throwing mad shapes, truly appearing to not give a fuck as she sings the ultimate don’t give a fuck pop hits ‘Plot Twist’ and ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’. Everyone sings along for ‘Strangers’, and the pulsing synth line of that song runs through the stage into everyone in the crowd.
Hot Press makes haste from the Main Stage to the Heineken Stage to catch the end of Mabel’s set. As Sigrid is to pop music, so too does Mabel seem like the best thing happening in RnB at the moment (seriously, Longitude, it’s not yet 5 o’clock and you’re already spoiling us). I just catch ‘Finders Keepers’ at the end. One of the artist’s breakthrough hits, it has an impossibly good chorus, so good that everyone in the crowd is on the ball singing every word. She’s the real deal.
We hang around the Main Stage to wait for Dublin’s own ‘soft boy’ Kojaque to take to the stage. His set, like his debut album Deli Daydreams, is delivered with the kind of sophistication that makes you see Dublin city in ways you’ve never seen before. His perspectives on the city, and his relationship with it, can be both illuminating and damning. Nowhere is this more apparent than set opener ‘White Noise’ (“Pissing up on the steps of the cathedral,” he sings. “Sovereign state; they'd rather see my mother bleed out than build a clinic/ You leave abortions to the backstreets If we need it were gonna get.” These are some of the most important lyrics of the post-religious, modern-day self-shaping Ireland.) Kojaque’s DJ, wearing a mid-‘00s Loais GAA shirt, isn’t a bad singer either and a cameo from up-and-coming Dublin rapper Luka Palm also goes down a storm. Class act.
Next to Tyler, The Creator, where the strange and unsettling collide with the frightfully intense, before giving way to the soulful, all in the course of an hour. Tyler is easily headliner material. He’s got this steely-eyed glare that matches his sinister, yet carefully executed, delivery. He plays hits from his 2017 Album of the Year contender Flower Boy, then reaches back to the incredible Cherry Bomb and Wolf. He’s on an empty stage but seems to fill it all with his own high energy. It’s a blistering 60 minutes.
Following this, I was excited to witness the latest homecoming gig from Drumcondra rap success story Rejjie Snow. Still riding the wave from his phenomenal debut album Dear Annie, Rejjie Snow has brought hundreds of new fans to the Heineken Stage, who duly rub shoulders with the hardcore Irish faithful. His hour long set begins with tracks from his latest album (smooth, reserved, imagery-laden tracks like ‘Mon Amour’, ‘Room 27’ and ‘Désolé’), before going back to some of his best earlier hits (‘DRUGS’, ‘1992’ and ‘Blackkst Skin’). London rapper Jesse James Solomon makes an appearance for ‘The Ends’, and hangs around for older track ‘USSR’. The closer of ‘Charlie Brown’, with its wonderful sample of Republic of Loose’s ‘Steady Song’, sees him out in style.
It’s a “once more into the breaches” finale, as I rush back to the packed out gauntlet of the Main Stage for headliner Travis Scott. Chasing Abbey were an enticing offer – and can actually be heard all the way from the far side of the Main Stage – but who knows when Houston’s preeminent trap-rapper will next make his Dublin return? I decide he can’t be missed.
His stage set up is simple. It’s awash with LED lights, the two screens on either side of the stage have a blood red glow, and there’s a 10-metre-high raised DJ platform that looks like the helm of some futuristic ship. It’s appropriate, because everything about this set screams futurism. From the auto-tuning which turns Travis’ voice into some kind of neo-instrument, to the free-associating images which flash on-stage (encompassing everything from sort-of ‘90s theme park infomercials to Star Trek characters). At times he’s ridiculously on point in his set and his energy exudes throughout Marlay Park, then at other points he feels like a hypeman for his own performance – filler, no killer. The trio of ‘Pick Up The Phone’, ‘Antidote’ and ‘Goosebumps’ are a fitting finale, but, having only played for just under an hour, people might understandably feel short-changed by their headliner.
If this is a drawback, it’s a small one. And in the context of the full day itself – it’s microscopic. What a line-up we were blessed with. Onwards to day 3.