- 06 Jul 19
It may have surprised some, but a huge proportion of the crowd on the opening day at Longitude had come to see the Dublin rap duo Versatile. To find out how they rose to the occasion, read on!...
“AHHHHHH bollox, you must be jokin’,” screams Cas Walsh. Cas – or Casper – is one half of the hip-hop rap duo Versatile. The band are onstage at Longitude. The opening bars of their newest summer release ‘Prefontaine’ are rolling. It’s as if Cas has divined the thoughts of the multitude as these two young Dublin rappers take control of the hyperactive festival crowd.
From the outset, the lads have the crowd eating up their every word. Their extroverted stage presence seems to transform the audience from a bunch of primarily young, insecure-looking teenagers into an energetic, fearless throng. It is all about confidence and Versatile exude it in a way that’s thoroughly infectious.
Walking around the festival earlier in the day, it was clear that they were the one of the key attractions. Festival-goers were wearing their signature Outburst merchandise in vast numbers, had haircuts and glasses like them – and in my interactions with the crowd the most common response to ‘Who are you looking forward to seeing today?’ was, you guessed it, Versatile.
Casper and Eskimo Supreme are not just any old act: increasingly, they are idolised by huge audience in Dublin.
They perform most of the tracks from Dublin City G’s, including the time track, ‘Ggb’, ‘Your Aul One’ and ‘Donedeal Season’. All are welcomed with a cheer and unsolicited mass backing vocals from the audience. They rap a few verses of that record’s final track,’Glossary’, which takes you through the slang of Dublin as a whole. And they perform the brand new ‘Prefontaine’ for just the second time ever. Choreographed dancers wearing luminous pink tracksuits join the boys onstage. It is a big production number. You can immediately sense the effort that has been invested making it special live. It’s a cracker.
‘Scorching Again’ reflects on how Dublin has become too soft: Versatile want it to be ‘scorching’ again. The sentiments feel prophetic. On a warm but mainly overcast day, the sun emerges from the clouds, making Dublin quite literally ‘scorching’ again, from that moment onwards.
They end their set with perhaps their best-known song ‘Ketamine’. Yes, that is the horse tranquiliser that’s used recreationally. The song takes you on a journey through what it feels like to be on that kind of ‘buzz’ and, to be fair, it paints a vivid picture. “I’m para off me head”, they announce adding “Everybody’s out to get me.” There’s no sign of paranoia here however. As the boys parade around the stage, the crowd leap about energetically. They leave the stage after taking a group photo with the audience and repeatedly thanking the (in their words) ‘poxy’ crowd.
Versatile are beloved in part at least for their profanity and humour. In an era of political correctness gone insane, these guys stick their two fingers up to it all with great effect. They are cocky and funny. But what you can see, in a show like this, is that they have become much more musically sophisticated. They know how to work an audience, in a way that very few outfits do.
Versatile steal the show on Friday at Longitude. It won’t be long before Casper and Eskimo are headlining the biggest festivals in Ireland – and hopefully across the world too.
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