Forbidden Fruit 2013 – Photos and Review
Saturday, 1st June, 2013
It’s that time of year again and the harvest is already upon us. After carefully tending to the roots throughout winter and filling their lineups with delicious treats during spring, the gates to the orchard are finally flung open as the different festival organisers all try to convince festivaliers that their fruits taste the sweetest. The festival with the lowest hanging fruit for music fans in Dublin is, of course, Forbidden Fruit, which is only a Saturday morning stroll from the city centre (with a slightly longer Sunday evening stumble out the other end). I was even able to call in to my mates gaf for a cup of pre-festival tea before making my way, unburdened by wheel barrows, wellington boots or a well concealed slab, through the gates of the Royal Hospital, as the dulcet tones of the Trinity Orchestra waft lazily over the high walls, beckoning us inside.
Of course, the one downside of having a festival on your doorstep is that there’s ample opportunity to dawdle on the way there. It’s not exactly breaking news but we are not the most punctual nation on the planet. The first few bands on stage found this out pretty quick smart and the rather brilliant Tieranniesaur were forced to play to a sprinkling of first-pinters as opposed to their usual crowd of very late-nighters. Indeed there is something jarring about listening to such super-smooth, disco-drenched grooves when it’s bright outside but they weren’t about to let that stop them. If you weren’t in the mood to move before hand, a healthy dose of “Here Be Monsters” combined with a lesson in how to play bass like boss from Ian McFarlane would have you shaking your ass in no time.
Next up to try and inflate the crowd were Fight Like Apes. Returning to the festival scene after a lengthy absence and fresh from the launch of their fundit campaign to raise funds for their new album, who better to breath life into an audience than MayKay & co. Somewhat reluctant at first, the crowd were soon reminded of their irresistible charm as MayKay bounced around the stage, inquiring if she could possibly get a lend of someone’s face before dragging bandmate Jamie “Pockets” Fox down into the pit and beating his right off him.
As all of you know, the Irish summer had been somewhat uncontactable so far this year and it seemed as the phone was still going straight to voicemail as big, dark rain clouds rolled from the direction of the big, pointy Pope pin in Phoenix Park so I took this opportunity to check out some of the less cultivated offerings of the Undergrowth Stage. I had never even heard of Swim Deep, so was pleasantly surprised when these fresh-faced Brummies took to the stage and transported me back to the summer of 1992 with their paisley soaked perfection. There is a cacophany of influences woven into their music but the sounds post soft-rock American grunge and pre-britpop British indie are especially apparent. An astounding achievement since these boys were not even glints in eyes back then. Yet staring out from underneath webs of hair, they seem utterly comfortable in both their surroundings and their sound. Lead singer Austin Williams stares up at the roof of the tent as he gently croons the lyrics to ‘Crush’, all the while effortlessly strumming a rather impressive, psychedelic sliced pear guitar.
The sun then decided to show its sorry face and so I rushed to an ice cream van to celebrate with a 99, but I really should have known better. As soon as I had handed over considerably more than 99 cents, the sun was gone and the rain returned to mock me and melt my vanilla. Back at the main stage, Kormac Battle tried his damnedest to dispel the bad weather and summon the sun gods with his exultant brass section and unbridled optimism but the rain wasn’t to be bargained with and sent some scurrying to the shelter of the bar, where German beer & Irish cider were being dispensed to the Irish crowd with German precision.
Meanwhile, back in one of the tents, Health were creating sounds that were not for a sunny day. It’s hard to describe Health. Their music isn’t really music. It’s noise. Pulsing, screeching, banging, beating; like the Nine Inch Nails on speed or some sci-fi imagining of what music will sound like in 2038. Except it works. The drone of their music is both futuristic and primal at the same time. With sounds being conjured through a very large array of switches, nobs and dials, some other-worldly drum playing and the hypnotic dancing of John Famigliatti’s hair, this was a performance of atom splitting energy. Just what the doctor ordered, although the noise ringing in my ears left me in need of something mild tranquilisers.
I joined a small army of photographers who were gathering to launch an all out assault on the main stage. We took our positions, waiting for the target to appear and I perched myself on a low wooden platform at the front of the stage, lying in wait. James Blake was in my sights and I felt sorry for the poor chap, like a lamb to the slaughter, he didn’t stand a chance against a crack team of Dublin’s best shooters. Then, as he began to play, the ground beneath my feet moved. Literally. The platform I was standing on was home to several enormous speakers and the bass hit me like a wave. I looked at my feet, somewhat bewildered as I was shaken off the wooden platform like a chessboard pawn in the middle of an earthquake. Photographers wear earplugs, it’s part of the uniform, but this bass was a physical presence, pushing us around for a change. And yet somehow this unholy noise was a perfect match for Blake’s angelic voice.
Neon Neon was an odd gig. At first they almost lost the crowd due to technical difficulties that seemed to persist throughout the first few songs. The band themselves seemed somewhat lost amongst all the beams of light, an almighty cloud of smoke and a table piled high with books. One of them even seemed to share my apathy for the music as she opened one of the books to have a read before deciding to show off her impressive book dancing skills (she danced with a book, I don’t know how else to describe it so I took a picture). Things did pick up though and they steadily built towards a better 2nd half where patient fans were eventually rewarded with the ’80’s drenched “I Told Her on Alderaan”.
Photographers weren’t allowed to take photos of Crystal Castles, something to do with traditional beliefs that the camera can steal one’s soul (either that or I forgot to take the lens cap off), so I can’t tell you if they were any good or not as I didn’t stick around to find out. Thankfully Kasabian do not hold to the same beliefs so I got lots of photos of Tom (sporting a quite dazzling sequin jacket), Sergio & co. Now I know there are a lot of haters out there, but I love Kasabian and they were made for festivals. Yes, their sound evolved from great bands like The Stone Roses & Primal Scream, but they fuse those sounds with a healthy dose of The Chemical Brothers and a prescription of ’70’s glam rock. I defy you not to get sucked in by the infectiousness of tunes like “Empire” or the fevered-pace of “Vlad the Impaler”. As dusk fell, the lights were turned up to 11. People were hoisted on shoulders, flags were waved, the crowd jumped up and down as one as each beat kicked in and everyone went home with smiles on their faces. Well, almost. Now, I understand that festivals have strict timetables to stick to, but the last band on, the headline act is supposed to, nay, is obligated to do an encore. To give the fans that little bit extra. To play just one more tune. Indeed, the crowd shouted those exact words for a good 10 minutes until they realised that the stage was already being dismantled. I mean, it’s not asking that much. All the band have to do is walk off, then walk back on again. A small act, but it means so much and it’s absence is most definitely an anti-climax.
But let me take you back in time just a couple of hours, to the best act I witnessed all weekend at Forbidden Fruit and let’s just pretend for a moment that they were in fact, the headline act because for everyone in the Lighthouse Stage, they were. The Hot Sprockets. This was one of those gigs that your friends will ask were you there and if you weren’t, they’ll look at you with that poorly disguised pitymixed with an air of self-satisfied smugness, shrug their shoulders and merely say, “Shit buzz man.” I’ve seen The Hot Sprockets many a time but this was different. They rocked. And I mean really rocked. This was lip-smacking, hip-shaking, rip-roaring, fist-pumping, soul-soothing, slide-guitaring, drum-smashing, nerve-jangling, crowd-surfing, blood-pumping, heart-stopping, honest to goodness, good old fashioned, home-made, country blues, rock and roll. They gave everything and the crowd responded in kind. We woo-hooed in unison to “Cruisin”, had a good time to “Bad Jim”, someone next to me howled along to “Honey Skippin” and then everybody went absolutely mental for “Soul Brother”. Of all the fruit sampled at the weekend, this was by far the sweetest.
Unfortunately the powers that be did not see fit to grant us a press pass to the Sunday, but if Saturday was anything to go by, I imagine it was rather good. Maybe next year…
Photos and Review by Jamie Tanner