In a world of constant Brexit discussion, and on a weekend that saw terrorist attacks, police violence and military coups throughout the world, Marlay Park became something of a haven of happiness; for 3 days 30,000 people were let lose in a field with great music, food and drink, and thanks to the intermittent 3G coverage people were not constantly updated about the horrors that were going on outside the gates. Leaving at 2pm & only arriving home after 1 in the morning didn’t leave much time to get bogged down in the complexities of the world from the previous day, and the festival atmosphere was all the better for it. The weather was doing its part too, as the scorching heat made a surprise return to the Irish summer. The feeling of warmth, happiness and appreciation of an incredible weekend of music added another dimension to the weekend, as, for the first time in months, we were free to not worry.
The organisers of Longitude deserve huge credit as both the security and stewarding were handled incredibly well, which can be difficult in an area as large as Marlay Park. However the real winners of the weekend were the fans. The quality of music on all three days was incredible to behold, and was an honour to be part of. The hip-hop acts of the weekend were greeted with as big a cheer as U2 could expect in Ireland. The energy brought from the likes Rejjie Snow, ‘Tyler, The Creator’, Vic Mensa and The Rusangano Family was a joy to behold, as the mostly younger crowd were jumping, dancing & moshing to their hearts’ content. The diversity of acts was something to behold as well as almost all genres of music were catered to.
Friday’s headliner Kendrick Lamar put on a performance to remember as almost every one of the 30,000 was wowed from the start, as Lamar spit bars about inequality, poverty and murder. The use of live instrumentation & freestyling could be seen throughout the show, and it was fair to say people were blown away by what they saw. Also performing that day were Chvrches, who had the crowd throwing footballs onto the stage numerous times. The Heineken Stage housed Tyler, The Creator and Action Bronson, two rappers who know how to use the crowd’s energy to their advantage.
Saturday was kickstarted into life by Wyvern Lingo and Pleasure Beach, but it was Rejjie Snow, the Dublin rapper, that stole the show. He showed a relatively small crowd that they were a part of history as the man who has toured with Madonna, and had chatted Irish Hip-Hop with Kendrick Lamar the night before in a pub, showed that he was the next heir to the throne of headliners. Diplo attracted the largest crowd of the afternoon as he filled up the Heineken stage, and Stormzy was dancing with Thousands as he told them all to Shut Up. A standout performance of the whole weekend was put on by Run The Jewels on the main stage, who mixed comedy into their set between songs as rapper Killer Mike, one half of Run The Jewels, was teaching the audience about how his fitness coach told him that if he left his jacket on in the heat it counted as cardio, and with the amount of moving around he was doing he could have been right. The timetabling of acts was perfect, with punters having time to travel from stage to stage to see all acts. However the scheduling of The Coronas and Major Lazor, causing both acts to be on separate stages at the same time, was a masterstroke by the organizers. It gave those who were not up for a night of heavy bass & rhythms a chance to enjoy themselves listening to a brilliant set from the Irish band; a lot of people tried Major Lazor but found themselves more at ease with the Coronas, and their presence and gig was one of the best performances of the day.
The final day was a lot quieter than the previous two but the strength of performers was equal to (if not above) the previous day’s. Limerick MC’s The Rusangano Family gave a high octane performance that anyone would be proud of, featuring jumps into the crowd and one of them doing a run around the tent while everyone watched in awe. They started with about 30 people in the tent and ended with about 200, which shows the draw they had on passersby. Their level of energy was unrivaled and their set was stopped abruptly as they went 20 minutes over time. All Tvvins were next with their rousing guitar sound travelling all over Marley Park. Vic Mensa was worshipped like a god when he arrived and treated members of the front row by sharing his Hennesseys. Father John Misty was as mellow as you like, asJamie XX and The National carried on what others had started with both having incredible sets.
So, who was the big winner this weekend? Was it Longitude for their organizational skills? Was it Kendrick Lamar, who attracted the biggest crowd? I think it was Irish rap as a whole; in this sanctity of joy, sun and music, a place not burdened by the stress of the outside world, we have shown how popular Hip-Hop and rap is in Ireland, and this will surely attract much bigger stars & much bigger tours. We also showed that as a nation we can stand up to anyone in terms of lyrics, technique and stage performance. The sky is the limit for what our small country can achieve on the big stage, and Longitude has done exactly what its name implies: it put Irish rap back on the map.