Longitude Festival – Friday

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Longitude had perhaps the best lineup we’ve seen at any festival in a long time in Ireland. A whole slew of acts from local heroes Hare Squead and Rusangano Family to plenty of U.K/international offerings, it’s no wonder people showed up in the thousands to Marlay Park. The sold out festival was also lucky to be graced by the sun’s presence for a solid three days, turning the grounds into a euphoric place to be for any music lover.

The large que at the entrance meant missing Hare Squead’s opening set unfortunately. However, seeing a packed tent for Section Boyz by 16:15 is no surprise considering the high energy delivered by the group and the one that preceded them also. Section do more than enough to warm up the Heineken stage for Action Bronson to come and deliver what may have been the best set we’ve seen from him on Irish soil. He seems revitalised and reenergised since his last show in the Academy. As the set wraps up he walks off stage and stands perched on a barrier with one arm raised like a WWE star, basking in the adoration one more time before leaving. The reaction he gets isn’t far from what Stone Cold Steve Austin would have gotten in his heyday.

The general layout of the festival is amazing. The beautiful scenery all around briefly distracts you from the mass hoards of people trying to make their way around one and other. Apparently a bridge between two stages ‘collapsed’, or at least became impassable, leaving many fans not able to catch a glimpse of Tyler the Creator’s set. He delayed his appearance for over 15 mins, leaving some attendees, myself included, with no option but to leave the tent in fear of missing any of Kendrick Lamar.

From what I did see of Tyler’s set, it showed me he is now a completely different performing artist from the one we saw at the now-infamous Odd Future shows. He appears less sporadic than before and more concentrated on delivering his tracks to the best of his ability. His charisma still takes over as he dances and waves to people intentionally with the air of a creepy uncle who you’re not sure how he’s related to you. Late showing or not, it’s hard to be mad at Tyler when he is such a likeable character whose antics can sometimes outweigh his talent – at least in terms of how he is portrayed in the media.

As the big screen on the main stage lights up with a quote from George Clinton, “Look both way before you cross my mind”; a massive crowd gathers in anticipation of an artist who is widely regarded as the best rapper around at the moment, Kendrick Lamar. As a full band setup is brought out, certain doubts are raised. This format for a rap show can really go either way in my opinion to be honest. When it’s not right certain songs lose their vigour and lack the same tenacity as on record. Thankfully was not the case in the slightest for any of Kendrick’s set. He performs with an intense look of focus and determination, always staying on beat and still having fun with his vocals while doing so.

He draws highlights from his entire discography, with To Pimp A Butterfly being the main focus and rightfully so. It’s on tracks like ‘I’, ‘u’ and ‘King Kunta’ that the band and Kendrick sound tightest. That’s not to say the likes of ‘Backseat Freestyle’ or an extended singalong of ‘M.A.A.D City’ aren’t as explosive as you’d expect. The energy is perfectly balanced between the most hype rap show you’ve ever seen and an evening of jazz in the park. It’s a fitting end to a day that boasted some of the biggest and best hip hop acts to emerge in the past 5-6 years. However, Saturday didn’t lack in that department either…