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Temptation got the better of me when, a few weeks ago, I purchased a Saturday/Sunday ticket for Forbidden Fruit 2017. This was the third year in succession that I had made the short trip from my former home in The Liberties to the Royal Hospital grounds. It brings together a reasonably broad spectrum of acts and in so doing, has always attracted a broad church of punters; spanning from your die-hard festival goer kicking their summer off in tandem to those maybe making their first ever appearance at an event of this kind.
On Saturday after a bit of grub in Catherine’ Cafe on Meath St. (eggs benny is your only man there), I took advantage of the largely good early weather and strolled to the festival site early. I even had time to take a look at some of the ongoing exhibitions at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Surely someone could join the dots there next year and encourage festival goers to take a peek on their way in.
Trinity Orchestra kept up the tradition of kicking of the Main Stage. Their set consisted mainly of renditions of Red Hot Chili Peppers songs. Admittedly, RHCP have underwhelmed me with their live performances on two occasions. Having not listened to their back catalogue in quite some time however, Trinity Orchestra did what they tend to do best by injecting a bit of nostalgia into the process. Where I have always found RHCP’s live performances a bit bland, the orchestral take on hits like ‘Suck My Kiss’, ‘Parallel Universe’ and ‘Aeroplane’ went down well with the early-comers.
Just after 4PM, Jax Jones arrived out, prompting a stampede of sorts down the hill towards the Main Stage. Mid-afternoon house slots are another Forbidden Fruit tradition. You would have to be living under a stone to not have heard at least one of Jax Jones’ three big hits so far (‘House Work’, ‘Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’ and ‘You Don’t Know Me’). These formed the staple of an hour and a half set which remained uninterrupted by the rain for all barring a quick 15 minute monsoon. I spent that short period under a wooden canvass near the main entrance with a rake of sound people as we prayed to the sun Gods for some relief. At one point, I perhaps unfairly asked one of my friends why he just wasn’t called Duke Twomont. His contribution to electronic music is about as mainstream as it comes but in all fairness, that isn’t always a bad thing and the aforementioned tunes are all bangers. Not sure there was a need to resuscitate ‘Freed From Desire’ though, mate.
My curiosity peaked next, as NAO prepared to take to the stage. Her first album, For All We Know dropped last year and is reminiscent of romantic late 90’s R&B melodies, peppered across a strong bedding of funk and synthesisers. She worked through the landmark tracks on the album, beginning with ‘Inhale/Exhale’ and ‘Get To Know Ya’. Unfortunately for NAO, this slot was almost identical to the experience of Young Fathers on the first day last year. Most of the crowd departed the Main Stage with more than a few likely baffled that the act before their eyes was playing songs that she had written herself. NAO is one to watch though. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her added to the Electric Picnic bill.
It was time for me to gallivant a bit. We got some wine and went to check out some of Mall Grab’s set at the Lighthouse Tent. This place was wedged for the vast majority of the weekend as it hosts some of the best techno names around. Mall Grab does the fundamentals really well. It’s stripped back and hard-hitting; just the way it should be.
Now, I’ve been partial to a mosh pit in my time. In 2013 I managed to catch Rammstein and System of a Down and somehow escaped with my limbs in tact each time. Nothing could have prepared me for the intensity of grime rapper Giggs though. He’s one of the most distinctive of the insanely popular grime scene and perhaps the most amusing, often reverting to his own repetitive but distinctive pentacular. He even dropped his part of ‘3 Wheel Ups’, a track he worked on with Kano and was my top played track on Spotify last year. He also threw in ‘KMT’, sending the crowd into raptures. A circle emerged towards the front of the crowd. His pentacular wraps up with the ‘Batman, duh nuh nuh nuh nuh’ and the tempo shoots up once more. I managed to last through most of ‘Lock D’oh’ before emerging for some air. I returned for ‘Whipping Excursion’ and I’m almost certain that I was born again. Absolutely bananas.
With that, it was time for Orbital. This slot was filled by Underworld last year and long-time ravers returned in their droves, withstanding a literal monsoon in parts. Classics such as ‘Satan’, ‘Chime’, ‘Belfast’ and ‘Halcyon On and On’ all featured in a barnstorming 90-minute set. There’s no such thing as bad weather with Orbital knocking about. Only bad clothes.
Saturday served largely as a precursor to what was a full-on Sunday for me. This time, the rain kept away the entire afternoon. I decided to take in Danny L Harle’s set at the Main Stage as a warm up. He borrows from the happy hardcore era a little bit and colourfully blends it modern house. ‘Broken Flowers’ is up there as one of the sounds of the summer. Hindsight is often 20/20 at festivals and looking back, I do wish I made it over for part of Kink’s set but it’s not always the best idea to roam constantly between DJ sets. I find you need a little while to lose yourself in them.
The Main Stage was the only place to be for the Angelus as Mura Masa made his return to Ireland. The 21 year-old EDM producer hails from Guernsey and is Apple Music’s New Artist of 2016. His debut album is almost upon us after two really excellent EPs. Recent singles with Charli XCX and Desiigner are amassing huge attention online and I couldn’t wait to see him again after being blown away by his set at EP last year. Particular highlights were ‘Low’ and ‘1 Night’, belted out by his two accompanying tour singers – both of whom did the jobs of others incredibly well. Mura Masa is happy to take up position right at the back of the stage and remains largely reserved throughout. The sounds that he produces are infectious. I hurled Old School ‘You’re my boy, Blue’ shouts at him on quite a few occasions although I’m not sure he heard me.
In future years we might see a longer set from Mura Masa. He can only go from strength to strength. Thankfully, I would only have to wait a few minutes to catch another one of my favourite acts in Moderat over at Outcider. This coalition of Apparat and Mode Selector has been on the road for a couple of years. Incredibly, this is their third stopover in Ireland in the last 15 months. I have been blown away by their cinematics on both occasions and couldn’t resist seeing them again. This was an unfortunate clash with Fatima Yamaha but there was only ever going to be one winner. ‘Rusty Nails’, ‘Reminder’ and the flow from ‘Les Grande Marches’ into ‘No. 22’ deliver every time and are staples of their current live set. Sascha Ring’s voice is a gripping as ever; both in and out of effect. Much of the set is captivating and there’s not much argy-bargy. It’s a good collective experience for the crowd again and three times in, it hasn’t lost its edge for me.
I should probably be docked any proverbial banger merchant marks for this but Aphex Twin has largely gone under my radar over the years. A friend of mine even made a playlist for me to listen to in advance and I didn’t even get around to it. I managed to take in the vast majority of the set from just in front of the sound booth. The heavens opened as the utmost insane light displays shot up into the air. Perhaps people can leave feedback and explain more of the context and intricacies within the set but I was mightily impressed with sustained periods of jungle and DnB. The last few minutes were absolutely lethal. Leaving a festival within something new to investigate is kind of the point I’m sure. I hung around for the first part of Maceo Plex afterwards, picking up the pace substantially.
All in all, the two days kicked on the summer nicely. Forbidden Fruit has a format and a location that works and entices you to get down early. The bells and whistles of the funfair, the wedding chapel and the comedy tent seem to provide an added benefit for many of the punters but there were enough attractions at the three main areas to keep me occupied for the entire two days. The ticket was money well spent.
As with all festivals, choices have to be made. Looking at the weather, I also feel slightly fortunate for not heading along on the Monday but I’d love to know how you got on if you did, or if you happened to catch anything over the Saturday and Sunday that I didn’t. If I could have split myself in two, I would have caught Booka Shade again and checked out some of the local talent at the Bulmers area.