Tick Tock Festival O’Clock … It’s just a few steps to festival heaven as we approach the Summer month of June, with its beach-friendly, blue-skied days and long, balmy wine-friendly nights, or are we mistaking Ireland for a different more azure-dazed location?
Nothing says the start of Irish Summer like the klaxon-call of the first of the season’s festivals and while for many that siren is sounded by the annual bougainvillea bedecked Bloom, for others the de facto season opener is the capital’s Forbidden Fruit festival. Operating from its base in the gorgeous surrounds of the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, FF runs across the Irish June bank holiday weekend – Saturday 3rd to Monday 5th inclusive, to be precise.
With a range of artists from across the full sonic spectrum on it’s three day programme, FF is a valued showcaser for an idiosyncratic rainbow made up of eclectic and left-of-centre genres. Not for them the boybands, Rihanna wannabes or faux-leather clad rock anthemers. Instead, their line up features both emerging and successful talents from the non-mainstream fields of alt-pop, folk, experimental techno and Chilean improv.
So, with a host of music acts ranging from the sublime Lisa Hannigan’s enchanting folk-pop to the ridiculously innovative Aphex Twin, who are the acts in the Forbidden Fruit orchard whose music you’ll want to bite into and chow down on. Let’s take a look wander through the three day a la carte …
Saturday 3rd June
Musical Bill of Fare protocol pretty much dictates the same hierarchical structure as a Michelin starred menu – starters, entrees, mains with dessert being optional and left to your own late night delectation!
As you would expect, the festival opens with a wealth of emerging Irish talent including Dublin purveyors of delish dance-pop ‘n’ house Le Boom, RTEs rainbow DJ Tara Stewart and rapidly rising rap-poet Jafaris, whose sound is more East Coast than East Wall.
Moving up a flight to the next level, we find the student-run, salubrious Trinity Orchestra, (tune in below to see what these guys can do to a Gorillaz track!), block-rocking beatmaster DJ Mall Grab, techno-house homie Jax Jones, and mistress of wonky funk, Londoner Nao. British hip-hop funksters Hot Chip close out this second tranche as it were, with their #DJSet.
Up at mezzanine level, FF fest-goers will find Peckham born street rapper Giggs, ambient-pyschers San-Fran based Tycho (a must for all your Tame Impalers), and those maestros of electronic choreography Berliners Booka Shade. Saturday night title of Chief electronic cooks and deck virtuoso goes to the Hartnell bros, more commonly known as Orbital.
Sunday 4th June
Day 2 in the FF pleasuredome is a veritable riot of Irish talent from unorthodox creative Aikj through Dub alt-rockers Heroes in Hiding to the amazing Ships whose album Precession is a wonderland of enigmatic electronica. One younsgter you should keep an eye out for is Soule, a singer fast making a rep for herself with her soul-electro-pop fusion.
The name Motor City Drum Ensemble is enough to catch the eye, but one whiff of the beat driven meld of drums, tech and jazz-soul is enough to hook the ear. German Danilo Plessow is at the helm of this unorthodox outfit with a global vision.
At the top table you’ll find 21 year old Guersney native Mura Masa, a NAME+, in the world of hip hop cum R&B production and songwriting, another set of Berlin boyz and yet another experimental-electro duo Moderat, and the totally bloomin’ amazing Chilean Nicolas Jaar #nowords
With the head honcho title being allocated to homeboy Irish born, English raised electro-genius, Aphex Twin, Saturday night is a must for the electro-nuts amongst you.
Monday 5th June
Probably D-Day for folksters, Monday 5th wraps up Forbidden Fruit with a sparkling array of ambience, ethereal and kaleidoscopic.
Twenty year old Galwegian Laoise is one of the newer stars of the festival’s final line up. With a blend of dreamy pop that flows in and out of shadows, hers is a sound with more than a little darkness to its seeming iridescent perfection.
Cork man Eoin French will showcase his Talos project, whose strikingly beautiful debut album Wild Alee had Irish media in raptures earlier this Spring. He’ll be followed by Choice Music Prize Winners Rusangano Family, whose Afro-beats based experi-rap has provided a much welcome breath of fresh air to the local scene.
An act who’s bound to be a huge draw on the night is Leeds born Paul Thomas Saunders whose voice teeters on the brink of Brett Anderson (listen to his vocal on Appointment in Samarra on our FF playlist and tell me I’m hallucinating).
The only artist to get two tracks posted to said playlist, Paul has just released a stunning new single, Holding On, which if you’re not going to the festival, you can check out here.
Saunders will be followed onto the main stage by rich-voiced, young Australian native Gordi who was hugely impressive when she played Whelans support to Norwegian flyers Highasakite last May.
Lest I forget to mention it, Forbidden Fruit comes replete with inflatable wedding chapel (pictured above), disco dodgems, a wedding disco, bingo loco (for all you clickety click two fat ladies nutters out there), a comedy tent, a funfair and oh, most importantly, a cocktail bar. Interested much? Full details here … bites of the Forbidden Fruit.
The final countdown sees a rich roll-call of music veterans including English folk trio The Staves, whose vocal harmonies always send shivers tingling down the spine and the utterly delectable, silken-voiced Lisa Hannigan whose 2016 album At Swim was a masterclass in the power of understatement.
The festival folds with the inimitable Bon Iver, legends within the realm of indie folk, noted for their innovative and exploratory creativeness. Their last album, 22, A Million, was a bit of a ‘departure’ as they say, but a dog can’t chew the same ball for his whole life can he? You can hear 21 Moon Water, one of the tracks from that album on the playlist below. For you ‘folkster’ die-hards (contradiction in terms) here’s something more up your traditional street.
That’s it folks. 65 Music Acts over three days on one of the best Bank Holiday weekends in Ireland. Forbidden Fruit caters for the wacky, the winsome and the wonderlusters. It’s line crosses the great divide between avant-garde electronica & ball-breaking techno and feather-lite folk/existential psychedelia.
With artists from as far as Germany and Australia and from so near that they could hop on the 25a and be there in 15 minutes, Forbidden Fruit caters for hungry music fans as anxious to see homegrown talent (and isn’t it wonderful to see a large cohort of Irish acts on the bill), as a flavoursome pick n mix from far off shores.
Whichever side of the coin your tastes lie in, Forbidden Fruit will should provide more than a little something for you to sink your teeth into.