Forbidden Fruit Festival – Review


Bulmers Forbidden Fruit Festival – Review by Frances Winston

The Royal Hospital Kilmainham, June Bank Holiday Weekend

You know summer is here when the festival season starts in earnest and thankfully the weather reflected the season for once during this year’s Forbidden Fruit Festival. A combination of glorious sunshine and the central location ensured that the crowds flocked to this increasingly popular boutique event over the June Bank holiday weekend. It is also one of the more wallet friendly festivals with a day ticket coming in at €59.50 while a weekend ticket was €110 – a lot cheaper than many other events this summer.

This year’s line up was somewhat erratic to say the least. Only at a festival could get away with putting indie darlings Bell X1 on the same bill as hip hop legends Public Enemy and dance music stalwarts 2manydjs. However that is also one of the joys of a festival as you get a literal pick ‘n’ mix of acts to dip in and out of. While day one was indie heavy day two definitely had a dance focus but there was still something for everyone.

On day one the venue took longer to fill up – possibly because many people were coming straight from work. Those who arrived late missed the always infectious Dublin Afrobeat Ensemble and a surprisingly good set from So I Watch You From Afar. With popular consensus that most people were there for Bell X1 and The Flaming Lips the comedy tent proved hugely popular in the interim with Eric Lalor travelling in from the Cat Laugh’s Festival (also happening that weekend in Kilkenny) to perform a set before running straight back and Patrick McDonnell, currently appearing in Moll in the Gaiety, returning to his comedy roots.

Over on The Lighthouse Stage, which was curated by the Workman’s Club on the Saturday, a particular highlight was up and coming singer/songwriter Gavin James who has been making quite an impression on the music scene and was celebrating signing a new publishing contract the day before. Young Knives proved something of a revelation also although I only saw a couple of their songs.

By the time Bell X1 took to the main stage the venue was packed and they didn’t disappoint playing a well paced set that really got the crowd going. However the highlight was undoubtedly The Flaming Lips who owned the stage from the minute they came out. When My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shield’s joined them on stage for a rendition of Bowie’s Heroes it was easy to spot the real music fans in the audience as they went wild for him while some of the younger contingent merely scratched their heads before succumbing to the hypnotic track.

Day two saw the venue packed from early on as people made the most of the balmy weather and the imminent Bank Holiday. There was definitely a different vibe as dance fans with one day tickets descended on the beautiful surroundings and security checks were far tighter. This could be something to do with the presence of Public Enemy who definitely owned the day! Their appearance on The Undergrowth Stage (curated by Hidden Agenda) drew a huge crowd and even those who would claim not to be fans of the hip hop genre were singing along and punching the air to the music. Flava Flav et al may not trouble the charts these days but they definitely have a fantastic live presence and I was very surprised that they weren’t on the main stage.

Once again the comedy tent proved a hit with sketchmeisters Foil, Arms and Hog proving particularly popular even though they went on later than expected. On the main stage Warpaint continued the Bowie appreciation with a rendition of Ashes to Ashes and played a blistering set that increased the energy and enthusiasm in the venue ten fold (as if it needed it). Unfortunately, following that, 2manydjs were something of a disappointment. Yes they played a wonderful set – even throwing in mixes from Frankie goes to Hollywood and The Human League for the nostalgia fans – however, after the energy of live bands two guys DJing on a huge stage was never going to cut it and I felt they would have been better suited to the smaller Undergrowth Stage perhaps. I enjoyed them but I don’t consider them a main stage headliner.

Overall the whole weekend had a lovely chilled out vibe that is missing from so many other festivals that just seem too anxious to please. Organisers had ensured that there was plenty of distance between the stages so that acts weren’t drowning each other out (which I have seen happen in the past). The crowd were mainly relaxed and happy and other than one or two slightly messy people on the Sunday there seemed to be relatively little trouble.

One thing that wasn’t ideal was having the drinking water taps beside the portoloos as many people (and it was mainly men) decided to use them to wash their hands instead of taking advantage of the hand sanitizers provided in the toilet area. Also, and this tends to be true of all festivals, more toilets and a second ATM would have been appreciated in order to curb the queues.

Other than this though everything seemed to run very smoothly. The line up worked on the whole, the bars were efficient in their service (although there was nothing on offer for stout drinkers with cider, lager and wine being the order of the day) and there was a fabulous range of healthy food options available as well as plenty of seating areas in which to enjoy it. They’ve definitely set the bar pretty high for the rest of the summer’s festivals.

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