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Forbidden Fruit Festival (Day 3) - Dublin - Monday, June 3, 2019

4 June 2019

The lush grounds of the Irish Museum of Modern Art hosted the ninth event of Forbidden Fruit, but unfortunately my travel plans allowed me to only see the final day. As it turns out, the hip-hop and EDM-stacked prior days were not nearly as good a fit as the third day for the majority of the Big Takeover readers, so win-win.

Today was pared down a stage as compared to Saturday and Sunday; the large field stage was still the main stage, but only the larger of the two tents (The Undergrowth) was used, in addition to the smallest stage (District). There was a carnival aspect to the fest as well, with a carousel, swing ride, bumper cars and a ferris wheel, along with plenty of food and drink vendors (well, as Bulmer was the main sponsor, offerings were tailored accordingly).

Kicking things off was Barns Courtney (can a tour with Courtney Barnett be too far off?), who made the best of opening a festival on a bank holiday Monday. He’s got a fairly common brand of country-flecked rock, but brought a whole lot of enthusiasm to the show. After the third song, he looked out from the stage. “I told my manager that I wanted to open the festival in the late morning, and play to an empty tent. He delivered,” Barns wryly stated, though as the set went on it gradually filled in and the show ended with him hopping over the barricade and singing in the thick of things.

The smallest stage had bands who I wasn’t familiar with, but all had something to offer. While the first (Insideawave) showed sartorial chops with bright print shirts, their sound wasn’t as eye (or rather, ear) catching. I Have A Tribe had a jazz sound with the rough bits sanded off, a bit too MOR for my tastes but I could see the appeal. I missed Pillow Queens and Soda Blonde, but Join Me In The Pines was the best of the three, a bouncy, fun danceable quartet that had the crowd sashaying along. Bonus points to the drummer for his Sun Voyager shirt.

The Main Stage had a pretty perfect set up, at the base of a gentle hill that allowed great sightlines from the entire field, and if you happened to be behind the covered sound/light desk, you could hop onto the ferris wheel for an avian view of what was happening. The diminutive Julien Baker was the first on, and she commented that the wind might blow her over and she’d have to sue the festival, quickly stating that she’s very happy to be there and not litigious at all. Her violin player and the crowd got a laugh out of it, but the weather wasn’t joking and the winds soon brought the first batch of rain.

Back over at the Undergrowth tent, the crowd thickened if only to see shelter from the rain. Saint Sister opened with their song about Twin Peaks, but the harp/keys/bass trio just couldn’t hold my attention for too long. Ry X followed, and the native Aussie had a very calm and collected presence, and warm and inviting songs that matched. I’m not a big Bon Iver fan but this is a side of that particular sound I can appreciate, and Ry Cuming was genuinely happy to be playing and appreciative of the response.

Back to the main stage where the rain has died down but the wind still reminds that the north Atlantic can never be confused with the Caribbean. Dublin’s newest upstarts *Fontaine D. C. *are taking the stage, and they come out smoking fags and looking pretty serious. I get an Ian Curtis vibe from singer Grian Chatten, and the band doles out some taut post-rock that is not formulaic in the slightest. This is their moment, the tide is turning and it’s in their favor. Taking advantage of the opportunity to play to their biggest crowd, they come out swinging with “Hurricane Laughter,” creating a small pit of chaos in the crowd with shirts coming off, mud staining trousers, and grins cracking faces. They are coming stateside later this year as support for Idles, so pencil, nay, ink that in your calendar right now. Check out fellow BT contributor Kevin Burke’s thoughts on their show.

While Elbow was the night’s closer and had the largest crowd by far, their particular emo-ish take on rock music didn’t quite connect; the histronics of emo was highly tempered by a New Romantics flavor and while they had a nice sound and an expressive front man in Guy Garvey (who also had the best line of the line of the night as he got on stage to the return of rain “Dubliners have never let weather stop them”), it didn’t make me run down to Spindizzy to flip through the E section.

Spiritualized was the main band I wanted to see, as I was out of town when they played Boston in April and there were rumors that it was to be their final tour. The last time I’d seen Jason Pierce and company was 2013, down at Hopscotch in Raleigh, just after Sweet Heart, Sweet Light was released. He’s touring on last year’s And Nothing Hurt, so it wasn’t too surprising that with a shorter festival time slot, the majority of the set would be featuring this new material.

But the set started out with a look at Pierce’s rich past, and the crowd picked up on it right away. “Come Together,” “Shine A Light” and “She Kissed Me (It Felt Like A Hit)” – I mean, c’mon man! Perfect combination of songs right out of the gate. From there, the languid bluesy gospel tone he’s increasingly taken on was front and center, his ace band and backing singers filling the tent with, well, spirituality. That he took the band name he did seems almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy; he’s had at least two major “health scares”: over the years and his lyrics have also tended towards the questioning of what lies beyond while making the best while you still can . Or not.

In the back of my mind I’ve always fantasized about Pierce and Sonic Boom patching things up and making a boatload of cash via the inevitable reunion of Spacemen 3, but I’ve come to peace with the fact that this will likely never happen. Given Pierce’s fragile health and what he’s been able to build in the nearly three decades since that band’s demise, I am confident that he’s made the right choice.