Longitude: the verdict
Did Longitude meet expectations? Aside from a couple of glitches, a definite yes.
Longitude has arrived. The weekend worked 90% of the time in my opinion and talking to the large number of my mates who were there as punters for one, two, or all three days, I didn’t hear a bad word said about the bash in Marlay. There are some reviews from myself and Arts Editor Laurence Mackin here. It goes without saying that the line-up was brilliant. And it also goes without saying that the festival was a huge success, selling out and creating a sense of FOMO amongst those who couldn’t get in, who are no doubt counting their pennies to buy Electric Picnic tickets this week. But enough about the music! Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly from the festival as a whole.
The sound on all of the stages was excellent. Of course you expect not to hear your favourite band sounding like they’re performing at the bottom of a well at a festival when you shell out your hard-earned cash for a ticket, but that often isn’t the case. The second stage in a tent sponsored by Heineken had exceptionally good sound for a covered space, along with some neat visual trimmings.
Aside from an early finish on Sunday night, I experienced very few clashes with bands I wanted to check out. There was a sense that it was extremely well programmed and scheduled, so you pretty much managed to catch everything you wanted, or if not whole sets, grab 20 minutes of something and 20 minutes of something else. The proximity of the stages to each other helped in that regard.
The one-way system in the woods
This worked well when the woods got busy later on. On the first day, looking at the bridges leading to some of the stages I predicted bottlenecks, but that wasn’t to be, as the security were well-versed in the game of getting people moving quickly.
The woods weren’t just a walkway, but a pleasant place for a wander or a quiet time out. The location of the stages jutting out of the woodland – Red Bull’s great little hollow, the Speakeasy, the Woodlands Stage and Phantom’s area on the other side – were all really nice, and added a sense of adventure removed from the traditional MCD giant field approach.
Accessing the site
Let’s face it, Marlay Park is a pain to get to if you don’t live in the area. Coming from town was kind of frustrating given the 45-minute to hour-long bus journeys on the way in. I got taxis home each night which were easy to get, so didn’t experience any hassle on that front, although I didn’t hear any complaints about the shuttle service or other busses. Previously at gigs in Marlay I’ve had a NIGHTMARE getting back into town from the site, but that didn’t happen this time around.
Longitude provided exceptional value for money on the ticket front. When you look at what other festivals offer for similar pricing, it just beats everyone really.
It’s a cliché to give out about the queue for portaloos at festivals, but why on earth can no one get it right? It’s pretty simple, just have more bathrooms! The people who bear the brunt of this are largely women. When the main arena and the Heineken tent got busy, the queues were ridiculous, 50+ at some times. While blokes can dash in and out of the urinals, or like some eejits just piss anywhere (gross), women have to queue and put up with missing chunks of gigs because of it. There appeared to be a few more loos on site on Sunday, but it still wasn’t enough. It’s so annoying. Festival organisers: if you’re reading this, please provide more loos than you think you’ll need. It’s not fair that chicks have to queue for ages for an amenity that is pretty darn simple. You’re irritating half your audience. It turns people off. On the plus side, all the toilet areas had attendants cleaning them throughout the day, meaning the cleanliness of the portaloos was exceptional.
The promotion of the ‘other stuff’
I didn’t see the Speakeasy tent advertised anywhere, not even on Longitude’s own online programme. I popped down on Sunday afternoon and there wasn’t much going on, although a friend assured me that she had heard some great spoken word from Colm Keegan. Later in the evening, I came across Booka Brass playing who were really good too. It’s a pity the tent wasn’t plugged as much as it should have been.
The price of booze
€6 for a pint of beer? Seriously. Head wreck. That’s just over-priced, I don’t care what anyone says. There was no cider (that I saw, anyway, maybe I’m wrong?) but I guess that’s just the price you pay for having the bars under control of just a couple of brands. If you don’t drink beer, (dodgy) wine, Bacardi or vodka, then you’re kind of screwed. It would be nice if Irish festivals provided a more expansive bar for punters. I know the constraints that festivals are under in terms of keeping a beer sponsor happy, but it’s a bit of a joke charging so much for a pint when there are so few alternative options available.
Of course there were some drunk people, and although it’s a bit of a pain for Irish city (or suburban) festivals to have to play by the rules of a curfew, it might be just as well, considering you probably didn’t want to see how worse for wear people could potentially end up by 3am. People talk about drunkness being a commonality of music festivals everywhere, but I’ve been to plenty in the UK, the US, Europe and Africa and I’m sorry, but Irish festival-goers rule in the drunk idiot stakes. That said, overall the crowd was pretty nice and exceptionally well-behaved (by Irish standards).
There seemed to be more bins than there are usually at Irish festivals, yet people still chucked so much rubbish from food on the ground. What the hell is wrong with people? Put it in the bin! Cigarette butt ashtray wallets were provided for free, and they’re a great idea. I used them all weekend and hopefully they can become a fixture of all festivals. The green bus where they are dispensed from was also at the Phoenix Park.
So, in conclusion, Longitude is a great addition to the festival calendar: brilliant line-up, nice vibe, good crowd, cool setting, convenient and well priced. Taking points away for the toilet scenario and the price of beer/lack of variety of drinks, I’m giving Longitude a healthy A-.