Una Mullally

Society, life and culture on the edge

The Longitude Report

Marlay Park’s festival worked.

Tue, Jul 22, 2014, 08:58


Longitude’s second festival is over, and if the folks at Festival Republic and MCD can keep up putting together a decent line-up, then it looks like a good bet in the short-term at least. So, what did we learn from a weekend in Marlay Park?

1. Main Stage sound is getting better.
The curse of crap sound at festivals seems to be waning. The Main Stage sound was great all weekend, helped by calm weather. It was especially good for Disclosure and Massive Attack who really needed things turned up, and that’s what happened.

2. Festival organisers still can’t get the the simple issue of toilets right.
How hard is it to put more toilets on site? How annoying is it for punters (especially women) to have to put up with organisers not getting this very easy element wrong? On Saturday, queues at some times lasted more than twenty five minutes. One woman tweeted me saying she counted 180 women in a queue. Not only is this bad planning and inefficient and creates crowd control issues for staff at the toilets, it also discriminates against female punters, while the lads pee in urinals or wherever they want. If a queue for the bathroom takes twenty minutes at a time, and you go to the bathroom three times, that’s an hour out of your festival. For Jaysus sake, get it right, it’s not rocket science. By Saturday evening, many women and men resorted to peeing in the woods, which I’m sure those in charge of Marlay Park will be delighted to hear.

3. There were more lots more people
Last year, the attendance at Longitude was pitched at 9,500 a day. This year, the “average” attendance per day was 16,500, according to MCD. Considering Saturday was far, far busier than Sunday (I wasn’t on site on Friday), you can probably up Saturday’s capacity considerably. So, what will 2015 bring? As far as I could tell, the actual site size was pretty much the same as 2013, apart from the Heineken Sound Atlas stage, and the Whelan’s / guitar-y stage seemed to be in a different location, so will the site get bigger if 7k punters more on average per day are added again?

4. The line-up worked
Targeting three different demographics Рthe Today FM crowd for Friday, the kids for Saturday, the 30-somethings for Sunday - worked. There was also a good mix of local heroes (Le Galaxie, James Vincent McMorrow, Hozier), newbies (Banks, Tvvins, Sam Smith), and veterans (Massive Attack, Bonobo, Greg Wilson). The line-up is cool without being overly moustache-twirling, and populist without being cheesy.

5. Drunk people be drunk
On Saturday – possibly due to the lower age profile of the crowd – there were A LOT of very drunk young people. Shocker! I think I saw the first unconscious young woman stretched away at around 3pm. Considering that I’d imagine 18, 19 and 20-year-olds hardly have enough cash to get that wasted on mixer-heavy vodka Red Bulls or pints of Tiger in such a short space of time once they get into the site, this drunkenness is about pre-drinking. The queues at the bar were never long (note to the organisers: if you can get that many bar staff on site, then you can probably do the same for portaloos). It’s impossible for festival organisers to tackle how much alcohol people consume before they even get their wristband or hand over their ticket, but it was a shame to see people so wasted before the early evening gigs even started.

6. Overall, a great weekend
The Massive Attack show was brilliant, as was Disclosure. Rudimental were hugely enjoyable. The site is really nice, especially the fun Red Bull area, the Speakeasy tent, and the forest walkways. With Forbidden Fruit’s line-up floundering this year, Longitude has risen to the top as the city festival of choice. And its popularity amongst a crowded Dublin market, including the Iveagh Gardens gigs, shows that a festival with a line-up that straddles rock, electronic music and pop (and is blessed with good weather) will always work.

Here’s a general review of weekend I wrote, and if you want to catch up on individual gig reviews:

- Laurence Mackin’s Friday review.

- Saturday reviews featuring Haim, Disclosure, Hozier and more.

- Sunday reviews featuring Banks, Massive Attack, Conor Oberst and more.

(Photograph: Martina Topley-Bird with Massive Attack by EPA/Jean-Christophe Bott.)