The inaugural Metropolis festival took place in the RDS over a wet and windy weekend. Over the two days of last weekend, the venue played host to spoken word, international DJs and a variety of art installations. Touted as “Ireland’s only indoor music festival”, how would it compare to the summer affairs?
Hare Squead had the honour of kicking off proceedings in the cavernous Main Hall. The big stage didn’t faze the Tallaght hip-hop trio as they confidently declared “I know I’m gonna make history man” in their opening number. Their set was held back a little by a live band that got a little too noodly during the slow jams, but in closing pair If I Ask You and Come Outside showed that they themselves have songwriting and performing credentials to back their claim up.
The masses flocked to the Main Hall for local heroes Le Galaxie as the festival really started to fill up. “It’s Saturday night and the air is getting hot,” frontman Michael Pope declared during Streetheart before delivering a set that ensured those words were prophetic. The hovering-above-the-stage disco ball finally lit up during Put The Chain On to a huge reception – the first proper ‘festival moment’ of the weekend. The momentum is firmly behind the lads after signing to Universal and releasing album Le Club this year and new song Demi Moore shows that they still have plenty left in the tank.
A quick cooldown was needed after that and the Dublin After Dark panel in the Concert Hall provided the perfect respite. It was an informative and absorbing discussion on Dublin’s nightlife and in particular the constraints Ireland’s licensing laws place on it. Dublin DJ Billy Scurry summed it up when he pointed out that despite the strides we’ve made as a country recently, “we still have to be out of here by half twelve tonight – what’s that about?”
Over to the Main Hall again for a headline set from festival veterans Hot Chip. The quintet are a fabulous live act, swapping instruments and vocal duties seamlessly, all marshalled superbly by drummer Sarah Jones. Their set is constructed so the feel-good atmosphere builds and builds – fan favourite Flutes poured the kerosene and Over and Over lit the match – but it was their closer that really set the night alight. Dancing in the Dark had a delighted crowd singing along before ex-LCD Soundsystem member Al Doyle took over vocal duties, sounding like the ghost of James Murphy as it segued into a snippet of All My Friends – satisfying every demographic in the room.
Trinity Orchestra picked up where Hot Chip left off in the Main Hall with a set of LCD Soundsystem songs – “We’re going to play the hits,” as they put it. It was a hugely enjoyable hour as different vocalists with different styles that took on the mantle of James Murphy. You wouldn’t imagine You Wanted a Hit with operatic vocals could work, but it did. The only disappointment was a shortened run through All My Friends. It was as if they had an arrangement with Hot Chip where they played one half of the song and the Orchestra the other.
Irish festival favourites Kormac’s Big Band (newly expanded with a string section) were next up in the Main Hall. Dubliner Kormac has some serious tunes up his locker and his Big Band made sure everyone knew it. The Koaste-featuring paranoid hip-hop of Cloning was an early set highlight before the electro swing of Showtime had everyone busting their best moves before teatime. Collaborations with Speech Debelle and Irvine Welsh got big reactions too – booking agents, take note.
There was somewhat of a clash of ideologies in the RDS as a last-minute rejig meant that Four Tet’s set in the Shelbourne Hall ran head-to-head with superstar DJ Mark Ronson. Four Tet’s Brixton Academy parties and recent remix of Eric Pyrdz’s Opus has pushed his name into the mainstream clubbing landscape, but onstage there’s no hiding that his contemporaries are more Aphex Twin than Fatboy Slim – it’s ten minutes before he introduced a beat. Meticulously crafted and a delightful listen, but not exactly perfect festival material.
Meanwhile in the Main Hall, Mark Ronson has Nile Rodgers onstage and has mixed Heads Will Roll into TNGHT’s Higher Ground – not as intellectually stimulating perhaps, but incredible fun. There was no escaping the joy when he dropped Uptown Funk.
Nile Rodgers made a return to the stage with Chic for a barnstorming headline set. Chic are always a safe bet for a great part but they were in especially fine form – disco hit after disco hit was met with rapturous adoration. Not just Chic’s own hits too, but everything Rodgers has had a hand in creating – Get Lucky and Let’s Dance getting the biggest reactions before the customary stage-rush during Good Times. Rodgers referred to their love for “our second home” Ireland throughout the set and the band’s enjoyment of the occasion made for another memorable night.