As darkness falls, and the chill hits Dublin, one would think the best thing to do is get home, get the fire going and whack on Netflix. Whilst we sit in our PJs we might then dream of the summer that has so abruptly ended; we think of the good times: festivals, fun and freedom. And perhaps these things would have remained a distant memory if it wasn’t for Metropolis 2016. The weekend of November 7th and 8th, When We Dip dusted off their raver gear and launched into an environment buzzing with the energy of the summer festival season.
After a whopping Friday night featuring the likes of Cyril Hahn, Solomun and the mighty, mighty Moderat we returned early on Saturday afternoon. Upon arrival it felt like we entered a ghost town. No surprises there, for many were still recovering from the intimate opening party on Thursday and the aforementioned Friday of the festival. Epic rest was needed to prepare for an epic finale. As we entered the venue we were greeted by Trinity Orchestra playing a tribute to David Bowie. The lead singer role rotated between ten students, all extremely talented, each adding their own Bowie style to the performance. Hearing ‘Let’s Dance’ with a full ensemble of instruments was something to be remembered. An excellent example of why Trinity Orchestra is such a popular act on the Irish festival scene.
For many of those who have studied at Dublin colleges, strange and stressful memories would come to mind owing to the setting of this festival: the RDS, each year, is where thousands of students take their college exams. However, last Saturday, we were transported to a completely different environment. Instead of the enforced silence there were beats blasted. Instead of the shaky sip of your labelless water bottle there was the satisfying gulp of a pint. Instead of a ghastly desk-lined hall there was a room primed for the party.
After feeling nicely warmed up and the crowds surging in, the atmosphere was building. We launched off to the outside area and checked out the world’s largest disco ball, which gave us glorious flashbacks to the Summer of 2014 when it was lifted during Chic feat. Nile Rodger’s performance at Bestival. The outside was clustered with delicious food vans. Eddie Rockets from a food truck?! Oh yes, people. Let’s just say the burger was worth the heartburn.
With our feet freezing, we headed to the Shelbourne Hall to warm those bad boys up on the dance floor. As we finished bopping to New Jackson’s tight set we heard, to our dismay, that Klangkarussell missed their flight over. But there was a silver lining with Kormac returning from his Thursday night performance to fill the slot. The show went on without a hitch! What was even more impressive was Kormac’s live AV show: it was spellbinding. The beautiful texture and depth of his visual designs perfectly matched the diverse beats driven by the man himself and a live drummer.
As the night progressed, things just got better. Heading across the dance floor, I stumbled upon a pair of cheap and cheerful sunglasses: hardly appropriate accessory for autumn but it was as if something kept whispering to us that our summer of fun was not yet over. At this point the organisation of the festival must be mentioned and the proverbial hat must be tipped to the staff behind the scenes. The organisation was superb. The queues to gain entry were minimal, as were those waiting to collect tickets at the box office. The plethora of bars made it easy to quench one’s thirst, especially if you were paying via contactless. We grabbed a quick drink and moved on.
The hip-hop legends that are The Sugarhill Gang took to the main stage as we moved into the evening affairs. The flow and clarity of their rapping was fantastic, something that a lot of live acts in this genre struggle with today. Coming from a different time when sending the message across was so important to the music. They certainly did that on Saturday. From there we moved back to the Shelbourne Hall where we awaited the arrival of Crystal Castles. With strong strobes and a lead singer buzzing with the energy levels of the Duracel bunny, it was not hard to be mesmerized by the 3 piece. Not to mention their epic set list. From there we ventured into catch the one, the only…Paul Kalkbrenner.
PK was in a word, brilliant. He always delivers. This time was no different. Girls and guys alike on top of shoulders everywhere. He had the place on wheels as he emptied the depths of his back catalogue. Less is more when I describe this as words won’t do it justice.
The brilliant thing about Metropolis was the practical size of the event: we were able to go from stage to stage in just a few minutes ensuring no music was missed. This meant we were able to bop to the banging tunes of Fatima Yamaha before catching the start of Floating Points’ three hour set. The English DJ/Neuroscientist began with top quality phunky tunes (and yes, that’s ‘ph’ instead of an ‘f’ there: that’s how phresh it was), which he mixed seamlessly using vinyl. Once our groove was officially on, we headed to see Booka Shade, who produced an incredible live set with the drumming on point. There and back again the Fellowship returned to Floating Points. By this time he had beautifully transitioned his set into some very tasty techno. We even managed to fit in a stop at the medical tent to ask for a Gaviscon but we were turned away. If heartburn isn’t an emergency then we don’t know what is.
In between all the action happening on the big stages, there were yet more incredible things to get involved in. There were lectures held by music legends such as Underworld’s Karl Hyde and an interactive ‘Repeal the 8th’ art installation. More frivolous fun was to be had in the Industries Hall: from getting some serious glitter action to a fresh trim on the barnet. Meanwhile, less known, but no less talented, DJs were spinning away in this magnificently designed space. The speaker system lined all the way down the hall leaving ample room for making shapes. It felt like wherever we went there was always something on.
We ended our adventure at the Main Hall to see the headline act: Grace Jones. Although nearing 70 years she performed as if she was back in her glory days. The constant costume changes never felt excessive, but necessary. If that wasn’t enough, she was hitting those notes for ‘Slave to the Rhythm’ whilst hula-hooping!. Grace Jones, I salute you.
The best aspect of Metropolis was the array of ages that attended this Dublin festival. We had kids off on their half term holidays, equipped with their older mate’s ‘ track ID and a Snapchat story’, 9to5ers who were living for the weekend, non raving corporates in on a freebie, and the old party-goers who were back to see their music legends of yore. These different lives were united in the spirit of the festival: all dancing and all singing. Metropolis 2016 was an unforgettable event, and I have no doubt my fellow festival go-ers would say the same.
Roll on Metropolis 2017!
Words by Matt Armitage.
Photo credit to Omar O’Reilly.