Now in its third year, Metropolis has become one of the highlights of the festival calendar, rounding off the year nicely, and filling the gap until the following year’s festival-season kicks in. Previous years have seen the likes of Chic, Mark Ronson, and Grace Jones take to the stage.
When the bar is set that high, there is great expectation, so when it was announced that 90s R’n’B icons, TLC, would be performing (as a duo, following the untimely death of Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes back in 2002) there was great excitement.
The festival was also falling on the October Bank Holiday weekend, which meant no work the following day, which also added to its appeal. However, two things then happened. Firstly, it was revealed the Saturday was to be a much smaller affair, as only two stages would be open, and secondly, TLC cancelled. Add this to the fact that the Dublin City Marathon meant traffic diversions on the Sunday might make the festival tricky to get to, and it appeared that it might suffer an uncustomary wobble.
When I arrived on the Saturday, I have to admit it did appear a far more sedate affair than previous years. With legendary 90s dance-pioneers, Leftfield, set to play their ground-breaking album ‘Leftism‘ live and in its entirety, it seemed that everyone was there to see them.
While the other acts on the bill were greeted enthusiastically by the crowd, most of them appeared to be looking at the clock, and it was a very civilised affair. Even the fairground area was eerily quiet, with a few people politely riding the dodgems and carousels, compared to the usual bedlam at festivals.
Despite this, I have to give kudos to the performers, particularly Tara Stewart and Mango & Mathman, who really got the Industries Hall hopping. Meanwhile, Laurent Garner proved a popular precursor to headliners, Leftfield, who really did prove worth waiting for.
Dance music can be tricky to perform live, and loses something in translation, as often studio tricks are employed on albums, but Leftfield really pulled out all the stops, and the combination of performance, light show, and graphics combined to satiate even the most hardcore fan. Despite this, Saturday seemed like a rather civilised dance party, rather than a festival.
Fast forward to Sunday, and all I can say is OMG! I arrived not long after 5pm (the gates had opened at 3pm) and it was more like 11pm at night at an all-day festival. The ante had literally been upped overnight, as thousands of additional revellers (all accommodated by the fact Sunday had a higher capacity due to having access to five performance spaces instead of just two) wandered around creating dance spaces wherever they felt like it. People were already somewhat wild. The fairground was awash with all manner of creations, since many people had come in fancy-dress. Queues for bars, performance spaces and toilets were already epic, and the atmosphere was full-on party.
To be honest, I don’t think most people cared who was playing on the Sunday Night. They were just there for the atmosphere and a good time. The Warehouse Stage had turned into a scene reminiscent of the Hacienda circa 1995. The queues for this space were massive, with everyone keen to get a piece of the action, and there were some top acts taking to the stage, including Jeremy Underground, Adam Beyer and Richie Hawtin. I managed to catch part of all these, and they really were fantastic. However, over on the main stage, at the surprisingly early time of 6pm, the legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff was doing his thing.
I was surprised that there weren’t more people in the hall as he kicked off, but within a few minutes of his extremely old-skool set kicking in, it quickly filled up. He and his crew mixed everything from Michael Jackson to Nirvana, and even threw in the theme track to Fresh Prince of Bel Air, much to the crowds delight. From that point on, Old-Skool seemed pretty much order of the day – particularly in the Industries Hall.
The Fedz were banging out some pretty classic fare, and they were followed by the always-popular, Sing Along Social, who led the crowd in a singsong of well-known classics, and even Bingo Loco (which is basically rave bingo – it has to be seen to be believed) had stripped back their act for Sunday, so it basically became them leading the crowd, dancing to some classic tracks while throwing out prizes. Meanwhile, Bonzai played a storming set over on the Main Stage, and Jungle found an appreciative audience.
I have to admit being a bit surprised by the headliner on the main stage, Todd Terje. After all, his stage name is based on legendary DJ, Todd Terry, and many seem to think of him as a tribute act to the star. While he wouldn’t have been my first choice to top the bill, and I have to say I thought some of the other artists at the festival were more worthy, he did have the crowd on their feet hopping, and completely filled the main hall.
Obviously, I am only one person, and with so much activity I couldn’t get to see everything, so I never made the Red Bull Music Academy Talks, or their stage, but I heard great things about it. And on the whole it was a stormer of a festival.
The downsides – the difference in the format for Saturday and Sunday was rather disjointed. As always (because this has been an issue every year) there simply were not enough toilets – particularly on the Sunday, and there were only a few food outlets with not much variety, and Saturday had even less. Despite this, it was a lot of fun, and had an amazing atmosphere, even if it was extremely different on both days.
If they could sort out the toilet facilities for next year, this could continue to be a fantastic festival, but honestly, the lack of toilets was the biggest complaint I heard from everyone all weekend, which, in the grand scheme of things, is a great testament to the rest of the organisation.