Stevie G: Age ain’t nothing but a festival...

There's something for every age group on the festival front, if you look around, so says Stevie G in his weekly column
Stevie G: Age ain’t nothing but a festival...

ONE of the big talking points this festival season has been about age. Festivals are traditionally events where people of lots of different ages and tastes and styles and backgrounds mix freely and you can definitely see this ethos at some of the big festivals that have developed here over the years.

As time went on, festivals have become even more ubiquitous though and promoters have targeted specific groups, and age is often one of the easier ways to do this.

Longitude is a case in point. Just five or six years ago it was a typical Irish music festival, that was booking the likes of Kraftwerk, Hozier, Vampire Weekend, Massive Attack, and a good selection of currently popular or important music artists of the time. As more festivals came on board, Longitude honed in on the more hip-hop side of things and while they always had a few rap acts on their bill, by 2016 they had stepped this up significantly with the additions of Kendrick Lamar, Stormzy, Rejjie Snow, Tyler the Creator, Run the Jewels, and many more.

The Sunday of that year continued on a more indie path with The National and Father John Misty among others, but by 2018 even the Sunday was more urban. This time Solange, Sza, Anderson Paak, Kali Uchis, and Sampha were added to an already stacked bill which elsewhere that weekend had seen Post Malone, Tyler the Creator again, Migos, Khalid, and Playboi Carti play to huge crowds in south Dublin. The Sunday was certainly a much older crowd, but there was no hiding from the fact that Longitude was now a festival which was aimed at the youngsters into hip-hop and R&B.

The line-up in 2018 was as good as we’ve ever seen for a hip-hop festival in Ireland and this year’s line-up was pretty amazing too.

Unfortunately a few high-profile pullouts diluted that somewhat, with Lil Uzi Vert, A$AP Rocky, and Chance the Rapper among those who didn’t play, for various reasons.

The organisers drafted Ski Mask the Slump God in on Friday with Kojaque, and cleverly added Stormzy to the Saturday headline bill, while managing to get Cardi B back a year after her originally scheduled show was cancelled due to her own pregnancy.

Stormzy and Cardi B are two massive headliners, in fairness. Both attract more than just teenagers but at this stage Longitide is seen as a teenage festival. Even those in their early 20s were complaining that they felt old, but that younger age group are also deserving of their own big festival, as most of the other festivals and indeed clubs are aimed at older people.

Oxegen, a precursor to Longitude but a messier festival, also underwent identity changes in its time but never really recovered from being deemed ‘just a kids festival’.

Longitude is run by the same promoters but this time they have embraced the youthfulness of the crowds with line-ups that have older folk scratching their heads in disbelief. This is probably a good thing. It’s very notable that a lot of black Irish youngsters embrace Longitude too, and the line-up appeals to people who want more than just indie rock and dance DJs.

Electric Picnic, once seen as the mature option of choice, is very much a mix of diverse ages still, and some who’ve been regulars for years are found moaning about the young age! Body & Soul still has a nice mix of ages while All Together Now, the heir in many ways to the Electric Picnic, is seen as the more suitable one for the mature festival-goer who doesn’t want to bump into their teenage son or daughter.

Indiependence and Sea Sessions are unapologetically younger and almost always sold out, so it’s good to know your market. Meanwhile, Kaleidscope is one of a few new festivals aiming at families, and from reports of their first one a few weeks ago, they got it right.

In Cork, It Takes a Village is for a more mature music fan, and there’s very few youngsters, while kids aren’t really allowed. This is a festival that will grow and grow in the next few years and those who attended the first two were fulsome in their praise of it. As Longitude took place in Dublin, Forever Young welcomed a much older crowd at an 80s type festival in Palmerstown House. Ultimately, there is something for every age group if you look around!

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