There’s an inimitable buzz that comes with being the capital’s first and longest running city centre festival. Usually festival season escapism is facilitated by heading out to open fields in the country side, but since its inception Forbidden Fruit has been turning that notion on its head.
Situated in the grounds of the Irish Museum of Modern Art at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, the annual festival sees a hoard of people descend on the space for a savage bank holiday weekender.
While it may not have the same number of acts playing as some of the larger festivals, it makes up for that in the routinely brilliant curation of a forward-facing talent, whilst remaining committed to giving burgeoning Irish acts a platform to shine.
Throughout the ten years they’ve played host to acts ranging from Grimes to legendary grime MC Skepta, to the strange and wonderful sounds of Aphex Twin. In doing so have carved out their own lane in bringing some of the world’s weirdest and wonderful acts to the capital.
We’ve ranked all ten year’s line-ups from ten to one and in doing so we realised how crazy good some of the billings were. This was not an easy task, but here are your ten best Forbidden Fruit line-ups.
10. James Vincent McMorrow, Grimes, New Order – 2012
Giving Grimes her first Irish festival slot in 2012, FF illustrated its eye for talent, whilst ensuring there were genuine festival anthems with the inclusion of New Order.
Arguably their least inspired line-up it still contained some certified party-starters with an in-form Friendly Fires, Modeselektor and Purity ring also on the bill.
9. James Blake, Toro Y Moi, Everything Everything, Daphni – 2013
Just before James Blake was catapulted to the upper echelons of the music business he graced the Stage at Kilmainham. An astute booking that was joined by two time Mercury Prize nominated Everything Everything and Toro Y Moi.
This year could’ve potentially been higher, but points were deducted for the inclusion of Chic who after this performance seemingly had enough dirt on festival bookers across Ireland to ensure they’d have a permanent residence in our stages, our venues and in our heads.
10/10 for James Blake though.
8. Jamie XX, Caribou, Aphex Twin & Flaming Lips – 2011
The first edition of the festival leaned heavily on the electronic side of things and invited Young Turk’s resident showstopper Jamie XX for his first Irish DJ gig in the capital.
Having just released the now iconic ‘Swim’, Dan Snaith’s Caribou took to the stage to bring an added layer of magic to what was already an impressive inaugural line-up.
Imagine the scenes. The sun peaks through the clouds to illuminate a loud bunch of lads with chinos and Rihanna t-shirts from Penny’s, but nothing can darken your mood as you’ve recently scrapped your favourite indie band in favour of something cooler you’ve just discovered. You are seven cans deep, ‘Odessa’ is blasting live and Jamie XX is on straight after. You are off tomorrow and you realise you still have Aphex Twin seeing out the festival on the main stage. Life is good.
7. Flaming Lips, Little Dragon, Nils Frahm, Flying Lotus (3D), Thundercat & Captain Murphy, Public Enemy & Gold Panda – 2014
Flaming lips made a return in 2014 with German composer Nils Frahm bringing his beautiful electronic-classical combinations to Dublin too.
A stab at an even more adventurous line-up than the previous year, this paid off big time, with attendees lucky to see a 3D show from Flying Lotus as well as a performance under his rap moniker Captain Murphy alongside Thundercat.
Bringing the festival back down to earth was the legendary Public Enemy who provided a raw and equally real contrast to the otherworldly sounds on display from the likes of Nils, Flylo and Gold Panda.
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FF 2014: We saw the return of Flaming Lips alongside Bell X1, Little Dragon, Warpaint, 2manydjs, Klangkarussell, and Nils Frahm making his Irish festival debut. And of course the wonder Flying Lotus as seen below with his live audiovisual show and more. ⚡️⚡️⚡️ Video @ clohan84
6. Jorja Smith, Loyle Carner, Octavian, Underworld, Celeste, Partiboi69 – 2020
The line-up was filled with acts on the brink. Jorja Smith most notably looks set to be one of the UK’s finest exports in recent years and having featured on Loyle Carner’s most recent album there was potential there for a collaborative performance.
Octavian won the BBC Sound of 2019 and Celeste won the 2020 edition so there was no shortage of recognised talent on the billing. With Underworld having had some famous performances at the likes of Glastonbury they ticked the box for legendary act. This had potential to be higher on the list, with more acts likely to have been added.
What could’ve been.
5. Skepta, Mura Masa, Danny Brown, Maribou State, Mahalia – 2019
Last year saw a number of heavy hitters grace the stage.
Skepta shut down Kilmainham and just before he hit the stage there was mad sequence artists play one after another. Homeshake kicked things off before Frank Moody upped the ante, with things then going more left of field with Earl Sweatshirt before Detroit’s wackiest MC Danny Brown got the crowd in riotous form for Big Smoke.
4. Flying Lotus, Mall Grab, Bon Ivor, Mura Masa, Giggs, Danny Brown – 2017
Maintaining a commitment to pushing Irish talent, Forbidden Fruit launched a new stage with Bulmers in 2017 that hosted only Irish artists. There were 19 Irish acts in total including Rusangano Family, who were hot off the back of their 2016 Choice Prize, Soulé, Super Silly, Soft Boy’s Wastefellow and Mango representing the new wave of modern, Irish talent.
On the international side of things the poster boy of club music Mall Grab was on duty along with performances from Bon Ivor, Danny Brown and another return for Flying Lotus who had a magic 3D show.
3. Justice, Bonobo, Vince Staples, Four Tet, Thundercat, Earl Sweatshirt – 2018
2018 provided what feels like a quintessential FF line-up.
The west coast’s alternative rap heroes and frequent collaborators Earl Sweatshirt and Vince Staples were joined by frequent internet memer and jazz virtuoso Thundercat, with Justice bringing the essential electronic anthems to balance out the calmer sounds of Bonobo.
What a line-up that was.
2. Wu Tang, Run The Jewels, Jamie XX, Joey Bada$$ – 2015
2015 marked the dawn of a new era for Forbidden Fruit.
They swapped any guitar-led indie sounds that lingered from the 2010s for the riot-inducing hip hop that was taking over the world. Giving a nod to the pioneers that were Wu Tang and bringing new comers to the forefront like Joey Bada$$, they understood that enlisting Run The Jewels was an integral move for anyone on the fence, a peace-offering between generations.
They did however, maintain their penchant for inviting the world’s weirder sounds to the capital and 2015 saw Floating Points play followed by Mount Kimbie and then Jamie XX.
It also marked the return to a three day festival and perhaps the last time we were all truly happy. No Trump, no chat of Brexit, no coronavirus, just Earl’s stoner rap, Groove Armada as the sun set and your eyes rolling into the back of your head as Fatboy Slim’s visuals were beamed across the place.
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FF 2015: Half a decade of Forbidden Fruit saw a return to three-days and a new era for the festival. A line-up that included Wu-Tang Clan, Richie Hawtin, Fatboy Slim, Jamie xx, Run The Jewels, Nicolas Jaar, Joey Badass, Adam Beyer, Kelela, Earl Sweatshirt and many more. Including Groove Armada who closed the Undergrowth Stage for the first time with that special song… A post shared by Forbidden Fruit Festival (@forbiddenfruitfestival) on
1. Tame Impala, Underworld, Flume, Tom Misch, Katy B, Pusha T, Young Fathers, Freddie Gibbs, Dizzee Rascal, Jungle – 2016
I’ve got massive festival blueballs just looking at this line-up.
Two Mercury Prize winning acts in Dizzee and Young Fathers, Gangsta Gibbs and Pusha T seemingly fighting for the spot of artist on the bill with most cocaine one-liners, Jungle and Tame Impala bringing the summer vibes and Flume and Underworld on hand to take you to another world. 2016’s line-up was special.
The curation was on point and the sonic diversity hit the sweet spot without stretching listener’s ears too much. Acts like Tom Misch and Freddie Gibbs were great then and have grown so much since – it’s a strong showing of the festival’s taste making abilities.
It’s the kind of line-up that ropes you in to see one act and you end up leaving a huge fan of another you hadn’t heard of previously. Simultaneously you were served a huge dollop of nostalgia from the queen of electronic hooks Katy B and were at risk at getting caught in the crossfire of the boy on the corner’s lyrical machine gun. Just the thought of this is getting me excited.
Pass me a can.
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FF 2016: The sun shone for three days in Kilmainham… While we enjoyed the likes of Tame Impala, Underworld, Flume, Jungle, Dizzie Rascal, Pusha T, Kiasmos, Kerri Chandler, Groove Armada, Young Fathers, Skepta and many more. It was the first and last time Kevin Parker and his band headlined a festival in Ireland, just a year on from releasing the band’s third studio album ‘Currents’, only now have they been released they’re follow up album ‘The Slow Rush’ one of our current favourite new releases. ☀️☀️☀️ Swipe right for Skepta, Klingande & Underworld A post shared by Forbidden Fruit Festival (@forbiddenfruitfestival) on