Longitude has come a long way from its inception in 2013. Having parked up in Marley Park every summer (Well almost, but we’ll get to that) since then, there’s been some deadly acts grace the stage.
In recent years it’s been a hip hop heavy line-up that largely reflects what teens and young adults across the country are listening to at the time. Simultaneously it’s been a huge proponent for young, Irish talent across a number of genres, often giving acts a stage in front of thousands of punters for the first time in their careers.
The festival has largely had its finger on the pulse of youth culture and music in Ireland and its continued growth until the present day has reflected that.
We’ve scanned the festival’s various line-ups, weighed up the pros and cons and chatted among ourselves about the definitive performances in its history and came up with a ranking for every single line-up. There’s chat about the infamous imprisonment of a certain headliner that caused him to miss his slot, the careful curation of acts that got them early shows in Ireland and then the star-studded line-ups that cemented their place in the history books.
8. Longitude 2013
Alright, I’m going to get this one out of the way quickly.
Most of this list was wrought with indecision and second thoughts, however, the last place was an easy pick.
I’ll give the bookers the benefit of the doubt with this one as it was the first year and the festival was still finding its feet and identity. For some perspective some of the biggest tracks of that year were ‘Harlem Shake’ by Baauer, ‘Radioactive’ by Imagine Dragons and ‘Thrift Shop’ by Macklemore. It was a dark time, even for the charts.
I get traumatic trembles just thinking about the inevitable flash mobs and ‘❤︎ SUMMUR 2013 ❤︎’ Facebook albums dedicated to Kodaline on the mainstage.
Though the likes of Flume and SBTRKT were nice additions there weren’t many acts to shout about.
Highlights: Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, SOAK, Kraftwerk, SBTRKT, Flume, Gold Panda.
Lowlights: Jake Bugg, Kodaline, Hudson Taylor.
7. Longitude 2014
2014 was the second year of the Longitude and like the first, reflected much of what was getting spun on the radio at the time.
We did, however, have the forward-facing raps from a young Joey Bada$$, the soothing sounds of Bonobo and beautiful noise from Massive Attack. Disclosure were a great mainstage addition too.
Otherwise some pretty uninspired choices across the three days.
Minus points for bringing Hudson Taylor back again.
Highlights: Massive Attack, Bonobo, Joey Bada$$, Bondax, Krystal Klear.
Lowlights: Ben Howard, Bastille, Hudson Taylor.
Now that’s more like it.
The 2015 line-up pretty much pulled in the teenage indie kids with Hozier and The Vaccines into their coming-of-age experiential extravaganza. They came for Catfish & The Bottlemen and left a James Blake stan. That’s what is so great about the early years of the festival, it provided an accessible adventure for festival-goers to spread their wings and fly.
When you were finished crying to Tove Lo you could grow some hairs on your chin at one of Danny Brown’s mosh pits.
Highlights: Caribou, James Blake, Danny Brown, Toro Y Moi, Todd Terje, Young Fathers.
Lowlights: Vaccines, Catfish & The Bottlemen.
5. Longitude 2016
Inject it into my veins.
The year previous Jamie xx dropped ‘In Colour’, Kendrick dropped ‘T.P.A.B’ and Rusangano had just won The Choice Prize. Annie Mac spinning tunes, pre-superstardom Christine & The Queens and Killer Mike and EL-P doing their thing on the mainstage, 2016 was good vibes.
Highlights: Kendrick Lamar, Run The Jewels, Jamie XX, Tyler, the Creator, Rejjie Snow.
Lowlights: The Coronas, Major Lazer, The Lumineers.
4. Longitude 2020
Ok, so this is the best line-up. I don’t think there’s a question.
Kendrick Lamar in his prime and rumoured to be dropping his next album, Tyler off the back off a Grammy win and his first no. 1 album and a cultural behemoth in A$AP Rocky all were set to headline. Then we had the late Pop Smoke, alongside Charlie XCX who is unquestionably making some of the most exciting pop music out there among a host of other heavy hitters.
2020 was supposed to be the year. While The Coronas arguably dented the prestige of other line-ups it would be a thoroughly more unpredictable Corona that stalled proceedings this time. Despite how tasty the line-up was looking pre-COVID we can’t award the top spot to a festival that never happened.
Highlights: I mean the whole line-up was *fire emojis*.
3. Longitude 2019
Cancellations marred last year’s festivities and at the time I thought that things could never get more bizarre than a headliner ending up in a cell in Sweden and missing his slot (I’m looking at you A$AP), but 2020 proved me wrong.
Chance The Rapper was also supposed to headline, and despite the disappointment of ‘The Big Day’, he still had a boatload of hits to perform before he got meme’d into oblivion. Alas, he ended up cancelling, but it was a blessing in disguise and Stormzy, hot of the back of his legendary Glastonbury performance came through with a performance for the ages.
The long-used gimmick of donning an Ireland football on stage, felt genuinely sincere as flattered the crowd in between songs.
Elsewhere we had a cohort of moshpit-inducing aggressive rap from slowthai, JPEGMAFIA, Flatbush Zombies and $UICIDEBOY$. Denzel Curry even wrecked his foot on stage and ended up bouncing around on one foot. Despite the chaos that the festival was faced with it excelled with one of its strongest line-ups to date, that cemented its position as must-attend for hip hop fans.
I kind of felt bad for Sheck Wes as he got little to no response from his performance until he gave an audible sigh and gave into demands to play ‘Mo Bamba’.
Worth mentioning that the late JuiceWRLD put in an incredible performance before he sadly passed earlier this year.
Highlights: Denzel Curry, JPEGMAFIA, Cardi B, Stormzy, slowthai, Vince Staples and JuiceWRLD.
Lowlights: Sheck Wes, A$AP & Chance for obvious reasons.
2. Longitude 2017
The curation was really on point in 2017.
Dave was just 19 and in the early stages of a career that would lead him to bag a role in ‘Top Boy’, win a Brit Award and become one of the most exciting talents in the UK when he graced the main stage. Elsewhere The Weeknd had stepped out of the shadows and dropped his first mainstream crossover record in ‘Star Boy’ that led him to become the superstar he is today and Jorja Smith was on a huge upward trajectory when she landed in Marley Park.
Longitude 2017 was also last time the late Mac Miller touched down on Irish shores to rally a crowd.
Rex Orange County was to feature heavily on Tyler, The Creator’s ‘Flower Boy’ that would drop literally the following week.
Arguably the most important feature of the whole line-up is Gucci Mane’s inclusion. He went on to shoot a video at the K Club for ‘Member’s Only’ if you haven’t seen it yet you are in for a treat.
Highlights: Stormzy, Dave, the Weekend, Skepta, Mac Miller, Mick Jenkins, Tom Misch, Loyle Carner.
Lowlights: Picture This, Mumford & Sons, Catfish & The Bottlemen.
1. Longitude 2018
2018 ticked all the boxes.
Megastar headliners? Check. Variety of different styles on show? Check. Tons of Irish talent? Check.
In terms of gender balance too, Longitude nailed it in 2018. There was something for everyone without pandering to the masses with loads of chart fodder. Yes, there may have been a few clashes, but in all honesty, that’s a sign of a stacked line-up.
Solange seeing out the mainstage on the Sunday night was pure bliss and highlighted the evolution of the festival since its inaugural year where German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk saw out the final night.
Tyler was also banned from the UK at the time and it felt like we were all getting one over on the Brits by ushering Flower Boy into our open arms. ‘Mere you, we’ll look after ya!
Kojaque and Dublin pair Mango X MathMan chopped it up on the same stage as Mabel, Tebi Rex and JyellowL played either side of Dreamville’s Bas and Erica Cody and Soulé shook up the place after London’s Jesse James Solomon. It felt like the new stalwarts of the modern Irish music scene were getting the recognition they deserved and were being placed among their peers rather than off to the side on some Irish-only stage.
Highlights: J. Cole, Tyler, The Creator, Travis Scott, Solange, SZA, Anderson .Paak, Kali Uchis, Rejjie Snow, Joey Bada4$$.
Lowlights: Is there any? Other than a certain Irish rap duo.
Photo: Glen Bollard