It’s festival season. Also known as, the country’s excuse to cover themselves in glitter and get drunk in a field at 1pm. Longitude is the camping-less, and therefore cleaner, alternative to Electric Picnic. It has also become the most mainstream of our music festivals. Hip hop dominates both Friday and Saturday this year, and most of the line up panders to pop sensibilities more than Electric Picnic or Body & Soul have. So instead of lounging around all day waiting for the headline act, here are some smaller artists that deserve an audience.

1) Ray Blk:

This 23 year old hip-hop singer was named BBC’s Sound of 2017, following in the footsteps of British popstars like Adele, Jessie J and Sam Smith. She studied English with a focus on post colonial Nigerian literature. Her infectious breakout single ‘My Hood’ features Longitude headliner Stormzy and lyrically, it describes her complicated relationship with her home in south London. Critics are coming out of the woodwork to label her as ‘the next big thing’, so don’t miss her Irish debut on Saturday.

2) Jorja Smith:

Hailing from the English midlands, 20 year old Smith uploaded her debut to Soundcloud only last year. Her first single Blue Lights samples Dizzee Rascal’s song Sirens and lyrically comments on police brutality. Her neo-soul sound has already gained her fans in Alt-J and Drake, the latter of which featured her on his most recent album.

3) Aine Cahill:


This Cavan singer might just be Ireland’s Adele. Her song Black Dahlia details the famous 1947 unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short, who became known as the Black Dahlia. Cahill’s soul voice and film noir imagery transform the song a long lost Bond theme song or a Lana Del Rey-esque Hollywood hymn; it’s magical.

4) Rex Orange County:

 Rex Orange County sounds like Alex Turner started an early Frank Ocean inspired side-project. In reality, a Surrey 18 year old named Alex O’Connor has written, recorded and produced some of the most interesting alternative music of this year. His lyrics detail the intoxicating melodrama of teenage years and his hazy tunes are already getting recognition from the likes of Fader, NME and Tyler, the Creator.

5) Earl Sweatshirt:

 It would be incredibly difficult to be a fan of hip-hop and not have heard of Earl Sweatshirt. He’s been making waves since 2009, with both his solo releases and as part of Tyler, the Creator’s supergroup Odd Future. He is due to release his third album later this year and he hasn’t been in Dublin since an Academy date in 2014, so this set is one not to miss.

6) Bitch Falcon:

 Bitch Falcon are holding up the hardcore end of this year’s line up, their passionate 90’s inspired grunge stands in stark contrast to Picture This or Gucci Mane. Regardless, this Dublin three-piece are spearheading a new wave of Irish rock music. They are one of the most hardworking and talented live Irish bands, so if you can’t see their set on Friday at Longitude, make sure you catch them at any of the other Irish festivals.

7) Dermot Kennedy:

 Dermot Kennedy is an Irish folk singer with a voice strikingly similar to that of Matthew Mumford, the emotive lyrics of a young Glen Hansard and the electronic flavour of James Blake. If you’re looking for someone to sway along with or doze off on the grass to, this is it.

8) The Very Best:

 This trio worked with headliners Mumford and Sons and Baaba Maal on their latest EP Johannesburg, so keep an eye out for them joining them on the main stage. Their unique genre is often described as ‘Afrotronic’; electronic music with vocals inspired by African traditional music. Their own debut full length album featured M.I.A. and Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend. For any fans of electronic or soft house, these guys will give a unique performance.

Muireann O’Shea