Borderline poster
Credit: Singular Artists

FESTIVAL REPORT: Borderline Festival

When: 15 and 16 February 2024

Where: The Workman’s Club, Dublin.

The inaugural Borderline festival took place in Dublin on 15 and 16 February across two rooms in The Workman’s Club. The festival showcased the “finest in forward-facing music from Ireland and abroad”. The curation of artists participating and the location in one venue across two rooms created a two day event that will live long in the memory, and hopefully will become an annual event.

The first day saw university open the event in the Main Room. This thrilling 4-piece from Crewe create genre-defying, seemingly chaotic music which still manages to worm its way into your ears. They were followed by Brighton punks Lambrini Girls who create joyous mayhem wherever they go, blurring the division between stage and crowd. Playing on release date of new single ‘God’s Country‘, the track is one of their best to date. Fat Dog continued the chaos with their infectious music which is simply fun, fun, fun. This is music to mosh to, never mind dance to. To close out the night on the Main Stage, it is Manchester’s Antony Szmeirek with his full band. Dance beats and lyrics bursting with the observations of life what a way to end day one. Antony constantly engages with the crowd, singing straight at, what felt like, each and every one of us. At one point he made it to each of the three walls of the venue, in just one song! No mean feat weaving through the room and again melting away the boundaries between artist and crowd.

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Day Two in the Main Room began with Cardinals who are newly signed to So Young Records. This band released their debut on the label Roseland last year and create a blend of indie, punk and rock. Sam Akpro was next onstage. His second EP Arrival saw him breakthrough in 2023 and is currently being supported by BBC Radio 6 with plays of his last single ‘Death by Entertainment‘. Belfast’s Enola Gay followed, raising the roof with their energy and noise. The four-piece have had an exceptional 2023 and to see them in Dublin was thrilling. Bringing on Maruja‘s saxophonist Joe Carroll was inspired, adding an extra layer to the chaos. A dash downstairs to the more intimate space for Maruja’s own set. This is a band who is going to fly in 2024. The mix of soundscapes means they are difficult to pigeon-hole. One minute wild and feral, then next calm and emotive they create a live set which you can lose yourself and yet which bounces. Both Joe and lead singer Harry Wilkinson ended up in the crowd – a feature of this festival! Belfast DJ and producer Mount Palomar followed and we were treated to a party, with more collaboration with not only Joe McVeigh from Enola Gay, and members of Maruja (Mount Palomar and Harry Wilkinson produced the single ‘Embers‘ which they performed), but the audience who also ended up onstage! It was utter chaos and it was utterly joyous. Dance should be like this, and seemed to be the obvious way to end the night after all that had gone before.

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As with all festivals there were decisions to be made but given this took place in one building was a huge asset for Borderline. Nipping up and down the stairs was easy and with bars everywhere there wasn’t horrendous queues to get liquid refreshment. The artists were an enlightening combination of up-and-coming and not so well known so there was room for experimentation and to possibly discover your new favourite. A highly enjoyable debut and one that, fingers crossed, will be repeated next year.

For more information on Borderlines Festival please check out their website.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.