'It’s hard to describe, but if you could bottle it you’d make a fortune'

Today FM's Joe Donnelly relives a weekend he won't be forgetting in a hurry...

2013 was the first year of the Longitude Festival in Marlay Park, and the line-up that year was eclectic to say the least, featuring artists like Vampire Weekend, Kraftwerk, and London Grammar.

The roster at Longitude this year couldn’t have been more different: SZA, Solange, J. Cole, Post Malone. There was a lot of debate on social media when this year’s Longitude acts were announced.

You were either young and/or hip, or else completely out of touch with what ‘young people’ listen to and want to listen to. I didn’t really mind either way. Longitude is one of my favourite festivals because of its size and ease of access.

It doesn’t involve camping either, which is great because I can be home by half eleven each night, tucked up in bed with a mug of Ovaltine and a copy of Ireland’s Own

I’ve had the pleasure of broadcasting from a lot of festivals: Oxegen, Forbidden Fruit, Electric Picnic. However, nothing compares to the atmosphere and experience of Longitude 2018.

Our plan was to put on a variety of DJ sets across the weekend, two live radio shows and a Saturday night stage show.

In hindsight, putting on a good DJ set was always going to be the best way to go. After Friday night with Claire Beck, Ed Smith and Fergal D'Arcy all banging out the tunes, word spread that the Today FM tent was a good place for a party.

On Saturday afternoon I did an unplanned set, in the afternoon. It was insane. It didn’t matter what song was played, so long as it was a hit with a big chorus the festivalgoers loved it. And I mean they loved it.

There’s no feeling like playing music to an appreciative crowd. I’ve never witnessed the response I witnessed at Longitude. The tent was rammed. Everyone was singing the lyrics, hands in the air, jumping up and down.

Beck took over and kept the party going and then Fergal D'Arcy stepped up and kept the hits coming.

They were having the time of their lives, and this was the theme for the weekend. When Declan Pierce and Hit Machine Drummers commandeered the Today FM stage that Saturday night, they continued having the time of their lives.

When I resumed service early Sunday afternoon, nobody wasted any time in gathering in the Today FM to celebrate being at Longitude. That’s the best way to put it: a celebration. Celebrating the summer, celebrating hearing your favourite song. Check out this video below, taken at about half two on a drizzly Sunday afternoon:

The fun never stopped all weekend. There were people who stayed in our tent from the early afternoon until the last song was played and the lights went up. Daft As Punk absolutely smashed it on Sunday evening with an amazing two hour set. Ed’s Songs of Praise only upped the ante with a rake of classics from the 80s, 90s and 00s, and the crowd knew every word to every song.

What was it about the crowd at Longitude this year? They were incredibly sound and good fun. They were buzzing. They were happy. They wanted tunes, and lots of them. They were young and – maybe this is the key – it was a first festival experience for many of them.

Do you remember that unbridled thrill of being at your very first music festival? Do you remember the sense of freedom? No parents, no school, no exams, no hanging around with nothing to do. This is it. You’re finally here, you’re with your friends, and it’s mad. It’s hard to describe, but if you could bottle it you’d make a fortune.

I think we were part of their experience. I think we even made their experience. We played their music, we painted their faces and took selfies with them and threw around Today FM beach balls with them. We danced and sang along and threw our hands in the air with them. We blasted out everything from Avicci to A-Ha, and the Weekend to Wu Tang Clan.

We went to Longitude not knowing quite what to expect; we left having been given a wonderful reminder of what it’s all about.