Electric Picnic, once the one day alternative festival, has become the only major festival in the country. What’s so great about it is that it has maintained its bright, fun and friendly vibe while getting in the big acts and supplying diverse music, art and performance.
The weekend began for me with a can or two on a bus and some sweaty frantic tent assembly before Grizzly Bear at 6.30 on Friday. In great form they sang Dublin’s praises and played some songs from their forthcoming album. ‘While You Wait for the Others’ at the end of the set put a spring in everyone’s step. I swung over by the main stage to find Gavin Friday crooning to about a dozen people who must have thought he was Bono. Shocking to see the main stage occupied by a performer who the crowd have no interest in; a great laugh nonetheless. Donal Dineen’s Parish with Aminah Dastan, Niwel Tsumbu and guests was terrific. Packed full with a crowd who just wanted more and more, it was one of those sets that you get sucked into.
The day’s highlight had to have been Christy Moore. Watching him belt out the tunes to an absolutely packed and hyper audience was something to behold.
Saturday started perfectly with the Trinity Orchestra playing Dark Side of the Moon, over to Enemies then Tieranniesaur who drew a huge crowd. Bass player Ian McFarlane’s moves caught a lot of the crowd unaware. Word had it the next day that he took over their 3am set. David Kitt performed his revered album The Big Romance start to finish with members of Jape, The Redneck Manifesto, Spilly Walker (Kitt’s younger brother) and Sunken Foul. A truly great set. Patti Smith played the Crawdaddy Stage later on and left her crowd on an emotional high. The Cure played for 3 and half hours while Grimes showed off her euro-pop sounds with dancers in pink wigs. And later still were The Roots who were just what the doctor ordered – great humoured dancy-ness.
There was some sad news on Sunday morning when it was discovered that there was a human pooh outside one of the tents where I was staying. A great conversation starter first thing in the morning. Also the decoy tent in the center of the tents had been taken. Strange one that.
Body and Soul is a festival unto itself. Its chill and weirdness really makes the festival. I went in to the Sacred Union tent to find a tiny stage for acoustic acts and a stall selling delicious Chai tea. There was the Trocaire Trad tent, the Bamboo stage, hot tubs, and something called a Gamelatron which was a sort of automated Gamelan music tent with bean bags. It is so packed with stuff that it gets a little congested. On Sunday afternoon there were two tents opposite each other playing dance and electronic music as Seamus Fogarty played on the main Body and Soul stage and became drowned out by the beats. To top it the very entertaining Sun Ra tribute band Outerspaceways Incorporated marched about the place in shiny orange tabards.
A great discovery was the Bog Cabin. Try to imagine walking in to a medieval shebeen filled with weed smoking beardos and you might begin to understand this surreal place. I never caught the name of the band but I will not soon forget the bass player in the storm trooper helmet, the guitarist who sincerely asked if anyone had seen a black bag he left somewhere last night and the singer who drank half a bottle of honey in one go to sooth a sore throat. The most fucked looking bunch I saw all weekend.
One of the great things is that there are so many types of weekend to have without any infringing on any other at EP. To boot I don’t think there’s been better weather. It’s a great festival and one to be proud of. It’s hard not to make the point that there was none of the nonsense that was at the Phoenix Park. There were plenty of families about and all the cops seemed up for a laugh (saw three separate ones more than willing to get into photos.) Good times.