The greatest feat one can achieve at Electric Picnic, bar surviving the weekend itself, is scheduling out a timetable that fits in every band you really want to see. It’s tough. You have to be scrupulous, strict and speedy. It’s almost like the thrill of the chase and beating personal times are better than seeing the wondrous selection of bands and DJs. Almost.
Two of the biggest acts on Friday were The xx and Sigur Rós. I christen that day Mellow Friday. These are two huge acts with a following as dedicated as a fruit fly to a rotting pear and, unfortunately, the main stage did them no justice. Whatever it was, lack of atmosphere, not intimate enough, but two sets that should have been skin-tingling, fell flat. It was worth noting that for Sigur Rós, Ed Sheeran was playing at the same time, and you could see this from the dwindling crowd which is disheartening for the sake of humankind. The xx’s ‘VCR’ and ‘Islands’ and Sigur Rós’ ‘Hoppípolla’ were particularly magical and I’ll just blame the rest of the mild pzazz down to Ed Sheeran. Always blame him.
Grizzly Bear were also partaking in Mellow Friday and with a deliverance of mostly new music, they won over the crowd’s hearts by declaring the intense love for Ireland. We’re in the top two of best crowds apparently. Sound.
To gather one’s bearings on Saturday morning, David Coffey’s play Singlehood was a great way to start. It was funny, endearing and when you noticed the guy beside you laughing too hard at the internet dating jokes, you knew to move away. As a preview to its first run during Dublin’s Absolut Fringe Festival, I recommend that everyone go see it later this month – if you’re into having your ribcage tickled and heartstrings pulled, like.
Springing from fantastic to unbelievably fantastic in 12 months, it would appear that London life is suiting The Cast Of Cheers well. With a certain BBC Radio 1 DJ playing their song ‘Family’ twice in a row last year, it’s great to see that with overdue recognition, it takes a bunch of lovable louts at Electric Picnic singing along to every word to leave frontman, Conor Adams speechless. One lady who wasn’t lost for words was Kimbra. Her energy was verging on offensive so early on in the day but with songs like ‘Cameo Lover’ and ‘Two Way Street’, her fever spread and when she returns to town, her show would be on many must-see lists.
With the knowledge that The Cure would be playing for three hours, one could easily slip off through the set without feeling any guilt. Robert Smith’s voice is as perfect as it was when they first came on the scene. There were no shadows of former glory, except the shadow of his hair, which is still out of control. They delivered the hits (‘Friday I’m In Love’, ‘Close To You’, ‘The Caterpillar’) amidst lesser-known tracks but the crowd hung onto every note which made it easier for me to go and get some serious sweat pumping for Caribou vs. Four Tet in the Little Big Tent. This tent has some sort of vortex of fun hold on everyone. Over the weekend, the liveliest and best crowds were to be found here. Between James Murphy’s DJ set with Pat Mahoney, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Le Galaxie and John Talabot (the latter two I will divulge into more further down), Little Big Tent was the party tent.
Not shy of busting a few moves herself, Grimes did a fine job of making the best of a bad situation (most of her stage gear was stolen at a Manchester gig). Her stage dancers could rival TEED’s dino babes and the security were left very disgruntled by the mischief that sprung from this radiant set. The last two acts of the night – Squarepusher and Le Galaxie were the absolute cherry on top of a hectic day and night in the main arena. Squarepusher’s set was literally blinding with visuals that would repeat on you later. What started out brilliantly, was defecated upon by his need to just pull bass strings and leave them reverb until your brain rattled. Not to sound like anyone’s mam, but it was just noise and Le Galaxie’s set was utter heaven in comparison. The brief appearance from Fight Like Apes’ MayKay was much-appreciated for a cover of N-Trance’s ‘Set You Free’ that was plunged in among Le Galaxie’s much-loved songs, which are generally life-assuring when played live. The visuals were provided by LeTissier and their trademark Jurassic Park contribution has prompted me to phone Michael D. and ask him to make it our new national anthem.
As with Friday night, once the main arena was closed off, the Algorhythm Stage, aka the rave in the woods, was the place to be. Block T provided visuals for the host of mostly Dublin-based DJs who were the soundtrack for making, and losing, soulmates in the wee hours.
Due to Saturday’s shenanigans, the Sunday line-up was kept to a minimum. It was quality over quantity this time and the award for the biggest package of the day went to John Talabot. His set was possibly my overall highlight of the weekend but saying that is like picking your favourite pancake out of a very good batter batch. Honurable Sunday mentions will be given to the seductive Bat For Lashes, the people’s man James Murphy and the three songs of Hot Chip that I got before I caught the midnight train home.
Electric Picnic 2012 was a success and even though we were left pining for the privilege of running water and a mattress, a part of our hearts will always be in Stradbally, scattered amongst discarded tents and remnants of glitter.