We’re only a few hours away from the start of this year’s Electric Picnic, the festival’s tenth anniversary celebration. Some new elements have been suggested, but the musical line-up is certainly as strong as ever. Here’s twenty of the best…
Billy Bragg – Electric Arena, 9.30pm Saturday
He cuts a mellow figure on latest album Tooth & Nail, yet live Billy Bragg is still as fired up as ever. Backed by his best band for a while, it’s also a chance to see an international visitor who takes the time to engage with his surroundings rather than trotting out the same old platitudes.
Black Uhuru – Main Stage, 2.30pm Sunday
Part of the Jamaican reggae scene that so inspired the Clash and some of their fellow punks, Black Uhuru have been producing blood and fire for over 40 years. Here’s hoping the main stage sound people can find the bass overdrive button.
Braids – Cosby Stage, 5pm Sunday
Yet another Canadian band making waves away from home, Braids are still reassuringly left of centre. Mixing post-rock with foul mouthed lyrics, delivered by Raphelle Standell-Preston, it won’t be the easiest listen of the weekend but may well be one of the best.
Chvrches – Cosby Stage, 6.15pm Sunday
Faced with extremely high expectations, Glasgow trio Chvrches have so far managed to maintain the pace. A late 2012 Olympia support to Passion Pit proved they had the live chops and now it’s time to tackle the festival challenge before they move onto their debut album.
Ellie Goulding – Main Stage, 5.30pm Saturday
Will the real Ellie Goulding please stand up? Either a tabloid friendly pop star or genuinely interesting artist, she shows both sides but we hope that this prime slot will see more of the latter.
Hozier – Little Big Tent, 12.30pm / Global Green 6.10pm Saturday
Hozier has been here before – as part of Trinity College Orchestra – but this year sees him return as a solo artist. He may only have one EP under his belt (the State premiered Take Me To Church) but already the word is starting to spread.
Jagwar Ma – Cosby Tent, 7.30pm Sunday
Much loved on record by the State collective, we suspect that this early evening slot could be heavily oversubscribed.
Jerry Fish, RSAG and Lisa Hannigan – Trailer Park 7.50pm, Saturday
While the Walkmen are charming the Electric Arena and Savages are making sure you’re all using people’s preferred pronouns, Jerry Fish will be trotting out a few guests at his Electric Sideshow, as one-man band/chimney sweep Rarely Seen Above Ground and the always bewitching Lisa Hannigan join him for a brief set. Head along if only to see how Hannigan’s husky yet delicate timbre deals with the added percussive might Jeremy Hickey will inevitably bring.
John Grant – Rankin Woods, 9.30pm Saturday
The kind of act that Stradbally was made for, it would be hard to imagine John Grant on any of the other festival bills in Ireland this summer. It’s hard to see him being anything less than a triumph here though, especially with his easy going charm sitting in stark contrast to some of the darker elements in his music.
John Murry – Rankin Woods, 2:15pm Saturday
The Graceless Age is among the best-reviewed and under-listened albums of the year; this will not be rectified at a mid-afternoon set on a small stage in Stradbally, but John Murry will be worth seeing regardless. His combination of incisive folk and sunny country-tinged rock should be a perfect combination for a relaxing start to Saturday.
Merchandise – Cosby Stage, 11.15pm Saturday
One of the main buzz bands of the summer, Merchandise arrive at a festival not noted for it’s hardcore punk element. Actually, that would seem to suit a band who are already yearning to expand their sound. Quite possibly one of the most intriguing prospects of the weekend.
Mount Kimbie – Little Big Tent, 9.30pm Sunday
Following a frankly disastrous experience with The xx at the O2, you feel that Electric Picnic owes Mount Kimbie a good one. This last night slot should go a long way to repaying the debt.
My Bloody Valentine – Main Stage, 9pm Friday
The last time MBV made their way to Stradbally they seemed to be just another band on the comeback trail, revisiting past glories – albeit very well and very, very loudly. Since then, they’ve caught us by surprise with the release of mbv, a record that was far better than it perhaps ever had a right to be. All of which makes their EP return a reason to rejoice, even if the great outdoors may not be their natural environment.
Robert Plant presents Sensational Shape Shifters – Main Stage, 7pm Saturday
While many may have found his decision not to jump on the Led Zepplin reunion bandwagon baffling (not least Jimmy Page), Robert Plant has always been a solo artist who has carried himself with dignity and, in the process, taken some diverting left turns. This latest incarnation is fairly true to his rock past, no bad thing when it enables him to tear into a few tunes that you may recognise from somewhere.
Skip&Die – Body & Soul Main Stage, 2.30am Friday
The opening night is a little light on highlights this year, but this meeting of South African and European sounds should round it off nicely.
The Beat – Main Stage, 1pm Saturday
Often overlooked when it comes to the 2Tone story, The Beat nonetheless held their own during the label’s heyday. Their problem has perhaps been that they’ve kept going ever since, losing virtually all their original members – bar Ranking Roger – along the way. This could well be a golden opportunity to re-introduce themselves to an Irish audience though, especially with such a hit laden back catalogue.
The Knife – Electric Arena, 10:30pm Sunday
Let’s be honest here: the Knife’s Electric Arena-closing set could be one of the worst things you will ever see at a music festival not to require lengthy time in a psychiatrist’s office afterwards. Reports say there will be little in the way of ‘live’ music but an abundance of synchronised dancing and garish shellsuits, but you owe it to yourself to see them, if only to say “yeah, they were shite” and head along to Arctic Monkeys after ten minutes.
The Walkmen – Electric Arena, 8.15pm Saturday
Hardly the most regular visitors to these shores, the prospect of a Walkmen show on Irish turf is always appealing and with last year’s Heaven album up there with their best, Saturday’s slot will be one for the purists.
Tig Linn – Body & Soul Main Stage 1pm / Earthship 7pm – Sunday
A chance State discovery at Body & Soul’s own festival earlier in the summer, Tig Linn’s collision of Irish traditional and African music is nothing particularly new yet stil delivered with enough style and energy to make it sound fresh. Once again in the welcoming surroundings of the festival within a festival, this will be as warm an experience as you’ll find anywhere over the weekend.
Warpaint – Electric Arena, 7pm Sunday
When they passed this way in 2011, Warpaint proved that there was more to them than just some clever hype and a killer debut single. Two years later they’re back to show that they can do it all over again.