Monday mornings can always be a bit of a grind but day is perhaps more so, as we suspect the majority of State readers we try to put themselves back together after a long Electric Picnic weekend. Our live reviews, photo galleries and video are to follow but, to kick us off, here’s what we garnered from the festival itself as a whole…
1. It’s here to stay
While EP was always a hit with the punters, the business side of things didn’t always run smoothly and it took the intervention of Festival Republic to steady the ship. Their influence and clout has become clear, with bigger names and an initial shift in feel, but it’s hard to argue with 47,000 tickets sold – an increase of 17,000 on the festival’s initial capacity – and you suspect that it’ll only get bigger. Mind you, that does lead to certain downsides.
2. Corporate presence
Those headliners don’t pay for themselves, you know, and this year saw an increased visibility of brands on site. Pretty much without exception, everything they touched was fairly crap. Perhaps there’s a brand out there that could find a way of integrating into the EP vibe without resorting to horrible, tacky areas and attractive young people trying to draw you in but there’s no sign of them yet. Certain areas felt as if someone had smuggled the Oxegen festival onto the site in their backpack.
3. You can’t kill the spirit
Despite this, it has to be said that the traditional feel of the festival has been maintained, possibly even improved. The nasty bits are massively outnumbered by the nice stuff and while the main arena is still a pretty soulless affair, the rest of the site offers good times a plenty. Body & Soul is obviously still a wonderful experience but it’s now being run close by the Trailer Park area, the Salty Dog and the Other Voices enclave in the woods. The addition of the Despacio tent was a masterstroke, especially sitting as it did next to those clowns in the cocktail bar. A word too for the Oxjam tent, which kept the quality new sounds coming all weekend courtesy of ourselves, Homebeat and Abner Browns.
4. The music policy was pretty spot on
For the first time in a while, all three headliners delivered the goods and the rest of the main arena bill delivered it’s fair share of highlights. The real beauty of EP, though, is to be found in its nooks and crannies and there was always a surprise around the corner – from two bluesmen covering ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ to numerous second appearances and what seemed like an act at every turn, if you didn’t find something to entertain you at every point you were very much in the wrong place.
5. It’s an Irish festival
An obvious point perhaps, but given the amount of music on offer, it’s no surprise that the majority comes from these shores. Perhaps it’s time then to stop talking about the ‘Irish bands’ to see at events like these, you wouldn’t find the NME singling out the British bands at Glastonbury. It comes with good intentions for sure but we should recognise that, on home turf, these acts are the lifeblood of Electric Picnic and other festivals – and often main draw for the more clued in festival goers. Let’s not put them in a box.
Photo: Jennifer Gibbons