Cloud Castle Lake are the first of the Irish draws on the Friday. The Dubliners produced a spacey performance that welcomed the Crawdaddy Stage effectively to the sheer range of music on offer at Electric Picnic. Their live show is all about atmospherics, a laid back, mellow-electronic vibe accompanied by the occasional downbeat, organic drum solo; one to watch.
Chew Lips are an entirely different proposition, fronted by the petite yet rowdy ‘Tigs’ and producing a slick electro-pop performance accompanied by their own name in big, bold lights along the back of the stage. Songs like ‘Karen’ have a pounding live atmospheric, while slow-builders like ‘Slick’ emphasize the group’s song writing prowess. Chew Lips are arguably yet to write the smash they’d need to explode onto the scene in a way the hype might have you expecting, but they’ve certainly got a strength in depth, highlighted here by a consistently top-end set list and an impressive influx of passing folk wanting to get their groove on.
Hurts are at a similar stage in their careers. Having formed only last year, the suited, synth-fuelled starlets have a bit of a Simple Minds vibe to them, packed full of echoed vocals, and clearly have the ego to match. Put Theo Hutchcraft’s self-important strutting aside, though, and you’ve got an interesting modern recreation of ’80s new wave synth on your hands, albeit one that’s far from the most original style you’ll ever stumble across. While the album tracks are a little weak, keep an eye out for the slick melancholy of the likes of ‘Wonderful Life’ (a musical mish mash of excitement and deep-routed depression) and ‘Better Than Love’ (with its funky, danceable intro beats). They’re smooth operators, both musically and aesthetically.
Having been long established as one of those cult indie bands that sits just perfectly on a bill like Stradbally’s (even without Johnny Marr), Modest Mouse come with high expectations. The Washington State six-piece, sadly, suffer from the murkiest of sound systems, and despite dropping in a memorable rendition of ‘Float On’ early in the set, fail to really capture the imagination. Tonight they largely offer up a fairly tame set broken up exceptionally well with the odd moment of sparkle, such as a screaming rendition of ‘Dashboard’. Their shows are compelling more for Modest Mouse’s sheer unpredictability than anything else, and the usual messiness never quite surfaces. That said, Modest Mouse never deliver quite what you expect, and it’s bound to work to their detriment occasionally… this time it’s all a bit, well… dull. We danced, we lost interest, we sang along to the odd hit, we watched a mass exodus in the direction of Foals half way through, and we wished they’d been scheduled somewhere more enclosed. You win some, you lose some.
Photos by Kieran Frost. Full gallery here.