Robyn (Electric Arena & ThisisPopBaby tent)
Swedish popstrel Robyn (pictured) has always been a bit of an enigma to State. Lauded by hipsters, critics, bloggers and fashionistas, there seemed little in her pop songs to suggest she was anything truly special. Of course, we hadn’t seen her live and the two performances at Electric Picnic certainly raised our opinion. A engaging and energetic performer, Robyn pirouettes, windmills, struts, jumps, eats a banana, and partakes in ’80s dance moves while delivering a pure pop energy set. ‘Dancing On My Own’ gets the best reaction of the early gig and by the time she plays it in a stripped-down style in the intimate ThisisPopBaby tent later that night, we have anointed it the official festival tune of the weekend.
Villagers (Body and Soul)
A special guest slot on the Body and Soul main stage at 2pm on the Saturday saw Conor O’ Brien take to the stage solo to a sit-down and relaxed crowd. The natural amphitheatre was a perfect environment to take in the man’s perfectly crafted acoustic folk songs including ‘Ship Of Promises’ , ‘Twenty Seven Strangers’ and ‘Becoming A Jackal’. Judging by the reverence in the air and the lips mouthing the words in unison, O’ Brien already has many converts.
Well that wasn’t what we expected. Spain’s Crystal Fighters are an odd proposition on record anyway: a mash of dance, electronics, dubstep, folk and psychedelics. Live, they appear to be missing the female member completely and have opted for a frantic, pedal-down mix of danceable versions of all of the songs in their catalogue thus far. They are LOUD: even the woodblock they are banging is hurting our ears and for a short time, their energy is infectious. Unfortunately, as they air more recognisable numbers it slowly becomes apparent that the band are a bit rubbish live. ‘In The Summer’ in particular sounded rushed and lacked any discernable hook, of which there is plenty on the record. Back to the live show drawing board lads.
What a delightful set. The man whose battled demons frequently over the past 15 years from his time in The Beta Band to solo runs under three different monikers has settled on his own name and appears to be at ease with himself for now. Despite looking like a Maths teacher on a school tour, Mason is still one cool dude. That magical voice is still evident and songs from his recent album Boys Outside like ‘Lost and Found’ and ‘Am I Just a Man’ . Later in the set, he treats us to The Beta Band’s ‘Dr. Baker’ and a rendition of King Biscuit Time’s ‘I Walked The Earth’, before telling us he’ll be back early next year. Good to see you too Mr. Mason.
Robyn photo by Alessio Michelini.