by / September 7th, 2011 /

Electric Picnic 2011: Jape, James Blake & Lykke Li

Lykke Li – Main Stage

All the talk about all the talk at Lykke Li’s Dublin show earlier this year diverted from how she is as a performer. An unlikely pop star, she’s media shy – or just a bit moody. Where others have to play the game to stay in it, Lykke Li obstinately plays by her own rules. So, how does she get away with it? Well, as an artist, Lykke Li is a master communicator. The staging of EP’s main stage is simple and dramatic, filled with billows of smoke and flashing lights, while she and her band are dressed entirely in black. A gothic scene, but it works to emphasise an integral part to a Lykke Li performance: movement. From parading the stage to the clanging rhythms of ‘Jerome’, popping out moves to the hooks of ‘Youth Knows No Pain’ or sashaying to ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’, Lykke is commanding, if a little menacing, with a captivating confidence… but she can just as easily switch on vulnerability. ‘Unrequited Love’ is delivered with intimacy and ‘Sadness Is A Blessing’ is as emotionally exposing as any club performance. Closing with the malevolent ‘Get Some’, Lykkle Li owns the crowd who are following her every stomping move – a truly staggering performer.

Jape – Electric Arena

One man. Three bands. Set to release his fourth Jape album, Ocean Of Frequency, and playing the first of two slots at Electric Picnic, Richie Egan sure likes to keep busy. He also likes to shake things up a bit. ‘Strike Me Down’, ‘I Was A Man’ and ‘Christopher and Anthony’ are marching indie-pop anthems, ‘Hands Of Fire’ a synth-pop hip-shaker and the Balearic-ness of week-old ‘The Oldest Mind’ fizzes in electronics and beaming message: “celebrate what it is to be young.” A Jape set is always infused with bouncing vigour but the festival air adds oomph. In keeping with the set’s space disco flavour, Richie opts to play a live version of Prins Thomas discomix of ‘Floating’ before reshuffling the band to form The Redneck Manifesto for the powerhouse instrumental ‘Back Apple’. What a fiesta!

James Blake – Main Stage

James Blake? Outdoors? In daylight hours? As is usual, there was some questioning of the programming over the weekend but this one certainly had potential to fall flat. Blake’s gender-pitching vocals and keyboard chord progressions might be more suitable to the shadows of a jazz club, while you would think that bass needs some semblance of walls to contain/reverberate off – but it seems bass can rattle its way around a field too. With some clever rearrangements, Blake’s songs are less brooding and lulling in open air, more comforting and uplifting. As a commendable crowd stand in the midst of warm reverb hugs, drummer Ben Assiter throws out scattered percussion of cross-rhythm hi-hats clicks to an elevating effect. ‘CMYK’ triggers Kelis samples, a mix of electronic-avant-jazz and pure-pop. The repeated line in ‘In Never Learnt To Share’ shifted from confessional acapella to a crescendo of buzzing synthesizer and queasy bass – but it’s the bass-drop in ‘Limit To Your Love’ that flipped everyone’s stomach. In a brave move, the programme organisers at EP chose to present James Blake in a new light – and it’s one that suits him.

See Saturday’s full gallery of photos by Damien McGlynn here.