by / September 9th, 2011 /

Electric Picnic 2011: Underworld, Oh Land, Japanese Popstars & Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Oh Land – Electric Arena

The body had now taken a two-day pounding and it’s almost by accident we walk on site and into the Electric Arena where Oh Land is serving some morning pop. On stage is just Ms Øland and two guys either side on keys, for this, her first Irish gig. Initial thoughts are that she’ll be too sparse and perhaps her pop, a bit too sacharine for minds occupied by thoughts of breakfast rolls and clean showers. Well, it takes about three minutes to blow that idea right out of the water. The sound is full and big, the band behind her engaging and her swaying around in a flowing black dress and docs is never too much to take. Her pop is a bit more My Little Pony (to, say, Lykke Li’s dark horse) and it is EXACTLY what the tent of swaying boys and dancing hippy girls are in need of. Then, like a downpour in a rainforest, she washes the last vestiges of the difficult morning away with ‘White Nights’ and like suckers, we all dance right there in the palm of her hand.

Japanese Popstars – Electric Arena

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We were completely unprepared for the massivity of a Japanese Popstars gig, especially in a packed Electric Arena. To hell with main stage dance acts and their lasers, three Derry lads and a killer lighting engineer is all this crew needed to convert the arena into a sweaty, electronic house party with all the naf bits of house removed. Surging beats meant that there was constant peaks and arms spent more time in the air than by our sides. If it had been Friday night, that tent would have danced for five hours.

Underworld – Main Stage

With the back-to-form Barking album still on rotation at home, it was Underworld whose job was to take us from day to night on the final evening, with a greatest hits party-package on they burst straight into ‘Rez’ and then ‘Cowgirl’ as the dusk fell. Karl Hyde’s posturing has always been a bit of a sticking point, although a dance act with a front man does help that direct link to the crowd, and while he is sometimes a bit ‘dad’ in his way (and what was the dancing-behing-the-backlit-screen bit about?) in general he probably does more good than harm. As you’d expect the lighting matches the music beat-perfect and a curious display of highly produced videos often accompany the tracks. Naturally, the closer ‘Born Slippy brings the house down (one of the finest moments of release in live dance music sits 30 seconds from the end of that track) but the moment of epicness belongs to the newest track, ‘Scribble’ as we tried to dance with as much rhythm as the mentalist stage lighting.

Clap You Hands Say Yeah – Crawdaddy Stage

Quiet and unassuming in the pauses, CSHSY, thankfully bang out catchy, melodic songs at every turn and as such nobody seemed to be lamenting missing Pulp on the main stage. Alec Ounsworth’s high-register vocals are loud and clear and the band are tight as they roll through indie crowd-pleasers such as ‘In This Home On Ice’ and the slowly building ‘Details of the War’. With a new album about to be released, a real treat was in the album’s title track ‘Hysterical’, a synth intro and a more rounded sound sees Ounsworth make the most of his voice. With CSHSY you get more an expertly played catalogue of some cleverly conceived North American indie rather than flashing neon and lasers but it’s a brilliant bank of songs they’re working with and on the strength of the new songs slotted in with the best of (mostly) their first album they are about to add a hell of a lot more to the canon.

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