All links, where possible go to the 2FM recording of that set. Those 2FM guys were on fire.
If there was any weekend in the entire year you could bank your house on to produce minimal amount of rain, it would be the weekend that Electric Picnic takes places in late August/early September. Happily coinciding with the return of schools, many a former school-goer will remember the blazing sunny skies which heralded the return of the school calendar, while awkwardly unloosing their ties as far as school regulations allowed.
These days, that same week are the last hurrah of the summer, fueled by advice wisely passed from elders over the preceeding week to get out your box / bin / head / mind, whatever is appropriate. This year though, there was too much happening at the festival to step out of your brain on mind-altering drugs (and too many children to worry about at that). Plus, it’s never been my thing anyway. I seem to do well enough on alcohol at times to leave the chemicals in the dirt. Had you been that way inclined however, you could have done worse than show up at the main stage at 4.45pm on Friday for KILA. A Macnas-esque backdrop, 5 Brazilian Samba dancers, a 13 piece choir, an acrobat named Tina and a shower of confetti lended Kila’s set the official opening ceremony status. The band were fantastic as always too. Though worryingly, Ronan O’ Snodaigh seemed to tell the crowd after the closer ‘Glanfaidh mÃ©’ he wanted to “fly around over them and take a big dump”.
We made our way to the Crawdaddy Stage, stopping to notice the massive crowd at NEW YOUNG PONY CLUB, where JAPE played a rocking set as usual to a full tent. It was the first up-for-it crowd at the festival. The live versions of songs from Ritual lean towards the more electro side of things buoyed by drummer Ross and his electronic drum kit. ‘Replays’ is superb live while ‘Floating’ held the crowd rapt. A nostalgic interlude involving the 1990 World Cup song ‘Put ’em Under Pressure’ had Richie acknowledging the festival slot and in ‘Phil Lynott’, he has one of the best elegies produced in this country in decades.
Sadly, I miss TINARIWEN again and make it over for GOLDFRAPP who were playing a very nice set of mostly new material on the Main Stage. It’s so nice that my mind wanders and I realise that JINX LENNON and CAPTAIN MOONLIGHT are due on in the Leviathan tent. Moonlight is great even if he performs his set with his eyes closed, while Jinx’s set is a little dour for a Friday night. Over to SIGUR ROS then on the main stage. The Icelandics’ epic sound is well established at this stage and that’s what they deliver, backed by giant spherical lamps, Amiina and a brass section dressed for a Clockwork Orange convention. JÃ³nsi’s violent guitar playing with a violin bow never gets old but the set never grabs me as much as I will it to, despite the evident love for them around me. Only ‘Gobbledigook’ lifts the set from the Sigur Ros standard, placing them outside of their usual time signature and slow pace. It’s a rather wonderful rendition and everyone claps along, audience and band together. Just before the end, I run over to gawk at GOMEZ performing Bring it On in its entirety at the Crawdaddy Stage but the tent is rammed and my nostalgia for that album is not overpowering the crowds.
A quick walk around the Body and Soul Area reveals the sheer number of things happening that fall under the arts column. There is the S.S LUCENT DOSSIER outdoor theatre stage performing a pirate-themed stageshow with puddle dancing, electric guitar and singing. It looks amazing. The amphitheatre is the place to congregate in the after-hours with so many seating areas and tents surrounding it, that you experience that festival madness where you forget you are standing in a field in Laois and get lost in the moment, just looking at a colourful night-time wonderland engulfing you. After that there’s a quick stop off on the way home to bed at the Tower of Truth, a beautiful wooden structure which is due to become a pyre come Sunday night 2am.
All photos by Niall Byrne.