So after all the fuss about the line-up, the gossip about ticket sales and the stress about the weather, the Electric Picnic was just fine. More than fine even. The vibe has survived, the site looked great and the weather – particularly Sunday – did us all a favour. Yet there was no denying that this was a slightly different Picnic, in terms of bands anyway. My Bloody Valentine and a few others aside there wasn’t an awful lot that set the musical tastebuds tingling in the run up – there was nothing to compare with the increasing buzz that built around Rage at Oxegen. Yet that was part of what made the EP so special this year.
As Jim has noted, this was the start of a subtle repositioning of the event as a music and arts festival. The money saved on bands was clearly invested in everything else, expanding what was going on away from the main stages. For the first time, it was possible to really lose yourself away from the music. Or should we say the main music, as everywhere you turned there seemed to be a small stage pumping out a mixture of dance, acoustic, dub or whatever. In many ways it reminded us of our first Glastonbury experience, that sense of removal from the outside world that gigs like Oxegen just can’t offer.
Our Friday was mainly spent in the company of KILA, who had been invited by the promoters to put together a truncated version of their stage show to launch the festival on the main stage. The problems of getting thirty people on site over the space of five hours aside, they rise to the task magnificently. The crowd swells to meet them and as a gospel choir are followed by Brazillian dancers who are followed by a gasp inducing ariel show, the Electric Picnic 08 visibly comes to life. They leave us in a shower of multi coloured confetti safe in the knowledge that already the weekend has seen one of its highlights.
Indeed it’s noticeable how quickly the Picnic gets into gear. It helps that the site is so beautifully laid out, the marginalisation of Bodytonic aside perhaps. TINARIWEN follow KÃla but the crowd has dropped and maybe they would have been better off in one of the tents. GOLDFRAPP begin aimlessly but manage to transform into something quite amazing. To be honest though, we don’t watch much more music, deciding instead to just wander around as night falls and the various elements explode into colour, light and noise. The Body and Soul arena is breathtaking and everywhere you go something of interest is happening, even if it is just one of the cool little cafes or food stalls that turn into impromptu venues. Even from across the field though, you realise that SIGUR ROS are quite probably amazing. And that, for tonight, will do for us.
Photos by James Goulden