Probably the most cheery aspect of the Electric Picnic over all other festivals is the small things. The attention to detail that is skipped over on nearly all the big weekends really makes this place special. You notice the campsites are named Andy Warhol, Oscar Wilde and the like. The ticket booth is like your granny’s kitchen and every patch of earth has something you never thought you’d see in a field in Laois: 25 foot tall people on big springs, a Mad Max-type pyrotechnic meeting square, etc. There is also things very at home in a field in Laois but alien at most festivals, like the lovely tea and scones stands with mammy-made buns to die for and a village hall.
Disregarding the line-up there’s just so much to DO there that most of Friday is spent being in awe of the choice, and then deciding that, better the devil you know, while propping yourself at the bar as seemingly everybody you ever liked in your adult life walks by and says hello.
Having paid our dues camping in the past, we were trying the fancy-hotel-in-Athy approach and with a fantastically reliable amount of taxi’s each way for less that 20 lids we were well happy with the set-up. Breakfast in bed at a festival is hard to beat. Straggling in just in time for a pie and then the delectable GOLDFRAPP. The stage is a glorious harlequin affair and complete with Alison’s now trademark circular-tablecloth-poncho dress and a dancing owl they deliver some of the new album tracks which seem much more appealing live than on the album. -Caravan Girl’ sounds almost as good live as the album’s standout, ‘A&E’. With 35,000 people in the festival it’s nice and roomy but still amazing how many old mates you bump into. Some are with their kids now, some have left their kids at home and some are now drinking whiskey out of hip-flasks instead of the rum in a coke bottle of yesteryear. Mind you some are still doing that too, but these people are not the glassy-eyed teens they once might have been. It’s all nice and, well, grown-up.
It can be easy to get stressed at Electric Picnic through no fault of the festival itself. The array of stages and things on offer is bewildering, but then you find out that what’s listed is just the tip of the iceberg. Both the Body & Soul area and the -Village’ have odd bands, DJs and very unusual entertainment rolling all the time. There’s the big wheel and Fossetts Circus and drag queen tents, weddings (including a proper wedding afters disco) in the inflatable church and then the Silent Disco’¦ The list goes on. We’re almost paralysed with choice and settle on a decision to root down with a beer until SIGUR RÃ“S come on. They begin as just the four-piece and straight into the first -big hit’ -Svefn-g-englar’. Things are a bit low-key to begin with – great tunes but no punch – but they really liven up when the small band march on and from then on it’s like a soundtrack to the Icelandic Sagas and they are jumping from the old epics, the recent livelier numbers (-HoppÃpolla’, as ever, is awesome and you really want to sing along – well, we do sing along in our phonetic way) and then to the great new poppier side. Our real singalong comes with -Gobbledigook’ and it’s as mercifully simple as ‘la la la-la, la la la-la’ with handclapping and all that jazz. There’s confetti streaming out too and you can’t argue with the joy going on around you. A relatively early night has us away and it seems the whole site is resting itself for Saturday.