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by / September 3rd, 2008 /

Electric Picnic Diary: Sunday [Niall Byrne]

Sunday started early with another stroll around Body and Soul. There was plenty of really good acts on in the first four hours of the day so we were up and at ‘em early (ahem, having not slept in the first place of course). First up was English singer-songwriter JOHNNY FLYNN who has a golden voice perfect for dragging people out of their sleep. Joined by a celloist, Flynn’s set was an encouraging start to the musical proceedings of the day. He was easily matched by FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE who continued the positivity at the Crawdaddy Stage. A theatrical Florence yelped and cooed her way through a sterling performance, flailing her arms about, and generally prancing around like a fairy goddess. PIVOT were an act I was looking forward thanks to their O Soundtrack My Heart album but I wasn’t in the mood for math-rock noodling at the time so I popped over to the Thisispopbaby tent to see YOU’RE ONLY MASSIVE, suddenly a trio finish off their set with booty-shaking, lost voices, guitar and general merriment.

With songs about booty ringing in our ears, we chose something a lot less frantic for the next twenty minutes with an idiosyncratic set concerning men and their many faults from LISA O’ NEILL on the Pod stage, which consisted of an oval egg shaped stage covered in coloured balls. All the negativity towards my gender made me feel slightly unwelcome so I went to a New York house/disco party circa 1982 in the form of a set from HERCULES AND LOVE AFFAIR whose appearance was perfect for relaxing outside on the grass. More tranquility was called for with LAURA MARLING and her beguiling voice providing the soundtrack. She was cute and nervous yet unnecessarily so as like Johnny Flynn earlier on, she possessed the most beautiful tonsils I’ve heard in a long time. She broke a string, seemed fragile and decided to finish “this shambles”. A great pity as she was anything but.

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FOALS lived up to their hype yet again in the Crawdaddy tent proving both their technical proficiency and their ear for mind-bending, high-fretted, intricately woven melodies. Singer Yannis looked slightly annoyed throughout for some reason but the drummer deserves special mention for being such a phenomenal musician.

So to the last acts of the festival. Nourishment was something that was sorely lacking from the previous days endeavours so Sunday’s menu involved a wild boar burger and a falafel. My cohort and I enjoyed the latter while THE ROOTS were playing the main stage yet their set seemed a little too freestyle at that time to grab us. Luckily, it gave us the opportunity to see YACHT for the first time. Passing the actual yacht/small boat painted purple and planted in the middle of the arena, we arrived into the tent to catch Yacht and his rather fetching associate Claire Evans pretend video-chatting with their Portland friend. They proceeded to sing along with their virtual video buddy, took questions from the crowd, rocked some hilarious dance moves and used their visuals to full effect with songs like ‘I’m In Love With A Ripper’ and new single ‘Summer Song’ (see video). It was the epitome of US hipster music; shallow, slightly silly but extremely fun.

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Much has been made of the return of MY BLOODY VALENTINE but it was curiosity only which drew me over to the Electric Arena. People were saying it wasn’t as loud as the London reunion gigs, but standing outside the tent, it was still pretty FUCKING LOUD. It was like those pest machines which emit frequencies that humans cannot hear but if you stand around them long enough your ears will buzz and hiss slightly. Not exactly pleasant. In the short time I was there the show was solid, and pure, white-noise heavy distortion. Plus, I witnessed ‘I Only Said‘ live.

I didn’t feel like getting my ears pummelled during the white-noise holocaust so I made my way over to the Bodytonic Village for the double whammy of DIPLO and MODESELEKTOR and caught a superb 15 minutes of DENGUE FEVER in the Jazzworld Stage on the way there. They’ll be back in the Sugar Club in November. Through the forest, out into the clearing and DIPLO was banging out Santogold and his usual booty bass crossover tunes backed by custom-made visuals from SYNTH EASTWOOD. The soundsystem was ear-piercingly loud there as well. Germany’s MODESELEKTOR finished the stage off with a set that swayed from crisp, bumpin’ electro to miminal techno beats and back again taking in the stupendous ‘Kill Bill No.4′ and the Scooter aping/homage ‘Hyper Hyper’.

With the night’s festivities coming to a close and SEX PISTOLS duly avoided, it was back to the festival’s aptly named Body and Soul for some winding down with MARTINA TOPLEY BIRD who was playing stripped down version of songs from her new album The Blue God. We had planned on staying around to watch the Tower of Truth go up in flames but the sudden downpour at 1.45am left us with no choice and it was time for well-needed sleep. So a resounding success all around, the organisers certainly showed their considerable talent for turning around the talk of a damp squib of a festival by steadfastly yet subtly gracing the event with a blanket of creativity and positivity. Trust us, next year will be even less about the music.

Photos by James Goulden

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