Electric Picnic 2014: Gigs and Giggles
OVER 40,000 concert-goers arrived in Stradbally Estate, Co. Laois at the weekend for the eleventh Electric Picnic Music and Arts Festival. The festival buzz extended well beyond Stradbally on Friday as picnickers made the journey from all parts of the country and abroad, to the small scenic town for the highly anticipated weekend. After a decade of Picnics, the festival organisers have the logistics down to a tee so traffic delays were minimal and there were little or no queues into the venue. The Picnic sold out weeks in advance this year and those lucky enough to get a ticket in time made the most of every minute as over 30,000 had already gone through the gates and set up camp by Friday evening.
This year’s line-up offered something for most musical tastes with acts including Pet Shop Boys, Beck, Foals, Portishead, Bombay Bicycle Club, Chic, Bonnie Tyler, Blondie, Duke Dumont, The Strypes, London Grammar, St Vincent and several more.
Hozier was the festival favourite for most as he attracted the largest crowd of the weekend on Saturday. The atmosphere at the main stage was unforgettable, with thousands singing along while he performed his hits including Take Me to Church, From Eden and Sedated. It gave me goosepimples just standing there. Paolo Nutini’s acoustic performance of Last Request was stunning. There wasn’t a dry eye left in the crowd when the Scotsman put down his guitar. Glad I wore waterproof mascara! Walking on Cars, the indie band from Dingle, played their first ever Electric Picnic gig on Saturday. Their impressive set thrilled the crowd at the Rankin’s Wood Stage with songs like Two Stones, Don’t Mind Me and Catch Me If You Can and they really seemed to enjoy performing themselves. I especially liked the bass player’s hat.
Lily Allen was one of the best acts on the main stage on Sunday. The quirky singer (now with a purple fringe) put on a super fun, energetic show and had the crowd dancing and singing along for the entire set. I’ll admit the giant light-up baby bottles on stage were a little weird at first but it was one of the liveliest and most fun gigs of the weekend. The 1975 rocked the Heineken Electric Arena on Sunday afternoon with their hit song Chocolate (it was one of only three songs of theirs that I knew but it’s so catchy!). Highlight: lead singer Matt Healy’s amazing curly hair which seemed to dance on its own as he jumped around the stage.
Headline act Outkast closed the main stage on Sunday night but their performance seemed to fall flat on the crowd which got smaller and smaller as the set went on. However, that didn’t seem to faze the hip hop duo who repeatedly told the crowd how great it was to be at Electric Picnic in ‘Dublin’…scarlet for them. I know rappers are meant to have serious swag and everything but they came across as quite arrogant and a bit cringey to watch. It was a bit of an anti-climax to an otherwise incredible weekend of music.
But it wasn’t all about the music! There were tons of other events to enjoy and areas to explore like.
Mindfield, the spoken word arena,was a feast forculture vultureswith talks, performances, debates and discussions in little tents about all kinds of topics. The Literary Stage had readings and chats with the likes of Dónal Ryan, Roddy Doyle, Colin Barrett and Jim Sheridan. An Puball Gaeilge was always buzzing and welcomed everyone with any Gaeilge at all to ‘tar isteach for a píosa craic’. I just caught the end of one of the Gael-Gáirí sessions with Colm O’Regan – hilarious! The Wine Buff wine bar in the middle of the Mindfield arena encouraged picnic goers to keep it classy with a plastic flute of Prosecco and have long DMCs about Merlot and Beaujolais. As you do.
The Comedy Tent, just around the corner from Mindfield, had performances from several comedians over the weekend including Jason Byrne, Colm O’Regan, The Rubberbandits, Fred Cooke and David McSavage. Funny piano man David O’Doherty packed out the tent on Sunday night and had the crowd inside and outside the tent in stitches for the duration of his hilarious sketch about his quest for happiness. Comic genius with a cute little keyboard.
Foodwise, all tastes were catered for – there was everything from burritos to falafel and even a few stands selling ostrich burgers for the more adventurous palettes. To the delight of some, there were also icecream vans everywhere. Everywhere.
Casa Barcardi went all out this year with ‘Edifico Bacardi’ where picnickers partied on a raised dance floor to DJ sets from the likes of Dimitri from Paris and Pleasurekraft. All cocktails were served through interpretive dance from barmen wearing a groovy hats and cravats. Super funky. You literally can’t get in there unless you’re wearing a hat and dancing with your shoulders.Trenchtown was a super chilled area for reggae, ska and dancehall fans where sets went on until 4am. I was never there at 4am though, couldn’t hack the sesh.
The Oxygen Bar allowed weary picnickers to revive themselves with a legal high of scented oxygen for an energy boost (I went for apple oxygen, not much different to regular oxygen to be honest). Follow it up with a quick shoulder massage in the Body and Soul on the way to the next gig and you’re ready to party again. Unce unce unce.
Electric Picnic is more than an average music festival. When you make it through the gates it’s like stepping into a wonderland where wearing ridiculous clothes, having banter with random strangers and dancing like an eejit are the status quo. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, it’s one weekend in the year where you can escape from reality for a little while, chill out and just go with the flow. You can let your hair down, put on your wellies and your worst hat or wig, and dance like no one’s watching because no one cares.
Honestly, the only bad aspect of the Picnic is the constant FOMO you’re guaranteed to have because there’s so much going on, and that devastating moment when you have to pick up a scissors to cut off your wristband and head back to reality.
Photos c/o entertainment.ie, electricpicnic.ie, irishmirror.ie