Electric Picnic Festival 2013 Review

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Sunday 25th August.

So here we are at the pre-festival for the final big camping music festival of the year in Ireland, the Electric Picnic has rolled around for another year with its first sell out in five years.  Preparations have begun, stages getting put together, tracks for the one way traffic system have been laid, its now up to us volunteers to direct this traffic and to prevent crashes at the many cross roads around the periphery of the festival.

On Sunday we arrived fairly late, most of the advanced volunteers had arrived in the afternoon and had been given temporary Festival Republic wristbands, but because we had arrived late we wouldn’t get ours till tomorrow.  Catherine told me to find Dan the crew camp supervisor and let him know we had arrived and we also made sure that the Scottish lads from Specialised Security had seen us while we were putting up our tents, this would come in handy later.  Louise who had been travelling down with myself and Kevin had friends in the Body & Soul area who had brought down her tent from Galway, so we went for a walk to explore the site and to help her get her tent.  All was well, we found the Body & Soul area, Louise got her tent, I said hello to Jelena Derk and we went to make our way back, but lost our bearings.  One of us thought we were taking a short cut but we ended up getting hopelessly lost, so we had to go out the main production entrance.

We met two security guards near the gate who laughed when we told them we were lost, another security guard drove up to us in a Land Rover, he appeared to be a boss and seemed to be quite hostile to us because we had not been wristbanded yet.  But honestly, why would three people, one with a tent try and scam into a festival that wasn’t going to start for five days through security.  The same guy drove down to the crew camp to check we weren’t trying to scam our way in, so it was just as well that the other security there recognised us.

Monday (26th) & Tuesday (27th) August.

I was stationed with a volunteer I think called Steven from Dublin, we were put at the first crossroads coming out of the festival site.  The weather was pretty reasonable and dry, but with that comes lots of dust and with heavy articulated lorries and JCBs travelling through we were required to were dust masks.  Sometimes there were hilarious situations where two enormous trucks were trying to go opposite ways, one lot was arguing that they were more important than the other lot and should have right of way, eventually this was resolved.  Our job over the two days was to keep our eyes peeled on all roads, to stop certain vehicles to allow the flow of the one-way system with other traffic.

Wednesday 28th August

Myself and Louise were sent to the festival distribution office to help out there for the day, Louise was sorting the lunch and dinner vouchers for the workers on the site, whilst I had to check through a list concerning how many two way radios were given out to security and festival staff.  We finished there quite early so I went off to help some lads move in refrigerators, for the riders requested by bands and musicians into the dressing room area.  I went out that night with a bunch of volunteers, some of the Cork lads, John and his daughters from Naas for a few pints.  This was the first time I had ever went out for a pint in Stradbally town.

Thursday 29th August

Today I was working under Dan’s command, my job was to prevent crew campers driving down the exit road into the camp site and car park, but to let the residents who lived on that road and beyond through there.  This was quite a busy day with the newly arriving Festival Republic weekend volunteers, Body & Soul weekend volunteers, food vendors, artists and campervans converging on the site. It could be quite stressful at times, one person was trying to find Gate 7 and I was trying to give directions, but a motorist started beeping a lot behind till I eventually shouted “Shut up” that is the only time I lost it a bit at the festival.  With the shifts over and with my new weekend wristband earned I was now free to enjoy the festival.  Mr Whippy provided the first festival sounds for the prefesters and weekend workers at Trenchtown, he whipped up a super reggae disco, myself, Kevin, Patrick Long (the brother of Kevin Long who myself and Kevin worked with at Life Festival 2012) and a few hundred others boogied about to the sounds till it closed down at 2am.

Friday 30th August

Having moved into the Hendrix camp site yesterday afternoon, I realised this morning that the Hendrix showers wouldn’t be up and running till the evening, so a quick trip down to the crew camp site sorted that as there was shower facilities there, so after a nice hot shower I was set up for the day.  Kevin had to work his final shift today, I set about exploring the area, I was trying to establish where the Rave in the woods / Red Bull stage was so I could keep it mind for later, Trenchtown linked most of the camping areas, which also linked to the Red Bull stage through the Oscar Wilde campsite and the Salty Dog stage the opposite way.  Whilst wandering through the Salty Dog area there was a really tight band on stage, funk wah wah guitar, cool dance beats and nice ambient keyboards, live drums and bass.  I have no idea who they were as the clashfinder I have only lists bands from 6pm onwards at the Salty Dog and this was about 2pm in the afternoon.  I spent a while there with some girls I knew from the B&S decor area who I met at the Body & Soul festival.  I wandered over to Trenchtown again as I wanted to document the new expanded Trenchtown, now with three or four stages and a tented cafe venue, some of them set up as musical trade offs, like say. an mc toaster versus another toaster, well thats the impression I got anyway, I took some photos and videos.

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Trenchtown

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Trenchtown (2)

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Trenchtown (3)

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Trenchtown (4)

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Trenchtown (5)

At the Hendrix camp site I spent sometime getting to know my neighbours, most of them were pre-event, FR & B&S weekend volunteers and wristband workers (working for Neil Dowling), I was surrounded by a whole County Cork contingency and my mate Kevin Keehan was the only Clare man amongst the lot camped next to me, so good banter to be had as the final was going to be a week next Sunday.

There wasn’t a mad mental plan of action for Friday really as the line up for Friday was fairly skimpy compared to previous years so it left room for a bit more exploring, I suppose matters were exacerbated a bit by the late cancellation of Giorgio Moroder for health reasons, so no music at all from the smaller Electric Arena, I mean, christ! they could have put a few Irish DJs or electronic acts on in there just to keep that part a bit lively.

Wu Tang Clan – Main Stage  7.15pm – 8.15pm

I made it a point to try and catch some of the Wu Tang Clan’s set, agreeing to meet Kevin at the left side of the mixing desk area.  The queue to get into the main arena from the camp site was plain nuts but I suppose the festival was only really starting to kick in by then. I wouldn’t be too informed on the hip hop scene, I’ve always been a lover of old school hip hop like the early Grandmaster Flash (The Message, White Lines), Public Enemy, NWA and even Pump the Volume by M.A.R.R.S, I’ve heard lots of people rave about the Wu’s though so I thought to give them a shot, even though I didn’t do my research on them.  They pushed a powerful punch with DJ Mathematics providing a solid crunch to the sound.  Mind you, there was lots of cursing in that imitable heavy hip hop style, I was thinking, hmmmm, the watershed hour is usually 9pm onwards, so loads of kids with their parents in the audience shouting “Yo Motha Fucka.”  Will definitely check more of these guys out, some weren’t happy though as apparently we got Team B of the Wu Tang Clan, some were saying that some of the key members of the group was missing.  Personally I really enjoyed it as it was my first time seeing them so I have nothing to compare them to.

Did I mention about the new look main stage, the stage is now flanked with large screens on each side and seating areas for families or those of feeble sore feet ( think of the Cure’s three and a half hour set from last year, that is a lot of standing.)  It makes the viewing from the distance much more pleasurable, although I can’t help thinking that since Festival Republic is now running the show, the screens signify a change towards a mainstream look.  Its certainly doesn’t seem to be any more rougher or hostile like the more commercial events, EP is still a seemingly an amazing buzz.

Went for a look around the Body & Soul area, Kevin wasn’t feeling too well, having been up very early this morning and working pretty hard at the Body & Soul Village, his tiredness had caught up with him.

The Torann Drummers – The Earthship Stage (Body&Soul Village) 8pm – 9pm

Caught the last twenty minutes of this act, they are like the Motorhead equivalent of a drumming group, such was the wild dynamic going on with a frenzied crowd egging on them to wilder extremes.  They made a tremendous sound that stopped you in your tracks and turned you into making a warrior dance, a great Friday evening vibe.

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The Torann Drummers at the Earthship Stage

Went back to the camp site with Kevin as he wanted to lie down for a while, so we guzzled a few cans of beer, I had a nice wee case of Guinness so nice to have some stout.  I think Kevin was calling it a day as he wanted to have his energy together for the following two full days of music.

For the tenth anniversary EP had a fireworks display, I was in the camp site at the time so I ran to a clearing to take it all in, there was some beautiful big bangs with awe inspiring colours.

Fatboy Slim – Main Stage 10.30pm – 12am

I enjoyed bits and pieces of Fatboy’s set and at one point I heard the voice sample Push the Tempo and thought he was going to go into Ya Mama which I think is a blinder of a track, but no, he goes into a cheesy female vocal sample, which unfortunately a lot of his set consisted of.  His set like James Murphy’s at the Body & Soul festival was catering to the girly crowd, pop house, not my thing really, I wanted something rougher, something KLOCK.  The clip I caught of Fatboy, didn’t sound too bad, but later on I had to run away from the cheesy niggly source of sound.  The Spanish style hand clapping track really did no favours, especially when Norman was projected onto the big screens clapping his hands.  I heard his set at Rockness festival in Scotland was more aggressive, not so much at this one.  Ah, but I’ve seen him a few times now, so off to watch something different.

I went back to the camp site to pick up a few cans of Guinness and my eco cup and made for Trenchtown to catch a bit of DJ Kali’s set.

DJ Kali (Kelly Embleton) – Trenchtown Yard Stage 10.30pm – 12am

I was initially disappointed that it was more downbeat than her usual DnB/Dubstep set, but grew to like the laid back dub infused slow step thing she was doing, when I saw her at Body&Soul festival in 2012, she played an amazing jungle, DnB and dub step set, but nothing wrong with changing it around a bit, it keeps it fresh.  I was there for about 30 minutes so perhaps she upped the tempo afterward.  Off now to try and find the Red Bull stage now for the start of Klock’s set.

Ben Klock – Rave in the woods/Red Bull Stage  12am – 4am

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Lasers through the trees

Ben Klock’s set was banging and pulled a huge crowd in over the next hour or so, I never made it to Rave in the woods last year, so why not on the early hours of Saturday.  Klock’s music was by far much more preferable to Fatboy Slims, he had some wicked beats but with just the right amount of simmering ambiance, his style is minimal techno, but its atmospheric enough not to be just a thud, thud, thud.  I lasted about two and a half hours eventually getting farther and farther from the stage going up the hill.  The lasers were absolutely stunning too, the way the lasers hit of the trees was mesmerising, creating milky ways and universes with its colours.

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Ben Klock – Rave in the Woods

Back to the camp site to crash for the night, it was nice and quiet for a while as nearly everyone else was either in Body&Soul, Trenchtown, Salty Dog or Rave in the woods.

Saturday 31st August

Woke up about 11am and set about procuring a coffee, spotted the Espresso black stall and ordered up an Americano.  Selection of sounds in the dock ranged from Syd Barrett’s Wined and Dined, Jon Hopkins Immunity and the Boiler Room set (I was miffed he wasn’t playing the Picnic, as he was going to be playing Bestival the following Friday), my three hour festival Ipod mix among other things.  Some of the wristbanding girls were sitting around in a circle outside my tent and seeing that they were from Cork I decided to entertain them with a song on the bodhran, Johnny Jump Up, a Cork classic popularised by singer Jimmy Crowley, which went down a treat.  Kevin showed up just in time to catch the whole song.  We went over to Patrick and his friends, Kevin Long was there so I got to say hello to him too.

Kevin wanted to head to the crew camp site for a shower, so I went for one too.  Down at the camp site I met one of Kevin’s work mates, Mick from Cork.  Mick had just finished Friday evening and he was relating on how he was rushing to catch the My Bloody Valentine set on the main stage.  Just as he made it down comfortably to the front of the stage Kevin Shields stepped up to the microphone and said, “Thank you.” Then they departed the stage.  You know Mick, that has happened to me plenty of times, just catching the last few notes of an act, really frustrating.

After we were showered and had more cups of coffee, Mick picked out strains of music in the distance, it sounded like Hands off, she’s mine.  Yep, The Beat were starting of their set as Saturdays opening main stage act, damn!  I knew by the time we would get to the main stage the band would be finishing up.  Take the walk from crew camp through the hole in the wall staff entrance to near the Hendrix camp.  That takes fifteen to twenty minutes depending on your state, it then takes at least another twenty minutes to get through the security checkpoint into the main arena and then about five or ten minutes walking to the main stage, so any hope of catching the Beat’s set was written off.

Right finally we get into the arena and its time for a proper brunch or snack, we are stuck for choice in the food outlets, there is just so much to choose from, Thai, Indian, Japanese, Gourmet Sausage, Pieminister among others.  I settle for the old classic seen at every 5,000 to medium capacity festival, Charcoal Grill, who do classic steak burgers and hot dogs.  Its the smell of the place while your passing that drives you mad for a munch.  I settled for the large steak burger, yeh I know its a burger for breakfast but it is a festival and this isn’t just a mere burger, its a meal and a half for six euros.  Kevin settled for one of the hot dogs.  We then made our way to catch the next main stage act, Ocean Colour Scene.

Ocean Colour Scene – Main Stage  2.50pm – 3.55pm

Ocean Colour Scene is a band I’m not really familiar with I only really know the Thin Lizzy sounding track that they do, Hundred mile high city, this was more a band that Kevin was familiar with so I just went along for a look.  I thought they were a cracking afternoon type set, nice laid back rock and pop music with some nice guitar work going on.  The weather was fairly good, sunny spells with a bit of cloud so not so hot.  I was more amused at peoples antics to avoid the multitude of wasps that had invaded Stradbally.  Loads of people were standing with open pints and wasps just love beer, many having to put their pints down after finding wasps floating about in the liquid.

Kevin had to meet Mick at the Body&Soul Village so I trooped along, whilst hanging about the Earthship area I was quite taken by a traditional Irish group, Realta who were set up on the Earthship stage.

Realta – Earthship Stage  2pm – 2.30pm

Belfast band, Realta had a nice mix of Irish tunes, Breton tunes and songs to gather a nice crowd, there was a flautist, uilleann piper, guitarist and two fiddlers.  Some of their pieces had slow brooding marches kicking off which would go into lively reel sets.  Will be checking some more of Realta, thats for sure.  There was even a group of people dancing in front of the stage.

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Realta on the Earthship Stage.

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Dancers for Realta.

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Realta

While wandering through the arena we met Tadgh from Galway and a friend of Cork Dave, the fellah we met up with last year, Dave was in the Rankin Woods Stage watching an English indie rock band called Clinic, so we went in for a meet up and a look.

Clinic – Rankin Woods Stage  5.45pm – 6.50pm

Clinic was a new discovery to me, they had an abrasive indie rock sound and were donned in clinical masks, they had touches of thrash like Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers and even a wee bit of the Stooges in their sound, they certainly livened up proceedings for early Saturday evening.  I took a clip with myself, Kevin and Dave suitably larking about.

This took us nicely up to the start of Robert Plant and the Sensational Spaceshifters who were starting their set on the main stage.

Robert Plant and the Sensational Spaceshifters – Main Stage  7pm – 8.15pm

Having seen Robert Plant first nineteen years ago in 1984 at the Glasgow Apollo Theatre, I thought his set had improved amazingly.  Back in 1984 he was promoting his solo album Principle of Moments and his big hit Big Log, I was mad for Zeppelin at the time but not so much his solo stuff, he didn’t touch anything from his former band that year.  Although it was a buzz seeing the man in person I found the set to be rather dull, a good light show though.  This time round I was blown away, he now has nine Zeppelin numbers in his repertoire at stand alone shows, so the Picnic was lucky to get five or six of them.

What a great way to kick off a set, Babe, I’m gonna leave you, right down to the very last detail the Zeppelin classic was recreated and Plant’s voice is still in fine fettle, he has a very tight band backing, Liam ‘Skin’ Tyson and Justin Adams on guitars, Juldeh Calmara on Ritti (One-stringed violin) from Gambia in Africa, John Baggot & Billy Fuller (Portishead & Massive Attack) among others in the group.

The Enchanter definitely had that Massive Attack feel to it and seeing that there was two Massive Attack members in the group the sound fitted perfectly with Plant’s style, the expansive drum sound also reminded me of Zeppelin’s When the Levi Breaks.  Some of Plant’s solo stuff was kind of like Rock and Roll and Hot Dog from Zeppelin’s last proper album In Through the Out door and it was a stroke of genius to have Juldeh in the group with his one stringed fiddle playing wonderful Gambian sounds into the mix, evoking Page’s obsession with the fiddle bow and guitar.

Perhaps the most magical moment of all was when Plant dropped What should and should never be, never did something sound so like its Zeppelin II version, what a great moment for Electric Picnic history and what a coup to get someone like Robert Plant. I was looking at Plant’s gigography over the last year or two, he has only played Womad festival. a handful of festivals in the US and South America and a couple of dates in England, so if EP can attract the likes of Plant, maybe they can get David Gilmour for next year hint hint.

Right time for refreshing before Bjork’s set kicks off in an hour, so back to the camp site for a can of Guinness and to relax the feet.  When I was back in the arena I got a coffee and a lovely chocolate cake from the espresso stall.  Met up with Kevin and made for the main stage again.

Bjork – Main Stage  9pm – 10.10pm

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Bjork on the Main Stage.

Bjork was very impressive and quite nuts, but delightfully nuts, she had an impressive group backing her, a super tight drummer, the electronic switch doctor guy with earth moving sonic sounds and what looked like a fourteen strong Icelandic female choir who also played an assortment of instruments, which I remember from her last EP performance in 2007.  She played many selections from her 2011 album Biophilia and other tracks from brilliant albums like Homoegenic, Volta.  I definitely recognised the Hunter with its tidal wave of beats and sub bass and new tracks to my ears such as Thunderbolt.  Don’t you just love the way Bjork pronounces her Rs, when she introduced Thunderbolt she added a few Rs to Miracles, so it was more like, mirrrrrracles, I was saying this all night in the camp site .

The heavenly universe visuals that accompanied Cosmogony was a sight to behold, I noticed that Bjork nor her band allowed themselves to be filmed for the side screens, a point of note I recall from reading the Bestival review of her show there in 2011.  A special mention needs to go to the animations and visuals projected on the screens they were breathtaking and when Bjork goes for fire explosion effects she does it in grand style with Nattura.  For the encore she goes back to EP 2007 for an scintillating version of Declare Independence, she has a thing for that DnB, must be something to do with Aphex Twin’s drill and bass when he supported her on one of her earlier tours.  I would like to see her on a standalone show as an hour and ten minutes is not enough to take it all in.

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Bjork performing Nattura on the Main Stage.

We headed back to the camp site for a while to chjll and to get some cans of Guinness to bring into the arena for after 11pm, I was interested to see what Disclosure would be like.  When I got into the arena, myself and Kevin headed for the Body&Soul area, for some reason we were drawn to the Earthship area and the Earth Spirit area with the seating around the official campfire.  Sometimes sauntering to the Radio Shack which functioned like My House at the Body&Soul festival, playing classic funky hits.

Donal Dineen – Earthship Stage  11pm – 12.30am

Back at the Earthship stage I heard familiar strains of music that I heard at a much smaller festival a few weeks before called Sundown Gathering and it was unmistakeably Donal Dineen.  A favourite of the Body&Soul festival and of the Picnic, he had a demented crowd up for a party and he delivered his pumping ambient techno in spades.

Disclosure – Main Stage  12.30am – 1.45am

Disclosure had a good sound and even their sampled female vocals were mainly sounding like pretty decent black soul singers, it was very commercial dance music but a bit more easy on the ear than Friday night’s headliner Fatboy Slim, although his visuals were better.  They mainly played extended versions of their tracks from the new album Settle and possibly some tracks from their EPs and single releases preceding the album.  Although the music was quite good, visually they were quite boring, they are definitely not headliner status in Ireland so EP made a mistake here, the Saturday late night headliner is normally a tried and tested and is still very popular dance/rockish act crossover, what I mean is there is metal riffs in the dance, its more than just dance pop rubbish, it rocks you up with cool visuals.  Look at previous Saturday headliners, the Chemical Brothers (2007 & 2011), 2ManyDJs (2009), Orbital (2012), Leftfield (2010).  I’m not knocking Disclosure, they done their best but it wasn’t the usual kind of Saturday visual feast.  The bonus was that we met some girls at the gig who were very friendly, some of them from Clare and Wexford and we went for a walk up to the Body&Soul after the gig.

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Disclosure on the Main Stage.

Kathy or Cathy from County Wexford, if you are reading this blog, come and say hi to me on Facebook, if I remember you work in a medical centre, I think in New Ross or near New Ross.  We spent a nice time in pleasant company around the Earth Spirit fire, well maybe two seats width from it, but it was a pretty mellow place.  At one point the girls had to go some where and were gone, vanished, damn!  This wouldn’t be the last time I said damn at the festival.  So it was back to the camp site at about 3.30pm to sit and blether with Kevin and a few others and have a few cans before hitting the sack.

Sunday 1st September

Got up at about 10am and straight to the coffee stand, drank coffee and had a roll up, hmmm, have to go to the toilet now.  Dashing back to the tent I retrieve my wet wipes and bog roll and race to the nearest loos, I was in for a shock, massive, massive queues and a forty minute wait for a portaloo, christ!  EP you need to put double the portaloos in all the areas next year.  Spent some time with Kevin’s buddies, I was asked to select sounds, Jon Hopkins cropped up again, select cuts from the Knife’s Silent Shout album, some mad Aphex Twin, the Butthole Surfers – John E. Smoke, Patrick was quite taken by this track and lyrics like these,” John was a small town crippled lesbian boy who stood ten feet tall with a knife.” And so on and so on, some of the mad crazy bands from the late 1980s and early 1990s, I even slipped in some GonG.  For some mad reason I think the time on my phone went back an hour by accident.  I saw on the Ticket EP listings that the reggae band Black Uhuru were playing on the main stage at 2.35 pm and finished at 3.45pm, but when myself and Kevin rushed into the arena we discovered it was 4pm, so we missed Black Uhuru, DAMN! (there, I said it again)  Ah well, might as well stay in the arena now and catch some live music.

We tried one of the Indian stalls for a bite to eat, I can’t remember the name of the place but Kevin got the meal deal, chicken curry with a nan bread and salad, I went for the chicken masala which was ok, nice enough, we bought some EP tee shirts at the merchandise stand and sat down on the grass in front of the main stage to watch some of Noah and the Whale.

Noah and the Whale – Main Stage  4.30pm – 5.30pm

Noah and the Whale were entertaining enough, they made a kind of folky/indie rock sound with guitars, bass and drums and some nice inventive fiddling from the fiddler player, two who sang vocals, I think.  It was quirky lively music and there was a few milling around watching and enjoying the buzz, a nice afternoon sound to keep the spirits up.  Kevin had to meet someone in Body&Soul so it was up to the Earthship area again.

Sabrina Dinan – Earthship Stage  5pm – 5.30pm

Sabrina Dinan is from County Clare but now resident in Galway city, she sings beautiful melancholic contemporary folk songs that incredibly came out loud and clear over the accompanying Body&Soul rumpus around, she has a strong resonant voice that reminded of the singing of Niamh Parsons, I think, another Clare woman who sang with the Galway group Arcady.  I will be checking out more of her work.

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Sabrina Dinan at the Earthship Stage.

Myself and Kevin rushed over to the Electric Arena to catch the Johnny Marr set.

Johnny Marr – Electric Arena  5.30pm – 6.30pm

Johnny played a blinder of a set and proved that he is still a guitarist to be reckoned with as well as a pretty decent vocalist and sometimes, a stand up comedian with his funny lines.  He played some tracks from the new album The Messenger, opening with The right thing right and various other tracks, the whole band was incredibly tight and when Marr’s done the Smith’s numbers his voice was fairly similar to Morrisey’s.  He played some more of the new stuff such as The Messenger and Generate! Generate! which I’m not ashamed to say kicked ass.  But the excitement in the packed out Electric Arena went up a notch when he recreated the Smiths classics, Big Mouth Strikes Again and There is a Light that never goes out and also churning out an explosive version of I Fought the Law.  Myself, Kevin and a German lad I was talking to, Jonas stood and watched the concert from just outside the tent at the entrance, a most excellent gig.

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Johnny Marr at the Electric Arena

The Eels – Main Stage  7.15pm – 8.15pm

The Eels all dressed in track suits made a strange and interesting racket, they were just launching into a rousing cover of the Peter Green Fleetwood Mac song, Oh Well, they made for heavy chopping riffs that would keep many a metal headbanger quite happy.  They aired some tracks from their new album released February last called Wonderful, Glorious, including the title track, a brilliant Peach Blossom and Kinda of Fuzzy as well as selection culled from their previous nine albums.  This is the first time I’ve saw the Eels and I was well impressed, I had to leave before the end of the set to plan my move to catch David Byrne and St Vincent.

A quick trip back to the camp site, I wanted to get my jacket as it could be chilly sometimes when a gust came about and Kevin wanted me to get a jacket from his tent too.

David Byrne and St Vincent – Electric Arena  8.30pm – 10pm

To say that this was one of the most amazing highlights would have been an understatement, Byrne and Clark have an amazing energy and with a super tight and I must say, fit brass section of at least five players and guitar, drums and keyboard.  This is my second time seeing St Vincent and she really has some nice numbers in there, a nice selection from the collaborative album Love This Giant was played and a selection of Talking Heads classics like Burning Down the House and Wild Wild Life.  Annie Clark shone in tracks like Cheerleader, Northern Lights and cruel.  Byrne gave an amazing version of Lazy that was as good, if not better than the original single.  To top off such a good show, we got a brilliant version of Road to Nowhere in which Byrne had the whole band running around in circles and in time to the music, while still holding all the notes together, absolutely brilliant.

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David Byrne & St Vincent at the Electric Arena

The Knife – Electric Arena  10.30pm – 12am

We just hung around the Electric Arena as I wanted a good spot at the front of the stage for the Knife’s Shaking the Habitual set, the excitement for this show was impalpable, the first performances since 2006 and the Knife’s first Irish gig.   The Pre-Knife Aerobics work out was a real gas, initially I thought the bearded bloke roaring was Karen Drejer as she sometimes likes to dress up as a man for some of their backdrop videos,  the aerobics guy was mental and created a mad atmosphere getting everyone psyched up for the show.

When the Knife came on, instruments were revealed on stage that looked like they came from another time or planet, strange harps covered in day glow paint, large rectangular instruments that looked like it was a keyboard, but was then turned around to function as a drum and the Knife, all in hoods and robes.  The music for the first ten minutes was dark, atmospheric and eerily ambient, bassy drums eventually came into the mix and finally to some strange songs from Shaking the Habitual like Wrap your arms around me, the brooding Ready to Loose and the trippy Full of Fire with the whole hooded troop standing at the one spot in the stage, motionless while the track played, really strange stuff.

When the dancing started it livened up with the dub steppy One Hit from Silent Shout, this was a pretty amazing dance routine by the group, there was comedic moments such as when the lyrics mentioned ‘family’ all the group would be sitting like a family posing and smiling as if for a photograph, mad stuff indeed.  On one track some of the band strolled on with a large picture frame, which turned out to be a video screen, this is where we see the bearded Karen Drejer singing.

The Knife closed with Silent Shout, but it wasn’t the usual intro from the 2006 shows, basically we just got a barrage of techno beats until you could hear out the recognisable keyboard sequence and some powerful spotlights coming up through the dancers.  It sounds like Olof changed the original keyboard sound and added melodic metallic drums into the mix playing the same notes.  When Karen sang the spotlights became one with Karen outlined in a brilliant silhouette.  What an amazing show to build up so much energy, a sit down was required after all that.

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The Knife at the Electric Arena.

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The Knife at the Electric Arena (2)

For the final four hours a quick trip back to the camp site was in order for more beers and a sit down, on the way out of the main stage area I took the opportunity to film the lighted cube entrance as it reminded me of the Cubatron light box from EP 2008, someone remarked on Youtube that these were the same light boxes that were used at the Algorhythm Stage (Rave in the Woods) from last year so its nice that EP is recycling the old stuff.

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Lighted cube entrance to the Main Stage area.

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Lighted cube entrance to Main Stage (2)

It was off to the Salty Dog stage at one point where we caught a bit of the Hot Sprockets set, Kevin thought it was the Mighty Stef, they actually sound quite similar, but a lively rock band anyways.

I always had the niggle that I hadn’t met up with my friends from Dublin, Salim and Aminah Dastan, having checked Trenchtown a few times through the weekend.  So we went up to the Trenchtown area for a look.  I think Revelation Sound System was pumping out the sounds on one stage and after not spotting my friends, myself and Kevin was about to head off to Body & Soul, when I bumped into Aminah at last and she told me that Salim was performing on the other Trenchtown stage with Glaswegian singer and toaster Soom T.  Boy, I was glad to manage to catch the last ten minutes of their set.  Soom had a nice rootsy voice that absolutely complimented the dub she was singing over.

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Soom T with Salim Dastan at Trenchtown

We sauntered about the Body&Soul Village for the rest of the duration, soaking up the atmosphere for the the final night.  The Earthship area seemed to be the attraction for lots of people digging the pumping sounds.

Mothers DJs – Earthship Stage  1am – 4am

These lads were a bit like Radio Shack and My house (Body&Soul Festival) playing classic hits and mixing in cosmic house sounds. Lipps Inc’s Funky Town, Talking heads Psycho Killer and some classic 1990s techno.

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The area near the Earthship Stage.

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Gorgeous pods and baubles in the trees near Earthship Stage.

The final hour was spent at the Body&Soul main stage, I regret to say that I neglected this main stage for the whole festival so now I was making up for it by catching the final act before EP had closed its curtain.

Tourist – Body&Soul Main Stage  3am – 4am

Tourist had a bit of a Jon Hopkins buzz about his music, a bit more ambient but with some tasty mellow DnB, the beats ranging from techno, electronic rock, very chilled but thumping at the same time.  The ambient stuff was a similar buzz to Dineen’s sound and there was a nice wee throng at the front, whilst a lot, like ourselves sat on the hill in the amphitheatre to watch.  But alas the set ended and about ten minutes later security asked us to leave, I said to one of them: “Can we not just sit here for a while, soak up the lights and have a quiet chat.” He replied: “No.”  Ah well, better go then.

I was a bit awestruck by the change in the main stage, gone were the hundreds of globes from the top of the stage that used to have visuals projected over them and replaced by a rather elaborate flower shaped design that looked almost like a tripped out gramophone.  The lights to the side had a smoke machine attached so this created what looked light-smoke lasers, a really cool effect.  It also looked like a similar image of the projections on the Mr Screen in Pink Floyd’s comeback tour 1987 -1990.

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Tourist on the Body&Soul Main Stage.

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The light with smoke machine attached.

The video clip unfortunately is quite short as my battery ran out only leaving an eight second video clip.

We stumbled into Natasha’s Kitchen tent for some reason and stumbled out of it again, there was no music just a lot of people standing chatting, so back to the camp site to chill there.  A few cans later Kevin went to crash, so off to my own tent where I just lay about not falling asleep till about 7am.

Monday 2nd September

The aftermath of the Picnic, well I had a fantastic festival as per usual, EP tops again for consistent choices that reflect the original integrity of the festival, ok, there was some Oxegen acts in the bill such as Two Door Cinema, Arctic Monkeys and Ellie Goulding and a younger crowd at times for some of the main stage acts, but I still got a universal good vibe from everyone I met.

The death of Phil McConnell changed the atmosphere at the Picnic and it was a sad occasion and sympathies to the family, its just unfortunate but these things can happen at large scale events sometimes.

Security issued warnings over all the PA systems of the stages warning about the taking of ecstasy pills called Blue Ghosts.  These are apparently very strong and can be lethal in double doses.  I had friends at the festival who had taken them, but they were quite sensible and would only take a half at a time until it wore off and then maybe another half later on.  The same happened in Scotland over the last year with the warnings about fake ecstasy tablets called Green Rolex which claimed the lifes of seven people, although these drugs were thought to contain a few dangerous chemicals.  Warnings were issued at the T in the Park festival, Oxegen festival and Rockness festivals over the last few years to be aware of what you are taking.

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/jul/10/fake-ecstasy-warning-die-scotland

Some people in the know say that the effect of the Blue Ghosts can take up to an hour and a half to kick in and that they can be rough on the stomach.  They have heard of cases where someone believes they are not getting a hit from the pill quick enough and will take another one, this can lead them to be hospitalised as the double dose can be too much.  If you are going to take them, make sure you know what your taking, even if it means going to the Bluelight forum to find out the analysis of them.

Well I had a great Picnic and I hope you did too, love and respect and I’ll see you next year.

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About niallmcquaid

Music lover and musician. Love writing about music and events, I am a keen writer.
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