Prelude: 24th – 28th August
I travelled from Galway on the 24th catching the commuter Citylink bus to Dublin, where I got off at Kinnegad, this is where I met Lisa Lawless and Sean Sheil, Lisa was driving straight to Stradbally from there, we were all doing the advanced volunteering and after nine months of positively obsessing about Electric Picnic on Boards.ie, the Electric Picnic Forum and Facebook the time had finally come around again. Myself and Sean shared a similar taste in electronica so I set about playing him loads of mad sets that I had collected and put on the Ipod and putting my Angel Friendz speakers to the test.
Over the next four days I paired up with like-minded electronic fan, Jan Schneider to work four six hour shifts in and around the Body & Soul crew camp site and car park, playing wild electronic sounds to get us in the mood for festival time and although we wished it, Daniel Avery wouldn’t be playing this years Picnic. Two days were spent at the top of the road leading to the staff entrance, where we added a touch of pink to the dark green of the security guy, pink being the colour of anyone to do with Festival Republic, we had to prevent staff and people seeking B&S accreditation driving down to the car park exit and direct them to the correct road and the actual entrance. We also worked a day at the entrance part which was mainly spent listening to Beck’s Mellow Gold, our job to direct campervans and caravans onto the middle road and other traffic up left to the back of the camp site. The final day was spent working with a Scottish and English girl who were professionals at organising festival car parks at every festival in UK and Ireland over the summer, we had to prevent cars from parking where they felt like, which involved me having to go down the track and point the arriving vehicles to the parking attendants.
After each shift, Sean, Lisa, Dave and myself would meet up at the volunteer place and head from there through the production entrance to get a bite at the Roma or Chinese restaurant and take it over to Ramsbottoms pub where we would have a pint, the bar full of Festival Republic, Body&Soul and Trenchtown workers and various other festival areas.
Special mention to Dan the supervisor hailing from deepest Macroom in Cork and my neighbours, a crazy Cork bunch, Cian and the lads and lassies who seemed to have an unbelievable energy, partying hard till 7 am and managing to turn up for the shifts at 2 pm. Also a special mention to Catherine Kehoe, Susanne and everyone at the volunteer office, Larry, Ross, Dave and campervan John and his daughters and so many more.
Friday 29th August
Friday I was up by 10 am as I wanted to sell a ticket and figured that you have to get out there early enough, so onward to the main arena entrance and car park to catch arriving festival goers. Surprisingly everyone who had arrived so far already had a ticket, compared to last year where there was literally hundreds in the streets of Stradbally begging for a ticket, this year no one seemed to be looking and I attracted someone from Festival Republic security who told me to move on out of the arena and car park area. So back through the festival site and staff entrance to lie down for half an hour as that was a lot of walking involved there. I rested up at John’s campervan area, where he made us free coffee and tea and where we can charge our phones and ipods, John and one of his daughters was trying to find a buyer for the ticket for me. I figured the best bet was to go out evening time when the workers would be free from the cities and would arrive to the festival. Some people standing outside Supervalu in Stradbally with a sign for tickets for sale were moved on by the Gardai, so my plan of action was to go to one of the pubs for a pint and possibly sell the ticket there.
GIRO: Galway International Retro Orchestra – Earthship Stage, Body & Soul Village 4 – 4.30 pm
It just happens that about 3.30 pm I met Geoff Ward and Tom Cody wandering about the crew camp bundled with instruments, luggage and camping equipment trying to find the Body & Soul area so that they could set up for the gig. Having arrived an hour and a half earlier, but any time they asked security where to go they were given wrong directions, most security should have the EP staff handbook, but it seems these guys didn’t. So I gave a hand with the luggage and brought them up through the hole in the wall entrance, Geoff just making it in time for Giro’s gig.
Giro launched their first CD at the end of April this year which they had been touring a few gigs around Galway, then Anders Trabjerg and his wife Mayo Yanachi had their first child, daughter Hanna in 16th June so the gigs stopped. This Electric Picnic appearance is their first gig since the birth. Giro play a combination of vaudeville style jigs, reels and polkas influenced by recordings of the Flanagan Brothers, Klezmer music and Romanian gypsy music, all of the music similarly connected through emigration to the US and New York in particular in the 1930s and the melting pot of music that came from this. Their set was basically the first audience in the Body & Soul area for 2014, poor Leo and Anto preceding Giro had to play to an empty stage as the opening of the arena was delayed, the audience just filtering in when Giro started up.
We were treated to some rousing Romanian music and Klezmer music which started pulling in a small crowd, although there was the onslaught of heavy drizzle, Sean, Lisa and Dave showed up too, some spritely reels followed next where folk started leaping around to the music. So more Romanian or Hungarian music followed with Mayo doing some sweet stuff on the fiddle, Anders functioning as the rhythm on the large accordion, Canadian Kyle Borley (flute and fife) and New Zealand man Geoff Ward (saxophone, clarinet and banjolin) joining in intermittently in the arrangements. Borley is also a fine singer of the old Flanagan Brothers style type of songs and gave us a fine rendition of Goodbye Muirsheen Durkin bridged neatly into two polkas. Giro went down exceedingly well and I reckon they have made a few new converts from this gig, they will be playing a few gigs around Galway over the coming weeks.
I decided to go into Stradbally in the evening for a pint and to see if I could flog the ticket in the pubs there, at risk of missing the Blondie set although I did see a bit of them at the RockNess festival in Scotland in 2010. I settled for the Ramsbottom pub as that seemed the busiest of the bars plus it was nice to drink a pint of Guinness in a glass than watered down Heneiken in a plastic glass in the arena, I got talking to some of the people behind Trenchtown in there. There was a few lads hanging about outside the pub and I overheard conversation about not wanting to use Donedeal.ie, I asked if they wanted to buy a ticket, to which one fellow from Portlaoise ended up buying it. I was now free to enjoy the festival with a small bit of income, plus I made this guy happy as he more or less got it for the festival price.I bought a lanyard and programme when I got back into the arena and seeked out Charcoal Grill for my dinner.
Foals – Main Stage 9 – 10.15 pm
I caught a bit of the Foals on the main stage who were playing a fine energetic set and a fine amount of audience gathered too, there was plenty of tracks from of their new album Holy Fire played and they had a good solid rocky sound, a very nice addition to the Friday night entertainment. I don’t know much about the Foals, but I suppose they are a discovery for me and I would be most likely to watch them again if given the chance, but a very tight indie rock sound and strong vocals.
It has to be said this year the Friday night was scant and similar to last year with not much choices in the main arena, the Little Big Tent, Cosby Tent and Rankin Woods tent were closed for the night with only the Electric Arena open for two hours with James Murphy (Ex-LCD Sound System) performing and the main stage which was now left with the choice of the Pet Shop Boys. The Pet Shop Boys always had a superb production on their singles but I just found them to be incredibly dull. I was happy enough to just listen to a bit of the performance from the volunteer tent to the side of the main stage, they basically sounded like their CDs really, ah well, horses for courses and all that. If I was working this weekend as a volunteer I would have chosen Friday as my night shift.
At some point during the night I met Kevin Keehan in the main arena and we went for a wander into the Body & Soul Village, there was a very large crowd gathered around the amphitheatre main stage so I figure this would be tUnE-yArDs, there was no point in trying to squeeze in as it was absolutely rammed so we just wandered about the place eventually deciding to go to the Rave in the Woods about 2 am.
Sunil Sharpe – Red Bull Arena – Rave in the Woods 2 – 4 am.
Sunil had a bit of job in his hands, half the festival must have showed up here seeing that more than half the main arena was shut, but he managed with superb aplomb, playing nice dark brain dance techno, twisty electronic sounds, a resounding thud and an earth quaking bass. The Dublin based DJ had the entire crowd in a hypnotic trance with the music getting wilder and harder. He dropped Polygon Window the title track by Richard D. James aka Aphex Twin just over half the way into his set which added to that brain dance sound, a nice way to blow out the first night. The long clip I took sounds like he sampled Forward Strategy Group’s Phase Linear for the electronic drone in the track, the second clip comes in courtesy from Youtube user Kanal von EarwiggleDublin.
The trek back to the crew camp from Rave in the woods seemed like an eternity, already by Wednesday last week I was getting blisters on the balls of my feet from all the walking around Stradbally town, to and from work and during the work, so they were very tender indeed by the time the first rave in the woods party ended for Friday night. Went up to Kevin’s van where he had a mattress set up in the back for a few cans before hitting the hay myself.
Saturday 30th August
Woke up about 10 am to the blinding heat, I sit up quickly unzip the tent and lie down again when the cooler breeze enters, everyone around is the same, woke up by the smothering heat. Five hours kip, that’s not bad and the most typical of festival sleep patterns you will get, taking in the late night shenanigans. Took a nice shower and shave to freshen up for the day. A bunch of us decided to walk into Stradbally for a bite to eat and a coffee, possibly taking in a trip to the Supervalu too. We settle for a scrambled egg and toast and a coffee at the Sradbally Fayre cafe, its nice the odd time to come out of camping land into the concrete and watch the buzz around the small town. At 8.50 Euros though I call that a rip off for scrambled egg and toast with coffee, so I won’t be back to that cafe in a hurry.
After stocking up with more Guinness and pouches of tobacco and cigarette papers from Super Valu, I head back to the crew camp, where Kevin phones me and we arrange to meet up in the main arena. Its handy when you get to the cross roads leading to the arena, with the crew wristband you can just walk up to the metal gate left of the first Hendrix camp site entrance, flash your wristband and you are inside the arena without the searching or delays the festival punter has to go through. Met with Kevin and went for a wander around the arena, he had to go off and do something so I wandered up to the volunteer area and had a chat with a few volunteers there whilst Trinity Orchestra played out the Gorillaz album, some of it nice and some of it quite jarring. I took a wee trip into the Green Crafts Village to have a look, among all the crafts, pottery and recycling was this bodhran area also called Newgrange Willow Design, where there was bodhrans with wicker rims, the man also gave bodhran lessons for ten euro an hour, anyway I sauntered up and had a jam with him to his banjo CD. I wandered down to the main stage area after and found Lisa sauntering about the front waiting for Dave and others to show, they were getting set up for the Stranglers set due to start.
I decided to go and take a quick look at the Mindfield area before the gig, there was all sorts of spoken word stages, interview stages, Theatre of Food with its chefs, food stalls and an expensive eating house set up for charity with award winning chefs and a pricey meal for 120 Euro, I’ll stick to the Charcoal Grill for the moment. There was also the Science Gallery stage that had a few eye openers in it, in fact there is just too much to fit into three days really.
The Stranglers – Main Stage 2 – 3 pm.
For a band with only two original members left they brought back a lot of nostalgic memories for me, I was a bit of a closet Stranglers fan back in the early 1980s. Classics were reeled out such as Get a Grip on yourself, Nice and Sleazy (minus the nude models this time), Duchess, Peaches, No More Heroes and a gorgeous version of Golden Brown which brought a tear to my eye. They pulled a decent enough crowd for the time of the day too and still had a decent enough sound and verve regardless that the original vocalist Hugh Cornwell was no longer with them since 1990, Dave Greenfield and Jean-Jacques Burnel doing a decent enough job with the vocals.
Went back to the crew camp site for a while to chill, this was the first time that I never moved into the Hendrix camp site on the Thursday and it was so much more peaceful for it, there is a awful lot of drinking and boisterousness at the Hendrix, even more so now with the bar times being extended to 12 am on Friday and Sunday and 1 am on Saturday and can you blame anyone for drinking their silly heads of themselves at 6 Euros a pop for a pint in the arena.
Met with Kevin again and went for a wander with him into Stradbally, he wanted to get a bite and to stock up, so we headed for the corner chipper near the Stradbally Fayre cafe, I bought some chips myself which were delicious with a garlic dip. I noticed loads of young fellows hanging about the town about fourteen or fifteen years old, skanger looking types looking for ways to bunk into EP, they stopped a crustie fellow who actually advised them how to break in, well at least they wouldn’t be able to get through the security at the crew camp. What is the point anyway, you break into a festival and then you get lumbered at a campsite how do you get by wristband check to the main arena, its obvious they are not there for the music and are there to cause trouble or rob tents. Of course you meet the odd few who have bunked in but are genuine music fans too, you can still enjoy free music around the camping areas like Salty Dog stage, Rave in the Woods and Trenchtown if you can avoid the occasional ‘on the spot’ checks for wristbands that crop up now and again.
Chilled for a while with Lisa, Dave and some others at crew camp for a while, supping Guinness and having the odd smoke. There was not really anything on the stages at the moment to grab my interest, but that usually is always the case at large festivals like EP during the afternoon and early evening, there was a number of interesting acts playing, Sean was off to see Hozier, but I was reserving my energy at least till about 8ish where I wanted to catch a bit of Camille O’Sullivans set at the Jerry Fish tent, otherwise I would just exacerbate my blisters and have an even sorer back if I tried to watch everything.
The Frank and Walters – Jerry Fish’s Electric Sideshow 7.15 – 8 pm
Cork band The Frank and Walters were giving it socks at the Jerry Fish tent with a nice fan base packed into the tent, the group were all donned in orange shirts reminding me of Sweden’s The Hives, they played melodious rocky pop songs that reminded of the energy of the Undertones and the early Jam. The group’s vocalist and bassist Paul Linehan regaled the audience in his thick Cork brogue with many funny stories and innuendos of his experiences on tour with the group and it seems they cracked it today with a fairly rammed tent reeling out classics such as After All and Plenty Times amongst others.
Off for a wander now with Kevin to the Body&Soul Village, he always has a fondness for places like My House (at Body&Soul Festival) and the Radio Shack for continuous and timely funky hits which I don’t mind myself at all. I notice sometimes especially at festivals that some stages are a little too close to each other, to some people this is their idea of hell, but for me in some ways that adds to the mad chaos to hear two completely different amplified sounds within the one ear shot. The case in hand here being a traditional music concert in the Bandstand (Pagoda stage from B&S festival) clashing with cool cheesy disco funk of the Radio Shack.
Louis Scully Discotekken – Radio Shack, Body&Soul 7 – 9 pm.
I’ve no idea what music was playing in here but there was about eight or nine individuals giving it socks to the groove, I imagine it was probably stuff like The Tramp’s Disco Inferno, The Real Thing’s Can you feel the force and the like, timeless classic disco era funk. No doubt there was some Chic fans in there getting themselves into the mood.
Perfect Friction – Bandstand, Body&Soul 8 – 8.40 pm
Couldn’t help overhearing them from the Radio Shack so wandered over to catch a bit of their traditional magic and man, they had a fine crowd jumping about in front of the stage, some fine looking girls playing concertina, fiddles and accordions and two fellows, one with a timely bodhran and the other pumping the sound with the guitar. Reels and more reels and jigs with a bit of rock n roll and Bothy Band style thrown in for good measure.
Camille O’Sullivan – Jerry Fish’s Electric Sideshow 9 – 9.45 pm
My sister Marguerite and her husband Brendan are big fans of Camille O’Sullivan and have her CDs The Changeling, Live at the Olympia and the DVD too, so I was well accustomed to her sound and this was the first time I would see her in the flesh. Wikipedia describes her as alternative rock / baroque pop, I would also put a bit of burlesque in there too, perhaps the best description of her is likening her to a female version of Nick Cave. She is also an actress, artist/painter, lecturer and part of her act is very theatrical in style too. What better a venue to find her in than Jerry Fish’s quirky tent venue.
She kicked off with the marvellous Revelator that opens the album The Changeling, a brooding masterpiece built up from keyboards and guitar histrionics of the musicians on stage she belts out the lyrics with such intensity that she is spellbinding, the only snag being my camera deciding to cut off before the last minute of the song and too late for me to realise this. Camille comes across at times as a stand up comedian or maybe she just has the natural lilt of Irish laughter, but she charmed us no end. She does a very intense acappella piece, I don’t know if this is one of her own compositions or if it is a Nick Cave style track but it got an amazing reaction from the audience including myself. At one point she looses her balance on stage and falls over a large amplifier, I don’t know if this was staged or if it was a genuine accident, but like a pro she just carried on as if it never happened. I was very impressed with Camille’s performance. something completely different that just grabs you, yep, that’s what the Jerry Fish’s Electric Sideshow is all about.
It was off after that to find a coffee stall rather than to drink another Guinness and a bite to eat, Kevin wanted to catch the last part of the London Grammar performance at the Electric Arena, unfortunately as we were trying to work out where the Electric Arena was coming around the main stage area, the Paolo Nutini audience had just spilled out of the area and separated the two of us, I hopelessly lost Kevin in the throng with no way to figure where the hell he was. So I made my way up to the Electric Arena and used O’Briens Ice Cream van as a marker should Kevin phone to find out where I was.
London Grammar – Electric Arena 9.30 – 10.30 pm
I caught the last two songs of the act, not actually in the tent but at the ice cream van outside the venue, I have no idea of London Grammar’s music but it was soft rockish sound with some of the nicest vocals heard over the weekend along with Camille’s, of course. Nope still no sign of Kevin, it turns out there is another O’Briens ice cream van at the other side of the EA so Kevin was standing at the wrong van it seems. Not that we would’ve got into the EA anyway the tent was rimmed about three or four columns deep with people on the outside for this up and coming group. A minor irritation developed, Kevin kept phoning me to find out where I was no matter how much I tried to explain that I couldn’t hear him due to amplification and roars everywhere, but he kept phoning and phoning until I just ignored it or else laughed my silly head off as I didn’t know what he was saying nor him me. He was raging that he missed London Grammar because he couldn’t find the EA, its a simple rule, you go left of the main stage by the first set of stalls and the Bacardi bar until you hit the first yellow and blue stripe tent, at least that’s what I think it was.
That was the catch phrase though for the festival, everyone screaming into their phones, ‘Wha, what? I canna hear what your saying, its cracking up. WHAT! I canna bloody hear you, text me for god’s sake.’
Portishead – Main Stage 10.35 – 11.50 pm
It was nice to be able to watch a Bristol trip-hop act without gales and rain for a change, the last time being the Massive Attack slot in 2010 where I got soaked to the skin after the comfort of Fever Ray in the EA. Kicking off with the uptempo Silence from the album Third Portishead rocked us up with a visual and perfect sound feast, although for the first few numbers Beth Gibbons vocal level was a little low and it was hard to make her out, but this was straightened up by the bands third number. Watching Portishead live, they come across much heavier than in their albums, guitars soaring with amazing power. We were treated to many of the luscious tracks from the groups debut album Dummy including Glorybox, Mysterons and Sour Times. Perhaps the biggest roar came during Machine Gun when the propaganda shown on the backdrop screen showed the Palestine conflict, the Syrian crisis and the Irish debt crisis with images of AIB and the Bank of Ireland. Very similar it appears to the messages shown in the backdrop for Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy that I seen on a Youtube clip from their performance at Longitude festival this year.
The visuals especially on the likes of Mysterons was absolutely stunning to go with that wall of sound only Portishead can create and Beth Gibbon’s vocals are simply divine, it was a pleasure to witness them at the Picnic and another landmark group crossed of my list, although I wouldn’t hesitate to go and see them again.
It was time for a brief sit down and a can of Guinness or two at the Body&Soul area with Kevin until we made our way back to the main stage for a bit of Chic, I wasn’t too keen in catching the start anyway as I find the first two hits by Chic super cheesy and I know that they start with these two numbers, Dance, dance, dance being one of them. It was more the stuff from the second album I liked such as Good Times, Forbidden Lover, We’re Lost in Music and Le Freak.
Chic – Main Stage 12.30 – 1.45 am.
Chic were just ploughing into We’re Lost in Music when myself and Kevin arrived at the main stage and man! It was packed out, never had disco funk been so popular, everyone giving socks with the moves. I used to dismiss disco as a sort of disposable pop music when I was into my heavy metal stuff, but funk guitarists like Nile Rodgers can rock with the best of them when required, had Rodgers been ten years older he would have been playing with the likes of Parliament and Funkadelic or even Hot Chocolate. Chic has a very tight ship in sound with a smashing tight brass section, a cool and calculating bass and a delightful lead front of amazing soul singers in Kimberly Davis and Folami Ankoanda-Thompson who have the looks and stage clothes to match, Davis and Thompson look in particular as if they were whisked from a world renowned gospel choir, jeezo these girls sure can sing their soul.
Now lots of people have been complaining about Rodgers bigging himself up as having played with the big stars and producing their records, but after reading his biography Le Freak I have the greatest respect for the man and it was also a delight he announced that his cancer has cleared up.
On with the music, the group went through various classics, a Diana Ross melody section, David Bowie’s Lets Dance, Sister Sledge’s We are family and Madonna ‘s Like a Virgin which I don’t particularly like but let the man have his glory. For me it was more the hits that made Chic themselves, We’re Lost in Music, My Forbidden Lover, Good Times with obligatory nod to the Sugarhill Gang who originally nicked the melody for their hit Rappers Delight and the bona fide classic Le Freak which seriously got the whole arena dancing. A smashing gig and a great way to round up the Saturday nights entertainment on the main stage, the only other similar type Saturday night closer being George Clinton’s Pfunk at Electric Picnic 2008.
We were wondering where to go next, I realised I hadn’t been to the Little Big Tent since Richie Hawtin’s show on Friday Electric Picnic 2012 and looked at the lanyard to discover that Northern Irish DJs Bicep were playing at the LBT till 3 am so we headed up to catch the last hour there.
Bicep – Little Big Tent 1.30 – 3 am.
Hailing from Belfast, Bicep create a nice sound palate of house music, in the sweet confines of the LBT there is a nice crowd bopping away to the sound but there is still room to breathe unlike the packed Rave in the Woods at times. There is a nice visual backdrop that compliments the sounds and Bicep seem to have a grasp of rich electronic sounds that they expertly mix to the beats, having missed them at Life festival over the last year or two I was glad to be able to catch up with them at last, I think Kevin enjoyed this too. Funky electronica for the ravers it is and gets a thumbs up from me.
We decided to go for Rave in the woods for the final hour and catch the last bit of Joy Orbison’s set, so from scintillating house to more scintillating house, dubstep and garage music it was.
Joy Orbison -Rave in the Woods 2 – 4 am.
This was my second time catching Joy Orbison this year, the first time being at Life festival where he played under the moniker Joy O and apparently a different type of music as well although I enjoyed both his sets.
There was a massive crowd gathered at the rave in the woods again, this time with Orbison at the helm, providing tasteful beats, cool twisted electronica and beautiful female vocal samples that complimented the sound. Every time I film this stage my camera trails off to the lasers and as always I end up filming the galaxy of colour spots on the trees, I suppose it can’t be helped and I reckon every person with a camera does the same. The next time at EP I will make sure I get to the very front of the stage and film them from there. There is not much more I can say about the music apart from that its was extremely enjoyable and energising, you can only say so much about dance music, a bleep here and bleep there, a twisted snare here and a bass to flatten your house with. Lets just say tonight, Orbison was playing a pumping soulful groove that you did not want to stop and that you could listen to until sunrise, alas it stopped at 4 am of course, so now the trip back to crew camp, feck!.
Myself and Kevin ended up getting lost on the way back, we ended up a road where security were helping a big truck to reverse, we asked security if that was the road to the Hendrix camp site which it wasn’t. We eventually found the stalls and the Hendrix camp site about an hour later and when we hit the cross roads, we took a wrong turn and ended up at some farm house, why the hell does this keep happening to us, my blistering feet are laughing at me, it was probably down to us being too loaded or whatever. You’d think there would be some kind of Stargate wormhole by now to save all that bloody walking.
Anyway the final hour was spent in the company of Ross, Larry and Kevin drinking Morgans and Guinness and having an oul smoke till about 6 am, where we met a shivering and a just awoke Sean who was heading to one of the portaloos. It was then I realised how bloody cold it was and decided to hit the hay myself to keep warm.
Sunday 31st August.
Got up about 11ish today and met Sean, Lisa and Dave and decided to go for a breakfast in Stradbally, I can’t remember the pub we went to but it was just down from Ramsbottoms. They were cashing in on festival prices so the breakfast with a coffee worked out a 10 Euro which is just a tad expensive. Anyway we happily gulped down the breakfast and coffee and I asked someone where I was supposed to pay, but everyone turned around to me saying they already paid beforehand, so it was suggested by my friends that I leave quickly and quietly which I did, so got my breakfast free woo hoo.
Got back to crew camp with the others and met Kevin there, he wanted to go and see the Wailers, so we set off to the main arena through the steel gate armed with cans of beer. Last year we missed Black Uhuru because we were having a chilled time with Patrick Long, his brother Kevin and loads of buddies, the same happens everyone at some point I’d say the weekend over at the Picnic. Your chilling after a lot of walking and you completely miss someone you wanted to see.
The Wailers – Main Stage 2.30 – 3.30 pm.
There was a nice crowd gathered for the Wailers and the sun was out in all its glory, the perfect recipe for reggae music. Where we settled about five or six rows back, who should we land beside but my good friend Aminah Dastan and her boyfriend, so a nice reunion of buddies. The Wailers played a greatest hit catalogue of Bob Marley classics which got a steady bouncy skank going, Get up Stand Up, Could you be Loved, Is this Love, One Love and so on and so on, just a fun filled hour of classic Marley hits in the blazing sun you couldn’t ask for more in that traditional Sunday EP slot.
Aminah and her fellah had to go back to work at their coffee stall in Soul Kids area, so myself and Kevin rushed over to catch the last fifteen minutes of Jenny Lewis in the Rankin Woods tent.
Jenny Lewis – Rankin Woods Stage 3 – 3.45 pm.
Jenny Lewis is the lead singer for Rilo Kiley an alternative rock group from the US, she has three solo albums under her belt, the style of music she gave off today was an alternative country rock n roll vibe, a kinda of Americana music, this was my first time seeing her as I never seen Rilo Kiley at the 2007 Picnic either. Her music judging by the clip I took had a rootsy Southern bluesy vibe about it but with an indie edge, she also has a great rock n roll voice that is very powerful and she is a very cute sexy looking red head, I would definitely cross the road to see her again.
This was around the traditional time for me to pop down to the merchandise stall and buy a Picnic tee shirt, I settled for a nice blueish green one with what looks like the Eye of Isis design kind of like the 2012 a bit except nicer again. At some point during yesterday I spotted Kevin’s favourite diner food, the chicken wing stall, now for the love of me I was trying to remember where I did see it, we eventually found it in the second row of stalls but I think he was disappointed when they had actually run out of chicken wings, it sort of defeats the purpose of the name of their stall really.
Kevin went off for a wander and we decided to meet at the B&S entrance later, at one point I sat down not far from the Bacardi bar to listen to the sounds emitting from there, Decent Perks was playing a set of funky house there over the cacophony of Sinead O’Connor’s warblings from the main stage, another case of two sound stages clashing, a weird combination, funky house and the loathsome vocals of O’Connor. I had to get out of there fast, so met Kevin at the B&S entrance sooner than expected.
We basically sauntered about Body&Soul looking at stuff, some of the strange shelters or art near some of the stages, well the big green umbrella type shelter next to the Upstage tent where we had an old smoke. Kevin looked at my programme and discovered that Mikey Joyride Soro was going to be playing a one and a half hour reggae set at the Upstage at 5 pm. Mikey is one of the supervisors at Life, Body & Soul and no doubt, Electric Picnic too who looked after the site build workers and volunteers in all these festivals, he is known for his trademark green Jeep with a constant reggae soundtrack blasting out of it at all times.
Mikey Joyride Soro – Upstage, Body&Soul 5 – 6.30 pm.
Mikey threw a joyful reggae party and a nice reggae history lesson in music to keep our feet moving, the tent was empty at the starting but quickly filled up when the bass vibe rebounded out of the openings in the tent and seduced passer bys into the tent to loose it with the music. There was an incredible happiness from the music that Mikey played which is again what the Picnic is all about, its not just about headliners and massive stages, its a series of about 20 or maybe 25 different stages, some quite close to each other in the same areas.
The music covered all sorts of genres that have sprung from reggae too, drum n bass, dubstep, dancehall, dub, ska, uptown, ragga, jungle and of course, good old reggae itself. Classics such as Dawn Penn’s No, no, no, Bob Marley classics, Damian Marley’s Welcome to Jamrock and the like, just a pleasant place to spend an hour or so when there was no plans on the agenda to rush off to the main stage or whatever.
When looking at the EP festival programme afterwards I realised one of my favourite Irish electronica artists played right after Mikey, Cork man, Reid but I only found this out hours later so I was a wee bit sickened, it happens though all the time at festivals.
I decided I wanted to get something to eat before going on the liquid diet of Captain Morgan cola cans and cans of Guinness so off to a coffee stall and then a food one. I had a good look around until I settled for a German style sandwich stall called Hans Frankenfurter – Authentic German Cooking that sold bratwurst and pulled pork rolls. I settled for a pulled pork roll for the affordable price of 6 Euro and it was absolutely delicious and filled me well, one of the nicest discoveries at the Picnic.
We briefly took a trip to the Hendrix camp site where Kevin wanted to get some cans from his tent, when we arrived I got a chance to meet Cork Dave who was in suitable spirits with a few beers in him, blasting his beat box and entertaining his neighbours who were suitably inebriated too. They spotted my bodhran so they begged me to do a bodhran solo, which I obliged them in the end and they gave me a cheer, this was the only time I managed to catch up with Dave, so I took a photo to catch that moment.
Seeing that we were in a bit of a reggae buzz today we decided to head down to Trenchtown for a while, it was odd where Kevin chose to sit, right in the middle of another sound stage clash, this time the Revelation Sound System were blasting dancehall dub in one corner while there was a live reggae rock band Synergy playing in a stage at another corner, you know something, festivals are the maddest of things, why do we subject ourselves to such volume from various sources, we are mad as hatters we are.
Synergy – Inna Live yard, Trenchtown 7.30 – 8.30 pm.
Went over to check out Synergy who hail from Youghal, County Cork and who play many different styles of reggae, folk, ska, trad, African and rock, they have been described as mix of reggae and sunshine music, Latin music and Irish music. When I was checking them out they were playing a bluesy heavy rock with a Jamaican drumming undercurrent, quite an interesting mix and why not, I ask, tis the Picnic after all, a melting pot of styles and hybrids. Will be checking them out if I get a chance soon again.
At about quarter past eight we figured that was the time to get a good spot in around the front of the main stage for Beck, so we hurried over to settle before the start of the gig.
Beck – Main Stage 8.30 – 9.45 pm.
Beck blasted off with Devil’s Haircut, what a way to go, the riff just ate through my brain, probably one of the best concert intros ever and the Electric Picnic audience went ballistic, Beck and his band tight as hell with beautiful psychedelic graphics playing out in the massive back screen backdrop. Beck looks as young as ever leaping about the stage like a kid and his voice in super form. Next its straight in the opening of Mellow Gold and Loser, this is just so, so good, everything replicated to a super live intensity and everyone in the audience in awe of such a band rocking out the main stage. He dropped other classics throughout the set such as E-Pro and Black Tambourine from his 2005 album Guero. His set mellowed in the middle with some tracks from his new album Morning Phase, like Blue Moon. I knew he had come to the end of the set by the opening keyboard motif for Where it’s at, that’s the number he has been closing with on his recent shows and where he introduces his band. It was a damn fine pleasure to get to see Beck live for the first time and I hope its not my last time.
I think I went for a coffee after this as the cans was running out and I had to use them sparingly, stupidly I left two cans at crew camp instead of taking them all with me. Sean was in touch by text, we arranged to meet at the left of the mixing desk for Outkast, for the whole festival I had not actually went to a gig with Sean as yet. So myself and Kevin dandered about Body & Soul for a bit. Both of us decided to buy a pint from Heneiken Atlas, the only pint I’ve bought for the whole weekend, I went into the bar and asked for a pint and she said, ‘sold out’ but she was only joking, I liked that.
I could have never anticipated the crowd that was going to gather for Outkast, it must have been the biggest crowd gathered for a EP main stage act ever, the crowd extending to the very back and right up to the sides of the stalls such as Oxegen.
Outkast – Main Stage 10.15 pm – 12 am.
To tell you the truth I knew nothing about Outkast, in fact I have always thought that rap never came across well live whenever I saw it on stage, but man, Outkast cracked it, they were totally an entertaining act. Both Andre 3000 and Big Boi came across a fairly articulate when rapping, meaning I could understand what they were saying, which is not usually the case with rap gigs for me and my god, they could rap incredibly fast and you could still understand. I was vaguely aware of the singles Ms Jackson and Hey Ya because of airplay in the radio. Some of the audience at this gig though bugged the hell out of me, groups of fellahs with their girlfriends on their shoulders, their girlfriends having conversations with each other blocking a fair section of the view for a lot of people in the back. Why were the people at the back so meek, I would be punching them down, ‘Get out of the bloody way’ I would be roaring. It was also a constant pushing and shoving to get to the front which was annoying enough. Plans to meet Sean at the mixing fell apart as soon as we seen the main stage crowd. Myself and Kevin had enough at one point and withdrew from the audience to find some space to breathe.
I can’t remember who we met first but we bumped into Kevin Long who then took us into the Hendrix where we met his brother Patrick too and a friend of his, we also met Sean I think. We decided to go into the Body&Soul for a sit down just out of the periphery of the B&S main stage area. I attempted to take some photos in the dark of the lads, I even attempted a selfie.
We then moved up near the Body&Soul fire for a while which is a lovely spot to hang around, I took a video clip which didn’t really pick out my friends in the dark, but takes in the fire and some of the lit up trees and Body&Soul decorations around.
Boddika – Rave in the Woods 2 – 4 am.
We made the collective decision to go for the last hour to the Rave in the woods and catch the last act for the festival, Boddika, I think it was on the way there that we bumped into Sean Sheil and a friend on the way there too. I had to coax Kevin as he wasn’t too sure about the further walk plus he had to work at the breakdown of the B&S part of the festival on Monday.
Boddika was playing some nice spacey techno that had a lot of folk wired to the sound, didn’t feel like going up to the front as I hadn’t really the energy left, but appreciated the fine electronica that was being played, a nice way to close proceedings for the Picnic and quite different again from the Boiler Room set, hope he comes back for another visit, maybe Life or Body&Soul festival next year.
It was great to meet up with all the lads and we found a nice spot at the back of rave in the woods to relax and sit while soaking up the sounds. Oddly enough Boddika dropped a familiar track near the end of his set, I realised it was a track Ben Klock played last year on the Friday night at Rave in the Woods, it sent a chill down my spine and at the same time saddened me a wee bit as this one was coming to an end.
We decided to head off just before the very end of Boddika’s set so as to beat the onrushing crowd coming out of the area, it also felt a bit like the festival was still on when we headed off. Myself and Kevin followed Patrick and his brother this time so we wouldn’t get lost like yesterday and we found the Hendrix no problem and we said our goodbyes to Kevin and Patrick Long vowing to meet up sometime in either Galway or Limerick where they were from. By the time I got to crew camp both myself and Kevin were world weary and decided to hit the hay. Sean wisely stayed up having a blether with Larry and Ross around the tents, god it was 5.30 in the morning and i had to get up in four hours.
Monday 1st September.
Hungover and tired I was awoke by Lisa, I slowly but surely packed up my stuff and tent and hopped into her car with Sean, Sean sleeping for most of the journey to Mullingar and finally for myself to Kinnegad to get the Galway bus, all to the soundtrack of AC/DC in Lisa’s car, we said our goodbyes and that was it really.
In hindsight having looked at the RTE footage of the festival, it seems like they were at one festival and us at another, they seem to forget why ‘Electric’ is in the title of the festival, because its a festival for all sorts, but the basis or originally the basis was an electronic undercurrent of bands and DJs comprising the festival as well as everything else. I didn’t think Eoghan McDermott was a great choice to present the Picnic but Jenny Greene was was OK as she is a DJ after all, but for a guy who presents The Voice it was a rubbish choice, perhaps it was because of his Gaelic knowledge as a requirement by the broadcaster to introduce the Irish music bit from Other Voices, although nice job from Cormac Begley and the lads and lassies flaking out the reels. I hope for next year such sludge as festival fashions, stupid questions like what type of cheese do you like and such rubbish will be omitted from the programme. Get someone like Leagues O’Toole, Dave Fanning, Michelle Doherty and Elton Mullally from Under Ether or even John Kelly, someone who has a modicum about the music and the music fans at EP. Some of the footage was great such as the Foals, Stranglers and Chic but there was not near enough and far too much waffling really.
Anyway, till next year love and peace and goodbye Electric Picnic and Body & Soul. Roll on the end of May for Life, Body &^ Soul and EP 2015.