Electric Picnic 2018 Festival Review

Stradbally, County Laois, Ireland  31st August – 2nd September.

 

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Got the Citylink commuter to Kinnegad on Sunday 26th August to be picked up by Derek who was bringing his daughter Shannon to Electric Picnic, the final bash of the year beckoned and although it wasn’t the best lineup this year by all accounts there was definitely something for everyone there, what with thirty five stages there is always gonna be something out there that would grab you.

Sunday 26th – Thursday 30th August – The Advance Week.

There was a bit of rain every now and then this year so the fine John Dooley got a loan of a small marquee from JD (a local man also working the festival) that sat beside his camper.  This was perfect for watching films if it happened to be raining and John had a fine selection of films and the Father Ted box set, so back to back episodes to keep the laughs coming laughing at our Irish follies.

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John Dooley’s set up this year.
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John Dooley, the life and soul of Electric Picnic, tea and coffee master of the crew camp. 🙂
Photo of me by Jenny. - Copy
Myself snug in the marquee, wrapped up as nights could be chilly  photo: Jenny O’Mahoney.

I was working at the production gate again this year directing arrivals to a temporary car park and to their health and safety induction where they would get temporary wristbands.  Working with two other volunteers Shannon and her boyfriend Cian and changed over to two different volunteers during the week.  I brought the beat box with playlists of Massive Attack, Death Grips and the Prodigy among others.

Security was telling me on Tuesday that themselves and the Gardai were chasing some fence jumpers, which made me wonder, where the hell would they go with the festival not due on till three days, hide in one of the portaloos perhaps.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were fairly mellow days where I had some great chats with some of the Eventsec security and the volunteers I was working with, some of them into exploring the festival and music whilst some had no interest at all, one security chap was more into musicals rather than rock and pop music, I suggested he check out Body&Soul or the Trailer Park for possibly pop up musicals, which could happen.

Festival Republic seemed to be messing with peoples heads, they kept changing the wristband colour for accreditation each day, so one minute you would be on your way and the next you would be blocked, meaning you had to get in touch with your supervisor to get the new wristband.

Thursday seemed to be the messiest of all with it being the most ultra busy day on the eve of the festival.  There seemed to be a lack of communication between departments of the festival as the wristband had changed colour again which I found out when I went to use the production loos.  I was working with security out on the roadside entrance today and there was a lot of heated exchanges between festival staff and security.  What basically happened was bunches of workers going out on their lunch break and discovering they couldn’t get back in again through the production gate until they got in touch with their bosses to get the relevant accreditation again.  Anyways my shift came to an end and I became a wristbanded festival punter.  The one thing bugging me was having a blocked right ear, either wax or an ear infection, but I wouldn’t be able to hear full stereo.  Was delighted to meet Catherine, Susan and Ross again and countless others who I forgot the names of already, my head is like a sieve sometimes.  There was talk that because of the scarcity of tickets this year, on average they were going for 400 Euro each that volunteers and security would abscond from their duties.

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The production entrance.
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The main stage in the making.
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The new comedy tent.
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The new Jerry Fish Tent.
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The new bigger Rankin Woods Tent.
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Work in the Body&Soul area.

 

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Working in the Body&Soul area.
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The Haunt under construction in Body&Soul.
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Volunteers working the crew camping and car park area.
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Briege and Jenny.

Friday 31st August.

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Day one in the arena.

The predictions were right, some volunteers disappeared as soon as they were accredited , I could never do something like that as its like breaking a contract, your wristband number would be given to security and if any of the staff from the volunteer HQ had seen you, you would’ve been reported and ejected of the site.  I would be too paranoid to enjoy the festival and plus its not a nice thing to do.  I willingly sacrificed DJ Shadow, Boys Noize, Shit Robot, The Undertones and half the Jimmy Cliff gig at EP 2011 to work the late shift working alongside Declan, a lovely man who is now head of security at the production area, as Catherine needed someone to man the gates leading to the back of the marquees, very important, ferrying musicians and bands to their gigs and having an emergency lane for fire trucks, Gardai and ambulances and keeping the path clear in such emergencies.  Because of these absences security have to do some of these roles instead and they work long enough hours as it is.

I met Dagmara Zolty and Mati the people I had been doing the work experience with this year at the crew camp, they were going to be doing a pop up scratch workshop at the festival  Dagmara with Mati runs this streetwear fashion boutique called 1984 Miracles in Galway city that is also a scratch hip hop record shop and label (Cut&Paste Records) in 5 Augustine St, where they also host Community Scratch sessions once a month in their shop, anyone can come in off the street and have a go on their decks and they’ll show you how to scratch.

https://niallmcquaid.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/if-its-fashion-and-music-you-want-its-1984-miracles/

I took the opportunity to film a small bit of the journey after the hole in the wall, I wanted to capture the wooded walk in the staff entrance to the festival site with the lovely lights through the trees and the buzzing people zipping into the festival.

Well I couldn’t really afford the lanyard this year i had to be careful with the spending, eating wisely and cheaply, mainly in Stradbally itself and through the kindness of John Dooley.  But I knew the Roadhouse Doors (2.45 – 4 PM) was playing the Salty Dog stage and that some Boardsies were planning a meet up there, Boardsies as in posters to the Electric Picnic thread in Gigs and Events in the Boards.ie chat forum.  After messaging a few, some of them were still on their way to the site, so it never happened.  I loved the music and it sounded pretty authentic, they done great covers and the singer had an amazing larynx.  A great start for the festival to get you in the mood and a good old rock out.

#Roadhousedoors

https://www.facebook.com/TheRoadhouseDoors/

This year I’m rocking out, its either a combination of metal/hip hop or trap metal, punk or hardcore hip hop and punk techno, DnB and Jungle music.  I will be mainly watching and listening too, three selected artists, Scarlxrd, Death Grips, The Prodigy and whatever else comes along.  Also looking forward to Massive Attack.  It has to be said, there was an awful lot of dross in the lineup this year, will be hot footing from the likes Gavin James, The Coronas, Picture This, George Ezra and Walking On Cars.

Grabbed a Charcoal Grill steak burger and sat at a table that was already polluted with everyone else’s crap and bins a mere two metres away, there is no self respect, so much for the green message projected on the main stage screens.

CHVRCHES – Main Stage  –  7.30   –   8.30 PM.

Glasgow band CHVRCHES put on a nice set airing tracks from their new album Love is Dead.  Lauren Mayberry the singer joked about playing festivals and concerts around the world in seriously sweltering conditions and was glad to be back to a similar climate to Scotland.  I saw the band the last time they played in 2015 and their interest has swelled pulling a reasonable crowd to the main stage.  they have a nice buzzy synth pop going on and Mayberry has a lovely soaring voice.  Its nice to see a band from my home sod and one worth checking out if you like good electronic rock and pop.  I also met fellow boardsie Scruff Monkey at the side of the mixing desk area.  The clip I think was taken too far away, but sometimes we feel comfortable watching from a distance, that would change during the weekend.

#chvrch.es

https://chvrch.es/

Got a message that David Curran had turned up at the crew camp and was on his way to the arena, so I went up to the volunteer HQ and there he was, I stopped for a coffee and we made our way to the right of the mixing desk for the main stage in preparation for the Kendrick Lamar set of who David was a big fan of.

Kendrick Lamar  –  Main Stage  10.40   –   12 AM.

Now I wouldn’t be a big Kendrick Lamar fan, I do like some hip hop just different types really, but I was intrigued all the same as he is one of the biggest touring the circuit at the moment.  BANG! well I didn’t expect that, shook me to my senses, so this guy has some interesting pyrotechnics and what looked like a strange fascination with Chinese / Kung Fu culture mixed with Blaxploitation in the visuals on the back screen backdrop.  He was definitely entertaining enough and worth seeing once anyway.  Would have preferred a dance act in the end, The Prodigy would have been a good start but we’ll get them in the end.  The video clip is from Vegan Viking who always manages to get the best close ups of acts at the Picnic.  Don’t let my review put you off, I don’t really review it as such as I don’t know his catalogue nor bothered to check, but if you like that type of hip hop you’ll love this guy.  He certainly puts on an interesting visual show.

After that myself and David went wandering about Body&Soul Village, up to the main stage to look at the Super Extra Bonus Party, but they didn’t really do it for us so we wandered up to the Earth Ship stage and caught the end of the Bobofunk set and the start of Jah Monk’s set.  Bobofunk doing a techno/house kind of thing that got us bouncing and Jah Monk playing a mixture of roots reggae and jungle which also got us bouncing nicely.  A cold enough breeze came in so we needed somewhere sheltered, I suggested we go to The Haunt which I don’t think David regretted, he was well impressed with the venue and the sounds emitting.  The only thing I Shazamed this year and was particularly taken by was Beyond Belief by Elvis Costello & the Attractions, such is the diverse compilations of their playlists, I loved all the tracks they played but that was the only one I took the trouble to find out about.  We stayed there till 3.50 AM and headed back to the crew camp after that.  Met Kevin at the crew camp, he had done his first weekend shift at family camping so I joined him for a few cans while David crashed for the night.

#bobofunk. #thehaunt, #jahmonk

Saturday 1st September.

Went over to John for a coffee and he produced a rasher and sausage sandwich to me, what a legend.  Met David who told me he was going for a beer run with Kevin wanting a few cases too.  So myself, David and Coby (Adam Coburn that is) piled into the car.  Got myself another tray of Guinness.  Had a shower to refresh and jammed a bit in the bodhran with the 1975 Paddy Keenan album on the ipod, I think some of the crew enjoyed my effort.

David and myself made for the arena about 5 PM to go and see Mavis Staples the famous soul singer which should be good or so I hoped, not so as Specialised Security held me up at the gate.  They found my two cans of Guinness and told me I had to drink them at the gate before going in, despite my protests that no stout is for sale anywhere in the festival site.  So Specialised Security, the Heineken overlords are forcing stout drinkers to drink watered down 6.50 Euro pints of lager.  We need Heineken kicked in the ass out of the festival, bring Guinness back like at Witnness festival.  Met a few randomers at the gate including a Murphy’s drinker who felt the same.  Bring free flow to the Picnic please like Body&Soul Festival and All Together Now so we don’t have these needless delays.  By the time I got to the main stage Staples was at the last few minutes of the set, so missed most of it and it put me in a steamer of a mood, I almost took it out on my phone, there was gritted teeth for ten minutes at least.  Plus I was half cut a little too quickly after gubbing two cans at a fairly fast pace.  But time to get out of there quickly before I heard the first note of Gavin James.

Scarlxrd  –  Little Big Tent   6.30   –   7.15 PM.

Thank god there was other stages to go to and such a noisy metal or should I say mental hip hop act like Scarlxrd.  Wikipedia has a few genres attached to Scarlxrd, trap, heavy metal, rap metal, nu metal or hardcore hip hop.  I bloody loved it, being a metal fan when growing up, I still liked a bit here and there but this was a new type of signing for the Picnic.  The Picnic this year also attracted a much younger audience too and a lot were in evidence at this gig as this is one of the first times I’ve seen a mosh pit forming at a gig at the festival.  The music a grinding metal sound that sounded so rusty and Scarlxrd practically wearing his throat away into his abdomen from screaming the lyrics.  His beats man was also another lunatic leaping about like a nutter but you could see they really loved it.  How would you describe it, the complete opposite to Gavin James anyway.  It was too much for David and he retreated after a few minutes motioning to his ears, I said I’d meet him after.  But I loved this new type of violent music, its nice seeing the Picnic give this a go.

#Scarlxrd

https://www.scarlxrd.com/

I met up with David again at the Trailer Park and I had a bite to eat, settling for Home Fries and their lovely garlic and cheese potatoe fries.  I don’t know if it was Scarlxrd’s music or the mood after drinking the cans quickly but I developed an eye strain headache and made the decision to go back to the crew camp for a quick power nap as I became exhausted quite quickly and dehydrated so a sit down or lie down in the quiet was the order of the day, setting my alarm for 11 PM so that I might catch a bit of NERD and the full Massive Attack set.

I realised I couldn’t really sleep anyway but the peace was nice and I savoured the rest, I headed up to the arena at the back of 10 PM making for the volunteers HQ only bringing water with me this time so there would be no delays at the gate going in.  Met Catherine and she kindly gave me some aspirin which killed the headache and I had a few coffees there, she also gave me a bottle of water as she reckoned it was dehydration too, most definitely after leaping about like a lunatic to Scarlxrd.  N.E.R.D ( standing for No One Ever Really Dies) was making a delightful sound from the main stage and they had a great crowd gathered for their set.  I went down to watch the last few numbers of their set and Pharrel Williams knows how to get a crowd going as he is a big name in his own right, funky party hip hop that is perfect for a festival environment.

Hip hop has seemingly become the number one genre for festivals these days, what with Kendrick yesterday and Longitude devoting most of the acts to be hip hop this year in their bill.  Beat poetry over a dance beat, The Sleaford Mods, a very different kind of beat poetry who got my attention at Body&Soul Festival last year but alas they clashed with the Prodigy set at this one.  The spoken word is overtaking vocals, some of it good and some not so good at times, this doesn’t reflect on N.E.R.D’s set though which sounded extremely good.

#n.e.r.d

http://nooneeverreallydies.com/

Was getting hungry again and seeked out a food stall, I fancied fish and chips, the Fish & Chip Shack catered exactly for my needs, done in the style like the Scottish/Italian chippers, scrumptious and delicious but a pricey enough 11.20 Euro but worth it.

http://www.sizzle.ie/

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The Fish & Chips Shack.

 

Massive Attack  –  Main Stage   12.15   –   1.30 AM.

Well I’m glad MA didn’t cancel this performance like they did at Mad Cool Festival in Madrid this summer and I was looking forward to some beautiful ambient downbeat triphop and their usual flair for cool visuals and propaganda messages, I was also praying that it wouldn’t rain like the last time in 2010 where I got soaked to the skin.

David met me and Ross too, we were positioned to the top right of the mixing desk so just perfect where we were.  Massive Attack didn’t disappoint, lovely dark ambient stuff, they kicked off with I Against I, the collaboration they done with Mos Def and a nice lively start to the proceedings.  Their set was plucked from their array of  five albums and various EPs they have done over the years.  Inertia Creeps and the brilliant Rising Son from the Mezzanine album, Future Proof from their 100th Window album that probably had the best visuals of the set going from a set counter in the middle of the screen, a countdown clock which exploded into a brightly lit backdrop and that kind of jamming sound that only the likes of Massive Attack and Portishead can do, incredible stuff.  The only niggly thing for me was their random messages across the screen which hurt my eyes after a while trying to read them so I concentrated on other dynamics of the show.

Having studied their setlists over the summer on setlist.com I knew that Teardrop had been dropped for the last few years now, but some of my buddies (Kevin included) still vented about it being missing, it is their best known track but I suppose ultimately it was the bands decision in the end.  I also would have liked to have heard Karmacoma but Tricky wasn’t around nor was Horace Andy, who I hear is doing poorly at the moment so hopefully he recuperates, the singer they used for Angel though done a commendable enough job.  The band closed with Unfinished Sympathy which is still my favourite Massive Attack track and the beautiful vocals of Deborah Miller.  The background soulful keening you hear in the track I often made the connection that, that could be influenced by Pink Floyd’s Great Gig in the Sky and the wordless soulful vocal from that.  A nice super chilled set from Massive Attack to close out the main stage on Saturday night.

#massiveattack

https://www.massiveattack.co.uk/

After that we vowed to catch the spectacular show put on by the Picnic up by the big wheel by the Catalan theatrical group La Fura dels Baus of the giant man and Irish volunteers pulled in to do the acrobatic performance from a pyramid structure suspended from a crane.  Having missed the Friday performance at midnight, this was our last chance to catch this act at 2 AM as there would be no performance of it on Sunday night.  A number of the volunteers involved were staying at the crew camp and we were talking to them at John’s camper, a pretty exciting project to be involved with.  A few rehearsals over the week and two shows on Friday and Saturday.  Its nice for the Picnic to be bringing back this kind of stuff, it would be akin to the Burning Man artist’s structure that was set alight in 2008 in near enough the same area and the Cubatron installation among others.

#lafuradelsbaus

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Fura_dels_Baus

And this is where my Nikon camera battery ran out, but how could I resist not filming stuff like this, you have to show the people what they are missing.

 

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La Fura dels Baus at Electric Picnic 2018.

Body&Soul beckoned after that, my apologies to other Electric Picnic areas that I didn’t go near this year such as Hazel Wood, Trenchtown (the reggae seemed to be more spread out this year, Earthship stage I’m looking at you) also it must be the proximity of it being near the Jimi Hendrix campsite that it can be messy and sometimes you can confuse the way you are going and end up in the campsite and it takes ages to get out again, but I’ll vow to do Trenchtown next year as I do love my reggae.  I also avoided Anchronica (Rave in the Woods) where I would have liked to have seen DeFeKT’s set and Aoife O’Neil’s set.

So Body&Soul Village again for Saturday night/Sunday morning.  Up to the Earthship stage, one of our favourite venues and bouncing about to the sounds of Fat Puppy Party.  Of course when it came to sitting down again The Haunt beckoned.  When we arrived there they were playing Wing’s hit Simply having a wonderful Christmas Time which I found pretty amusing and then back to the obscure fantastic nutty stuff again, Kevin Keehan showed up later and we stayed until the close of the venue.  I met a friend of my cousin Joanne Doherty there who remembered me from Joanne’s wedding over a year ago, a small world within the Picnic, I also met Cathal Johnson who gave me a swig of some Jameson and asked me to come over to his gig at the Village Hall in the Global Green tomorrow.  Finally back to the crew camp and a bunch of cans in Kevin’s tent to which we stayed up till eight in the morning, it just dawned on me that I left my Nikon camera in the Haunt venue, but I knew it was in safe hands there.

Sunday 2nd September.

Got up around noon or thereabouts and surprisingly I was quite refreshed even though I had only four hours sleep, straight over to John’s camper to boil some water for my drink as you go cafe press and Lavassa coffee, met Gearoid, Orla, Donal and David sitting under the marquee, it was sunny but with a cold enough breeze so non t-shirt weather.

I intended to go to the arena early enough today, as I was invited to all sorts of things, Cathal’s Dominic Street Ramblers were playing the Village Hall at 2 or 3 PM, Cathal said 3 whilst the clashfinder said 2.  Also Dags and Mati were also doing the scratch hip hop thing around the same time, but I thought Cathal was inviting me to jam with them playing Irish tunes so I opted for there with my bodhran.

Dominic Street Ramblers  – Village Hall, Global Green   2   –   2.30  PM or 3   –   3.30 PM.

This was probably the chillest gig I was at for the Picnic, the Dominic Street Ramblers specialised in Appalachian and old time style music, with two acoustic guitars, Cathal playing one and alternating between that and harmonica and a five string banjo player,  It wasn’t Irish trad like I thought and basically I was going to do a solo spot at the end, but time ran out beforehand and the sound was cut, but I enjoyed their set and filmed a clip.

I missed the Inner Circle set on the main stage at the same time as the Dominic Street Ramblers but Kevin caught a bit of their set and filmed the clip for the Bad Boys track.  I went up to the volunteer HQ for a quick coffee and a hello to Catherine and Susan before heading down to the main stage to catch a bit of Garbage’s set.

Garbage  –  Main Stage   4.15   –   5 PM.

Went right down to the front barrier for this gig and met Jenny, Gilly and Ross down here too, Jenny being a big, big Garbage fan.  The band rocked the place out and Shirley Manson, another Scots lass had an amazing presence on stage and looked fabulous all decked in red and a great rock n roll voice too.  She was delighted to be here and talked about how it had been twenty years since the group had last played Ireland.  I didn’t realise that I already was familiar with some of their old hits especially Stupid Girl the group playing stuff from their Version 2.0 record.  A very tight band of Scottish and American musicians and a great group to blow away the Sunday hangovers with, an apt choice by the Picnic I have to say.

#garbage

https://www.garbage.com/

I headed off near the end of the set as the hunger pangs had got to me, I was set to try the cheesy bread stall but came across the reasonably priced Hans Frankenfurter German food stall that I visited in 2014 EP for the pulled pork sandwich that done the job perfectly having to run in to Natasha’s Kitchen seeing as there was no seats available outside the eateries plus there was a drizzle shower.

Nile Rodgers & Chic  –  Main Stage   5.30   –   6.30 PM.

The always reliable Chic were the perfect dose for the Sunday blues, their classic back catalogue of hits had a packed audience dancing to their hearts delight, the chic singers Kimberly Davis and Folami still look absolutely amazing looking and still have the most glorious soulful voices out there.  Le Freak, Good Times, We’re Lost in Music, absolutely tremendous stuff and with a bit more umph to the sound system this time than their last visit four years ago, although the sound was probably quietened because of the later time they were playing that year.  A fantastic gig by all means and a perfect crowd pleaser.

#nilerodgers&chic

I done a quick wander of the Body&Soul Village again this time the intent was to film the Haunt in a daylight shot as its too difficult to get a proper shot of the place in the night time unless you have 1600 shutter speed and film in your camera.  So I took a daylight video which still shaky enough even though I try to be still, I will never make a top photographer or great film maker, but I do my best hopefully.

Twas a quick dash from Body&Soul after that to the volunteer HQ so to avoid a heavy downpour and a few coffees and had a nice chat with a volunteer from Leitrim called Enda McLoughlin from Manorhamilton town, a place only ten miles or so from my parents hometown of Kinlough.

After the rain shower set off along the staff walkway toward the Little Big Tent to see who was playing in there, Mango X Mathman an Irish rapper was doing a set there but I couldn’t get into the sounds, I found the backing too cheesy, perhaps if I had more time I would have stayed and listened to the lyrics, but I was already bound for the Rankin Woods tent.  I stopped at the new Jerry Fish tent on the way and watched a bit of Bitch Falcon’s second set of the weekend who were blisteringly loud as usual and a nice rocking crowd gathered for them.  Working my way up to Rankin Woods to get a good spot for the explosive Death Grips.

#bitchfalcon

Death Grips  – Rankin Woods   9   –   10 PM.

Having seen these lads in a Lollapalooza stream a few years back I wondered when they would hit the Irish shores, although I’ve heard since that they’ve played Dublin a few times.  But man, like Scarlxrd they rocked the very foundations of Rankin Woods with outpourings from The Year of the Snitch and The Powers That B  among other albums and a crazy young audience moshing out to their hearts content, I was delighted to be at the front barrier for this as I had something to hold onto and my bodhran against the barrier when it got crazy at the front.  MC Ride is a nutter but a tight rapper with an amazing stage presence and the energy of a few hundred of us in the tent.  Zach Hill is one of the best rock drummers I’ve seen in my lifetime, spot on in the rhythm and Andy Morin was getting incredible sounds from his keyboard like nothing else on earth, an amazing gig and a bloody good alternative to Picture This on the main stage.  Go on Electric Picnic keep booking acts like this and I’ll keep on coming back. 🙂

#deathgrips

http://thirdworlds.net/

I made my way in anticipation to the main stage my ears ringing from Death Grips to possibly more loud amplification from the Prodigy.  I met another Boardsie, the lovely Mimimcmc on the way to the front for the Prodigy.

The Prodigy – Main Stage   10.30 PM   –   12 AM.

This was the second time catching this act, the last time being a day trip to Oxegen in 2010 where they were closing the Vodafone stage and only had a few thousand people (although an enthusiastic bunch all the same)  in one of the muckiest patches of ground (totally neglected by MCD after two days of torrential rain) while everyone else was watching Eminem and other acts and I didn’t give them the proper attention they deserved.

This time it was different, I think this was the biggest crowd gathered for the whole weekend and I was about ten people back from the main stage so still a great view and hopefully not too wild there.  The lights came on to some symphonic classical music and I knew this was going to be epic.  Camera on the ready as I have been studying their setlist at Home festival in Italy on the Friday and I knew my favourite track by them, Breathe kicked of the set.  As soon as the familiar riff kicked off and the drum roll started I was thrown of my feet by the crowd going mental, first thing I thought of was grab my bodhran to put between my legs so I could steady the camera, you can hear me panicking shouting ‘my bodhran, watch my bodhran and finally the camera focusing again.

#theprodigy

There was guitars and drums in the sound too so it was like metal/punk and techno, with some DnB, Jungle too and a mixture of other stuff.  Resonate, Firestarter, The Day is my Enemy, Voodoo People (Remix version I heard people saying), Wild Frontier and closing the first set with Smack My Bitch Up.  They came back for a bunch of encores premiering a new track called Light Up The Sky and closing the set with Take Me To the Hospital.

An amazing gig and a bloody good rocking EP for me this year, leaving Aphex Twin and a handful of other dance acts (Moby perhaps) to play Electric Picnic which will surely happen at some point.

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The Prodigy at Electric Picnic 2018.
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The Prodigy Electric Picnic 2018.

I headed to the Body&Soul area and met up with Gearoid, Orla, Donal and Kevin at the Bandstand with a sizable crowd dancing to the funky house of PrYmary Colours, David headed home before the Prodigy set as he had an important flight to do with his work the following day to Oslo in Norway.  We all headed over to the Earthship stage to the ever reliable Mother DJs to dance the night out and close up the stage.

#motherclub

Myself and Kevin headed back to his tent to finish off our booze but Kevin was tireder than I thought and was out like a light bulb in the space of five minutes so I left him and crashed out myself.

Monday 3rd September.

Over to John’s for some recovery coffee and meeting everyone there again while we scraped our heads together and decided to disassemble our tents and pack them away, I found I still had three cans of Guinness left so gave one to Donal who was delighted.  I was supposed to be heading back to Kinnegad with Derek, Shannon and Cian but Kevin offered to take me to Loughrea where I could get the bus there.  There were people I regretted not meeting up with, the lovely Lisa Lawless, Derek’s wife and Stephen Kerr who I met briefly with on Thursday I still have to actually go to an actual gig with you ha ha.  And to everyone else, you know who you are, Love from Niall.

In the light of the green message that Electric Picnic showed in all their screens this all seemed to go on deaf ears when you look at the carnage and aftermath of the Jimi Hendrix campsite and other main campsites.  Shouldn’t Electric Picnic make it compulsory that all campsites at the festival including the crew camp become BYEco Camping, whether this could be policed is another thing altogether, but another method that would reduce waste in campsites would be to introduce a free flow system, therefore people wouldn’t spend too much time in the campsite and would maybe drink out in the arena and use the bins there.

#5thingsclear #leavenotrace #byeco

This was taken by Ed Rice and posted on his Facebook page.

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EP Mess in the Oscar Wilde Campsite.  Photograph: Ed Rice.

Anyways, I’ll love ya and leave ye and until next year I’ll bid you goodbye and maybe will see some of you at Body&Soul Festival, All Together Now or Electric Picnic in 2019. 🙂

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Body & Soul Festival 2017 Review.

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I set off myself on the Citylink commuter bus from Galway to Kinnegad, Kevin couldn’t drive me in the camper this year as he wasn’t due on site till the following day.  When I got to Kinnegad I asked some people for directions on the correct road to hitch on to get me to Ballinlough Castle, I was advised to take the Trim Road and then the Athboy Road from Trim.  The first lift came after twenty to thirty minutes and as luck would have it, one of the people I asked at Kinnegad spotted me on the road hitching, so he took me directly to the festival site.  The pre-festival shenanigans begin.

Setting up my tent in the crew camp and grabbing a coffee from Kev’s Kitchen, I spotted another volunteer who I worked with at Gate F last year, Barry from Dublin, so a few tins were had and a catch up in blether, also caught up with Danyl Hartshorn and a few others.

Tuesday 20th June.

I was more or less working in the same area as last year, but this time with Jennie rather than Charlene.  It was a fairly quiet day with staff arriving in trickles onsite, my job to point staff traffic to the next volunteer in the staff car park area.  It was fairly hot today and I reckon I got a little sunburn on my nose, face and neck.  This year advance stewards got a choice of a lunch or dinner, the details of your dietary requirements was contained in the chip in the temporary wristband which was simply scanned at the staff cafeteria.

Wristbands
The Temporary and Weekend Wristband.

It meant after your feed you returned to the 12 hour shift with a renewed vigour.  Things were so quiet at the Gate F area that Jennie sent some of us to other areas to help out other gaffers.  I was sent to the Walled Garden to help out some of the lads there, they were putting cabling into the ground, called ‘Trenching’.  Electrical points were established to help light some of the installations, so from the nearest power point, a straight line was dug into the ground (using shovels) leading up to the installation and cable then tucked in under the ground and the sod trod over so that you would hardly notice the cut line.

I phoned Kevin to find out when he was arriving, he was still on the road and wouldn’t get in till about 9.30 – 10 pm, I was subsequently told by someone that he would have trouble driving his vehicle into the area after 8 pm as the accreditation staff finished and closed their office at 8.  He arrived at the site and security wouldn’t let him in Gate F or Gate E, so I suggested that he ring one of his bosses.  Eventually he got it sorted out and Natasha came to meet him at the Production Gate and led him on a buggy through the festival site into the crew camper van camp site.  Met up with my other great buddy Simon Outram (who was starting Thursday) where we caught up with the events of the year.

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Trenching had to be done to serve this installation.
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Installation in the Walled Garden.

Wednesday 21st June.

It was a bit busier today at Gate F but could still be quiet and dull at times, that is why I come prepared with my speaker and ipod, blasting out the sounds and hopefully creating the vibe for arriving staff too.  The choice of sounds was the audio of Aphex Twin’s concert from the streamed Field Day show, which I couldn’t stop listening to.  Jennie made us swap places at the car park just to keep the job interesting and man, it was really hot at times, I’m glad I put on sunblock today.  I opted to take the dinner today rather than lunch, lunch was about an hour between 12 and 2 pm alternating with another volunteer and dinner was at 6 pm.  So come 6 pm I had the hunger in me and enjoyed a slap up meal of green Thai chicken curry which was wolfed down.  My shift finally completed, I was free to roam the festival until the following Monday, yippee!

Thursday 21st June.

Had a wee lie in today and resolved to take as much photos of some of the stages and installations dotting the landscape.  Took out the Sony camera first and took one photo of the Woodlands stage and my battery ran out, damn.  It turns out that because I couldn’t find the case, I had packed it in tightly into the rucksack and inadvertently flipped open the slip case which turned the camera on, by the time I got around to use it, the battery died.  Ah well, off back to the tent to get my Nikon camera.

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The beautiful patterns of the Woodlands Stage.
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The Woodlands Stage ready to go.

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A new brickwork stone shelter or installation, don’t know really.

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Some volunteers working the Thursday shift.
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The Arbutus Yarns Area.
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Lights in the wood.
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Lights in the wood.
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One of the creations from Jeff and his friends.
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The impressive new wooden Main Stage.

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Thursday night fire in the Walled Garden Area.
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Cool pyramid installation near Absolut Stage Thursday Night.

Friday 23rd June.

First thing today, get that weekend wristband, usually they are issued on either Wednesday or Thursday night, but because of all the weekend volunteers arriving it can be pretty busy.  So decided to just pop down to the volunteer headquarters to get the new wristband plus I would need this to get back onsite again as I planned to do a beer run with another bunch of volunteers as we still had to get our drink allocation for the weekend.  These were all lads working in Soul Kids with Kevin, so off to Athboy Centra to stock up.

The music and arts didn’t kick off properly till 5.00 pm, so off I queue to the Midnight Circus tent for the start of Kelly-Anne Byrne’s set.

Kelly-Anne Byrne   – Midnight Circus Tent    5.00   – 7.30 pm.

Kelly put on an excellent set as per usual, having only discovered her last year and her Today FM show The Beat Goes On on Saturdays and Sundays, her music is an exuberant mix of happy house, funk and soul, the perfect beat and never too cheesy, more ambient and atmospheric.  Her live show would be more reflected on her Saturday playlists whilst her Sunday radio show would deal with more rock and pop classics.  She is one of the biggest Electric Picnic enthusiasts and of festivals in general and she explores the line ups of all the events and highlights artists that you may otherwise be not aware of.  More power to her and I will avidly boogie to some of her Electric Picnic shows too, godwilling I make it there this year.

https://www.todayfm.com/TheBeatGoesOn

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Kelly-Anne Byrne kicking off the Friday at the Midnight Circus Tent.

The next few hours were spent milling about various stages and occasionally up to the ring of fire in the Walled Garden which became a great focal point for randomness and banter.  I worked out that all the mad electronica shit usually came from the Midnight Circus tent, where you could hear earth booms and buzzing bass dubsteppery drones at times.

Katie Laffan  – Woodlands Stage     9.30  –  10.10 pm.

At the wonderful Woodlands stage (The original Body & Soul main stage), Dublin lass Katie Laffan had a sizeable audience wooed by her infectious blend of rock, blues, funk and pop sounds and she has a damn fine crooning voice too.  Described on her Breaking Tunes page as being influenced by Bob Marley, Chic, Destiny’s Child, Joss Stone and Kool and the Gang, you can’t get as eclectic as that, check her out.

http://www.breakingtunes.com/katielaffan

I sat on the hillside for a while overlooking the main stage, I think Anna Meredith was playing who had a fair crowd and was playing some nice melancholic ambient music. This was one of my favourite spots throughout the weekend, not too far from the main stage and you have a seat overlooking all the visuals and lights.

http://www.annameredith.com/

The Bug Featuring Miss Red  –  Midnight Circus     9.30   –   10.15 pm.

Caught the last three songs by this act and wished I’d caught it all, they were absolutely magnificent, electrifying noise dubstep and rap, Miss Red reminding me of the singer from Alo Wala a few years back but the music being a much grimier heavier sound and they had a packed tent full of people who couldn’t believe their eyes and ears.  One of the highlights of the festival and that was just the last twenty minutes of the gig, will be looking out for them in the future.

http://bodyandsoul.ie/project/miss-red-bug/

I wandered over to the Absolut Stage and found some nice seating that overlooked the ribbon umbrella yoke and the stage area that housed the DJs.  Loosysmokes is a troop of dancers dressed in white dresses with white umbrellas, they are also very good at acrobatics too and would often put on shows under the umbrella to the sounds of the DJ, it seems they preferred the funky house sound to the pumping techno beat.  They were one of the many lots going around adding colour and vibrancy to the festival.

Loosysmokes

Metronomy  –  Main Stage      11.30   –   12.30 pm.

I wandered back to that same spot on the hillside to watch the Metronomy set at the main stage but by now it was getting cold and it was quite exposed there out on the open. This was my first time catching this group, they seemed to have an interesting quirky electronic indie energy, they had bits of Talking Heads and bit of Devo in their sound, so a lively enough festival sounding band.  I realised to the left of the main stage there was a vantage you could enter to get up real close to the action if you pleased, much like the same work out for the Electric Picnic main stage.

http://www.metronomy.co.uk/

I retired about 12.30 am as I was tired and a bit cold, I wanted to keep the energy for a fuller Saturday, so wrapped up in the quilt, I sipped a few beers and listened to some sounds and dozed off.

Saturday 24th June.

Got up about 11 pm and went up with Simon to the crew camper van area to see if Kevin was up, we gave the door a knock but no answer.  We decided to check out the security catering area where your man was doing breakfast baps for five euros which sounded pretty appealing although his coffee machine was broke and he had run out of bacon, go on sausage and eggs will do and it hit the spot, nicely priced I must say for a festival.

Quite a lot of time was spent milling about the the fire area, although unlit, it was a great meeting point or a place to just sit and chill in the sunshine.

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Simon
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Fire Area at Walled Garden.
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The Walled Garden.

 

 

Occasionally there would be a quick visit to Natasha’s Kitchen to see if there was being any reggae blasted, a quick hello to Louise Borre who was working there and Simon raving about the cinnamon cakes which I tried a few times and have to agree, they tasted delicious.

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Natasha’s Kitchen.
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Natasha’s Kitchen.

Lambchop   –  Main Stage     6.30   –   7.30 pm.

I felt sorry for Lambchop as they had a good mellow chilled sound and they were quite hyped on the headline poster bill, but the group were lucky if they had about a hundred people at the front of the main stage, there was probably another two hundred scattered about the general area, some sitting on the hillside who were appreciating it overlooking the stage and others milling in different directions.  Lambchop’s sound could be described as alternative country, a kinda bluesy Americana, if you like.  It seems like the festival installations and chill areas won over on the band this time.

http://www.lambchop.net/

Various stages we passed and peeked at occasionally had some mad sounds, Weval from Amsterdam was making a beautiful psychedelic racket in the Midnight Circus, whilst  La Femme from France made a great punky pop sound on the main stage, well we couldn’t get Air (Fairplay to the Beatyard and I may just do that) but we got a whole bunch of French and Dutch excellence this weekend in these two bands, didn’t have the camera for video clips at the time.

https://weval.bandcamp.com/releases

https://lafemme.bandcamp.com/releases

Sleaford Mods   –  Main Stage         9.30   –  10.30 pm.

Some of Simon’s friends from his area was visiting the festival for the first time and they had their two year old daughter who was lapping up the festival.  We sat on the hill and watched a bit of the Sleaford Mods, an enjoyable English punk beat poetry crowd who had that raw energy of the early Jam, The Ruts and a kinda of cursing John Cooper Clarke style.  Was quite surprised at all the cursing, ha ha, with it being a family festival like, the Sleaford Mods were quite free and easy about using the curse word in their Nottingham brogue, found it pretty amusing myself but then I suppose we were after the watershed hour. 🙂

https://sleaford-mods.myshopify.com/

Went wandering about with Simon and his friends for a while taking in bits of the woods, needless to say we were getting our Dub Reggae fix with some serious IRIE emitting from the Woodlands Stage.  I never mentioned it till now, I seriously miss the Port Royal area especially when it was cold in the night, it was one of the truly enclosed areas of the festival that oozed that Jamaican warmth.  I reckon it might have been Cian Finn’s set at the Woodlands stage or maybe another reggae guy in the adjoining stage, but that dub bass hit home how much I love my reggae.  I decided to split after a while as I didn’t want to miss the Bonobo set, so we said our good byes for the night.

Bonobo   –   Main Stage         11.15   –   12.15 pm.

Was quite surprised that we were only getting an hours set from Bonobo but I suppose Vitalic is the headliner so he gets the longer one, nope I’m wrong, timetable says he played an hour set too.  Anyway back to Bonobo, they had a fantastic sound, mix a bit of Massive Attack with the bell like sounds Four Tet uses, mix in a dash of Sun Ra Arkestra, a bit of the Orb, some soul and some funk, oh, and some Sub Saharan music too and you have the fantastic, uplifting and ambient beats of Bonobo.  Highlights were Bambro Koyo Ganda (feat. Innov Gnawa), Cirrus, No Reason with Szjerdene on vocals I much prefer her to the studio version featuring Nick Murphy from their more recent album Migration from last year.  Kong was another from 2010’s Black Sands album that got the feet moving, such a great act I wished they could have played longer though.

http://bonobomusic.com/

Vitalic   –   Main Stage      0.45    –   1.45 am.

I just sat on the same spot on the hillside and waited it out, Vitalic took a while but he eventually appeared, it was getting cold up there though on the brow of the hill so I needed beats to keep me preoccupied.  What can I say about the Vitalic intro, twas fecking nuts, electro frapps, surges, gobbledeegook voices and a thundering pulsing beat, he’s as mental as the crazy Modeselektor, demented inter-glacial electronica mind phuck!  And another slice of French techno/electroclash/electro house madness unfurled by Body & Soul, quite a cool way to blow out the early hours of Saturday morning don’t ya think.

https://www.vitalic.org/

After a bit of Vitalic I wandered back into the woods, couldn’t find Simon, couldn’t find Kevin and wherever I was sitting or walking about, I didn’t really know anyone, so it was weird, the randomness of conversation had disappeared, perhaps it was a couples night I don’t know, but I thought, go back to the tent, might as well get warm again and wrap thy own self in thee quilt and went out like a light, time possibly approximately about 2 am or thereabouts.

Sunday 25th June.

Was feeling a bit rougher today and the feeling was made worse when I heard about the tragic death that occurred at the festival, my condolences to the family and sorry for your loss, it seems is the first case ever at Body & Soul festival, let’s hope its the last one.

Trying to think of something healthy, aah, Natasha’s Kitchen, lovely smoothies and cakes, a beautiful soya lemon cheesecake I think and a gooseberry smoothie does the trick for a while, I’m hanging about with Simon and he is off to the only ATM onsite which has a fairly big queue and the good bones of over an hours wait.

I troupe off to film the dancing ladies and lads of Loosysmokes during a nice sunny spell around the Absolut stage.

Was back at the tent for a while when I heard this powerful traditional music booming out of the Woodlands stage, just around the same time I see a missed called from my mate Anders, so I call him back and he tells me that his friend, box player Charlie Harris is playing with the Tulla Ceili Band.  I quickly deduct that, this is exactly who I’m hearing so I ran to the Woodlands stage to capture some of their last set.

I think Simon wanted somewhere to sit down and eat, so we went into the Arbutus Yarns area where some nice old time mountain banjo music was playing, courtesy off Ryan McAuley, Eamonn Travers on piano, Sean Conway on guitar and Darragh Brannigan on drums.  Someone commented on youtube that they are a mixture of two now defunct bands, Hatchlings and Tashka.  It was a pity as they built up a nice amount of listeners with their gig and some drumming troupe beside the venue completely drowned out their sound.

And speaking of which, another video has surfaced of said drummers, David Gerulis upped this lovely eight minute clip of floating into the woods from the main arena and walking towards the drumming party, they create an amazing buzz and a nice dancing crowd.  They are called The Hit Machine Drummers and this was their very first festival outing.

https://www.facebook.com/TheHitMachineDrummers/

Quite a lot of time was spent around the Walled Garden area, one of the best places to be in the sunshine, I was with Kevin, Simon and his friends, Barbara and daughter Abbie Nolan and Janice Topley.

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Kevin, Simon, Janice, Barbara & Abbie.
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Myself next to Kevin.

There was quite a few cancellations over the weekend, Parcels the main stage closer for Friday night, A Tribe Called Red who cancelled due to one of the members getting an ear infection, Songhoy Blues who were replaced by The Beat and Birdy Nam Nam who was replaced by the Midnight Circus closer Mykki Blanco.  I heard later from a friend, Kate Bandia, that some of the cancellations were due to a bomb scare at some airport in Europe, so nothing the festival can do about that, how the festival managed to whirl up The Beat out of the blue has to be commended.

The Beat   –   Main Stage     7.45    –     8.30 pm.

It was a surprise to see The Beat as I had no idea they were in the line up, I realise they were a last minute replacement for Songhoy Blues, but I was delighted as I missed them at Electric Picnic in 2013 when they opened up the main stage.  It was great to hear the classics such as Ranking Full Stop and Mirror in the Bathroom, perfect Ska music to usher in the sunset at Ballinlough Castle and for Sunday night in general.

So with the way things were going and the amount of cancellations I was in no rush to go back into the main arena or main stage area so stuck around the fire area of the Walled Garden as it was getting chillier with the gathering shade and down to Natasha’s Kitchen for a spot of reggae sounds courtesy of William Softly.

Simon split for the night retiring at midnight, so me and Kev hung about the tent for a while and decided to go in for the last hour into the woods.  The last act we were to catch was Ships on the Woodlands stage.

Ships  –   Woodlands Stage      11.15    –   2.00 am.

Ships had a ambient folk rock thing going with sensuous singing, glissando guitars and atmospherics, they were a perfect closer for such as stage, gloriously bathed in blue and purple lights reflected on the small square glass frames dotting the top and sides of the stage.  Sorcha McGrath and Simon Cullen from Dublin weaved a magical spell with their sound, I hope to see them crop up again at Body & Soul at the Picnic.

http://bodyandsoul.ie/project/ships/

I headed back with Kevin to the camper as it was colder tonight than previous nights, stayed up and had a few tins and the banter before we crashed out, last thing that could be heard was a bongo player in the distance playing for life, fair play to him.

Monday 26th June.

Twas nice having a proper bed last night and a bit of a fry this morning, my job now to disassemble my tent and pack everything into a few bags and say my goodbyes to people at the campsite.  I needed to get a lift from Ballinlough to Kinnegad to catch the 4.50 pm Citylink bus to Galway.  The time about 2  – 2.30 pm so I thought it wouldn’t be a problem, I managed to get a lift within an hour to Athboy and then eventually another to Trim.  By the time I got to Longwood I was still about 30 km away from Kinnegad and it was about 4.20 pm, didn’t get a lift till about an hour later getting into Kinnegad for about 6pm.  I managed the get the 6.50 pm Citylink where your man let me on when I explained the situation trying to get the 4.50 connection and finally got into Galway for 9.20 pm. just ten minutes spare to make it in time.  Thanks to Simon, Kevin, Ger, Jennie, William Softly and everyone else who made my week and weekend magical at Body&Soul.  Roll on Body&Soul Festival 2018 and Electric Picnic Body & Soul Village 2017. 🙂

 

Forbidden Fruit 2017 Sunday 4th June Review.

AFX Green Logo

Up at eight in the morning myself and Kevin took the Citylink to Dublin to get in for nice time and the start of the second day of Forbidden Fruit festival, sunny spells and scattered showers was the general forecast and everyone at the event seemed to be on a good buzz.

Exploring the arena I discovered there was not really any seating areas until we spied a bunch of seats down near the big wheel and one of the Bulmer’s Bars, enjoying the sun one minute and wrapping up in the next minute, the weather being that interchangeable.  DJ Deece was the opening act for Sunday’s main stage line up, he had a hard enough job as some of the heaviest rain fall of the day fell during his set, so apart from the odd isolated dancer who braved the wet, he played mainly to an empty field although some braved sitting on the sloping hill to watch the set.  The music being kind of House, with bits of disco and funk, so a nice easygoing vibe.  Its the hardest time to do a set as three quarters of the audience hasn’t arrived onto the site as yet.

I went for a wander myself to see if I could find the festival merchandise stall but there didn’t seem to be one this year, I was hoping to pick up a decent t-shirt of one of my favourite artists, Aphex Twin, but no joy.

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Forbidden Fruit Main Stage Early Afternoon

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Kevin

Eve  – Outcider Tent  2  – 3.30 pm.

Eve is a trio of female DJs who were playing some nice lively pumping techno and they had a few throwing shapes on the floor, the clip I took sounds like a Paul Kalkbrenner track that I heard him play at Electric Picnic in 2015 I think, anyway Eve was doing a great job getting folk warmed for one of the later headliners for that tent, namely Moderat.

I went and bought a pint, Five Lamps lager for six Euros, not too bad for a Dublin event compared to the prices at Electric Picnic last year and the beer, fairly palatable so it passed the test.

Monolink  –  Main Stage  3.15  –  4.15 pm.

Monolink from Berlin had mostly onlookers sitting on the hillside appreciating the sounds, he at least got some prolonged sunny spells for his set and occasional ones getting up for a boogie.  His music quite dreamy and catchy, its quite hard to describe his style, he is a DJ but also a musician.  He had programmed beats and samples and he played alongside the music with his electric guitar and sang, he had a nice voice too.  It would be fair to say his music was a kind of electronic dance pop, but more pop/rock than say, something like Calvin Harris.  Nice easy going ambient pop with a bit of funk. You might notice that I call him Monolake on the video, this was just me misunderstanding.

Myself and Kevin went back up to the Outcider tent to see who was playing up there, I wasn’t too sure if the act was Hybrazil or Kink, but I’m pretty sure by the time it was Kink.

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Kink at the Outcider Tent Sunday 4th June Forbidden Fruit

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Kink  –  Outcider Tent   4.45  –  6.45 pm.

Kink, a DJ from Bulgaria had a fairly packed tent, the crowds starting to pour into the festival grounds, he was playing some pumping techno which is exactly what the tented audience was wanting and it was pretty lively in there, so what can I say, he was doing a bloody good job.

As Mura Masa was starting up on the main stage myself and Kevin went to meet an old festival buddy, Cork Dave at around 6 pm, we waited around for about forty minutes but no sign of the man.  I enjoyed what I heard from Mura Masa’s performance which had a bit of a Little Dragon vibe to it, this was also the first act to have a bit of a crowd in front of the main stage.  Right time for a bite to eat before we head into the Outcider for the Moderat set.

Moderat  –  Outcider Tent     7.15  –  8.30 pm.

Moderat had an absolutely rammed tent and as it was raining outside the heat in the marquee was incredible.  They kicked off with a new track from III which was released over a year ago in 2016, the sound was fantastic but the tent had a very chatty lot that took away from the music a bit, kind of like having Moderat play at Coppers or something like that.  Some of the classics from the debut album got an airing such as New Error and later on Rusty Nails which had a little reworking.  The biggest reaction was to Bad Kingdom which I had to leave halfway through as I thought I was going to collapse with the heat, Kevin left earlier because of the heat too, so I lost him for a bit.  So my second time catching this most excellent act and they just keep getting better and better.

Aphex Twin  –  Main Stage    9.15  –  10.45 pm.

A buzzed up to hell audience was standing waiting patiently for the reticent Richard D. James to take to the stage and to transport us into his electronic minefield.  The speakers start rumbling, its like the white noise that usually accompanies the end of his set, I suppose he is tuning up the deafener machine, industrial glitches and bass rumbles.

Around the second or third track I hear a familiar beat, aah he is revisiting some of his 2011 set, he drops that lovely track from his recent Souncloud dump, 14 Floating (Swimming in God Mix), he is actually testing us out for our memory from his last Irish outing, a nice touch.

As the tempo ups a bit he drops another nice track from that Soundcloud dump of his,     1 Chink 101, a nice lucid happy ambient track that sounds like it has touches of or perhaps an earlier outtake of Fingerbib in parts.

After that there is no messing with the man, its straight into acid techno with one of his Analord numbers Cilonen and into some crazed Gabba and earth rumbling audio squelches .

There was mad experimental moments where I didn’t know what was going on, mad thumping drum samples, I thought I heard the remote car activation lock sound. The Untitled 7 Mark Fell and Gabor Lazar track  and 3000000 (W3C Remix) track were pure experimental musique concrete tracks that used drum samples and sounds you could imagine hearing as an end of the world scenario, but enthralling they were, I don’t know if the D4 snowflakes liked though ha ha.

We got some of his obligatory juicy jungle and DnB moments too, he dropped the Spiritual Combat Pro Black track which got the feet pounding the floor.

No doubt some Paradox was dropped (Who opened the Lighthouse Stage on Saturday), Hellfish, Squarepusher and nameless other bass music heavyweights and no doubt some of his own workings too.  Finally it was all over too soon, we had reached the white noise ending where Mr James must’ve switched on everything, man, my ears were ringing after that.  An incredible gig by an incredible electronic musician.

The only drawback being that we only got an hour and a half set compared to the two hour set from the night before in Field Day festival, it also seems like he used only a quarter of the lasers or was it just bad visibility here.  Its my own fault, I watched the Field Day stream twice now and I seemed to be always comparing them, when it comes down to it, Field Day is a much much larger event and the stage for the Twin was larger too.

Myself and Kevin didn’t bother with the After Parties, it had been steadily raining so we were quite wet and just wanted to bundle into a taxi to my friend David.  It took us about forty minutes but eventually we managed to flag down a bloody taxi out of the rain.

I might be back next year depending on what is announced for the line up or hopefully Electric Picnic might get Aphex Twin for a change, if they do, get him to play the late set in the Electric Arena and for the two hours duration too.

 

 

Electric Picnic 2014 Festival Review

EP 2014

 

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.

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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.

Lisa Lawless and Myself on the Main Stage, Pre-Festival.
Lisa Lawless and Myself on the Main Stage, Pre-Festival.
Stacey Shine and Sean Shiel, fellow volunteers.
Stacey Shine and Sean Shiel, fellow volunteers.

Friday 29th August

GIRO at the Earthship Stage, Body&Soul Friday.
GIRO at the Earthship Stage, Body&Soul Friday.

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.

GIRO Earthship Stage, Body & Soul  Friday.
GIRO Earthship Stage, Body & Soul Friday.

http://www.girogalway.com/

 

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.

https://myspace.com/foals

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.

http://www.petshopboys.co.uk/

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.

Sunil Sharpe - Rave in the Woods, Friday.
Sunil Sharpe – Rave in the Woods, Friday.
Sunil Sharpe - Rave in the Woods, Friday.
Sunil Sharpe – Rave in the Woods, Friday.

https://soundcloud.com/sunilsharpe

 

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.

http://www.thestranglers.net/

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.

http://www.frankandwalters.net/forum/

 

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.

http://ie.linkedin.com/pub/louis-scully/6/49b/87

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.

http://perfectfriction.ie/about/

Craic outside the Bandstand, Body&Soul Saturday.
Craic outside the Bandstand, Body&Soul Saturday.
Perfect Friction - Bandstand, Body&Soul Saturday.
Perfect Friction – Bandstand, Body&Soul Saturday.
The Radio Shack - Body & Soul Saturday.
The Radio Shack – Body & Soul Saturday.

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.

Camille O'Sullivan - Jerry Fish's Electric Sideshow Saturday.
Camille O’Sullivan – Jerry Fish’s Electric Sideshow Saturday.
Camille O'Sullivan - Jerry Fish's Electric Side Show  Saturday.
Camille O’Sullivan – Jerry Fish’s Electric Side Show Saturday.

http://www.camilleosullivan.com/bio/

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.’

http://www.londongrammar.com/home/

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.

Portishead - Main stage, Saturday.
Portishead – Main stage, Saturday.

http://www.portishead.co.uk/

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 MusicMy 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.

Chic - Main Stage, Saturday.
Chic – Main Stage, Saturday.

http://www.nilerodgers.com/about/projects/chic

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.

Bicep - Little Big Tent, Saturday.
Bicep – Little Big Tent, Saturday.

http://www.beatport.com/artist/bicep/167525

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!.

Joy Orbison - Rave in the Woods, Saturday.
Joy Orbison – Rave in the Woods, Saturday.

http://www.discogs.com/artist/1564482-Joy-Orbison

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.

The Wailers - Main Stage Sunday.
The Wailers – Main Stage Sunday.
Aminah Dastan & her boyfriend at the main stage for the Wailers.
Aminah Dastan & her boyfriend at the main stage for the Wailers.

http://wailers.com/

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.

http://www.jennylewis.com/

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.

http://www.mixcloud.com/mikeysoro/

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.

Hans Frankenfurter, German food stall at Electric picnic.
Hans Frankenfurter, German food stall at Electric 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.

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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.

 http://www.breakingtunes.com/synergy

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.

Beck - Main Stage, Sunday.
Beck – Main Stage, Sunday.

http://www.beck.com/

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.

http://www.outkast.com/

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.

Myself & Kevin at Body&Soul, Sunday.
Myself & Kevin at Body&Soul, Sunday.

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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.

https://soundcloud.com/boddika

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moderat – Vicar Street, Dublin 9/02/14

Moderat_Logo_Neg_rgbBerliner Anstam supporting Moderat kicked off proceedings with some nice dreamy ambient drum n bass, soundscapes and layers of synths meshed with steady but buzzing beats.  He had a similar style to that of Tourist who closed the Body & Soul main stage at Electric Picnic last year, I have no doubt that Anstam will surface at one of the smaller electronic festivals in Ireland this year.

Fellow Berliners Moderat were given a great welcome since they last blew Irish audiences away at the Electric Picnic 2009, you could cut the atmosphere with a knife as everyone was so psyched up to see this act.

They kicked off with This Time, the final track in the new album Moderat II, a build up of cadences and backward loops that melts into a musique concrete.  Moderat use a lot of industrial sounds but they are also very emotive through the seemingly cold synths, grime and dub steppish too, although completely different from the commercial dub step variety.  A New Error from the first album got the pulses going with its throbbing beat and shifted straight into Milk from the new album, a techno crazed train journey with their accompanying visuals displayed on the backdrop screens, fast moving white LED lines moving symmetrically with the sounds and a backward loop ambiance that just keeps building up.

Bad Kingdom, a dub step croon of a track with Apparat giving his first vocal for the night, its another track that keeps the dance energy momentum going strong, well chosen wub wubs adding a strong bassy undercurrent to the track and Apparat’s singing is in fine fettle.

The band revisit the first album for a few numbers, the thumping Seamonkey with its beautiful resonant synthesizer notes, Versions from the new record and back to the first album for Rusty NailsRusty Nails is one of my favourite Moderat songs, how do you describe such a song, for me, it has elements of British indie electronic rock from the 1980s with bands like the Pet Shop Boys and New Order with Apparat’s vocal but also influenced by Kraftwerk and the IDM music of Squarepusher and Aphex Twin.  The lonely melancholic synth notes that emit after Apparat’s vocal remind me of these same synth notes you hear from Aphex Twin’s first album, Selected Ambient Works 1985 – 92 and the track Schottkey 7th Path but in a much different way of course.

Moderat use a very subtle light show, a lot of the time the stage is quite dark but the lights, art, film and effects are chosen well, when the band play Gita the backdrop shows a shimmering galaxy in space, the stars in the backdrop act like miniature lasers, growing intense as the song reaches its crescendo.

The band finished with three tracks from the new album, Let in the Light and the symphonic Therapy and closing with Damage Done to an rousing audience approval.  I can safely say that we might see Moderat back in the Emerald isle before the end of the year for one of the summer festivals, no doubt that Body&Soul Festival and Electric Picnic will be competing in scooping up this band on the bill.