The sun came out to greet the crowds heading down the M7 to Sradbally, Co Laois, for Electric Picnic this year. After the summer of floods and cold it couldn’t have been more welcome. The weather was the cherry on top of a festival that has a knack of getting everything right, from the line-up to the crowd to the off licence that you could pre-order from – the first of it’s kind in the world – meaning there is no need to lug plastic bottles of Buckfast and Tesco value lager with you to the camp site.
The festival itself seems to appeal to a different crowd to the average summer music gathering, probably something to do with the event occurring after the school term has started back for autumn. The music on the first day seemed to be organised with the fact people would be arriving late in mind, but the three gems of the weekend were lined up for the main stage in the evening. After getting ourselves set up in the campsite (which has been expanded) we were ready to hit the ground running.
The Electric Picnic is set out in a kind of carnival of arts style, with a giant ferris wheel dominating the skyline and several bizarre nods to the circus including Bestival fixture the Inflatable Chapel Of Love for weddings and a forest adorned with lights and calming music.
Hot Chip started the festival in good style. At other open-air events they’ve lost something, with their small tweeky sounds, but here they seemed to play a slightly less complicated set. The highlight was an interesting mash up of Temptation by New Order leading into No Fit State. No two sets are the same with Alexis Taylor’s boys.
Bjork was up next. Despite having plenty of time to nip off to catch the Manic Street Preachers elsewhere, we couldn’t bear to leave the main stage in case we’d somehow miss out on what would possibly be the event of a lifetime. The cool beats of the Volta tour (with Mark Bell working on the electronic side) worked really well with the songs she preformed. Opening with Hunter, she sent her legion of Irish fans, who’d been waiting so long to see her perform again, into a frenzy. Working her way though a good selection of tracks from all albums, including the current one. The standout moment would have to be the frenzied rave sequence involving Wanderlust, Hyperballad and Pluto, sending the crowd over the top with some techno style lights.
It’s a shame that LCD Soundsystem had to come on after Bjork – she’s an impossible act to follow. But James Murphy’s set was nevertheless the highlight of many people’s weekend as the packed main stage area testified. Get Innocuous was particularly strong live, with Tribulations from the debut album getting the crowd chanting along. According to Murphy it has been an unfortunate leg of the tour, with him enduring a variety of injuries culminating with a filling falling out mid-set. Yet this didn’t stop him from delivering, with a perfect encore of New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down. One small complaint – I still haven’t heard Someone Great live.
The festival continued on into the night with smaller Irish-based DJs performing in a various locations around the site. I however gave in to my inflatable mattress and got an early night with a busy Saturday ahead.