One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain!
Bob Marley once sang “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain!”
Well, last weekend the 50,000 music fans who invaded the quiet village of Stradbally would most likely attest to this lyric.
Electric Picnic has it all now. From community games style three legged races, amusement park rides, to LCD Sound System, pop up churches and pirate ships, to seaweed baths and arts and crafts fairs, it is one jam packed event.
What is clearly now the largest festival in the country, Electric Picnic has certainly moved on from its roots steeped in alternative culture and doing things a bit different, to a more commercialized mainstream concert. Albeit they have managed to salvage their early days ethos to some extent, still providing an alternative experience to music lovers, the festival has truly evolved into a more Oxygen style event.
The question is how can they grow and maintain their heritage? One can only assume that Electric Picnic has hit that crossroads where independent meets commercial and are now struggling to maintain its core values. Perhaps the real question is which way do they want to go? At this stage the Electric Picnic faithful have either become fed up with the EDM vibe pulsating from Casa Barcadi and Soundatlas or have evolved into accepting the new EP. All this is fine. But just call a spade a spade at this stage!
What is of no doubt is the variety on offer at this three-day event. In pure carnivalesque style, the Picnic provides the perfect backdrop for festival goers the chance to let go, lose their identity and live out a fantasy fuelled frenzy for an entire weekend. This is the party of the summer, marking the end of festival season and symbolising the beginning of winter. Such a scenario can only lead to one thing: Fun times!
Every turn of the head offers a unique experience. Sounds emanate from every direction. Colours fill the senses, sculptures hang from trees, rise up from the ground and twirl around epic collages of beautifully crafted artwork. People buzz from one adventure to the next amidst a whirlpool of stimuli, mayhem and fun! The EP is its own world, a SecondLife where roles are blurred and mischief is never far away!
As stimuli goes, it can be hard at times to sit easy and enjoy what’s going on in front of you. Unless you’re a highly focused event ninja capable of zoning out all the cool and multiplthings happening elsewhere the Electric Picnic can be a brain twister. Kicking off the main stage arena was Ryan Sheridan while simultaneously Search Party Animal opened the Body&Soul’s main stage. The lure of multiple events happening all at once can be a distraction to the senses, epitomising at times the culture we live in today. Instant gratification? Goldfish attention spans? In this age of information and visual content we are surrounded in stimuli overload. If you don’t catch someone’s attention in the first five seconds you have lost them to your competitor. Is this what Electric Picnic is built on perhaps? Bundling every possible event, adventure, entertainment and activity into one show so as to avoid losing anyone through the net? The result at times likens itself to an audiovisual mess! A crossover of sound disturbances and visual ecstasy. Yet at the same time it works. It’s an elegant living artwork brought to life in landscapes of awe and childlike wonder. It’s the Gaudi of music festivals!
Tucked somewhere between the abyss of noise and wonder, a selection of Ireland’s emerging artists lined up Body&Soul’s array of stages from Bandstand to Earth Ship Stage and Peace Pagoda with performances from the likes of TooFools, All Tvvins, Contour and many more – clearly demonstrating that the Irish music scene is alive and well.
Delving deeper into the woods brought us to the Salty Dog stage, a 40 tonne French trawler offering its deck as a stage for such acts as Buffalo Sunn, The Eskies, Gavin Glass and New Secret Weapon. The Other Voices stage sat a little further into the trees offering intimate sets from Booka Brass Band, Saint Sister and Rusangano Family, to name but a few.
The Electric Picnic’s App must have been hopping red, yet never once failed. It’s a must have if you want to schedule your favourites and plan your time effectively. There’s so much going on to choose from, a degree in event management would come in handy!
As we bounced from stage to stage, discovering all sorts of great new music from Fangclub, CC Brez, Mutefish, Emma Lou & the Agenda, Aine Cahill, Mongrel State, what Electric Picnic does best is combine both emerging artists with more established ones like David Kitt, The Academic, The Strypes and further afield with Editors, Wolf Alice and Catfish and the bottlemen. And what can seem haphazard, all thrown randomly together into one big melting pot of music stew, is in fact a carefully curated programme of events.
All in all Electric Picnic is quite the experience; a must see in a lifetime event, something you want to be able to say “I was there! I survived Electric Picnic! I weathered the storm, the rain, sun and the mud.” Although in fairness, there wasn’t much mud! It brings culture to life, music to the masses and art to the fore. It is a much-needed festival in this country that supports up and coming artists and places them in front of an audience more used to commercial sounds. It gives heart to an industry that at times huffs and puffs when it comes to supporting its own. Yes, the Electric Picnic is now commercial but it has come from the people, from an ethos that vowed to do things differently. This difference is now the norm! It has achieved its aim and changed what a festival is. There’s no going back now to boring one-stage events, there’s only forward and we are eager to see where Electric Picnic will go from here.