Electric Picnic: Reviews, Lists & Mix

There's much love in the air after that Electric Picnic weekend. And deservedly so. It's the best festival we have and justifies people describing EP as the 'Glastonbury' of Ireland. I learned lots from the weekend. I found new musical loves while I confirmed opinions about others. I think I developed a sense of musical ADHD due to running from band to band in the quest of finding the music to fall in love to. Here's a review with lists to break up the text and songs from the acts which impressed me most.

Friday

I spent the early Friday evening seeing the excellent young Irish bands Ana Gog in the Body & Soul area, and bands Huey & the Hobgoblins and Shannon & the Shortcuts on the impressive Salty Dog stage. Each band proving their worth to me again with solid sets. There's good albums in all three bands with Ana Gog just a month away from releasing their debut album.

Late Friday found me going from the Mark Lanagan Band to Sigur Rós to Ed Sheeran to Christy Moore to one of the most entertaining characters in Ireland on the Salty Dog Stage; Jerry Fish. The highlight was this aptly named song to play on an old pirate ship:






Top 5 acts on Friday:

1. Sigur Rós
2. Jerry Fish
3. Mark Lanagan Band
4. Ana Gog
5. Shannon & The Shortcuts






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Saturday - Early Afternoon

Saturday began in fine style with one of the bands of the weekend. Maud in Cahoots on the main stage of Body & Soul were fantastic. The performance highlighted the quality of songs like this highlight from the short set called 'Make Me Right'.



I really like the alternative sounds of A Plastic Rose. Their dual harmonies give a contrasting element to the tracks. Some of the songs from their set sounded too similar for me and may hinder their ability to raise their appeal. Moscow Metro were very poor on the Cosby Stage where I struggled to find any redeeming attributes. I left the few dozen spectators to check out Heathers who drew a massive early audience. Out went the quirky charm of early Heathers songs and in came confusing full band set-up which came across to me as bland at best. Confusion continued on the Body & Soul main stage with the hard to get sounds of Ocho. The Portishead rip off didn't make any sense to me what so ever. I needed to find good music quickly  and then I found the band of the weekend for me in the Electric Arena. Dry The River were just awesome. The choir boy vocals and the folk rock sounds are a match made in heaven.



There's only about 3 or 4 bands over the whole weekend that I got to see whole sets from. One of those was Roisin O on the Bamboo Stage in the Body & Soul area. The band performed a superb set to a decent crowd on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The quality of the performance could be judged by seeing all the people who were stopped in their tracks as they sauntered past the stage.



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Top 5 WTF Moments!

1. Scheduling of bands with no following in prominent places.

I understand how an international act be parachuted into prominent places to satisfy business dealings with big labels but to place Michael Kimanuka on the main stage on Sunday was a mistake while even The Ticket made a snide remark about the amount of ears by the main stage on Friday to listen to Gavin Friday. There were many instances where critically acclaimed artists played to Whelans sized audiences in massive tents which didn't make sense. Also what were Turn doing on the bill? The Cosby Stage was full for Ham Sandwich and then empty for Turn after them. The same with Of Monster & Men whose tent was so full they had at least a few hundred people outside the tent looking in before The Fat Lady Sings played to a fraction of the crowd after them. [Aside: The Fat Lady Sings were brilliant with Drunkard Logic being a firm favourite of mine from the whole weekend.]

2. Bands performing on multiple stages.

I'm not talking here about bands playing cafes, small tents and shacks but bands like The Strypes or Ham Sandwich who got to play multiple stages is an insult to all them bands desperate for a chance to play EP. It's not the fault of these bands in this case but it doesn't seem right that bands can have multiple prominent slots on various days.

3. The no cans in the main arena thing.

How ridiculous would it be if EP did a deal with two leading fast food chains and told the public it can only have that food for the weekend? How is it acceptable to do this with beer? The one way the recession effected EP has to have been with beer sales as it looked like there was little business for them.

4. Body & Soul

Apart from a couple of well constructed stage areas I thought the whole area was a confusing mess. In particular the sound invasion from the loud dance music at the top of the hill during Seamus Fogarty's set was an insult to the artist.

5. 'The Ticket' Magazine Freebies

Useful as they were to me why was there boxes of 'The Ticket' left all over the campsites unread by the EP punters on Saturday & Sunday? How relevant is The Ticket these days? Just asking!

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Saturday Late Afternoon & Evening

I loved the folk sounds of Bellowhead who looked a little lost on the main stage. More on them later. A Cast of Cheers were very polished but they don't make music that impresses me much. On the other hand Delorentos looked and sounded like real festival stars in their mid afternoon slot to a near full tent. 'Bullet in a Gun' was a real highlight.



Youth Mass on the Bamboo Stage were amazing and deserved a better setting for their indie anthems. Ham Sandwich filled The Cosby Stage and were on top form. I was critical of their Vantastival performance but this EP performance was stylish and tight. One of the moments of the festival was Podge asking the crowd to hug nearby strangers. To his surprise everyone did this. David Kitt performing 'The Big Romance' was also a special moment for me. David and his band looked like they were having a ball onstage and the sound was perfect.




The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock were their usual great self on the main stage of Body & Soul before I take a well earned break from music until it was time to be amazing by Hat Fitz & Cara on the Salty Dog stage. Hat is a modern day Crocodile Dundee while the beautiful multi-instrumentalist Cara plays everything from drums, tin whistle and wash board to compliment Hat's vocals. Amazing talent.


A few minutes of the impressive Villagers followed by The Cure isn't a bad way to spend a Saturday night. Like many people I thought three hours of Mr. Smith is too much so I caught a few minutes of The Roots as well as some of Bell X1's set before seeing another amazing band on the Salty Dog stage. Mentioned earlier I seen Bellowhead out of place on the Main Stage while the Salty Dog was the perfect place for sea shantys. The eleven piece band were remarkably entertaining with a highlight being the guy playing a saxophone and a clarinet at the same time. 


Roisin O




Top 5 bands on Saturday

1. Dry The River
2. Bellowhead
3. The Cure
4. Delorentos
5. Roisin O








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Top 5 International Acts at Electric Picnic

1. Dry The River
2. Jonathan Wilson
3. Bellowhead
4. The Cure
5. Sigur Ros

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Sunday

Sunday's early acts were in the main very disappointing. Land Lovers were pretty good to be fair but lacked any atmosphere in a massive tent playing to a hundred or so people. Cloud Castle Lake was another band I failed to see many positives in. The Riptide Movement's popularity beggars belief. When I seen Squarehead two years ago they were an edgy indie band in the style of Bleach-era Nirvana. Yesterday they sounded very polished, unoriginal and dull in comparison to their former self. Katie Kim was wonderful during the first song I heard but then after having the crowd in the palms of her hand brings them to the depths of despair with a dire song. There's a real Kristen Hersh like charm about Katie on some songs which I like but the package on a whole is just too damn depressing. To escape mediocre bands I head to the Comedy tent for a laugh or two. When I finally dragged myself back to the music tents it was another International Act which made my day. Jonathan Wilson performed to only a few hundred people but his performance was flawless. The dreamy seventies revival folk sounds of Jonathan Wilson and his incredibly talented band was a real highlight of the festival.


I caught a few tunes from Iceland's chart topping 'Of Monsters & Men' who were pretty good. I am amazed at their popularity as there are better bands out there in their genre. Seamus Fogarty was brilliant as usual with his fine bunch of quirky folk songs on the Body & Soul main stage. The last band I seen before hitting the road was the return of The Fat Lady Sings to an audience on the Crawdaddy Stage. Singer Nick Kelly was humbled and emotional at the reaction of the crowd to the performance of hits. Drunkard Logik and Arclight proved to me that they belonged to a festival arena. 

Top 5 Acts on Sunday

1. Jonathan Wilson
2. The Fat Lady Sings
3. Seamus Fogarty
4. Land Lovers
5. Of Monster & Men



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Top 5 Irish Acts

1. Jerry Fish
2. Roisin O
3. The Fat Lady Sings
4. Delorentos
5. David Kitt

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I began by saying as a music fan I loved every minute of Electric Picnic and while I've been at times negative above I still loved the festival. I found some great bands among the line-up while the quality of Irish acts on the main stages/tents was in the main generally poor and contrasted greatly with some of the fine young international acts on the line-up. Bring on next year! 





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