This year was my tenth Electric Picnic. That’s a lot of weekends spent in a field in Stradbally, so arriving on site early on Friday at lunchtime, I had the touch of a jaded cynic, who had seen it all before, who could walk the festival with eyes closed.
Yet, despite the noticeable amping up of obnoxious brand areas this year, clueless security and some high beer prices somehow, Electric Picnic still surprised me. It was the little things and the big things.
Most notably, Despacio. A dancer’s dream, the tent manned by James Murphy and the 2ManyDJs brothers built with a dancer in mind, featured McIntosh speaker stacks surrounding a dancefloor overlooked by a huge disco ball. The DJ played from a booth up front but you had to look for them and a sign discouraged capturing the moment you did. Stand in the middle of the dancefloor and you could still converse with the person beside you while being physically engulfed in the music. Despacio (which translates to ‘slowly’) was the place to hear some slow disco, some weird electro, upbeat house or an exclusive Soulwax Tame Impala remix at 3 in the morning. It was a living breathing air-pushing reminder of what a club should (and used) to be. Phenomenal.
Away from the custom dancefloor, there was much to love.
Kelly Lou Cakes, a seaweed bath, Natasha’s Cacao Energy Balls, Trailer Tower, installations everywhere, Home Fries, AirBnB’s Archipod oasis, the many lovely people I met over the weekend, DJing at the Just Eat Retreat on Saturday, meeting friends old and new.
As for the music? Daithí delivering a career-best performance at Body&Soul on Friday, the theatrical powerhouse in her late-sixties Grace Jones, ‘Born Slippy’ by Underworld on the main stage, the dastardly punk energy of Ho99o9, the corrugated church sanctuary of Other Voices which I didn’t spend enough time in, the sun coming out for a triumphant Future Islands set, the costume-changing art-pop of Roisin Murphy doing things at her own pace, the magnetising presence of FKA Twigs and her moves, the Hula-hoop-assisted (and crowd-assisted) Jon Hopkins, the high-pitched disco/electro of Shamir, the psych-electronic gold of Tame Impala, the Gold Party in the Glasshouse; a Saturday sanctuary of sound(ers), the UK contingent of Jack Garratt and Lapsley, the American girl sweet screech alt duo Girlpool, always welcome sets from Jape (with backing singers) and Le Galaxie (with segways) and Hundred Waters‘ floaty beautiful music drifting into the Sunday night sky at Body & Soul. There is still much magic to experience in Stradbally.
Most of it is here in photos of the festival by the relentless Ruth Medjber.
An Electric Picnic reprise? This Friday evening with Interskalactic, Stomptown Brass, I Have A Tribe and Saint Sister in Wood Quay .