I know it has been a few weeks since part 1 of my Electric Picnic Review but it has been a hectic few weeks I swear!
The scorching heat of the Friday was not present when I slithered out of my tent early Saturday morning. One hour sleep is not recommended on the first day/night of a festival. Breakfast was had in the shape of the legendary cuisine that is tea and toast (I think). Our campsite was littered by slow-movers so as soon as my body would allow me to I ventured inside to the main arena/
Mountain Man - Main Stage at 1.30pm
MM on the main stage could have been a disaster : three young girls singing folk songs a-capella (mostly), opening main stage of large festival, hungover, unenthusiastic crowd. However the threesome from Bennington, Vermont won over the crowd with their beautiful voices and kooky onstage banter.
Apparently their grandmother became a fan once it was cleared up that the girls did not in fact pen the song "God/Fuck" which of course was a different Mountain Man act. An acoustic guitar did appear every now and then but otherwise the three-part harmonies were all that MM were armed with and boy did they go down fighting (Except that they went down well as, in hindsight, I realise using a phrase that ends in death is not very nice).
The Redneck Manifesto - Crawdaddy at 4pm
My height has always been an advantage at festivals/gigs/not drowning in the deep end of a swimming pool and it came up trumps for me again at the Rednecks show with the tent packed to bursting point by the time I reached the tent. It spoke volumes for the popularity of current Irish music as just across the way the Electric Arena struggled to contain Fight Like Apes and their devout Ape Army.
The Crawdaddy Stage has regularly been a church of disappointment for myself often plagued with poor sound but this was not evident here (the joys of not having a vocalist) as the Rednecks did what they consistently do : rock the place.
Crystal Castles - Electric Arena at 5.15pm
It took them a while to come out but when they did I noticed a definite evolution in terms of the live show since I saw CC two years back. The live drums definitely add an extra bite to Alice & Ethan's onstage performance. Bundles of energy are exactly what you want for the midpoint of a festival and Crystal Castles delivered this by the truckload. I made my exit just as the strobes began to strip away my retinas.
Afro Celt Soundsystem - Main Stage at 5.15pm
My second falafal of the weekend was enjoyed, devoured and soundtracked by an Afro-Celtic beat. The jury is still out whether it was the amazing falafal complemented the music or vice versa but either way it was ten minutes of immense satisfaction.
Steve Earle - Crawdaddy at 8.15pm
Three years ago I had never had the pleasure of witnessing Steve Earle in a live setting. As I write I have since seen the man four times. Making my "To See List" Wednesday night I had no intention of seeing the man as there are plenty of artists that I was yet to see. Come 8.15pm I was not too far from the front of the stage in The Crawdaddy. The word legendary is tossed around way too often these days but does not feel out of place sharing a sentence with possibly the last true rock and roll star. Opening with "Copperhead Road" was a welcome surprise as the classics kept-a-coming'. "Devil’s Right Hand", "My Old Friend the Blues", "Someday" followed immediately after as my brain tried to figure out why exactly I had agreed to meet the majority of the friends I was camped with at the just about to start Hot Chip. Somehow I dragged myself away...
Hot Chip - Electric Arena at 8.45pm
Country to electro-pop. An odd transition but one that would serve up possibly the best double-header of the weekend. A jam-packed Electric Arena awaited something special and Hot Chip, who are nearly considered Stradbally's resident band at this stage, delivered. "Over and Over", "One Life Stand" and "Ready For the Floor" were all rolled out for a crowd ready to dance/jump. Out of the park and the first show to really break out a sweat.
The Frames - Main Stage at 10.30pm
Similar to my Steve Earle story, The Frames were not on my own personal "Must-See" list simply because I have seen the band at least a dozen times and I was pretty sure LCD Soundsystem were going to go down a storm. However I did have twenty minutes before James Murphy did his thing. Arriving five minutes early, unheard of at a festival, "Early Bird" announced the return of The Frames to a festival where they headlined the tiny Big Tree Stage all the way back in 2006. A nostalgia fly was beginning to buzz as "Revelate" reared its head early in the set and I was caught. There was no way I was missinging even a second of this. "What Happens When The Heart Just Stops", "God Bless Mom", "Rent Day Blues" and "Lay Me Down" were all there as the show seemed to end with Mic Christopher's "Hey Day" apparently bringing the night to a close. Yet there was one last song to be sung. A rowdy Damien Dempsey and Liam O'Maonlai did not require too much coaxing to join Glen Hansard on vocal duties for a fitting rendition of the traditional song, "The Auld Triangle". A lot has been said about The Frames and their frontman (good and bad) since commercial success finally arrived at their door but the bottom line is they can still pull 20,000+ to a main stage and witness their songs being sung straight back at them. Excellent show.
Gil Scott Heron - Crawdaddy at 12.00am
Friends of mine are massive Gil Scott fans so I am familiar and a fan of a number of tracks (such as "Lady Day & John Coltrane" and the famous "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised") but it was never going to be a greatest hits set. Before any of the music even began the man himself made it his point to express his opinion on how we "have to do something about this internet". One girl obviously took a disliking to this statement, hurling abuse at the former Dead Poets man. Taking a few seconds to compose himself and following a change of expression from surprise to wry smile, the simple retort "Come up here and say that" won the rest of the crowd over and settled a rising tension that was creeping through the Crawdaddy. The beginning of the set was just GSH and his organ and, although it was good to hear the man play live, I could not help but feel midnight on a Saturday in front of weary festival-heads was simply not the right time and place. I heard great things from his Dublin show earlier in the year so I had high hopes but the low-key, soulful tunes were not the energy kick that I needed at that point and time. Even the arrival of a backing band could not drag my feet from the metaphorical and literal mud. In a weird way I actually quite enjoyed the show but I need my midnight festival acts to hit the stage with energy. That one hour sleep from the night before had caught up on me...
Regret of the weekend? Not being able to keep my eyes wide enough to navigate my way to Caribou.