Electric Picnic 2016: 8 Recommended Acts to See

Electric Picnic 2016

Electric Picnic takes place in Stradbally this weekend (September 2 – 5) and there are no shortage of reasons to be excited. Tasty propositions abound, especially among the bigger names – Super Furry Animals, LCD Soundsystem, Daniel Avery, The Chemical Brothers to name but a few.

Aside from the attention grabbing bigger names, there’s plenty of quality among the smaller, perhaps lesser known acts. There really are some absolute gems amongst this year’s line-up so here are 8 highly recommended acts worthy of your attention this weekend.

Nialler9 has the full line-up here, if you haven’t seen it yet and there is a very handy, printable Clashfinder here too. Dead handy & does not require batteries. 

New Pope (Friday, 17.30-18.00 @ Earthship Stage)

New Pope is the Galway-based project fronted by Dave Boland who deal in truly beautiful, timeless and carefully crafted acoustic folk sounds. Passing with a whisper rather than a roar, New Pope’s songs are delivered with warmth and tenderness, as Boland’s distinctive vocal creates warm and lush atmosphere – and an overwhelming sense of sense of nostalgia. Yet to see them in the flesh but, on the evidence of last year’s splendid YOUTH EP & LP, they should be quite the proposition. Check out the layered, lush and beguiling beauty of ‘Love’ below:

The Altered Hours (Friday, 22:00 – 23:00, Body & Soul Main Stage)

For some time now, The Altered Hours have been eliciting much, and well deserved, praise for their frenetic and freewheeling psych/post-punk heroics. Everything they have done thus far has been gold – including debut album In Heat Not Sorry – and are reliable reputed to be one of Ireland most exciting live acts. For a glimpse of what mind-melting stuff Altered Hours are capable of, check out ‘Way of Sorrow’; a thrilling two-and-a-half-minute blast of turbulent post-punk influenced, driven, menacing and hazy swirl of psych-rock goodness.

No Monster Club (Saturday 18:00 @ Trailer Park: My Lovely Ranch Stage)

Easily one of the most reliable, inventive and brilliant bands in Ireland, No Monster Club bring their utterly lovable, rough-around the edges, lo-fi indie-pop hi-jinks to Stadbally. Live or on record, NMC never disappoint, there is just a infectious about everything they turn their hands. These fun-filled indie-pop adventures are just so damn endearing and guaranteed to brighten up your day.

Phare (Saturday, 01:00 – 02:00 am @ Oxjam)

Known for his work as one half of atmospheric duo Lyttet, Phare is the new solo-project from Peadar Kearney. On the clubbier side of things, Phare gracefully floats in an ambiguous hinterland between subtly euphoric and vaguely ambient, sustaining the rhythm and protracting the promise of a euphoric climax, while captivating through repeated propulsive beats and swirls. Check the hypnotic, twinkling crystalline grandeur of Kearney’s debut single, ‘UP’.

Slow Place Like Home (Sunday, 18.00 – 18.45 @ Body & Soul Main Stage)

Slow Place Like Home – the musical moniker of producer/musician Keith Mannion – has been treating us (and our ears) treating us to rich electronic sounds, crafted carefully from his Donegal base in the North-West of Ireland. Always inventive, imaginative and seductive compositions, Slow Place Like Home has already released a series of EPs and debut album Romola, to date. Now with a full band, 2016 saw the release brand new double A-sided singles ‘Tiger Lilly / Friday’, as they gear up for album number two next year. Another act who’s live shows have remained elusive, until this weekend hopefully.

The Dead Heavys (Sunday, 21:30-22:00 @ Body & Soul Main Stage)

The Dead Heavys are no strangers to receiving praise around these parts. Longstanding favourites, the Waterford five-piece are a great, great band, and an especially exciting live proposition. Their psych-tinged indie-rock is tempered with a catchy pop sensibility, rendering it utterly infectious for all and sundry. You can sample some of The Dead Heavys now characteristic combo of keys, guitars and vocals, anthemic surges and infectious sing-a-long moments, in ‘Liquidator’ – a bright, upbeat and rocking-groover that is very easy on the ears indeed.

ADULTROCK (Sunday, 21:25 – 22:10 Earthship Stage)

Under his ADULTROCK guise, Gavin Elsted (Super Extra Bonus Party & fellow Newbridge compañero) uses it as a vehicle to flex his dance music muscles, crafting magnificent dancefloor-ready, hypnotic and melodic electronic jams. His most recent EP Push and Pull came out in June through Bodytonic Music, and it is excellent. For a taste of it and Sunday’s service, check out the EP’s title track below. An enticing proposition.

Exmagician (Sunday, 22:00 – 22:45 Jerry Fish Side Show)

Exmagician is the latest musical adventure from long-time collaborators Danny Todd and James Smith; the musical partnership behind Cashier No.9. More urgent and rockier than their previous incarnation, still present, is their preference for shimmering psychedelics, echoed instrumentation and melodiousness. Falling somewhere between BRMC, Supergrass and yes, their previous band Cashier No. 9, ‘Kiss That Wealth Goodbye’ finds a band in fine form with its anthemic and quite cool vibe, amid a whirlwind of swirling melodies and catchy groove – as good a reason as any to catch them this weekend.


Electric Picnic 2014: Johnny Feeney’s 5 Best Acts

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t envious of all the people who made it to Electric Picnic this year, especially after last year’s festival, which was one of my favourite EP’s of all. It’s a small price to pay I guess for a new life over here in Vancouver. In my absence however, the trusty and reliable Johnny Feeney was down in Stradbally for this year’s festival, one of his favourites yet. His knowledge, diverse taste and appetite for music (gigs in particular) is astounding and always provides a refreshing and interesting take on whatever he chooses to write about. I for one really enjoyed his report from the weekend’s antics and hopefully you do too. So without any further hesitation, here are the five acts that impressed him the most at Electric Picnic 2014. Thanks as always to Johnny and I’ll leave you in his very capable hands.

Portishead, Main Stage, Saturday 30st August, 22:35

Trip-hop masters Portishead are not a band renowned for being overly prolific (they’ve released three studio albums in 20 years) or for their zealous touring schedule (they haven’t played in Ireland since 1997) so tonight’s performance on the main stage falls into the once-in-a-blue-moon category which you do not want to miss. The huge crowd at the main stage is recognition of this fact and thankfully they are treated to a very special show. The set opens with ‘Silence’ and its long, clattering intro before lead singer Beth Gibbons comes on stage to a raucous reception.

Gibbons is an enigmatic, mysterious, almost reticent, front woman. Clad in black jeans and black hoody, she delivers her angst-laden, blood-chilling vocals with her head bowed and eyes closed not acknowledging the crowd. As soon as her vocals are finished she turns away from the crowd and the lights, faces the drums and almost cowers in the dark until called upon again. From tonight’s set ‘The Rip’ is especially brilliant early on followed by the gorgeously languid ‘Sour Times’. Other highlights include ‘Wandering Star’, ‘Over’ and ‘Glory Box’. It may be bleak, it may be grim, but this is just magnificent from start to finish.

As the band wave their farewells after the encore there’s more than a hint of a smile from Gibbons. Has the Stradbally crowd won her over or is she just glad it’s all over? We’ll never know. That’s Beth for you, ever the enigma.

St Vincent, Electric Arena, Sunday 31st August, 19:00

On the other hand, Annie Clark, aka St Vincent, has no apparent problems playing to the masses. Drawing in a huge crowd to the early-evening slot on Sunday she delivers a blistering show to an ecstatic crowd. Drawing heavily from her self-titled latest album, Clark opens with ‘Rattlesnake’ before playing recent single ‘Digital Witness’, an infectious, joyous track with blasting horns and an incredibly catchy chorus.

This is an art-rock performance that will love long in the memory. Not only no slouch on the guitar with some crunching, squelching riffs, there are also numerous choreographed dance moves with her keyboard player. Later on, Clark finds herself writhing around on the raised steps at the back of the stage before playing ‘Cheerleader’ standing atop them. A late stage dive into the crowd finds a green mask placed into Clark’s hand. As she’s returned to the stage, she duly puts on the mask and finishes with ‘Her Lips Are Red’. A born entertainer, a wonderful show.

Metronomy, Electric Arena, Saturday, 20:00

People are ready to dance on Saturday night as an expectant crowd awaits Metronomy in the Electric Arena. The band emerge to a hero’s welcome dressed in white suits eerily reminiscent of Liverpool’s ill-fated 1995 FA Cup Final attire and deliver a barnstorming set of highly danceable electronic pop. Their latest record, Love Letters, may not attain the heights of their earlier albums but the title track, in particular, along with the soulful ‘I’m Aquarius’ and the instrumental ‘Boy Racers’ are well received.

The set highlights however come from earlier tracks such as ‘Corinne’, ‘the Look’, ‘the Bay’, ‘Holiday’, ‘Radio Ladio’ and ‘Heartbreaker’. The tent is hopping throughout as punters dance with abandon and the atmosphere is suitably electric. This was an incredible amount of fun and up there as a contender for set of the weekend alongside Chic’s fairly monumental headline show on the main stage later on Saturday evening.

The Altered Hours, Body & Soul Main Stage, Friday 29th August, 20:00

Having never heard of this Cork band before, stumbling across these guys early on Friday evening by blind luck and then being absolutely blown away by them was my very nice surprise of the weekend. Live, they play a really noisey, dirgey brand of rock somewhere between heavier psych-rock and the ear-bleeding shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine.

The mesmerising ‘Sweet Jelly Roll’, from the eponymous EP, has a real Jesus and Mary Chain feel to it. This is hypnotic music that draws you further and further in. Certainly a band worth checking out more of in the future, The Altered Hours play upstairs in Whelan’s on 14th of November. Blind luck can be a beautiful thing.

Benjamin Booker, Cosby Stage, Saturday, 15:45

New-Orleans based Benjamin Booker is only 22-years-old, but you wouldn’t think it from listening to him. Oozing cool on the Cosby Stage on Saturday afternoon and touring in support of his recently released brilliant self-titled debut album, his blues-rock is stomping, soulful and full of energy.

Accompanied by guitar and drums, Booker drums up a whirlwind of rousing rock along the lines of Black Keys or the White Stripes (Jack White was a big influence), but with bags more soul. In fact, the first pause for breath is about two-thirds through the show when Booker disappears off stage, quickly returns with fag in mouth which he proceeds to light up and explodes into song again before jumping off stage and running straight through the entire crowd. Set closer ‘Violent Shiver’ is a beast of a blues-rock track and finishes the show in suitably energetic fashion. Superb.

Introducing: The Careers



The Careers are a garage- rock band comprised of four young men – Luke O’Neill, Eoin Conway, James Moone & Fergal Hennessy – from Cork.

They’ve a certain penchant for the past and sound as though they were raised on a steady diet of ‘6os rock and roll and garage bands. There’s a very definite influence from The Kinks, The Velvet Underground, The Beatles and The Strokes, the latter of which looms largest, O’Neill’s often sounds eerily similar to Julian Casablancas. They’re a rock ‘n roll band, plain and simple. To date, they’ve released one EP, Atomic Cosmosaurus, recorded in the drummer’s shed, it’s filled with lively and stomping gems of the fuzzy, garagey variety. These scratchy, rough and ragged home recordings are endearing in their unique imperfection, and pleasing to the ear and an eminently repeatable experience. While there is a scrappy imperfection and absence of glossy production to their sound, the execution is tight, as any number of examples from the EP are testament to – from the bashed kickdrums and turbulent guitar riffs of ‘Won’t Go Far’ to the slinking swagger of ‘Try [Try, (Try)]’ or stomping retro-fitted rock ‘n roller ‘All The All The Whiles’. Combining a clever use of great riffs, driving rhythms and catchy hooks and melodies, The Careers have struck an incredible balance between sounding familiar, yet wholly original at the same time. Hopefully we’re hearing more from them soon.

There’s a few choice cuts from their debut EP below, and if they’re to your liking you can pop over to Bandcamp and download it for free. And if you’re going to Electric Picnic this weekend, you can see them play the ‘Body & Soul Stage’ at 4pm on Friday.



5 Of The Best From Electric Picnic 2013


This time last week there were a lot of tired minds and weary bodies after Electric Picnic. It was a great weekend with plenty of highlights, musical & otherwise. That said, I have yet to find the time to pen anything of consequence about the weekend. No such problem from the every reliable Johnny Feeney, who’s here to share with us his five highlights from the weekend. Huge thanks to Mr. Feeney for taking the time to put together another excellent piece. 

Deap Vally (Cosby Stage, Saturday)

Bizarrely, Deap Vally formed in LA in 2011 after Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards met in a crochet class. Thankfully, their brand of primal, scuzzy blues/garage rock is about as far removed from crochet as is humanly possible. The scantily clad duo, brimming with attitude and oozing sex appeal, open here with the storming, filthy End of the World and don’t let up for the next 45 minutes.

Troy leads on guitars and vocals, banging out huge power riffs and a bellowing wail, with the fiery Edwards hammering away at the drums like a woman possessed whilst also providing backing vocals – their sound is not a million miles away from the White Stripes. Drawing on songs from their excellent debut album Sistrionix, these girls pack a serious punch. Standout tracks include the visceral ‘Make My Own Money’, the downright nasty ‘Walk of Shame’ and ‘Bad for my Body’. Music so brilliantly dirty you feel like you need a wash after it.

Parquet Courts (Cosby Stage, Saturday)

Continuing the veritable feast of garage rock on Cosby Stage on Saturday afternoon, Brooklyn 4-piece Parquet Courts take to the stage and soon have the sizeable crowd spellbound with their spiky tunes. The band are supremely tight and confident and have a fine set of songs to choose from – their debut album Light Up Gold is another album that should rate very highly on this year’s best albums lists.

Guitarists Andrew Savage and Austin Brown swap vocals throughout while the songs are propelled on ably by the rhythm section. As on record, they willingly invite as much feedback off the amps as they can, and as they do during ‘Light Up Gold II’ among others. Other highlights include ‘Master of my Craft’ and ‘Yr No Stoner’. A highly accomplished set. They play Whelan’s in October and that gig is one not to be missed.

Savages (Cosby Stage, Saturday)

There were plenty of quality all-female acts on show over the weekend and Savages, a four-piece London outfit, are another band to fall into that category. They come onto the stage dressed all in black with the lights down (they stay down for the whole show) and their music suits the mood perfectly. They play brooding, dark post-punk from their fine debut album, Silence Yourself, and it’s all really quite hypnotising.

Jehnny Beth is captivating with her haunted vocals and androgynous looks – with her short cropped hair and eccentric dance moves she gives off more than a hint of Ian Curtis. As you would expect with a post-punk band there are some fine bass lines that drive the songs along. There’s thrilling menace to tracks such as ‘She Will’, ‘Husbands’ and ‘City’s Full’. If you like your music dark, then look no further.

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John Grant (Rankin’s Wood Stage, Saturday)

John Grant was a personal highlight at EP two years ago and it’s clear from the off here that we’re in the presence of something truly special once again this evening. Grant released his second album, Pale Green Ghosts, earlier this year and with its harsher electronic sound, it’s quite a departure from his tender piano-led debut. Grant, a gentle giant, switches effortlessly between the two albums throughout the performance.

An early set highlight is the delicate ‘Marz’, a delightful song about a sweet shop from his youth. The new songs such as ‘Pale Green Ghosts’ and ‘Black Belt’ sound great with Grant occasionally sitting down to play synthesiser. Good friend Sinéad O’Connor joins him on stage to huge applause to provide backing vocals for the final three songs (she also provides backing vocals on PGG). The epic ‘Glacier’ is magnificent while he closes with ‘The Queen of Denmark’ – a real showstopper and a song so beautiful as to seem scarcely real. Magical.

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Arctic Monkeys (Main Stage, Sunday)

Arctic Monkeys have built up a potent arsenal of classic songs since they burst on to the scene as fresh-faced youths back in 2006 and they’re not afraid to use the weapons at their disposal, which is in full evidence at the main stage on Sunday evening. A huge crowd have gathered and are given a real treat as Alex Turner and co rattle confidently through their set while a very rowdy main stage crowd jump around and sing along with reckless abandon. I’d be amazed if there weren’t dozens of personal items lost and bones broken by the crowd up the front.

Opening with super new track ‘Do I Wanna Know?’, the band then swagger through classic songs such as ‘Brianstorm’, ‘Dancing Shoes’, ‘Crying Lightning’ and ‘Old Yellow Bricks’ while Stradbally laps it all up. The combination of ‘Pretty Visitors’, ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ and ‘Do Me A Favour’ is particularly brilliant mid-show before Alex swaps his electric guitar for an acoustic one and plays a lovely rendition of ‘Cornerstone’. The tempo picks up again for the finale with ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ and ‘R U Mine?’ before the band leave the stage. For the inevitable encore, the opening lines of ‘When the Sun Goes Down’ sends an already elated crowd into a frenzy, the weekend’s high point, before the band closes with the stunning ‘505’. A masterclass in headlining a festival and an absolute triumph.

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Electric Picnic 2013: Irish Acts Mixtape

The wait is almost over. Electric Picnic 2013 is almost upon us, with just days separating us and a weekend of  green fields, blue skies, sunshine and great music (who said I wasn’t an optimist?).

One of the Picnic’s big pluses is, in my humble opinion, sprinkled among all the international acts are plenty of top notch homegrown acts too. There is a fine array of local talent on show over the weekend; The Mighty Stef, Raglans, Adultrock, The Lost Brothers, The Dead Heavys & Lethal Dialect to name but a few. In an attempt to provide a flavour of what to expect from some of the Irish acts playing this year, I decided to put together a wee mixtape (I use both terms rather loosely). You can download the mix and listen to it before going, or on the way to EP – you know the kind of thing. Or you can ignore it entirely, that’s your prerogative. 

The tracklisting with stage times/days is after the jump. All the stage times for this weekend’s festival (so far) are available for the ever reliable GoldenPlec too. 

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Electric Picnic 2012 | Sunday

Johnny Feeney concludes his round-up of last weekends’ Electric Picnic with his view on Sunday (his thoughts on Day 1 are here and day 2 here). A huge thanks to Johnny for taking the time to do this, I for one have enjoyed reading them & I’m sure I’m not alone.

The sun was out in force on Sunday and there were a lot of lost-looking souls around the place after two hard days of partying, some of whom I met decided to go home early, but with the influx of day-ticketers Sunday certainly felt like it had the biggest crowds of the weekend.

The first act I caught was Dublin electronic duo Forrests in the Little Big Tent. Their dreamy, ambient electronica first came to my attention only a few weeks back so I figured this would be a nice way to ease myself into the day. Their music comprises of layers and layers of sounds on top of not-too-heavy beats and is extremely easy on the ear and introspective for a nice piece of escapism. Very enjoyable and I shall look forward to more from these.

Dublin Gospel Choir are something of an institution at the Picnic who I’d always contrived to miss because of their early Sunday main stage time slot but I made the effort to catch them this year and I’m glad I did. They specialised in gospel versions of crowd-pleasers such as Arcade Fire’s ‘Wake Up’, Elbow’s ‘One Day Like This’ and the Killers’ ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’. There was a big crowd for this with most just sitting down and relaxing in the sun while taking in the performance.

Mmoths AKA Jack Colleran, like Forrests before him, is a skilled proponent of blissful, ambient electronica and his set in the Little Big Tent offered up his usual high-quality tunes heavy on dreamy synths and sounds. This is music to get lost in rather than dance to and if that’s your thing, look no further.

I was very excited about seeing Of Monsters and Men and it was clear by the packed Crawdaddy Stage that I wasn’t the only one. Opening with the joyous ‘Dirty Paws’, this was unbridled feel-good indie-folk from the off. The ubiquitous radio hit ‘Little Talks’ was always going to get the biggest reaction from the crowd but highlights for me included the slowburning ‘Lakehouse’,  ‘King and Lionheart’ and the sensational closer ‘Six Weeks’. The band seem to be as astonished as everyone else with their meteoric rise and this was obvious when singer Nanna got the crowd to sing her father a happy birthday over her phone and the drummer took pictures of the crowd on his camera at the end. Delightful.  

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, the alias of dance producer Orlando Higginbotham, tore Little Big Tent apart from the get-go. This was the set of the weekend where everything just came together perfectly. Included were a pumped crowd dancing like lunatics, outrageously entertaining female dancers and Higginbotham switching vocals with his female vocalist and dropping top-class dance tracks such as ‘Tapes & Money’, ‘American Dream, Pt II’, ‘Household Goods’ and ‘Stronger’. The album Trouble is definitely worth checking out. Head and shoulders above anything else I saw over the weekend.

Next up were Lanterns on the Lake in the Cosby Stage. Playing to quite a small crowd, this was very slow, quiet, dainty folk-pop and didn’t particularly grab the attention. I was quite taken with last year’s debut album, Gracious Tide, Take Me Home, but felt this wasn’t the right setting for them. 

Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Khan is every inch the star. Here, dressed elegantly in black evening dress and high-heels, she delivered an incredible performance. The older, more otherworldly material such as ‘Horse & I’ and ‘What’s A Girl To Do’ sounded great while the new songs left me excited for the upcoming album The Haunted Men. However it’s the more delicate piano-led songs that amazed most here. New song ‘Laura’ is just gorgeous while the impossibly beautiful ‘Siren Song’ tugged at my heart strings and left me fighting back the tears.

Festival favourites Hot Chip never fail to get the party started and here was no different as they closed the Electric Arena in style. Heirs apparent to the sadly departed LCD Soundsystem, they belted out classic tracks such as ‘Over and Over’, ‘Ready For the Floor’ and ‘One Night Stand’ while the ground underneath the heaving, dancing crowd shook. A great way to end what has been a great festival.

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Electric Picnic 2012 | Saturday

While I was otherwise engaged at the weekend, my frequent gig-going accomplice and all round good guy Johnny Feeney was at Electric Picnic. Without further ado, here’s  what happened on Saturday (his thoughts on Day 1 are here).

Opening proceedings on Saturday on the main stage were the Trinity Orchestra playing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. I don’t think there could have been a more perfect start to the day. In pleasant weather with the sun still deciding whether to come out or not, the sizeable crowd were treated to grandiose, sweeping renditions of Floyd classics such as ‘Wish You Were Here’, ‘Money’ and ‘Us and Them’. The showstopper for me was ‘Great Gig in the Sky’ – there was a serious set of lungs on the female vocalist for this one. As if all this wasn’t enough, for encore we were treated to a dose of funk with some Stevie Wonder songs including ‘Superstition’ and ‘Sir Duke’. Heavenly.

Next up was the performance of Tieranniesaur on the Cosby Stage. Annie Tierney and co really know how to put on a party with catchy songs such as ‘Sketch’ and ‘Here Be Monsters’, funky percussion that’s heavy on the cowbells and groovy basslines. If you haven’t seen this band live yet, you’re really missing out. 

Quite by accident I caught Róisín O playing the Bamboo Stage in Body & Soul. They grabbed my attention while I was passing and they were doing a boisterous cover of Florence & the Machine’s ‘Dog Days Are Over’. My interest piqued, I stayed for a few songs after and was impressed with what I saw of their country-flecked rock. They release their debut album The Secret Life of Blue later this month and it should be worth keeping an eye out for that.

Back at the Cosby Stage the Cast of Cheers were doing what they do best with their super-tight, angular indie rock. The tent was packed to capacity as the Swords four-piece blasted through songs from their debut album, Chariot, and the recently released follow up, Family. It’s always a treat to see these guys live.

Wild Beasts played to a surprisingly small crowd on the main stage for this mid-afternoon slot. I positioned myself to the side at the front near one of the speakers. The sound was once again superb and the bass was actually rather unsettling on the stomach it was that heavy. Nevertheless, this was a solid performance as they ambled through songs such as ‘Albatross’, ‘Loop the Loop’ and ‘Hooting and Howling’, where singer Hayden Thorpe’s ear-piercing falsetto is showcased to its true potential.

Not Squares’ sound has certainly changed since last year’s brilliant Yeah OK. The first half of their set in the Little Big Tent included new songs such as ‘Fall Far’. It’s got a more disco sound with really distorted vocals but it’s still highly danceable and it’ll be really interesting to hear more. Things pick up in the second half as they play the older more gung-ho electronic stuff like ‘Release the Bees’ and the excellent ‘Asylum’ with some of the best live drumming you’re likely to see. Great show.

Richard Hawley is always someone who I would have labelled a crooner but his latest album, Standing at the Sky’s Edge, is a new direction for him and an absolute treat of psychedelic rock. In the Electric Arena he played primarily new songs such as ‘Standing at the Sky’s Edge’, ‘Down In the Woods’ and ‘Don’t Stare at the Sun’ which all sounded fantastic live. There was also room for older songs such ‘Tonight The Streets Are Ours’ and ‘Open Up Your Door’. Gorgeous from start to finish.

I’ve had problems with The Horrors live in the past due to a number of different reasons mainly involving sound issues but I was willing to give them another try at the Crawdaddy Stage. While still not perfect, it was a much better show from them. They have some of the best songs of the last few years in ‘Scarlet Fields’, ‘Sea Within A Sea’ and ‘Still Life’ so it was a pleasure to hear them live and not have them reduced to a squall. The different instruments and synths were discernible throughout although Faris’ vocals were a bit low and hard to hear. The closing ‘Endless Blue’ was superb, a treat of pure space rock which sent me off satisfied.

Baxter Dury drew a rather pathetic crowd to the Cosby Stage but he was competing with the Cure so we can’t give out too much. He released a gem of an album of quirky, lo-fi pop in Happy Soup last year. His cockney-geezer half spoken-half sung tales of everyday life sounded great here with the likes of ‘Hotel Brixton’, ‘Claire’, ‘Afternoon’ and ‘Isabel’ standing out. This deserved a much bigger crowd.

I was a little bit disappointed with Grimes at Forbidden Fruit earlier this summer but once again felt she was worth giving another try. There were no excuses here – a guy helping out on a drum machine (although he seemed only to wave about a fluorescent wand), two male dancers and a packed Cosby Stage. She has the songs such as ‘Genesis’, ‘Nightmusic’, ‘Oblivion’ and ‘Circumambient’ that should really get a crowd going but, as before, there just felt like there was something missing. Halfway through a girl standing beside me turned to me and asked “Does it not get more intense than this?” I replied “No this is it”. “Oh,” she said. That sums it up really. Not bad, just slightly underwhelming.

There was nothing underwhelming about Orbital who delivered a whopper of a closing set on the main stage. A huge crowd going crazy, dazzling visuals and cracking tunes such as ‘Halcyon and On and On’ and ‘Chime’. What more can you ask for? Another triumph from the Hartnoll brothers who were similarly impressive on the late Friday night main stage slot a couple of years back.

 After this it was on to the Salty Dog with me for one more slice of funk from the hard-working Tieranniesaur. The Salty Dog is such a great stage – a pirate ship set into the forest with a band stand, sound system and canopy overhead – and was still going strong at four in the morning. Unfortunately I wasn’t and retired shortly after.

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Electric Picnic 2012 | Friday

While I was otherwise engaged over the weekend, my frequent gig-going accomplice, the ever reliable Johnny Feeney was at Electric Picnic. Without further ado, here are his thoughts on Day 1.

This was my sixth time making the journey down to Electric Picnic in Stradbally. The crowd has changed somewhat over the years but it’s still one of the great weekends of the year with so much on offer and the first weekend in September is always kept free in my calendar. This year’s line-up really had me excited and the weekend certainly didn’t disappoint.

First up for me was recently reformed Grandaddy in the Electric Arena. Jason Lytle and co played a dazzling set of their distinctive, hazy electro-tinged rock, belting out classics such as ‘AM 180’, ‘Now It’s On’, ‘the Crystal Lake’ and ‘Hewlett’s Daughter’ to an increasingly appreciative crowd.  The epic closer ‘He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s the Pilot’ was the set highlight for me – ten woozy minutes of jaw-dropping beauty. It was a real privilege to be here.

Grizzly Bear used their later slot in the Electric Arena to roadtest a lot of new songs that will be on their forthcoming album, Shields. As delighted as I am that they’re back with new material I was left wishing that they’d played more of their recognisable songs. The band themselves look like they’re only getting to grips with the new songs. They’re certainly more heavily layered and denser and it bodes well for the new album but this wasn’t really the time and place for them. Having said that, the closing pair of songs, ‘Two Weeks’ and ‘While You Wait For the Others’ (one of my all time favourite songs), provided redemption of sorts and this was as brilliant a ten minutes of music I experienced all weekend.

Metronomy played a barn-storming set to a packed Cosby Stage and really had the place bouncing. Perhaps a bit surprisingly, they drew more from their dancier second album, Nights Out, than from the recent Mercury Prize-nominated album, the English Riviera, but this was a terrific show.  I got in just in time for the excellent ‘Love Underlined’ with the crowd going nuts and it didn’t let up for the next 45 minutes. Standout tracks included ‘Corinne’, ‘Heartbreaker’, ‘Everything Goes My Way and the Look’. A really impressive and accomplished set.

The XX took to the main stage and opened with the sublime ‘Angels’, a song of almost staggering beauty off their new album, Coexist. The sound was superb and the band were great live but I felt the main stage at 9 on the first evening wasn’t the best place for them to perform. The crowd at the main stage were up for a party and this is certainly not party music. You could feel the crowd getting excited every time Jamie XX started dropping the beats in but just as quickly it’s back quiet again. They did a really slowed down version of Crystallised which didn’t particularly work for me and I would have preferred the original. There were moments of real beauty though such as ‘Angels’, ‘Heart Skipped A Beat’ and ‘Shelter’ but nothing mind-blowing. For me, these are a band who need a roof over their heads.

I wasn’t really sure who to choose next between The Vaccines and Mark Lanegan so I made the hard decision and did half and half. With the Vaccines, you know what you’re going to get – short, sharp indie that’s lots of fun but without much depth. They fly through songs such as ‘Wrecking Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’ and ‘Wetsuit’, really getting the crowd going. Mark Lanegan is a much different proposition – gloomy, brooding blues rock with Lanegan’s incredibly deep, gravelly voice at the centre of everything. He’s a magnetic presence on stage and it’s very easy to get lost in this music.

With Azealia Banks sadly cancelling due to exhaustion a couple of days before the festival, there was nothing else I was absolutely adamant on seeing so I spent the rest of the evening exploring the site. The great Casa Bacardi area was packed and full of dancing revellers with DJs playing house music into the small hours. From there I went into the Body & Soul area, a real favourite of mine where there’s always a hundred and one things to do with its numerous stages and nooks and crannies which really gets going when the sun goes down. All in all, a very good start to the weekend with no major disappointments.

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Electric Picnic 2011 in as few words as possible

Photo: Aoife Byrne

The festival season is more or less done and dusted for another year. We had it all at Electric Picnic this year some sunshine, some rain and some biting cold but, most importantly we had lots of great music.

Here is my brief as possible round-up of the musical antics down in Stradbally. There’s a few videos after the jump too.


Willy Mason: A difficult set for Mason. One man and a guitar on a Main Stage is always going to be tough but he did his best. Great to hear ‘Oxegen’ and ‘Save Myself’ in the flesh. The former NME darling would have benefited hugely from a different setting.

Onra: Really good beats with a real West Coast/G-funk vibe from the French beatmaker. It did get a little repedative but they more than made up for it finishing with their much lively Asian fusion material.

Jimmy Cliff: The Jamaican ska and reggae legend didn’t disappoint one bit. The man has been around since the ’60s but his voice is still impeccable. The show was lively and there was a really sense of good feeling in the crowd as he ran through a super set including ‘Miss Jamaica’, ‘King of Kings’, ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ and the newly adapted anti-war song, ‘Afghanistan’.

PJ Harvey: This was one not to be missed, captivating would be the word to describe the show. Amid the darkness and swirling smoke Harvey delivered the likes of ‘Let England Shake’, ‘The Words That Maketh Murder’ and ‘The Last Living Rose’s with a shrill intensity. Let England Shake is one of 2011’s finest albums and it finally got me to listen to her music. I feel back catalogue exploration coming on.

The Charlatans: Say what you like about The Charlatans but when they roll out their classics, few bands sets will come close. It was an electrifying set (pardon the pun) with standouts of ‘Forever’, ‘Weirdo’, ‘One To Another’, ‘North Country Boy’ and ‘Just When Your Thinking Things Over’. There is still plenty of life left in the old dog yet, hard to believe Burgess and Co. have been doing this for over 20 years now.

Shit Robot: Dubliner Shit Robot (Aka Marcus Lambkin) brought Friday to a close in style. The visuals, the beats and the vibe was second to none, the full Shit Robot show is something to behold. It was great to see a packed tent, he and his music finally got the crowd and respect he deserved unlike Oxegen.


Ghost Estates: A nice way to kick off the day with Dublin Indie 5 piece, Ghost Estates. A nice and tidy set with a sizeable crowd too.

Adebisi Shank: Easily one of the finest live bands in the business, they did that assumption no harm with a set full of that signature furiousity and intensity. On a side note ‘International Dreambeat’ has to be one of the greatest opening songs out there.

The Undertones: The legendary Derry punk outfit performed their self-titled classic 1979 debut in it’s entirety. It was a blistering set, as they launched into a show of under 3-minute perfect punk songs. Cliched as it sounds, there is something special about hearing ‘Teenage Kicks’ live. There was even time for a few non-debut-album tracks;  ‘Thrill Me’, ‘You’ve Got My Number (Why Don’t You Use It?)’, ‘Get Over You’ and ‘My Perfect Cousin’. This is a band who even after all these years obviously love playing live.

Public Enemy: A powerful set from one of most important hip-hop acts ever, and my, can they put on a show. The vocals were a bit iffy at times (where I was) but it didn’t stop the crowd going nuts as they plunged into a set including ‘Fight The Power’, ‘Welcome to the Terrordome’, ‘Bring The Noise’ and ‘Don’t Believe The Hype’. Next time they are in town, I’m there.


Lastertom & The Blast Crew: One of the highlights from Castlepalooza, they got things off to a great start on Sunday. Their slow-burning  tunes mixes an array of disco, funk, electro and gospel, very DFA-esque, went down a treat. It would have been great to see them on at a later time nonetheless. 

Moths: His early set at the Body & Soul Main stage was the perfect setting for his chilled electronica. It was made all the better with the re-emergence of the sun which, along with the music, raised punters spirits. 

Pulp: The perfect Picnic headliners to close this years festival. They hit their stride quickly opening with ‘Do You Remember The First Time?’ following with ‘Disco 2000’ soon after. Pulp may be in their advancing years but they have a tremendous amount of energy on stage. Jarvis too is a worthy frontman and can still pull off the dance moves. Even though the crowd seemed less interested in the slower and less familiar tracks like ‘Underwear’ and ‘Something Changed’, the majority were up for this one. ‘Babies’, ‘F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E’ and personal favorite ‘Sorted For E’s And Whizz’ made up for any lost ground. This, all before bringing the house down with ‘Common People’, a stunning finale. Is this the last we have seen of Pulp? I’m not sure, I’m just glad I finally got the chance to see them live.

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Electric Picnic: Irish Acts Mixtape

Electric Picnic returns to Stradbally this weekend and as always there is a nice balance right between international and homegrown acts.

After doing an overall preview I decided to put together a wee mix as a snap shot of some of the Irish acts playing this year. You can download the mix and listen to it before going or on the way to EP – you know the kind of thing. There’s so much quality on offer here.

The tracklisting with stages, days and times is after the jump. It wouldn’t allow me to upload ASIWYFA but you can stream it below instead. Enjoy!

Download: Electric Picnic 2011: Irish Acts Mixtape

ASIWYFA –  D Is For Django The Bastard

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