it's a New York styled rainy start on the opening day of Electric Picnic

Electric Picnic 2011 review

published: Wed 7th Sep 2011

Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th September 2011
Stradbally Hall Estate, Stradbally, Co. Laois, Eire, Ireland
240 euros
last updated: Thu 25th Aug 2011

Once we set up it's time to make our way from the Oscar Wilde campsite to the main arena. On our way there we stumble across a little area in the woods called Trenchtown, Electric Picnic's very own Jamaican village which proved a nice little place to ease into Fridays proceedings, with plenty of reggae music on offer over the weekend, 50hrs of reggae in fact, it was a cool place to chill during the day with authentic Jamaican beats and even authentic Jamaican food as well, we decided to take refuge here for a while until we went into the main arena for Friday night's proceedings.

The Friday evening slot isn't the best of festival slots, you've still plenty of people arriving around 6pm, so it's surprising to see that Twin Shadow pulls a more than impressive crowd at this time on the Cosby Stage, with only a 30 minute slot, it leaves little room for messing around and the man behind the moniker George Lewis Jr and his band spends that time treating us to a new wave journey with 'Slow' and 'Castles In The Snow' both from his debut LP Forget providing two of the sets memorable moments, in what proved a nice little way to kick off Friday's musical proceedings and they seemed to enjoy it themselves and mentioned how much of a dream it was to be playing the same festival as Sinead O Connor, musical fulfilment I'm sure.

After a quick tour to check out some of the festival sights we come to our next musical stop in The Electric Arena, New York's finest The Rapture take to the stage and play a masterful set, it's always a tricky one when promoting a new LP at a festival and it's something they are clearly mindful of, striking the right balance between new tracks and old favourites. It makes it all the easier when the new album is of genuine quality too, and such is the case with The Rapture's new LP In The Grace Of Your Love and some select cuts from that go down a storm at EP with many of the crowd already well versed in the tracks, 'How Deep Is Your Love' and 'Come Back To Me' are met with such a reception you'd have thought they'd been in their back catalogue for years. The real reception is kept for old favourites in 'Gotta Get Myself into It' and a rendition of 'House Of Jealous Lovers' which is greeted with an almost roof ripping roar of approval from the fans.

So we've seen two New York based bands thus far and both have played pretty impressive sets, so surely fellow New Yorker's The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart will do the same? Strangely not, they take to the same Cosby Stage that Twin Shadow pretty much bossed a few hours before and their performance is pretty tame by comparison and tame by their own high standards that they set on their records. With two albums of such high quality, including what I would say is this year's best LP in their sophomore effort Belong. So it's pretty disappointment that the tracks and their performance never quite hit the spot. Some tracks almost reach their full potential with 'Heart In Your Heartbreak' 'This Love Is Fucking Right' and 'Everything With You' seeing plenty of the crowd singing a long and getting caught up by their pretty special brand of fuzzy twee pop. But it all seems a bit laboured and almost like their music has been filtered or turned down for easier consumption, unfortunately I like my music to go up to 11 whenever possible so it doesn't quite work for me.

It's purely by accident and only upon writing this review that I realise the New York connection that has seemingly run through our first night of Electric Picnic, and there is more to come with Friday night's headliners on the main stage and that of brooding indie rockers Interpol. It's pretty strange seeing Interpol in a headlining slot on the main stage at a festival, it doesn't seem right, they've always seemed like they would be better suited to a tent, but they deserve the right to headline a main stage and they allay any fears that their music wouldn't translate well in such a setting. The rain arrives for their set but it's not the kind of thing to put a downer on Interpol's music, if anything it enhances the gig, there is something about 'NYC' that works well when hearing it sung by thousands of soaked but dedicated Interpol fanatics.

They've got ready made anthems in tracks like 'Evil' as well that are perfectly suited to a headline set. A slight gripe I've got about the set is the tracks from the newer albums, they sound fine live, but they leave you with the realisation that the last two albums pale in comparison to the first two and if I was to pick another hole in the performance it would be that they didn't play enough from those first two LP's.

We're already soaked by this stage, so it's not worth concerning ourselves with the weather at this point, it's into the wee hours of the night and the main stages might be finished but there is plenty of music and other happenings elsewhere to keep revellers entertained until the morning. We take our first look at the Body and Soul arena of this year's Electric Picnic, it's hard to describe the place without seeing it, but it's almost like a festival within a festival, it now boasts three stages in its own little area, with plenty of art installations and loads more besides to do including music workshops and even a hot tub enclosure for those looking to festival in style. We make our way to the main stage of the Body and Soul, situated under a tree at the bottom of a steep hill, it as with every other year provides some of the festivals hidden gems. We arrive for Donal Dineen's Parish, a project which first came about at Electric Picnic 2007 when Dineen shared a stage with Liam O Maonlai & Ronan O Snodaigh, the three have now got together with a few other acquaintances and are now a fully fledged outfit who boast around ten members now and combining elements of funk, soul and electronica leave us dancing until the early hours of the morning.

As we make our way back to the campsite we realise that Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros are playing the Salty Dog stage. Result! The Salty Dog stage is situated on the outskirts of the main festival itself and right beside our campsite, all the action takes place on top of the old Salty Dog ship and we manage to catch the tail end of their performance here and a rousing rendition of their most well known piece 'Home' which sees not only one of the best sing a long moments of the weekend, but one of the best stage invasions of the weekend as seemingly dozens end up on stage by the end of their set.
review by: Paul Mullin

Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th September 2011
Stradbally Hall Estate, Stradbally, Co. Laois, Eire, Ireland
240 euros
last updated: Thu 25th Aug 2011


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