Saturday sees a variety of treats on offer at Electric Picnic

Electric Picnic 2009 review

published: Thu 10th Sep 2009

around the festival site (2)

Friday 4th to Sunday 6th September 2009
Stradbally Hall Estate, Stradbally, Co. Laois, Eire, Ireland
adult weekend 240 euros
last updated: Wed 2nd Sep 2009

It's Saturday morning and our first stop is the Body and Soul village within the festival. It is regarded as the heart of the festival and is what separates Electric Picnic from most other festivals; it contains art installations, Zen gardens. Artists from as far away as Los Angeles arrive to showcase their sculptures. Throughout the weekend there is music, theatre, dance and spoken word throughout the village. We catch Ohbijou, hailing from Ontario, Canada who treat us to a set filled with lyrical angst supported beautifully by their impressive array of instruments on show throughout including mandolin, bell lyre, banjo, piano, and cello. There is even a comedic interval during tunes as a guy dressed in a blow up sumo costume walks to the front of the stage and attempts a cartwheel which backfires leaving him deflated but he takes it in good spirits and trudges away slightly embarrassed.

around the festival site (1)
We head to the Cosby stage once more to see the debut Irish performance from New Jersey's The Low Anthem. A delightful set focusing on their first album 'What The Crow Brings' stand outs include 'The Ballad Of Broken Bones' the set isn't perfect as one of the speakers plays up throughout and the hushed tones of their folk sound is at times drowned out by the sound of dance music from the tent next to it, but they assure us they’ll be back soon to play a proper gig.

Next up we see Roots Manuva in the Electric Arena it's a set that has the majority of the crowd bouncing from the get go. He teases us with Witness the Fitness half way through the set but informs us he can longer play it live anymore, he teases the crowd a little longer before launching into it. This reviewer needs a sit down after this and so heads for the Chai Wallah stage for a well needed rest.

The Chai Wallah stage hosts performances from specially picked underground acts from throughout the UK. Beat Boxers, Electronic, Spoken word, Reggae and acoustic artists could be heard hear throughout the weekend. They have a unique bar and food menu designed with health in mind. Using only ethical and organic produce, they offer everything from organic smoothies to alcoholic beverages to a variety of wholesome meals and snacks. A great place to sit for a needed rest, we come across an act called The Undercover Hippy whose style could be described as folk with nods to reggae and hip hop. One to watch for the future.

around the festival site (2)
We decide to check out the Comedy tent where we see Canadian stand up Phil Nichol who delivers a devilishly funny and outrageous set, finishing with a song entitled 'The Only Gay Eskimo' which leaves the tent in hysterics. Headline act and the biggest non musical draw of the weekend Tommy Tiernan is on next, we only catch a few minutes before escaping the overcrowded tent, hundreds stood outside the tent hoping to get a spot for Tiernan but many where left disappointed. We decided to head to the main stage to catch Brian Wilson's set.

It's been the set I've looked forward to most weekend and the crowd are geared up for it as well with plenty of revellers in beach wear attire. Brian Wilson is well into his 60's now so I'm not expecting a show stopping performance from the man himself, but he has the advantage of having one of the best backing bands in the business and as we hear a set full of the hits – 'Surfer Girl', 'In My Room', 'I Get Around', 'California Girls', 'Sloop John B', 'Wouldn't It Be Nice', 'God Only Knows', 'Good Vibrations', 'Surfin USA' and even a cover of Chuck Berry's 'Johnny B. Goode' – it would take a heart of stone not to have loved this performance.

Explosions in The Sky are next up in the Electric Arena. The post rock stalwarts are in fine form here as their music soars in all the right places. Stand out tracks 'The Life And Death Of The Day' and 'Your Hand In Mine' cap an impressive performance and leave the tent singing in unison for one more tune. They apologise as they've run over their allotted time but assure us they'll be back in Ireland soon.

around the festival site (4)
We head over to the Little Big Tent to hear The Hacker who is banging out some suitably heavy techno and electro which gets us in the mood for dancing. He plays right across the board from 80s influenced electro to more modern electronic artists like LFO. Once his set finishes we head towards the Crawdaddy stage to see world renowned video artist Chris Cunningham's AV set. I don't think anyone could have prepared us for this. Visuals ranging from the bizarre to the insane, a man and a woman beating each other, deformed mutants, scenes of a sexual nature and even Hitler featured on screen throughout the set, visuals were mixed along nicely with electronic music from the likes of Aphex Twin. I still haven't been able to tell whether I enjoyed it or not, one thing is for sure it was definitely interesting.

We finish Saturday's proceedings by heading into the Body and Soul Village again where Four Tet aka Kieren Hebden is playing under The Big Tree stage, the ideal setting for Four Tet's particular brand of electronic music which incorporates such a diverse collection of musical elements. 'Everything is Alright' being the stand out of a glorious set, a tremendous way to end Day 2 of the festival.
review by: Paul Mullin

photos by: Andrew McLaughlin

Friday 4th to Sunday 6th September 2009
Stradbally Hall Estate, Stradbally, Co. Laois, Eire, Ireland
adult weekend 240 euros
last updated: Wed 2nd Sep 2009


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