Electric Picnic

STRADBALLY FIELDS FOREVER
 
On Attending Electric Picnic 2007
 
You know you’re at a 3 day music festival when your menu for Sunday afternoon runs as follows : Dublin Gospel Choir, Aim, The Fall and Dave Couse.  You know you’re at Electric Picnic when you fail to see all these acts.  You do however, hear the strains of the gospel choir as you wake up and listen contentedly while trying to remember exactly why your tent is covered in glitter.  You have a breakfast of brown bread, cheese-spread and tomatoes while Aim soothe your ears (which are strangely stuffed with dandelions).  You hear nothing of The Fall or Dave Couse as you’re too busy enjoying the Lovely Girls Contest in the Laois Parish Hall which has some lerk from Termonfeckin dressed in a cape as a host and contestants who excel in ‘framing holy pictures’ and sing ‘My Favourite Things’ breathlessly.  Electric Picnic is back in town.  How did we ever cope for the 12 months it was away?
 
I’ll forego tales of beer-smuggling past way-too-oppressive security goons and fairground rides on sleek horses called Dancer and Marcus; instead I present for you ‘The Electric Picnic 2007 Awards – You Don’t Have To Be Mad To Pitch A Tent Here, But Leave Your Sensible Shoes At The Gate’
 
“The Top Ten Songs As Performed At The Picnic”
 
(1)     ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’ – Terry Hall with the Dub Pistols (The Pistols were dying a death and we were querying the wisdom of abandoning the Big Ig to see ‘The Specials One’ when TH shambled onstage sans fanfare.  Four minutes later we had lost the power of speech – high on the improbability of it all.  Could only have been improved upon if… actually it couldn’t possibly have been better.)
 
(2)     ‘Sabotage’ – The Beastie Boys (Their greatest song.  Saved until last on Sunday evening.  The tent banged like a barn-door in a hurricane.  Probably still shaking even now.)
 
(3)     ‘A Little Respect’ – Erasure (oh yes indeed.  Pop heaven.  I bet you’re singing ‘Don’t you tell me no stooooory’ as you read this.  And delivered by Andy Bell in skin-tight vest that displayed a beer-gut which certainly wasn’t there 20 years ago.)
 
(4)     ‘Gangsters’ – Terry Hall/ Dub Pistols again (They only played 3 songs together and Terry looked thoroughly miserable throughout.  Even while singing this ‘happy’ song.  Smiling is over-rated.)
 
(5)     ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ – Iggy & The Stooges (He’s old enough to be your granddad.  He’s loud enough to be your house alarm.  He’s made out of oak.  He’d scare the tofu out of Chris Martin if he was in the same postal code as him.  His name is Iggy.  We’re not worthy etc.)
 
(6)     ‘Here Comes The Summer’ – The Undertones (Such a joyful song I saw Terry Hall pogoing with a grin the size of a hurley on his chops.)
 
(7)     ‘Loaded’ – Primal Scream (The perfect Sunday evening anthem to be performed as an encore on the main stage.)
 
(8)     ‘Theme From ‘Shaft’ – The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain (Just edges out ‘Teenage Dirtbag’.  Slight adjustment in the lyrics to include references to folk music and stringed instruments.  Nothing performed in the comedy tent could have induced so many smiles.)
 
(9)     ‘Daft Punk Is Playing My House’ – LCD Soundsystem (Main stage Friday night.  In the absence of ‘Losing My Edge’ this was the highlight of a thumping show)
 
(10)  ‘Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time’ – Jarvis (He was wearing a corduroy jacket, National health specs and he wiggled his bum a lot.  Apart from the jacket and specs it was like seeing Iggy all over again.)
 
“Loud Guitars Don’t Work On A Big Stage Irrespective Of The Quality Of The Material Award” – Sonic Youth and The Jesus & Mary Chain
 
“Over & Over’ Over-Exposure Award” – Hot Chip
 
“Best Music To Eat Pies, Mash & Gravy Along To Award” – Reggae version of ‘Ok Computer’ as played by Easy All-Stars Radiodread
 
“I Can’t Believe I Don’t Remember Anything Of Them But Then Again I’d Morphed Into Half Man Half Disco Biscuit Award” – The Good, The Bad & The Queen, Bjork
 
“Will Bertie Ever Do The Decent Thing And Make It Our National Anthem Award” – ‘Teenage Kicks’ by The Undertones
 
“Duff Sound Award” – The Go! Team
 
“Best Cover Version Of The Weekend Award” – ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ by Jarvis
 
“Most Crowded Tents, So We Couldn’t Get A Peek In Award” – Modest Mouse, Beastie Boys on Saturday
 
“Best Sounding Band To Be Sitting Outside Listening To As Watching World Go By Award” – !!!
 
“Seen Your Trick, Ain’t My Schtick Award” – Sons & Daughters, Nouvelle Vague, Dhol Foundation, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
 
“Most Phoned-In Vocal Award” – ‘Swastika Eyes’ by Primal Scream
 
“Best Dance Acts Award” – Jamie Liddell, Josh Wink, Paul Hartnoll’s Ideal Condition, Mr Scruff
 
“Not A Patch On 2002 Award” – The Chemical Brothers
 
 
The 20 dream acts for 2008 would be Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Brian Wilson, Kate Bush, Christy Moore, Prefab Sprout, Squeeze, Julian Cope, Madness, Dexys Midnight Runners, Public Enemy, Richard Hawley, Air, Caribou, Lee Scratch Perry, Blondie, Tindersticks, Depeche Mode, Dinosaur Jr.  How many will arrive?  Room could be made by getting rid of the comedy tent.  It’s as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike.  Passing it on Sunday evening the place was full to overflowing with amoebas who looked like they’d be more comfortable cradling bananas instead of pints as they chortled along to Tommy Tiernan.  It’s a blight on an otherwise pretty perfect canvas.  See y’all at the Bodytonic sign next year…
 
‘til things are brighter,
Ralph Mexico
 
 
THREE DAYS OFF THE LEASH IN LAOIS
 
On Attending Electric Picnic 2008
It’s been going since 2004.  There’s been highs; there’s been lows.  It has its critics for a lack of invigorating new ideas.  It can over-rely on a few breath-taking individual performances.  It can be smug and has a tendency to appeal to a limited audience. 
 
But enough about Rafa Benitez’s reign as Liverpool manager – we’re here to discuss Electric Picnic.
 
Everybody has their own festival tales but what is undeniable is that the weather was great, the vibe was chilled and Johnny Rotten is a plonker.  Everything else is open to personal interpretation.  Mine eyes saw the following glorious, sorrowful and joyful mysteries over the three days. 
 
A – for Arcadia.  With a dj in a treehouse, fire blazing from large poles and ‘Billie Jean’ pumping from the decks – this was the place to be on Saturday night/ Sunday morning.
 
B – for Booka Shade.  Had a bit of a dance to them on Saturday night.  You won’t be hearing much more about them.  They weren’t up to much.  
 
C – for Cinema.  Saw 5 minutes of ‘The Simpsons Movie’.  Laughed.  Moved on.
 
D – for Dan Deacon.  He had us all running to the left of the tent.  He had us all forming a conga line and dancing through an archway of hands.  He had us all body-poppin’ to mad electronic bleeps.  He had us all wowed. 
 
E – for Environment.  The climate change lecture delivered in the form of a rap in the Cultivate tent was so earnest and trying to be down with the kids it could have been delivered by a Youth Defence leader.  Or Ryan Tubridy.
 
F – for Funk.  George Clinton never leaves home without the funk.  He brough it to Laois.  But Saturday midnight on the main stage was the wrong time and place.  Still, seeing a dude playing guitar while wearing nowt but a large nappy was trés entertaining.
 
G – for Grace Jones.  Made us all Slaves to the Rhythm.  And the body on the sixty-something diva?  Pull up to the Bumper, Baby!!
 
H – for Human Jukebox.  4 men in a small van.  Drums, bass and two guitars.  Their version of ‘Born Slippy’ was worth paying road tax for.
 
I – for ‘I wish my boyfriend was as dirty as these boots’ – the best slogan spotted on wellies all weekend. 
 
J – for Joke.  This is what The Sex Pistols were.  A tragic, unfunny, yobbish parody.  So it goes.
 
K – for Kelly Jones-lookalike.  The Stereophonics singer doppelganger was one of the merry crew who joined us in Stradbally village for a Sunday session that was wall-to-wall good-humoured ribbing.  Every time he returned to the group after a fag or toilet break he was serenaded by a chorus of ‘Have a Nice Day’.  The gag never lost its lustre.
 
L – for Lisdoonvarna.  Sang by Christy on Friday evening.  An early highlight that set the scene for a top weekend.  ‘Anyone for the last of the choc-ices’?
 
M – for Mallet.  As used by contestants in the strongman competition that provided untold entertainment.  Oh, how we chortled at the various lunges aimed at clinking the bell on top of the prop.  Of course we were far too reserved to ingloriously fail.
 
N – for ‘No Pussy Blues’.  Jaw-droppingly performed by Grinderman on Sunday night.  ‘I painted her garden gates; I read her poetry by Yeats; But still she didn’t want to’ – I hear ya Nick, I hear ya.
 
O – for Outhouses.  Cleanest loos were located in the Walled Garden.  Vital information.
 
P – for ‘Put ‘em Under Pressure’.  Inserted by Jape in the middle of an otherwise excellent set.  A cheap shot.  Coulda’ done better.
 
Q – for Queues.  An hour and a bit getting out of the car-park on Monday?  We’ll accept it – as part of the bigger picture.
 
R – for Relaxing.  Chilling in Body & Soul instead of hiking to That Petrol Emotion.  Choosing to remain in the pub over Sinead O’Connor.  It’s not just a music festival y’know.
 
S – for Sigur Ros.  Awesome.  Stars of the weekend.
 
T – for Thumb-wrestle.  Being challenged to a thumb-wrestling competition by a dub-step dj from Galway at 10pm Sunday while sitting at Crepes in the City stall minding my own business – kinda’ summed up the essence of Electric Picnic.
 
U – for Underworld.  A stonking set.  Ended with ‘Born Slippy’.  The.  Place.  Went.  Mental.
 
V – for Village Hall.  Along with the Pussy Parlour, the Spoken Word arena, the Comedy Tent and myriad other sideshows – time constraints resulted in many areas remaining unvisited.  Next year perhaps.
 
W – for Wilco.  Left Dan Deacon early to catch some of their rockin’ main stage show.  Fantastic band.  Pity there were only another 426 punters in attendance.
 
X – for X-Rays.  Surely the next measures to be undertaken by the zealous security staff.  Smuggling cans into the arena every day required cunning, deviousness and stealth.  Qualities that, thankfully, we possess in spades.  Let’s crack open another tinny shall we?
 
Y – for ‘You  Made Me Realise’.  Fifteen minutes of white noise as performed by My Bloody Valentine.  Famously, when Manic Street Preachers performed in Cuba they met Fidel Castro afterwards and enquired had he found their music loud.  Castro replied ‘It wasn’t as loud as war’.  ‘You Made Me Realise’ was louder than war, the Holocaust and Liberace’s shirts combined.
 
Z – for ZZZZZ.  Three hours sleep on Friday night.  Three hours sleep on Saturday night.  Six hours on Sunday night.  More than enough to be getting by. 
 
Ralph Mexico
 
 
72 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE
 
On attending Electric Picnic 2009
 
Slippery.  Murky.  Dirty.  Difficult to navigate.  Inhospitable.  Tough going.  Unpleasant.  But enough about the NAMA legislation – how was Electric Picnic 2009 for you?  Fire up your harpoon ‘cos I’d a whale of a time…
 
To misquote John Goodman’s character in “The Big Lebowski”: ‘Electic Picnic is not ‘Nam; there are rules’.  And Rule numero uno is “The music matters”.  Sure, its a ton of fun on Friday drunkenly getting your picture taken with the cartoonist Tom Matthews; and on Sunday one of your posse illustrating via one finger exactly what he thinks of the passing Louis Walsh, but it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing..  And it’s got to be said that musically this was probably the weakest Picnic in 5 years.  Rank poor scheduling didn’t help either (whoever placed winsome ickle Lisa Hannigan on the Main Stage was clearly just having a laugh).  So for 2010 the cheque book will have to be wielded lest the Picnic Pop Pickers vote with their wallets en masse.  Sermon over, on with the show.
 
On Friday night Orbital fell victim to ‘Main Stage Sound Lost in the Void’ that was a weekend long problem.  Dinosaur Jr fell victim to ‘Punter Lost in the Void Unable to Find Stage’ problem (a weekend irritant rather than a problem).  Ho-hum.  So it was left to ABC and Magazine to carry the weight of the music on the first night.  It rested easily on the shoulders of these giants.
 
As their sets clashed, only partial performances were viewed but both were truly memorable.  Martin Fry still looks like a cad and “Poison Arrow” and “The Look of Love” were utterly poptastic.  “All Of My Heart” was showstopping- the first spine-tinglingly joyous singalong chorus of the weekend.  “When Smokey Sings” was always a load of crud though and even the tent going bananas couldn’t disguise it’s crumbiness.  So it goes…  The crowd at the Magazine show was criminally small.  Do people not realise that Howard Devoto is very close to the top of the list of “Ten Most Important Mancunians Who Ever Lived”?  The bald genius was in fiery, frothy form.  “Permafrost” was missed but monolithic singles “A Song From Under The Floorboards” and “Shot By Both Sides” were sandblasted in all their glory.  The wonderful “Philadelphia” was another peak in an absolute treasure of a show (“In Philadelphia, I’m sure I felt much healthier” indeed). 
 
No more music of note was heard on Friday night save the trumpet driven swing tunes that had the Village Hall a-rattlin’ in the early hours.  People were doing the Charleston, the Mashed Potato, the Twist and the Jive.  We undertook the Drunk-and-Falling-Over-Boogaloo.  After that it was time for a long chill in the Body and Soul arena and a mojo-saving cup of chai.  Ah, simple pleasures.
 
What bliss it was that Saturday morn to be alive, but to be drinking alcohol was very Heaven.  The second day began with the breakfast of champions as all around Italian sounding cheeses were placed on French sounding bread.  We’re all bourgeouis now.  Our lives are triumphs.  Good health.  Kid Creole and his pretty, pretty Coconuts ratcheted things up a gear on the main stage.  Billy Bragg was suitably polemic and Lisbon-baiting to a loving crowd.  A version of Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” and, of course, the immortal “A New England” were highlights.  Some Limerick comedian told us how the travellers in Rathkeale were miffed that it wasn’t Saint Peter who had appeared on their tree stump as at least then they could sell him a couple of gates.  The LCD Soundsystem boyos delivered a two hour disco set that pushed all the right buttons.  News arrived through of Ireland beating Cyprus during their set.  South Africa here we come!!  Let’s Dance!! 
 
At this time a detour was taken to see rock royalty on the Main Stage.  Brian Wilson is an all-time great so it was disconcerting to see him looking a little bewildered behind his keyboard while his wonderful backing band played all those timeless Beach Boys hits.  But when Brian chose to sing it was just marvellous, and more than a little moving.  “Don’t Worry Baby”, “In My Room” and “I Get Around” were delivered by their writer in one twenty minute segment that was simply glorious.   The world would be a poorer place without the life of Brian.  Bless him.
 
Madness were next on the Main Stage.  It had been a tough call to choose them over Chic but they repaid us in spades.  These were the songs of our youth.  “Baggy Trousers”, “Our House”, “House Of Fun”.  Get back to me when jokers such as the Kaiser Chiefs come up with anything nearly as life-affirming.  And what can be said about “It Must Be Love”?  The whole field sang along and it was for moments like this you tramped through the mud.  To top it all, they wrapped up in time for us to hot-foot it over to the Electric Arena for the end of Chic’s set.  We arrived as a chant of “Ole Ole” was in full pelt.  What the uber-cool Noo Yawk cats thought of that Lord knows but they encored with “Good Times” which was rump-shakingly orgiastic.  The greatest bass-line ever?  I defy you to name one better.
 
Some rockin’ 2 Many Djs (who served up “Bonkers” and “Teenage Kicks”) on the Main Stage was jettisoned for Chris Cunningham but the oddball was having technical problems so we abandoned him and went on a long, long wander for many hours that took in the fire from the dj box of Arcadia, the reggae-fest of Trenchtown and the ship in the woods with decks of Salty Dog.  In the wee small hours the campsite was sussed and reports waylaid to us of the utter marvellousness of the whole Chic set and the headsplitting ‘Mammy I want my teddy bear’ techno of Chris Cunningham.  A long day.  A great day.
 
If William Blake is right and the road to excess does lead to the palace of wisdom then by Sunday mid-day all of us were about to become wiser than Stephen Hawking.  Camp-site revelry lasted until 5pm and then it was time for The Wailers (for some) and Echo & The Bunnymen for those of us who like their 80′s pop spikey, wondrous and bright.  Mac is still a grumpy bugger but what a voice to sing those classic songs.  “The Killing Moon” was greeted with the loudest cheers, however ”The Cutter”, “The Back Of Love”, “Rescue” et al were just one manic pop thrill after another.  The tents for Fleet Foxes and Florence & The Machine were more packed than it was worth investigating so a bit of a break for food was had.  After that a few minutes of better-than-expected Fionn Regan, a lot of a very smooth Royksopp and too much of ‘seen it all before’ Basement Jaxx brought proceedings to a close.
 
In a nutshell, it wasn’t the greatest Picnic ever but it was unquestionably a helluva’ weekend.  The weather was a bit of a bummer and this was the first year there was a slight staleness to the experience.  Still, any festival that serves up “All Of My Heart”, “Good Times”, “The Killing Moon”, “Don’t Worry Baby”, “It Must Be Love” etc can’t be viewed as anything other than a triumph.  Let’s dream of Bowie, Blondie, Prefab Sprout, Julian Cope, Air and The Magnetic Fields appearing in 2010, with Ahouse, Microdisney, Dexys Midnight Runners and Talking Heads in the Reformed Corner.  And let’s think of the children next year – leave them at home.  The Picnic will still be there for them to enjoy in twenty years time.
 
Ralph Mexico
 
POSTCARD FROM PLANET PICNIC
 
On attending Electric Picnic 2010
 
 
Sometimes to make a great leap forward, you’ve got to take a step back. 
 
The Bacchanalian excesses of the five (count ‘em) previous visits to Electric Picnic were all very, very well and verily, verily good, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.  This is 2010.  How can we dance when our banks are burning?  Trying to cram 12 months of debauchery into 3 days was such a noughties pursuit.  Moderation is the new black.  We wear it well.
 
Arriving from Dublin via back roads, thanks to local knowledge in the car, there was no queueing as in previous years.  It set the scene.
 
Into the campsite where our erected tents awaited us, thanks to kindly early bird souls.  The scene was set.
 
The temperature was in the 20′s.  Smuggling in beer was 100% successful.  Word filtered through of Ireland winning in Armenia.  It was such a perfect day, I’m glad I spent it with tunes…
 
Janelle Monae (Explosive; Funk Soul Sister Number One; A firecracker start to the weekend).   Marc Almond (Still got the pipes; Finished with anthemic “Tainted Love” and singalong “Say Hello, Wave Goodbye”; Bliss).  The Waterboys (Pretty good “The Whole Of The Moon” surpassed by whole field going ga-ga for “Fishermans’ Blues”; Whoo-Hoo-Hoo).  Jonsi (Sigur Ros singer; I dunno was he singing in Icelandic, Hoplandish or English, but what a heart-breaking noise; The Indian head-dress he wore at the finale was just the fairy on top of the tree).  Roxy Music (bit dull).  P.I.L. (confrontational, atonal, intense, edgy – these are good things, Listeners).  Eels (nothing special).
 
Never has so much music been enjoyed on a Friday night.  And there was still a few good, a good few hours to be spent in the Body & Soul area letting the happiness wash all over.
 
Saturday.  Good Day Sunshine.  A gander around the whole arena.  Mindfield.  Shakespeare’s 16 comedies compressed into an hilarious 3 minutes in The Globe tent.  BP Fallon and Howard Marks being Grade “A” tossers with their drug tales.  Spotted Dan Boyle and Andrea Roche.  Not together.  Obviously.  A bookshop, where, ye Gods, a book was bought.  A sure sign of the death of debauchery.
 
And then thoughts turned to music.  Some melodic noise from Crystal Castles.  Some surprisingly sweet singing from Radiohead drummer Phillip Selway.  Some chugging techno from Stacey Pullen.  Some heavy laughter from comrades when I skipped away from Pullen to scope out Paul Brady, who rewarded me with the godawful “Nobody Knows Why Elvis Threw It All Away” (Allegedly he redeemed himself with a wondrous “The Homes Of Donegal” – I was told this by a Donegal native, I hasten to add).
 
Some New Order classics from Bad Lieutenant (who feature Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris) and a thundering “Love Will Tear Us Apart”.  Some too loud talking from the crowd to an unengaging Steve Earle.  Some dancing to Hot Chip but scarpered after “Over And Over” was ahem, over.  Some astounding Brendan Perry, including a version of “Song To The Siren” that could have been the weekend’s most spiritual moment.
 
Back to the rammed Electric Arena to sway along to “I’m Not In Love”, before the main attraction of LCD Soundsystem bounded on.  They ripped the place to shreds.  If, as is rumoured, they never play live in Ireland again it’d be no surprise.  This performance could never be topped.  They played every good song they ever recorded ever.  I was there.
 
Homage had to be paid to Gil Scott-Heron.  He was seated at a keyboard and playing a deep, soulful, dark tune.  It was rather wonderful.  But itchy feet led us to Leftfield in big field.  Bass, Bass, Bass.  Dance, Dance, Dance.  Yowsa, Yowsa, Yowsa.
 
The silent disco was explored but was not the place to get the party started.  Perversely, in the early hours of Sunday morning, who in the hell could’ve forseen that a set of trad from Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill in Body & Soul would be the perfect noise?  Well, it worked y’know.  Worked wonderfully.
 
And on the third day, the sun rose again. 
 
A wedding in the Inflatable Church to begin proceedings.  Not mine, of course – I was just a witness at the rude and funny ceremony.  A brief glance at Mr. Scruff doing his thaang in the Little Big Tent; a disappointing listen to Jon Ronson pontificate about conspiracy theories in Leviathan; a dreadful few minutes with a hopeless comedian (“What’s the deal with reality tv shows?”) in the ill-conceived Comedy Tent; and much wandering and squandering before music took centre stage again.
 
Friendly Fires (helluva’ band); UNKLE (helluva’ noise); a detour for a surreal few minutes in a small tent with Jinx Lennon (an Irish Billy Bragg?); Juan Atkins (the godfather of techno, Slammin’); 808 State (glory days are over); Fat Freddy’s Drop (surprisingly excellent); The Fall (Mark E. sang “5784wt89we*&!$^&*rtuiowrt893w&*^$@^y45r8w3r8i” continually – typical Fall gig); The National (I think I’m alone now – I don’t ‘get’ The National); Laurent Garnier (a bit so-so); and finally outside, where it was raining ropes, Massive Attack (same old, same old).
 
Had planned to stay for Omar Souleyman in Body & Soul, but the biblical rain suggested that a tent for hot tea and whiskey was the perfect night-cap.  So it goes.
 
There you have it.  The most music-centric Electric Picnic thus far.  No visits to the rave in the woods or to the Salty Dog ship in the woods or to the reggaetastic Trenchtown in the woods.  Not even any chai drank.  Then again, with a flight to Delhi next Friday I suppose chai Heaven can wait. 
 
Do Architects Dream Of Electric Picnic?!?!
Ralph Mexico
 
 
SEVENTH HEAVEN
 
On Attending Electric Picnic 2011
 
 
I had “The Fear” when leaving home on Friday morning that this Electric Picnic was a Picnic too far.  The Seven Year Itch might deaden the drama, put a damper on the dancing, lessen the lustre.  Been there, seen that, done that six times already.  What possible perks could a seventh sortie bring forth?  “The Fear’ was seeping deeply into my soul; and into the souls of you loyal listeners too, who evidently were shaking so much you were unable to send messages wishing me luck.  Ho-hum.
 
Anyway, in the aftermath only a fool would attempt to sum up a weekend’s revelry in 941 words. 
 
So here goes…
 
On the music front, Pulp’s triumphant set on Sunday night was the weekend’s star turn.  An absolute celebration.  Every wastrel in Ireland chanting along with “Common People” at the end is most definitely a Picnic moment to savour.
 
OMD delivered a breathless hour of hits, although we missed the opening “Enola Gay” due to lamentable stupidity.  Big Audio Dynamite were less thrilling, and even a closing “E=MC2″ couldn’t save a mediocre show.  Public Enemy brought the noise (Flavor Flav brought a big clock) and kept asking this Bass fella ”how low can you go?”  Might stuff. 
 
Death In Vegas were appalling.  Sinead O’Connor was brilliant.  The Undertones played “Teenage Kicks”.  Underworld played “Born Slippy”.  Joan As Policewoman played as if she was dead. 
 
Arcade Fire were humdrum.  PJ Harvey was intoxicating.  Jimmy Cliff was Jimmy Cliff.  DJ Shadow and Flying Lotus got a loan of some good noise from Public Enemy.  Shit Robot and Mylo got the leftovers.  The Family Stone were utter genius on the main stage on Sunday evening and garnered an unheard of encore for that location and time-slot.
 
By now, the more eagle-eyed of you listeners will have sussed that I have mentioned seeing nearly all of the acts I had on my wish-list in the August 24th posting.  One name is missing.  That name is James Chance.  I shamefully missed his show.  I missed a Chance.  What a Chance.  I’m inconsolable.  
 
“Missed chances and the same regrets” is a line from a Prefab Sprout song that has set up home in my head since the Picnic.  Part of the ache has to do with not making the James Chance gig; the rest is about a-never-to-be-seen-again girl at the Pulp show.  Jarvis sang “Something Changed’, but some things never do.  “Missed chances and the same regrets”, indeed.
 
OK, enough music and mourning, let’s talk about the weather.  Friday night it rained ropes, and Saturday and Sunday nights were the coldest on Picnic records.  Still, impervious of the chill, at the Rubberbandits’ “Dirty Rave in the Woods” in the early hours of Sunday morning some young one jumped on stage and got her ya-ya’s out.  I had left five minutes earlier.  No surprises there then.
 
On the famous person sighting front, presidential hopeful Sean Gallagher (minus his Kanturk born wife) was pressing the flesh in front of us as we walked down to Stradbally village on Sunday to watch the hurling game.  I spotted Newstalk’s Eoin McDevitt outside the Bacardi tent one evening, but the barring order is still in force since that night in Glenbeigh a few months ago (see posting of July 6th), so I left him to his own devices of stuffing a spring roll into his gob. 
 
And if you think you can hear the sound of a barrel being scraped in the “famous person” front, here comes Ella McSweeney…
 
Only joking, Ella.  Maybe.
 
As every single red-blooded mart attendee in Ireland knows, Ella is one of the presenters of RTE’s agricultural think tank “Ear To The Ground”.  She also had the good fortune to attend college with one of the shy, quiet, humble, sociopaths who was in our weekend crew.  Ella hung out with us for a while on Friday and Saturday.  It was like walking around with royalty.  Maybe.
 
Moving on, a spin was taken high up in a chairplane whirring around on Saturday night.  It seemed a sensible sort of idea at the time.  Hindsight doesn’t look too kindly on that move now.  Likewise, I’m sure the nameless (and shameless) member of the posse who partook in a trapeze show in the Mindfield area one afternoon and ended up being wheeled around in a wheelbarrow while wearing a wedding dress doesn’t think himself too clever as he looks in the mirror these mornings.  Ah sure, it was all Picnic pleasure.  So it goes.
 
Other random moments to bring a smile included headbanging along to “Bohemian Rhapsody” in front of the Bualadh Bus in the early hours, as some nutjob led the mayhem while stomping on the roof of the bus; seeing the schmuck with the cardboard sign “Sorry, I Missed Mass” getting absolved of his sins by a bearded weirdo in a “Jesus” t-shirt on Sunday; a chance (there’s that word again) meeting with uncontactable people due to phone battery deadness, in front of the Body & Soul stage during Austra’s set in the wee small hours of the last night.  And so on…
 
Electric Picnic 2011 is already finding a comfy niche for a golden horde of good times in my memory banks.  Which is nice. 
 
After all, there’s plenty of space in there, alongside the Sprout lyric, considering the number of braincells sabotaged in the name of music, fun, laughter, dancing over the weekend.  Another Epic E.’Pic done and dusted.  Twelve months, and counting, to the next jamboree.  Can’t hardly wait.
 
 
All My Insights From Retrospect!!
Ralph Mexico
 
ELECTRIC DELIGHT ORCHESTRA: MORE POWER TO THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLES OF PICNIC PEOPLE
 
On Attending Electric Picnic 2012
 
 
“The Moon Looked Down And Laughed?”
 
Sunday, September 2nd, Electric Picnic 2012 finished up.  That same day, half a world away, Sun Myung Moon (founder of The Moonies) died.
 
A cult-like quasi-religion, with a legion of devotees who swear that theirs is the one true path to happiness, enlightenment and fulfilment were in a state of shock, mourning an incalculable loss.  How could life go on knowing it would be another year before we’d all be together again in Electric Dreams?  I’m sure The Moonies weren’t too chuffed with events either.
 
Listeners, I won’t sit on the bush or beat around the fence: Electric Picnic 2012 was the best Picnic ever.  There’s been nine Picnics.  I’ve been at eight.  This year the crowd was smaller than usual.  The weather was better than ever.  The music was nothing less than brilliant.  And more fun was had than is strictly legal in Enda Kenny’s nanny state.  Let’s hear it for Electric Picnic 2012…
 
“Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space”
 
Friday evening, after the driving, parking, camping, meeting side of things went smoothly, all roads led to Grandaddy in the Electric Arena.  They didn’t disappoint.  They didn’t enthrall either.  A patchy set, still a million times better than the ensuing Grizzly Bear who stank the place out.
 
Eight o’clock found (we learned later) Gavin Friday dedicating “Angel” on the main stage to Bono and Ali who were in the wings and celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary.  An infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters couldn’t possibly come up with suitable words to describe the ghastliness of such an event.  Thankfully at that time we were acres away, enjoying the melodic sunshine, lolling on the grass, revelling in a Gavin-free Friday.
 
The Casa Bacardi open area was a great meeting point in the centre of the Picnic site and it was here that we convened for a rump-shakingly fab set from Francois K.  We then skipped across to the main stage for some sonic sculptures of the Sigur Ros kind.  Which was nice.
 
Richie Hawtin’s peerless slabs of dirty techno, in a Little Big Tent so rammed it was like World War 1 in a phone-box, brought things up ’til 1am, which allowed plenty of time for galooting in the Body & Soul area, ape-acting at the Rave in the Woods, and general horse-play in other dark corners within the vast Picnic environs.  As the sun came up the night was still young.  The Picnic was off to a flyer.
 
“Today I’m Going To Soar”
 
“Dark Side Of The Moon” was getting the full Trinity Orchestra treatment on the main stage at 1pm on Saturday as we (in honour of the orchestra) “conducted” interviews with random punters seated at the food benches at the back of the huge field.  Good food.  Good times.  “Good Day Sunshine” yet again.
 
A wander into Mindfield saw the start of a David McWilliams helmed debate on “Does Ireland Need A Second Republic?” featuring such intellectual heavyweights as Fintan O’Toole and a frightfully bald Eamon McCann.
 
A stroll into Body & Soul saw a stint in a trad music tent making unreciprocated, lascivious eyes at a bewitching fiddle player who’d had the ill-luck to sit near us at the food stalls earlier.  Ho-hum.
 
4pm arrived and it was time for Dexys, the band I was looking forward to seeing more than any other at the Picnic.
 
Mention Dexys to the man in the street and he’ll think of dungarees, “Come On Eileen”, and fiddles.  I’m with Sid Vicious on this one: “I’ve met the man in the street.  He’s a c***”. 
 
Dexys singer, Kevin Rowland, is one of the music’s great survivors.  Thirty-five years of multiple band sackings, million-selling chart topping hits, cocaine meltdowns, rank bad luck, cross-dressing weirdness, health problems, dungarees, “Come On Eileen”, and fiddles – Kevin has survived it all, to arrive at Electric Picnic 2012 looking frail, yet dapper in a beret and braces.
 
The band struck up a tune.  Rowland started to sing.  “I’m in heaven when you smile/sing”, indeed.  That arresting bleat of a voice still amazed after all these years.  The new album is called “One Day I’m Going To Soar”, and we got a few soul-stirring numbers from that.  The sound was all over the shop, but the passion dripped from the stage.  And passion never goes out of fashion, listeners.
 
Then the famous intro that is the cue for mass invasions of wedding dance-floors the world over began.  And the greatest opening line since “You can bump and grind, It’s good for your mind” was sung: “Poor old Johnny Ray, Sounded sad upon the radio”.  “Come On Eileen”.  Jesus.
 
To be in that tent as Rowland led his troupe through this ageless, joyous song that has been hijacked by the squares and is now heinously viewed as a bit of a novelty, was one of the greatest moments in the history of civilisation.  Oh, yes.
 
The version was staggering.  It wasn’t a crass, epic singalong.  It was far deeper than that.  It was triumphant yet dignified.  It was as if Dexys were following the advice of oddball genius producer Martin Hannett who told A Certain Ratio while recording: “I want you to play that again.  Only this time make it faster, but slower”.  “Come On Eileen” was stately, immortal, divine.  It brought tears to my eyes.
 
I sniffled back the waterworks, but as the final chorus hovered into view I tapped one of the crew on the shoulder and pointed to my tear-filled eyes.  He smiled and said “I’m crying too”.  Grown men crying like babies.  Kevin Rowland, “Thank You” from the bottom of my heart.
 
A brief diversion was made to see some David Kitt fumblings on the Crawdaddy Stage, before hot-footing it to the Poetry Tent for an hour of family entertainment from John Cooper Clarke.  I gave “The Bard of Salford” a slap on the back as he made his way through the crowd onto the stage.  I’m writing this with the hand that hit that stick-thin back.  Evidently, some of his sharp wit has rubbed off on me, eh listeners?
 
Johnny Clarke was hilarious.  Some of the gags had been aired before, however when delivered in his rapid-fire, scatter-gun style you just had to laugh.  He wrapped things up with “the one from “The Sopranos” with all the bleeping” “Evidently Chickentown” and the always astonishing “Beasley Street”.  An hour in the presence of indefatigable greatness.  A treasure.
 
At the show’s end I made a wasp-line for Fintan O’Toole and Roddy Doyle who’d been sitting on the floor five yards to our left.  My questions for the esteemed authors were obvious enough.  “Fintan, what is your favourite Dylan song?”  “Idiot Wind” he replied.  I asked Roddy what was his favourite REM song as (I breathlessly explained to him) I’d stood beside him at one of those five nights REM did at the Olympia in 2007.  He took a while before answering “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville”.  So now you know.
 
Things got weird from then on.  SBTRKT were enjoyed for a short spell, and I chose to spend the two hours after that watching puddings being made by feted Kanturk butchers in the Cooking Tent instead of checking out Patti Smith and Richard Hawley.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.
 
I re-aligned myself with some of the entourage in the Biergarten in the Spiegeltent.  Who knew that dancing around tables with random stragglers to “Teardrops” by Womack & Womack at 10 o’clock on Saturday night at Electric Picnic could be such a blast?
 
A stonking show from The Roots; a failure to get into the jointed tent for Caribou vs. Four Tet; a snatch of The Cure that offered up a massaging of “Boys Don’t Cry” and a murdering of “Killing An Arab”; a smidgen of Grimes: and a dull set from Orbital brought Saturday night/Sunday morning to a close.  Quite a day. 
 
 Long Day’s Journey Into The Heart Of Sunday Night
 
And on the third day we rose again… 
The yanks used to disparagingly refer to Seve as “The Car-park Champion” for his tendency to take the scenic route around a golf course.  On Electric Picnic Sunday we staked a claim to be “Camp-site Champions” by soaking up suds and sun from early morning through to mid-afternoon with a background charivari of The Dublin Gospel Choir and Lee “Scratch” Perry seeping from the Main Stage.  Check out my liver spots and sunburn if you don’t believe me.
 
Eventually a move was made and the last half of House Don John Talabot’s gig was savoured.  The enormous last tune was much sought the following week.  After hours of searching, on Citibank’s time and dime, one sound surgeon located “Cheaters Never Win” by Teengirl Fantasy.  It’s a monster.  Have a listen sometime- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEMoC-sOqywAs the cool kids cut a rug at Casa Bacardi, I looked to a 69 year old man to put my maracas in a twist.  As you do.  Van Dyke Parks, one-time song-writing partner of Brian Wilson, full-time camp, eccentric old coot, was a poptastic treat.  Sickly sweet vignettes of jellyfish, marshmallows, rainbows and sunflowers – VDP was pop confection perfection.

 
Light-headed from the sheer splendidness of it all, I replied to one of the weekend’s innumerable “Where u?” texts with: “Cosby stage, centre-stage, wearing shades, all the rage”.  What.  A.  Tool.
 
That pearler loses out in the quality text stakes though to the following exchange between friends: “I’m in Body & Soul, beside the complicated onion to the left”.  “I can’t see u.  I’m near two simple onions close to the entrance”.  These people have children.  And jobs.  The mind boggles.
 
New ground was broken on Sunday evening with an unplanned foray into the record-selling tent.  The much-lauded musical youths The Strypes were there splurging their pocket money on Sixties British blues singles.  I showed I wasn’t Losing My Edge by buying a pair of Joni Mitchell albums and Van’s “It’s Too Late To Stop Now” from 1974.  Oh what fun I had hoicking the heavy vinyl around in a tatty plastic bag for the rest of the night.  So it goes.
 
Complete disinterest and juice-less mobile phones led to me being up-front alone for Paul Buchanan’s 9.30 show in the Body & Soul hollow.  The ex-Blue Nile man made me cry.  And these weren’t quiet, dignified tears like at Dexys.  For this one I gushed like Old Faithful.
 
Buchanan sang solo with very under-stated piano backing.  He gave us “Easter Parade” and “A Walk Across The Rooftops” from his Blue Nile days, and a half dozen songs from his new “Mid Air” album.  It was…..  I’m out of superlatives.  There are no worthy words left.  I’ll have to invent some.  It was splenbrillsome, astoundivazing.  I give up.  I cried shamelessly, and you’re all a shower of tone deaf ignoramuses ‘cos you weren’t there to cry too.  Peasants.
 
Still smothered in goosepimples and tears I took a punt that the missing revellers would be disgracing themselves in Casa Bacardi.  Sure enough it was Todd Terje tunes that were providing the answers at that time on Sunday night.
 
We all shuffled over for Hot Chip’s performance in the Electric Arena.  “Over & Over” got the biggest cheer.  Closely followed by loud approval for the weightlifting feats of a pint-sized girl beside us who thought it was great gas throwing some of us up on her surreally strong shoulders.  How bizarre.
 
There was still time for a final wander in Body & Soul where and idle hour was passed listening to the bells and wind-chimes in a wooden teepee.  I may now collect my prize for writing the most Electric Picnic defining sentence ever.
 
Leaving Body & Soul we happened upon a converted ice-cream van that was blasting out a few songs to satisfy the dance-lust of the masses.  Marcia Griffith’s reggae take on Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere” was the platter that mattered.  And is as good a place as any to end The Book of Evidence supporting the claim that Electric Picnic 2012 was the greatest ever.  My case is closed.  My case is packed (for next year, already).
 
The Correct Use Of Hope
 
Phew.  The music is over and the dust has sorta’ settled.  Lest we get too comfy, here’s twenty heritage acts to dream of for Electric Picnic 2013, beginning with a pair who should take very little persuading to perform in a big field in rural Laois:-
David Bowie, Kate Bush, Ray Davies, Smokey Robinson, Randy Newman, Bobby Womack, Joni Mitchell, Al Green, Julian Cope, Femi Kuti, Kool & The Gang, Prefab Sprout, XTC, Durutti Column, Felt, Johnny & The Go-Gos, Orange Juice, The Congos, Earth, Wind & Fire, Wire. 
 
How’d you like them apples?
 
 
Joe Meek Shall Inherit The Hearth!!
Ralph Mexico
 

»

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: