The Suss’ Summer: Electric Picnic

There it is, in the distance, voice soaring over a thundering rhythm: “Cloooooooud, block out the sun.”

The call to rise. Eyes bleary, legs weary, it’s 8:30am on the second day of Electric Picnic, and LCD Soundsystem’s soundcheck is working its magic on the weather.

The phone’s buzzing. Friends are concerned – “saw the floods! Hope ur ok xx”. Turns out Twitter is misrepresenting a picture of Glastonbury 2005 as the scenes here in the Jimi Hendrix campsite – “so glad I’m not at the Picnic!”.

It’s damp for sure, but no danger of trench foot just yet, and a swift look around confirms that nobody here would rather be anywhere else.

Apart from those suffering after the piece of irresponsible scheduling that was The Chemical Brothers performing on Friday night, perhaps. All usual festival advice about pacing oneself went out the window as “Block Rockin’ Beats” combined with a stellar laser show and took us to another planet.

Earlier, in the adjacent Rankin’s Wood and Electric Arena tents, retro and retrofuturism did battle. In the Arena, Norwegian disco kingpin Todd Terje stoked the dying embers of summer.

“Delorean Dynamite” is an early set highlight, a marriage of relentless sinewy muscularity and sleek, skyward ambition that easily fills the vast expanse of the Picnic’s second stage. The now-iconic cheerfulness of “Inspector Norse” ends the set – nobody escapes without a grin on their face.

Jenny Greene and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra had taken residence over in a packed Rankin’s Wood, full of delighted older heads and those borrowing their nostalgia alike as they tore through a set of 90’s dance classics.

Vocalist Gemma Sugrue was unerring in her accuracy as she tackled the likes of “Rhythm Is a Dancer” and “Everybody’s Free” – it’ll be a great shame if this is the spectacular collaboration’s only outing.

This overcharged Friday led to a Saturday afternoon of recovery through reclining in the comedy tent until it was time for Glass Animals.

The Oxford four-piece packed out Rankin’s Wood and their funked-up Alt-J sound went down a storm with the notably youthful crowd, the adulation seeming to take frontman Dave Bayley aback.

Wanting to explore the festival’s curios, we dropped into Body & Soul’s Haunted Music Hall too early on Saturday to find a middle-aged white DJ in a Hawaiian shirt and Panama hat enthusiastically playing “All Day” by Kanye West to an empty tent adorned with vintage erotica. Haunted indeed.

We needed to find faith after that so it was off to the Other Voices church for a sermon from Mick Pope and his Le Galaxie bandmates. New tunes “Demi Moore” and “Rhythm of the Clock” sounded so massive that we used them as a sort of gravitational slingshot to keep us dancing into the deep space of the night.

LCD Soundsystem returned to the main stage a full 16 hours after their soundcheck for their weekend-stealing set.

A great set turned into a special one as the eviscerating “Yeah” segued into the devastating vulnerability of “Someone Great” and saving the one-two punch of “Dance Yrself Clean” and “All My Friends” for last was a masterstroke.

Sunday was a challenge. The firm Laois ground finally gave way to mud as rain hit in mid-evening and didn’t let up for the night, and even before that one had to deal with hordes of day-tripping James Bay fans.

Cork act Talos were perfect for the afternoon recovery slot, their recent time spent in Iceland exhibited by some Sigur Rós-style bowed guitar that complements their atmospheric R&B.

Legendary Mancunians New Order are starting to look their age a little – Bernard Sumner certainly sounds it – but they put in an otherwise accomplished performance, with everyone going predictably mental for “Blue Monday”.

Devotees flocked to the Main Stage, determined to ignore the now-steady rain and sway to Lana Del Rey, who looks thoroughly pleased to be here.

She’s spoken of her difficulties with touring and performing but these seem to be firmly behind her, confidently delivering a solo performance of “Yayo” before drawing the biggest cheers of the weekend with the words “Let’s do Video Games!”

The site became surreally empty rather quickly post-Lana, as people fled the rain in droves – leaving an undeserved anticlimactic feel to the festival’s denouement.

There was big publicity about the opening of the lake to swimmers, but in the end the sky brought the water to us. It only meant that most partied twice as hard to stay warm. Stradbally’s still the place to be.

Stephen Keegan

Image credit: The Irish Times

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