Review: Electric Picnic – SaturdayTweet
Trinity Orchestra (★ ★ ★ ★ ☆)
Trinity Orchestra are the perfect hangover band, even if they are playing a notoriously psychedelic album. Performing Pink Floyd’s ‘The Dark Side Of The Moon’, the depth offered by the full-orchestra set up is astounding, and the rock-band fronting the whole operation more than competent in their own right, especially when it comes to those epic slow-building guitar moments. The highlight is indisputable, though: Karen Cowley’s flawless vocal on The Great Gig In The Sky is an absolute shoe-in for vocal performance of the weekend, and sees the starlet holler her way through those trippy moments with a blasé confidence that sees the masses roused to a standing ovation before she’s even half way through.
There are other highs, too, of course: we’re treated to Comfortably Numb as a gorgeous slow-builder of an add on to the album, before Trinity dive into their equally reputed Stevie Wonder collection, an abrupt change in direction but one that quickly transports us from sensational psyche-rock indulgence of moments of sunshine fun we’re all set to indulge in. We’ve seen them do Daft Punk and Radiohead, but this beats both hands down. JH
Kodaline (★ ★ ★ ★ ☆)
Kodaline took stage on the naturally beautiful mini-amphitheater at the Body & Soul main-stage early on. The guys have virtually come from nowhere and are beginning to cause quite a stir on both these shores and further afield. Glowing praise from Julian Lennon kicked started the buzz before their short Irish tour earlier in August. More lately, the north Dublin lads received a massive breakthrough on BBC Radio 1 which seen the lads played and hotly tipped by the stations biggest DJ’s. Only fitting then that they would showcase themselves for a home crowd on arguably the nicest stage at a festival in Ireland.
Lose Your Mind would open proceedings as the band rocketed through this quirky and lyrically hallucinogenic song. Steven Garrigan’s voice holds strong as it reverberates around the serene surroundings as the notably large audience takes notice of a band with a big sound. All I Want proves to be an emotionally hot-wired song as the pain and feeling seeps from the stage and strikes a chord with the Body & Soul onlookers. The stand out moment of the set comes with All Comes Down To You as the rousing and searing chorus line floats high in the tepid air. Anyone lucky enough to catch this set may very well have caught the start of something really special. It wouldn’t take a musical expert to guess that it won’t be long before Kodaline are playing much bigger stages in the future. A standout musical moment over the whole weekend. RM
Orquesta (★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆)
Orquesta performs to no more than a few dozen early on Saturday afternoon, clad in a Hawaiian shirt and chuckling to himself as he indulges in a playful disconnect of tropical beats that’s seen him become a regular on the Dublin club-night circuit. On the bigger stage, though, an impressive ear for tunes does little to overcome a sense of in-tent indifference, and we’re soon left wandering elsewhere. The potential for entertainment value is high, though, the man simply needs a smaller tent and a later time slot. And perhaps a few palm trees. JH
SBTRKT (★ ★ ★ ★ ☆)
SBTRKT on the other, have been handed the darkened tent they needed, and are greeted by a packed throng that includes the odd cereal-box SBTRKT tribute mask and ample enthusiasm. Sampha – the vocalist who’s effectively become a part of the SBTRKT set up since staring on that gorgeous self-titled debut – is a soulful vocalist, the perfect contrast to the futuristic, offhand beats laid down by the fame-shy SBTRKT himself.
The beats build slowly through a progression of toned-down dubstep, throwing down a huge volume of enticing pre-record percussion over fuzzy outlets and deep layering. As far as electronic progressions go, SBTRKT is intelligent and far from obvious, yet still manages to get a tent full of people shaking their hips. Hinting at tribal rhythms and then setting the party in full-swing when he whips out monster hit Hold On, SBTRKT is fast becoming one of those acts that are giving mainstream electronic music a kick up its collective, bleepy backside. JH
Cast of Cheers (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)
Cast of Cheers performed a sort of homecoming set on the Crosby stage early on in the day. It’s been quite a while since the guys have graced home shores as their extensive UK and festival tours have seen them all over the world. Little surprise then that the Crosby tent was packed to the rafters for this powerhouse of a set. An effortlessly electric set would unfold in front of a buoyant crowd as The Cast of Cheers played the perfect set-list for their adoring fans.
Firm favorites like Goose and I Am Lion gave the fans a reason to go buck bloody wild. But it’s with new album tracks Human Elevator and Family that The Cast of Cheers really lift the roof off the place. The move from first album sound to second is quite apparent as the latter seems to have a deeper sense of identity for the band going forward. The whole set, once again proves that The Cast of Cheers are certainly one of, if not the most, exciting and original bands to come out of Ireland in quite some time. More of this please! RM
Kimbra (★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆)
“Ah would ya look, sure isn’t it yer wan off the Gotye song” I heard someone remark as the Kimbra set began. That particular EP reveler was not wrong, Kimbra is “yer wan” from the international mega hit Somebody I Used To Know. Funnily enough, there is much more to this New Zealand native then her famous cameo on one of the biggest singles of the last 5 years. Kimbra is an exciting, individualistically stylish, pitch-perfect songstress and this set goes a long way in confirming such a lofty description. On stage she is a fabulously charismatic and enthralling performer that you can’t help but get sucked into.
Her fashion and costume picks visually treat as her brand of catchy pop reels you in at the same time. Cameo Lover and Settle Down will soon become audio ear worms as the quirky and joyous beats combine to make an all together intriguing musical proposition. The rest of the set unfortunately contains too many filler songs that don’t quite hit the mark. A surprising and welcome addition to the mostly alternative weekend. Kimbra, undoubtedly, will soon be someone you’ll all want to know. RM
Crystal Castles (★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆)
Alice Glass can be as frightening as she is brilliant. With distance, however, the vocalist’s intense and slightly meaningless screeches tend to lose some of their appeal, and at mid-afternoon on a large outdoor stage, and in front of an audience that’s collectively reached perhaps its third pint, this is neither the time nor the place. Glass, in fact, seems to sense that. There’s little movement in the crowd even when she whips out Celestica and doubles up with Baptism. Sadly, Robert Smith doesn’t drop in to contribute to what might have been a sensational Not In Love.
Nor does Glass appear up for it, at any point. There’s no extra security hauling her clear of overly enthusiastic punters, no devil-eyes in the direction of those shrieking back at her in the front row, and generally little in the way of oddly-endearing, music-appropriate petulance at all. We’re not of the popular opinion that Crystal Castles are ‘empty nothingness masquerading as music’ (see the Irish Times’ review); in fact at their best we find them to be nothing short of breath-taking. In filling only a little over half her allotted time and failing to look like she cared one jot, however, Glass fell on her face today. Frankly, lo-fi fuzzy shrieking delivered in a fully-lit field with a notable indifference was always going to be a waste of time. JH
Villagers (★ ★ ★ ★ ☆)
Conor O’Brien’s period of second-album hibernation seems to have come to an end, and after nearly a year absent from the Irish music scene, it doesn’t take more than a few chords to have us all singing abstractly about broken hearts and tortured souls. The festival set up is simplistic, mixing in a fairly vast array of as-yet unreleased gems that make a fabulous advert for his latest epic. We’re not quite sure what the theme is yet, but it’s bound to be poignant and speak to you in that oblique way that O’Brien seems to have mastered so effortlessly.
Tonight, though, the roaring sing-alongs are reserved for moments passed: the inspirational Pact (I’ll Be Your Fever) has become the set’s relatively happy-go-lucky hub, with Ship Of Promises and The Meaning Of Ritual it’s more subdued live foils. As usual, O’Brien’s vocal is flawless, his change of pace enticing and his ability to turn a tented-stage into a spot seemingly more appropriate to a soul-listing slow-dance unfailing. There are moments that seem to plod – there always have been with Villagers, exceptional as they are – but there’s no room for doubt here: Ireland’s finest practitioners of downbeat lyrical poetry are as enticing as ever. JH
Grimes (★ ★ ★ ★ ☆)
When Azealia Banks pulled out in the days running up to Electric Picnic, complaining of exhaustion from a handful of short gigs, the decision was met with much anger and disappointment. Most people deemed it an unnecessary cancelation that should never have happened. Much respect for Grimes who still turned up to Stradbally after all her performance equipment was stolen in Manchester the night previous – proper order! After familiarising herself with the new equipment, she launched into her set as the ecstatic audience looked on. Grimes was not to be alone on the night, she was joined on stage by a man who seemingly done nothing at all except jump around and bang on a drum machine that wasn’t even plugged in. She would later be flanked by two interpretive dancers who flexed, bended and tapped their way through the whole set. Sounds positively bonkers and it was, but in the best way possible.
If you can imagine taking Bjork and limiting down her intricate sound, then placing the vocal gibberish of Enya on top, not before adding the wild dance moves of Kate Bush and lastly throwing some electronic beats in to the mix, then you’ve got a better idea of the sound and performance stylings of Grimes. Oblivion saw Grimes flail and explode her body around her decks as the repetitive and chilling sounds blared out. It was however, with Genesis that things really became special. An extended and remixed version would see the crowd grow and build to a jubilant high. Considering the bad talk of Grimes shows in the past, this was a breath of fresh air and a totally unexpected high for the weekend. RM
The Cure (★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆)
Whoever came up with that line about quality being preferable to quantity, nobody told The Cure. We’d all had a heads up from Reading Festival the previous weekend, which saw the eye-lined icons play for well over three hours, and arriving at the headline slot 45 minutes late does little to appease GP’s sense of the monotonous. It’s not that The Cure are bad, you understand, but unless you’re a serious Cure-head (and there are a few about, admittedly), it’s hard to argue that the procession of album tracks that make up the majority of the first two and a half hours are musical moment worthy of all that much attention (we checked, and we didn’t miss anything of repute in those opening minutes). In fact, the time was arguably better spent watching two or three other acts elsewhere.
To none Cure fans – and I’d consider myself to be somewhere on this particular borderline – much of the set seems self-indulgent, and the procession of punters heading away from the main stage is already underway when we turn up. Still, Pictures Of You provides respite, and Friday I’m In Love is every bit the mass sing-along we’d been expecting, but followed swiftly with a return to marked indifference. A state that remains true for at least 20 of the 30 plus songs on offer. Robert Smith, of course, is an impassioned performer, and the sound quality’s difficult to argue with. It’s just the dingy, wrist-slashing side of things that never quite entirely pervaded the bigger singles dominates so substantially, and to say its killing our buzz is a little like saying Love Cats is ‘a little atypical positive’.
The Cure have been on my ‘bands to see before you die’ list for a decade, but their failure to allow for a festival being a festival – as opposed to a field full of Cure fans – saw the widespread prediction come to roost: hardly anyone we met had been intending to watch all of The Cure’s set, and by the time they bring out big guns like Lovecats, Boys Don’t Cry and a personal favourite, The Same Deep Water As You, we’re sticking a flourish on the end in the form of a euphoric half an hour at the close of 180-minutes of arduous chatter and dingy indie-pop. A half-length greatest hits set would have been far preferable, but that’s just not Smith & co.’s style. JH
Le Galaxie (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)
Le Galaxie at 2 o’clock in the morning you say? Glow stick you say? Tunes you say? Well how could we turn that down. In what was a masterstroke of placement and band choice, Le Galaxie undoubtedly provided the “OMG, where you at *insert band* last night? No! You missed out” moment of the weekend. Always a great band to get the vibes flowing and the feet flying, even Le Galaxie themselves must of been blown away by the reaction in The Little Big Tent on the night. A spot inside the tent was to be set at a premium as entrance was proving difficult. We managed to elbow out way up to the front to witness a pulverising set from the reigning kings of Irish electro.
In the past year or two, the band have been able to hone their live performances ever so slightly in order to deliver such performances as this. The sound and songs have evolved from bordering on tedious and boring in the early days to engaging and musically adventurous now. Elaine Mai and MayKay from Fight Like Apes joined the carnage on show as Le Galaxie deliver their best show to date. Powers of Miami and Earth prove to be firm favorites once more, but it’s with Midnight Midnight, that things really step up a gear to reach fever pitch highs. If you thought the last Le Galaxie gig couldn’t get any more vibrant and full of energy, well you were wrong. The guys somehow managed to bring more energy to the table than ever before, oh and glow sticks. To finish, the guys stood and soaked up the adoration of the crowd to none other than the Jurassic Park theme tune, as you do. Hands down, the best ever Le Galaxie show. RM