As the last day dawned on Stradbally Hall (and camp chairs continued to be stolen), there was a tinge of sadness in the air at Electric Picnic knowing that soon it would be all over. Not to worry though – Sunday night’s line-up was a firecracker of homegrown and international acts from Tame Impala to FKA twigs.
Dublin Gospel Choir
Accompanied by an unofficial kiss-cam on the big screen, (the caption was, ‘give her a smooch’), the Dublin Gospel Choir spooked the hangovers out of people with their sultry, soulful offerings. They indulge the crowd with Florence, Jess Glynne and R. Kelly covers – a simply enchanting blend of modern harmonies. There are several points during the set where feedback and mic issues take over, however, and it takes away from what is otherwise a thoroughly enjoyable hour of music.
“This one’s a groover,” Wyvern Lingo declare to the packed Electric Arena before launching into new track Running it is perfect for a ‘little bop’ as the band say themselves. This set is another one that occasionally falters due to technical issues – during the song the mics cut out. After a few uncomfortable moments, things kick back into action. Treasure Island is as gloriously uplifting and the band show great energy and demonstrate perfect pacing to the very end.
New Yorkers MS MR were quick to declare their love for the festival. Vocally, frontwoman Lizzy Plapinger sounds stronger than ever, pummelling the crowd with Painted from their new album. Despite passionate renditions, the reception they receive from the thinning crowd is lukewarm at best. The atmosphere in the Rankin Woods tent is that of the witching hour, despite it still be very early evening. Dark and funky beats swirl through the crowd thanks to Max Hershenow and co. Plapinger’s unusual voice is the star of the show right through to Hurricane, with the band excitedly gushing and bowing at the end – slightly cringeworthy, to put it mildly.
Django Django introduces a boisterous mix of synths at the Electric Arena. The self-proclaimed ‘art rock’ band, bring another kind of intensity to Picnic proceedings, inciting mild ragers and set dancing among the crowd. They are the gritty, grimey, shock-rock needed to separate the men from the boys on festival bills. “You look really fresh for a Sunday,” singer Vincent Neff chortles to the delirious crowd. Jazzy keys mesh perfectly with cool percussion, and avant-garde flourishes. Default‘s vocals envelope stray ears, while Storm is a masterclass in layered instrumentation.
MK’s broad appeal as house aficionado and expert floor-filler means Rankin’s Woods is heaving with bodies long before he takes to the decks. Performing since the mid-nineties, he’s managed to keep his sets fresh and endure in the cruelly fickle dance scene. His remix of Wanklemut and Emma Louise’s My Head Is A Jungle sets a slow burning commotion in to motion, spilling out of the tent. However, it’s his mash-up of Disclosure’s White Noise and his own chart topping remix of Storm Queen’s Look Right that sends bodies clambering to the front. It’s a sweat-fest left, right and centre – probably as the man himself intended it to be.
The resurgence of ‘90s hip-hop to the charts worldwide set up a good platform for the retro 6-piece to work off, and they brought out a healthily sized crowd of mildly invested fans. Bouncing along as the DJ seamlessly blended one song into another, every 5 or 6 minutes someone in the crowd would say “oh they do this one?!”. Jurassic 5 have still got it, and while their performance does not require too much energy, their age doesn’t show on stage. It’s perfect afternoon listening to ease feared-up heads back into the spirit of the festival.
Clad in a playstation logo sweatshirt, Garratt performed with the energy of a true ‘90s kid, jacked up on Coca Cola and just happy to be there. The Englishman rolled out banger after banger with relentless enthusiasm and quite an endearing appreciation for the reception he was receiving. Controlling a synth pad with a drumstick and an electric guitar all at once, he brought to life the likes of Chemical and Worry, before rolling into an acoustic version of new song Weathered. and Each song resonated the emotion with which it was originally crafted, from restrained lows to beat-laden highs, most effectively in closer Love You’re Given.
It was hard to shake the feeling that Conor O’Brien and co. might have been better placed at a smaller, more intimate stage (their Other Voices slot later on in the night being the prime example) than the Electric Arena. The sound barely seemed to fill the tent, perhaps quieter in contrast to the walls of noise that came before and after it in the likes of CHVRCHES and FKA Twigs, and pockets of space developed amongst an impatient crowd. Songs such as Courage still held their emotion, but a stripped down version of Nothing Arrived (that has racked up millions of hits on spotify) felt hollow in the large space.
“It’s all around me, all this noise,” sings Kevin Parker on set opener Let It Happen. It sounds even more appropriate in a live setting than on record. The song stretches beyond its original eight- minutes, and a pounding outro is as close as many will have come to a full-sensory experience at the festival. An array of colours stream in lights on the stage and on a screen behind the band: psychadelia encapsulated. The excitement alone of watching one of the best records of the year come to life in front of their eyes is enough to throw the audience into their own acid-like coma, which lets the band off the hook a bit for phoning it in somewhat at times for the rest of the set. Parker is in playful form, reaching into the crowd to grab a large inflatable ball, which he hoists above his head like some sort of trophy. ‘Lonerism’ favourites Feels Like We Only Go Backwards and Elephant are well received, but it is the ‘Currents’ gems that hit the hardest. Cause I’m a Man gets sung back to the band by men and women alike, one of a few examples of an audience getting more enthusiastically into the performance than the band themselves.
While to the majority of the wider world Twigs is a secondary character in a bizarre Twilight revenge fantasy, in the musical realm she is something else entirely. Small in stature, she somehow seems to tower over the audience as she struts around the stage as if raised by stilts. She is at once seductive and intimidating: a figure of pity, shrinking into herself in Water Me before bursting with sexual dominance and confidence in Two Weeks. While the music itself effectively expresses these feelings, to see it come to life on stage is to experience the artwork in its most complete form. Contorting and twisting around the stage like a slinky attached to a tripwire, she moves to every click and rap of the electronic drums. Her catalogue of unique sounds shakes vertebrae as they flow from the speakers, clear and crisp. A totally enthralling performance that should convince those unsure of FKA Twigs unique talent that it’s considerable.