Another year, another sandwich-less picnic at Stradbally Hall.
With tickets selling out before a whisper of a line-up was announced, there were concerns that it might be a case of quantity over quality at this year’s Electric Picnic.
Was that the case? That remains up for debate.
Heineken are certainly one of the snazzier brands at Electric Picnic. For previous years, they’ve boasted novelties like photobooths and documentaries you watch in exchange for free pints. This year, thankfully, a more concentrated focus was put on the music.
DJ Lui Rwego had a few ropey moments in which tracks were mixed so poorly it was laughable. Still, for early on a Friday evening, he drew a reasonable crowd, with lots of noughties and teenies (ugh) rap and R&B thrown in.
Two years ago, the warbling band played to a teeming Electric Arena. In 2017, they’re mainstage main-stays, and the crowd they draw is sizeable.
You’d struggle to describe their music as riotous, and the same goes for their live sets. But frontwoman Hannah Reid’s vocals are captivating, piercing a background of multicoloured smoke and hazy skies. New single Rooting For You does little to separate itself from their older material, and it’s evident that fans aren’t anywhere near as familiar with it.
Hell To The Liars features a breakdown that’s slightly more impressive, but again, it’s closing track Metal And Dust that incites a rousing reaction.
A rocky start sees gargantuan track Intro cut short due to timing issues. Luckily, that seems to be the only err in the ways of Romy, Jamie and Oliver.
Say Something Loving fares better in a live setting than initially imagined, while classics VCR and Crystallised prove how well they’ve aged.
The set turns a corner after Shelter though, in which the band seem to be seized by some expendable force that really rallies up the tempo. Met with overwhelming applause, Romy responds accordingly – with breathless laughter.
Nothing too new from the lads with shiny toys at the Salty Dog Stage. It’s the standard fare that people love – a Jason DeRulo cover here, a bash at Beyoncé there.
They do their own stuff too though, lest we forget it. And it’s good stuff too. BBB and Make That Good Noise leave attendees quivering.
Giggs kicks off by apologising to the crowd for any lackluster performances, as he’s a bit poorly. Considering he’d just come from BBK Festival and Reading pretty much back-to-back, that’s forgiveable.
It would also explain his lack of enthusiam initially, though he manages it to pull it back for Look What The Cat Dragged and Whippin’ Excursion. He does indulge in his Drake collab KMT, although Drake himself decided not to make an appearance, contrary to rumours that I started.
It was remarked that the number of novelty/legacy acts at the festival was a reflection on how good the lineup for this year’s festival was (i.e. it was shite).
Seemingly though, it was the veterans that packed the most punch over the weekend – Madness included. With a collective age of 347 years, the lads proved they could cause more commotion than most of the young pups present.
The set begins with Disgrace To The Human Race, with all the old gems following – One Step Beyond, House Of Fun … The list goes. The crowd they draw spans far beyond the immediate reaches of the stage. It would be a little baffling if they weren’t so much God damn fun.
By the time Our House and It Must Be Love roll around, you can tell they’re a little tired. It doesn’t dispel the boisterous crowd though, so it can’t be that obvious. Not bad for 347.
S Club Party
The Electric Ireland Throwback Stage should be class. It should be heady and nostalgic and fun. Unfortunately, it is anything but.
The crowd that gathers to see an estimated three members of S Club Party is nothing short of ridiculous. And now, I’m not referring to the fact that they are willingly queuing to enter a tent to see a has-been 90s pop group. It’s dangerous. The resulting crushes are extremely frightening, but at no point do security attempt to intervene – flagrant negligence at its best.
When they finally start, lead singer and former bully Jo O’Meara squawks the hits – S Club Party, while Bradley Macintosh acts as a very tepid hype man.
Had the performance been viewed under better, safer circumstances, it might have been easier to indulge in the cheese. However, having spent the evening watching girls get trampled on it was far from nostalgic.
The Heineken proves to be your one stop shop for all your forgotten R&B classics. Case in point – Dan Duffy whipping out Summer Love from the Justin Timberlake classic FutureSex/LoveSounds.
After spending the summer in Ibiza, the young producer is continuing to hone his craft, minus all the pretention that often comes with the territory. A super fun set that shows Duffy as the pro that he is.
How is Mura Masa a super producer at 19 years of age? Having seemingly crept up out of nowhere, the DJ’s collaborated with the likes of Christine And The Queens, Charli XCX and NAO. Joining him for this set is multi-vocalist Fliss, who assists in delivering a super creepy cover of Foals’ album track Night Swimmers.
Fliss does A$AP Rocky’s verse on Love$ick more than enough justice, while Firefly and With You raise spirits accordingly. Mura Masa himself stays quiet for the majority of the set, mumbling out a ‘thank you’ as it comes to a close. It would have been a treat to have longtime collaborate and Irish gal Bonzai join him, but alas, it was not to be.
A Tribe Called Quest
Seeing Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi on stage at Stradbally Hall is an experience that can only be described as surreal.
Walking out on the Main Stage on Saturday night in respectful silence as an image of fallen member Phife Dawg adorns a screen adjacent, it’s clear that this show stands as a curtain call on their legacy.
The urprise of the set comes in the form of long-time collaborator Consequence spitting his verse from Kanye West’s Gone. It’s a break from proceedings which carry an undertone veering on political.
But it’s their effort to prove that they could in fact still kick out that is the scene stealer. Not even the torrential rain could stop the crowd cutting loose.
A garbled introduction set the tone for a middling appearance from the BBC Radio One DJ. From starting late, to constant complaints about technical difficulties, her first few spins can only be heard from one side of the tent.
It’s pulled back, thankfully, but as a result, the set never really takes off. House Gospel Choir lend their vocals to her stylings. When the punches land, they hit hard. But when they don’t, they really don’t, appearing like embellishment for the sake of embellishment.
A rework of Candi Staton’s You’ve Got The Love should be a triumphant closing song from a superstar DJ. But the general consensus in the Electric Arena seems to be one that is very much “meh”.
The Dublin Gospel Choir
The most taken-for-granted act of the Picnic are back again to mend broken hearts and ease sore heads. I could pretty much copy and paste everything that I said on the group from year’s gone by, but I won’t.
While the Whitney-medley and the Destiny’s Child gospel segways are much loved among veteran picnic-goers, it’s getting a little – dare I say it – boring.
Wholesome, fun, uplifting – but it might be worth going back to the drawing board.
An a capella group in the Trailer Park was never going to be great, was it? There’s just too many other class things going on and it’s all very distracting.
They do an ok version of Rag ‘N’ Bone man’s Human and beyond that it’s a struggle to remember anything else. Let’s lay the blame squarely at a lack of projection and poor scheduling decisions.
There should have been more people attending this exceptionally good eletro rock band at the Jerry Fish Electric Slideshow. It’s a matter of time before they are packing out tents though, so we’ll let it slide, for now.
Anyone who did attend was treated to under-the-radar buzz single Give It Up, as well as some yet-to-be-released bangers. Adam Shanahan is a menace on a drum pad, and for the most part, the lads look like they’re having a ball.
Vocally, it’s stilted at times. But given more opportunities to perform live, I’m sure these things will tighten right up.
“Are you thirsty? Are you hungry? Are you … Hungry like the wolf?”
Simon Le Bon is the king of naff intros and stage costumes, donning a lime green leather jacket on the Main Stage, no less. He recognises that it’s Sunday night, and the crowd just wants to have a fucking laugh.
Duran Duran, a has been act? Maybe. However, I can’t recall another time when I’ve seen people so joyfully indulge in pop-rock bangers as I have at their closing set, to the point where it was verging on hysteria.
Hungry Like The Wolf‘s seamless transition into Girls On Film is the stuff 80s DJs’ dream mega-mixes are made of. Undoubtedly, when the band were announced, they were underestimated in what they could do. But if anything, they over-delivered, with cheese and boogie by the bucketload.