Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Electric Picnic was brutal*!

Yes folks, I'm back in the land of the living having enjoyed music, festivities and fun at the Electric Picnic festival in Ireland with fellow festikittens Sarah, Sophie and Deirdre and festicat Tom. We arrived on the overnight ferry in Dublin very very early on Friday morning, picked up the hire car and headed slowly through Dublin (traffic was heavy), stopped at the supermarket in Tallaght to pick up food and drink and then wended our way to Stradbally.

We arrived at about 11ish I think and queued up to park, then queued up to get our wristbands (and picked up some freebies along the way - loo roll, sweets, condoms) and then queued up to have bags checked (for glass bottles) and then queued up to get on to the campsite. We were lucky though, we got a great spot in the yellow site less than 10 minutes walk from anything - car park, main arena, body and soul area, food, toilets. As we were putting up the tents, the rain came but we were more or less done by then. So we hung around the tents waiting for it all to open up in the main arena and we waited for Tom who was flying in a bit later and we'd saved him a spot near us to pitch his tent.

We headed into the arena early evening, got our lanyards and programmes and immediately I became the Electric Picnic information point. At every turn, I was asked where so and so was, which tent was which, where to get stuff. So I must look very responsible or something despite wearing dodgy festi-gear complete with hat and hair in plaits. Anyway, it became a standing joke all weekend. Wherever we went, I was asked something - even on the ferry.

Most of Friday evening was spent milling around, getting our bearings, eating, drinking (free soft drinks and phone charging in the Nokia tent), chilling in the teepees in the secret teepee garden, dancing in Pussy Parlure, watching strange goings on at Lost Vagueness, hoping to see Sinead O'Connor at The Big Tree (but she cancelled), meeting up with Sarah who flew in much later on Friday, and then heading off to see Massive Attack who were utterly brilliant. You could literally feel the bass as it was so deep and loud. It was the last night of their tour and they said it was the best night yet and that we were a brilliant audience. I bet they say that at every festival ;) Headed back to the tent after that and chatted and chilled out.

Overnight, it absolutely threw it down. Raining stair rods. And it was obvious there were some tent and gazebo casualties overnight. Fortunately, we were just fine. Wellies definitely required though. We also found we had two new neighbours who had snook into the gaps between our tents.

Headed into the arena eventually at lunchtime and relaxed with cocktails in the Bollywood Bar and then checked out The Rags who were pretty good I have to say. We'd been tipped off about them by a guy we met on the boat on the way over. Next was Gary Numan, who was awesome. Can't get Are Friends Electric out of my head. And he was having such a good time on stage he couldn't help grinning. Mooched around a bit including partaking of some flavoured oxygen. Then headed over to see the Super Furry Animals who I'm sure played a great set, but I just don't know any of their songs so it all kind of passed my by. Sarah and I discovered Tilly and The Wall who have a tap dancer instead of a drummer. Kinda curious but kinda worked I think. Then I managed a bit of Belle and Sebastian (which was surprisingly rammed) and then I headed off to Sparks who were utterly brilliant. Quickly followed by New Order (where they announced Kelly Osbourne's wedding in the Inflatable Church), grabbed some food and then listened to Groove Armada from the comfort of our own tent.

Woke up earlyish on Sunday as Sarah was booked in for a massage at the Body and Soul area so we got up in search of coffee and breakfast. And it was raining. But we had a giggle chatting to some other festi-goers in the queue (there's always a queue). Sarah then went off for her massage whilst I went round some of the art installations - some of which were a bit worse for wear by this stage. Walked back to the Body and Soul area to meet Sarah only to bump into Judy Peplow who I sat next to at school and hadn't seen for 20 years. She's now a therapist and was one of the masseuses at the festival.

Sarah was very serene after the massage and headed to the Dublin Gospel Choir who were opening the main stage (like they did last year). The rain just about held off so the audience could really appreciate the set without getting drenched. Had a good bop and a singalong with them (Movin' on up was a crowd pleaser) and Deirdre found us at the front. Next we went for a wander to find the other campsite and we found 'Shop' and the Irish Scouts who had been helping folks pitch their tents. Had a good chat with the scout mistress. Next was Alabama 3 and a good bop was had by all. Next we met up with Tom and put our hands in the air for Grandmaster Melle Mel and the Furious 5. Twenty five years of hiphop from The Bronx was celebrated with hiphop versions of Nirvana's Never Mind and Madonna's Holiday amongst others as well as classics like White Lines and Don't Push Me (cos I'm close to the edge). The pisstake of Vanilla Ice was also very well done. Respect. The crowd went wild even though it was only 3pm in the afternoon.

After that, I needed a rest so went back to the tent for a bit and headed back to the arena a bit later for food and then to the Big Tree to see the Dublin Gospel Choir (so good I had to see them twice), caught the end of the Pet Shop Boys, then Basement Jaxx (who were good, but a bit dull after a while as we were at the back). So Sarah and I headed off to see The Frames (they'd also played on Saturday night to a packed house apparently) who were doing an impromptu extra set. A 20 minute set turned into about an hour and a half and it was brilliant. And at the end, the lead singer said for us not to clap but to carry on singing the chorus to Skylarking until everyone had left the stage. Everyone kept singing for a very long time and it was beautiful.

We then snook into the Body and Soul area just before they closed the gates which meant we could stay for a bit for their party. There was singing round a campfire, traditional Irish Music in a yurt, lots of drinking and merriment all round. And a perfect end to a perfect festival.

Then back at the tent, we found Deirdre who had been dancing her wellies off at Bodytonic (or Robotonic as one festi-goer was insistently calling it when asking me where it was). Chatted for ages and then eventually fell asleep.

Monday was a bit miserable. Everyone was tired. Tom had already packed up and gone (he had a flight to catch). It was showery. All the electricity had been turned off so we couldn't get coffee. Tents needed packing up and we had to get out of the site pronto. Still, once we got to the car, we got out of the site pretty quickly. Had lunch at Glendalough, then drove through the Sally Gap (in torrential rain which is quite scary on a mountain pass), then eventually got to Dublin at tea time. Next thing you know, we're on board ship in our comfy cabin and on our way back to blighty. And the adventure is over. Till next year.

*there seems to be some confusion as to what 'brutal' means in this context... well it's the same as 'wicked' or 'fab' or 'great'.


  1. Anonymous12:02 pm BST

    it looks like a lot of fun...

    i saw gary numan earlier this year... he's pretty good live... never knew much about him apart from that 'cars' track... it really stuck in my mind after being played during a particularly psychotic episode of 'Nip / Tuck'...

    Nice one!

  2. it *was* a lot of fun Matt! I'm already thinking about next year... And yes, Gary rocks these days. Nine Inch Nails meets electronica.


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