Electric Picnic 2015 Day One Review
By 3pm on day one of Electric Picnic, hundreds of tents lined the pedestrian path from the car park to the main arena. The professional picnickers embellished their temporary abodes with pink flamingo fairy lights, stylish gazebos and Dutch Gold cans customised into torches. The girls were fake tanned to perfection, the boys clean shaven, almost fragrant. My meandering stroll through the site towards the main stage revealed a woodland of artistic variation. First stop was the cute wooden cottage of the Other Voices stage. Pretty windows, love hearts and old photos made this the loveliest venue of the whole festival. Further on, the Salty Dog stage emerges from the trees, an oversized boat type structure, not unlike a child’s illustration of a pirate ship. Trenchtown hosted a cultural cocktail of Irish and Caribbean flavours and influences. The sound of steel drums was tempting punters in across its five stages.
See also: Electric Picnic 2015 Day Two Review
The main site inside the gates seems massive this year, with vendors putting the final touches to their fayre and picnickers enjoying the relaxed freedom of early arrival. The sultry vocal of Aine Cahill was rising from the Oxjam Stage. She’s commanded quite an audience lately, with several live spots performing her new single ‘Black Dahlia’ on national radio. Her powerful vocal resonates with both her audience and passers-by. She’s definitely a head turner.
First up on the main stage are the much loved HamsandwicH. The sun came out just as they bounded onstage to the opening phrases of ‘Hold Me Up’, from their latest album. It was Buckfast, frolics and rock ‘n’ roll all the way. Podge did his best Axl Rose run up and down the barrier, taking selfies with security and enjoying witty banter with the swelling crowd eager to see the Kells quintet. The band were extremely grateful to be on the main stage, Podge confessing that he was expecting to play to five fans and a few cousins. The ever popular ‘Illuminate’ the high point of the set.
Next on the bill were The Coronas. Pyrotechnics with plumes of white smoke and confetti announced their explosion onstage. The kids filled up the field in seconds. ‘How This Goes’ was an instant hit with plenty more to follow. Giant coloured balloons are released into the crowd endearing the already swooning fan base further into the spell cast by Danny and the boys. They ended their set soon after ‘Get Loose’, claiming the Friday sunset over Stradbally.
Over in the Salty Dog, the boys from Buffalo Sunn were rocking it up. The five Dublin lads lashed out their unique selection of sun drenched happy harmonies. If I didn’t know better I’d think they were Californian, such is their signature sound. A marathon mission sprint back over to the Electric Arena just in time to catch a band who actually are Californian. Four dudes called Dawes delivered an adorable set of alt-rock-country tunes. Joe Donnelly from TXFM had interviewed them, I’d heard some of their stuff, and was curious to see what they were made of. Well, it turns out they are made of long hair, lonesome guitars and cowboy hats, sincere lyrics and brooding guitars, morphing into metal almost at times, charms the audience in the tent. ‘May All Your Favourite Bands Stay Together’ from their latest album All Your Favourite Bands was the showstopper. The rousing, folky, ‘When My Time Comes’, also proved popular with the super fans belting it out at the barrier.
A quick trot back at the main stage and the crowd awaits Grace Jones. Showtime starts with Grace billowing in, wearing a satanic black cloak with a black metal mask and headpiece, from her elevated platform, as she belted out ‘Nightclubbing’. With her naked body painted with tribal markings she channelled a sense of curious foreboding into dramatic delivery on every track. Numerous changes of oversized iconic head pieces seemed to dominate the setlist, the mood altering at every axis. A glitter ball bowler hat glitzed up the gig as she morphed into ‘rock rock’ as she called it. ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’ revealed a massive blonde mane and tail, with plumes of white smoke and confetti framing her form before she launches into her finale, ‘Slave To The Rhythm’, hula hooping for the entire track while her male pole dancer did his thing. This sixty seven year old musical monarch knows how to rule and how to rock.
Up next at the Electric Arena are Scottish band Belle and Sebastian. They’ve had recent commercial success with ‘The Party Line’, a catchy, synthy, polished pop tart of a song. They offer up a significant set list spanning almost two decades and nine albums. I couldn’t keep up with them as they rolled out their glossy pop hits with happy harmonies and more hooks than a fisherman’s bag. They love a good crowd and ended up with twenty five fans onstage dancing with them.
Back in the big field, the rain had just started as Underworld ploughed through their 11pm set. The rain didn’t seem to bother thousands of picnickers indulging in nineties dance floor euphoria. ‘Born Slippy’ was the mission statement tune they were all waiting for.
Words by Ciara Sheahan
Photos by Jamie Tanner and Gregory Nolan