Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Electric Picnic’s seven year itch

This summer saw the two biggest festivals in the country celebrate seven years on the go. Both Oxegen and Electric Picnic kicked off in 2004 and have experienced many ups and downs since then. While there has been a lot …

Fri, Sep 10, 2010, 09:04

   

This summer saw the two biggest festivals in the country celebrate seven years on the go.

Both Oxegen and Electric Picnic kicked off in 2004 and have experienced many ups and downs since then.

While there has been a lot of analysis already done about how Oxegen has developed, it’s timely to look at the Electric Picnic for signs of the seven year itch now that the masses have left Stradbally again.

Aside from 2009’s change in ownership which saw Live Nation’s Festival Republic come onboard, Electric Picnic’s biggest transformation has been a rejigging and rebranding to become a “music and arts” festival.

Given the huge competition for headliners – and the fact that many Picnic targets have completed their summer tours by early September – the festival had little choice but to embrace the arts.

While there’s annual grumbling from many about the lack of heavyweight names and the emphasis on non-musical fare, it’s plain to see that the arts and family-friendly additions have worked. After all, even though the festival itself didn’t sell out, the family tickets sold out in advance again this year.

Yet there is a sense that some of the arts programming is superfluous to requirements. There was little attention paid to the theatre shows at the Picnic, for example. until a brouhaha broke out in the week of the festival about cancellations. Similarly, a lot of events in the Mindfield area seemed poorly attended last weekend compared to previous years.

By contrast, the Picnic had a fantastic musical year with festival-goers wowing about Janelle Monae, Villagers, Fever Ray, The National, PiL and many others. When all is said and done, the music remains the biggest attraction.

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