Electric Picnic: Who got drunk, did drugs, vomited? Many people

Patrick Freyne: I saw bearded men wrestle. I saw nipple rings. I saw Pat Kenny

The Irish Times crew covering Electric Picnic 2017 talk about their favourite, and least favourite, festival moments.

 

And lo, the rains came. At 3am yesterday, The Irish Times (I think I can speak for the whole paper) trudges tipsily and sunburnt through storm and mud to join a large queue for a bus to Portlaoise.

As the rain batters down, a Beatle-haired man in the bus queue sings The Lakes of Ponchartrain. He has a nice voice. We sing along.

Then The Irish Times breaks into The Auld Triangle, before remembering halfway through that he doesn’t know all the words. Two women go with Notorious by Duran Duran – “beep beep beep beep Notorious!” they sing, and that’s the end of that.

“Ah girls,” says the man who sang The Lakes of Ponchartrain.

By yesterday all of the different tribes of Electric Picnic have gone feral.

The middle-aged pseuds, the hedonistic semi-nudists, the triangle-bodied bros, the ersatz hippies, the thinned herd of hipsters (their numbers culled by irrelevance), the minor celebrities dangerously far from the VIP area.

Indeed, one of these tribes seems to have spontaneously formed a brass band and are marching around Mindfield (this was actually the Mullingar Band).

Aisling Mahon, left, and Lauren McBride, both from Greystones, Co Wicklow, pictured watching the film “Police Academy” Photograph: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Aisling Mahon, left, and Lauren McBride, both from Greystones, Co Wicklow, pictured watching the film “Police Academy” Photograph: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Day-trippers

All are united in their hatred of the fresh-faced, freshly laundered day-trippers, new recruits to this conflict, devoid of alcohol-breath and thousand-yard stares; they haven’t seen what we’ve seen (S Club Party, for example).

All the ages of man are here. “Youngsters” dance at big loud, glorified alcohol and vaping advertisements with names like The Moneycorp Booze Shack or Dance My Pretty Brand Ambassadors Dance! or Bastards Hooch Cabin.

“Oldsters” congregate to contemplate Irish Identity and the Future of Epic Poetry in the Mindfield area.

All ages seem to be littering recreationally, because, f*** fields, am I right? This is a boon, of course, for enterprising tiny children, who, abandoned by their permissive parents, survive by trading in recoupable plastic cups and killing rabbits.

On Saturday, Andrew Stanley, introducing the brilliant Bill Bailey at the comedy tent – does a survey of the crowd – “Who’s drunk?” “Who has taken class A drugs?” “Who has vomited today?” “How many times did you vomit today?” The answers to the first three questions are “many people” and the answer to the second is “many times”.

Yesterday, people trade remedies and cures – oysters and Bloody Marys, the Dublin Gospel Choir, crisp sandwiches, leaches.

There’s a man in the Jimi Hendrix campsite who is reputedly the seventh son of a seven son and has the cure for hangovers and/or warts.

There are the usual costumed wags, though fewer than other years, I think. A tribe of velvet-robed cultists stalk the Body and Soul area, with chuckling funsters trailing in their wake.

Many wander around garbed in, by yesterday, disturbingly stained animal-themed onesies.

There’s a bit of a religious theme to the costumery this year, with many donning the robes of the Catholic clergy. Father Eoin O’Neill (not a real priest) goes as far as to distribute communion and offer “problematic” sex education (don’t listen to Father Eoin’s sex education kids!) out the back of a besteepled van/chapel in Trailer Park.

Ross Ashe, left, from Lucan, Co Dublin, and Kevin Foley, from Sallins, Co Kildare. Photograph: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Ross Ashe, left, from Lucan, Co Dublin, and Kevin Foley, from Sallins, Co Kildare. Photograph: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

There are mad rumours – that The Queens of the Stone Age are here (they’re not), that Ed Sheeran is going to play a secret gig (who cares?), that big-haired 1980s pop combo Duran Duran are here (crazy talk, surely).

There are also acts of random kindness. Irish Times reviewer Louise Bruton offers to eat a stranger’s hotdog when he discovers it has ketchup in it, a condiment he despises (the word “hero” is thrown around too lightly these days but…)

And on Saturday night the Heritage Orchestra, conducted by Jules Buckley, lets a middle-aged disc jockey named Pete Tong play along to their selection of Ibiza classics, possibly as a bet. The crowd seem delighted by the plucky upstart. Many of them appear to be chewing gum.

Yesterday afternoon arts reviewer Peter Crawley returns to The Ticket cabin from some conceptual absurdist experimental scream therapy theatre by Paul Currie filled with energetic notions (he eventually needs to be restrained).

Stick-ball

Nearby at the Newstalk tent there’s a live feed of a “sporting event”, some form of competitive “stick-ball”.

It appears to be quite popular and thousands of people gather to watch. Hopefully by the time this goes to print we’ll have figured out what it was.

All in all, I have enjoyed many things this weekend. I’ve enjoyed petting a three-legged dog at the My Lovely Ranch section of Trailer Park.

His name is Henry. He wears a fashionable neckerchief and pulls it off like a boss. He’s a rescue dog (“I think many of the humans here need rescuing too,” says co-founder Martina Kenny).

I have watched Neil Hannon regale an audience with a rendition of My Lovely Horse.

I have listened to the excellent Perfume Genius while a “refreshed” gentleman spoke to me at length about employment law as it pertains to the equine industry for reasons I’m still unclear about (strangely enjoyable).

I have had a shamanic cleanse (most pleasant) and have spent longer than appropriate sitting on Santa Claus’s lap over at the Tow Ho Ho caravan at Trailer Park.

I have watched as two bearded men wrestled in the rain while watching Phoenix, as a third administered a decisive referee count (magnificent).

I have seen short shorts. I have seen nipple rings. I have seen little straw hats.

I have seen attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I have seen Pat Kenny.

And now I’m out of Electric Picnic, older, no wiser but shamanistically cleansed.

See you next year at Stradbally, you big mad eejits.

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