Electric Picnic 2016: The best bits
The best bands, brightest stars, choicest cuts and favourite happenings: here are the winners of this year’s Electric Picnic Ticket Awards
Best Kafkaesque experience
Asking directions from the security guards. We all know the old folktale. There are two security guards. One of them only tells the truth. The other only tells lies. Neither of them knows where the toilets are.
Best fashion accessory
A dizzying array of different-coloured wristbands that apparently give you access to different backstage bits of the festival but which are, in fact, a ruse. “You can’t come in here with that,” say the security guards. The wristbands, it turns out, are not special access codes at all but a brand to mark out journalists and scenesters and socialites for ridicule. “Hark,” say the regular punters. “A tosspot passes.”
The urchins collecting plastic glasses. Electric Picnic is a topsy-turvy place where normal rules do not apply. Families bond by watching teenagers mate to loud music and then they set their children to work collecting refundable beer glasses. “Father, this will be a magical memory when I am grown,” says little Tarquin from his mobile battle chariot as a 19-year-old falls to his knees and vomits nearby.
Best outfit (on and off stage)
Gruff Rhys’s apparel throughout Super Furry Animals’ Friday-night set, ranging from boilersuit offset with Power Rangers helmet, to full-on dog suit by set’s end, puts him right at the top of the pile.
Offstage, few can compare to the resplendent health goths spotted in Body&Soul, who eschew cottons and leather in favour of Adidas tracktops and Lycra, all in darkest, darkest black.
Best new band name
Though they’ve been around since 2013, this is my first exposure to the onomatopoeic finery of Dublin drum-and-bass band Wob! (Exclamation mark theirs, though very much warranted.)
The 1975 appeared to attract a crowd of [checks Garda records] approximately four million teenagers, all the more remarkable when one considers the complacent dross that curled out of the derivative derision magnets on stage.
Best singalong AND best moment
The entire crowd singing along with Joey Bada$$’s 95 Til Infinity as he closed up the Other Voices stage on Saturday night, reciprocated by him gamely, if briefly, joining the crowd with one of the more incongruous renditions of “Olé Olé Olé” witnessed this weekend.
Soundest security staff
Definitely the kindly eastern European security guard at the Pink Moon tent who pretends not to see anyone wearing camouflage patterns. “What? Who said dis? No invisible men here please.”
Best after-party area
The runoff path beside the Other Voices area has a nice bevy of seating options and generally goes on a wee bit longer than other areas, although these benefits may be outweighed by the increased likelihood that one is approached by someone practising their circus skills.
Best scientific breakthrough
Time travel is demonstrated through the man who takes to the Pink Moon campsite in full 2007-era Bo Selecta Michael Jackson cosplay, and insists on entreating passers-by to reciprocate his sad, tragic cries of “shamon” and “hee-hee”.
Best mid-show jokes
from a musician Hands-down Toby Kaar for his consistently awful/amazing punnage throughout his set in Body&Soul on Saturday. Sample: “I met a man on the road who said he was a famous New Romantic
. I asked him if he was sure and he said: ‘Yes, I am AdamAnt.’ ”
Best ground protector for sitting
The daily edition of the Ticket
Best beatification of a graciously ageing rock star who, although prone to theatrical displays of melancholy and mercurial action, still dresses appropriately for the occasion
James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem. His attire may seem sacrificial, but his stride is transcendent and, for most of the time, the man seems as happy to be here as we are.
Nostalgia acts tend to be the main acts these days, as fewer new artists can cohere a fan base in this relentlessly accelerating, briskly fragmenting world. So it’s nice to see someone make an unashamed art of it. Hip hop is now a middle-aged genre, swaddling itself in self-lionising movies and coffee-table lyrical publications, but Nas never seems to dim. Casting his mind back to his exceptional debut record, 1994’s Illmatic, he hits the crowd’s sweet spot; but he reaches back still further for the sentimental kicks of hip hop. How much further? “This is old-skool hip hop,” he says to the opening strains of Für Elise. “MC Beethoven.”
Best thing to do with your drunk friend
Make them catwalk on the fashion runway at the Trailer Park
Best moment of human kindness to restore your faith in late-night festival audiences in particular, but – in a more general sense – in the entirety of this project we call the human race
The tall guy by the Little Big Tent, late on Saturday, who wanders over to a solitary stranger, creased over and temporarily immune to company, to check he is all right and offer him some water. Turns out the guy is grand, polite and very appreciative. They wander away in different directions, strangers still.
What needs to improve
They really need to provide better disabled facilities within the main arena. Unstaffed viewing platforms lead to crowd control issues at certain stages and the wheelchair bathrooms are being used by everybody, leaving them in a sorry, sorry state.
Best EP hack
Pack a mini hot water bottle and around 3.30am, sweet talk someone at a coffee stand to fill it up and be the smug warm one when it all gets a bit nippy.
Floods of delighted Tipp fans merging with James Bay fans at the Main Stage on Sunday afternoon. It’s all a bit much.
Best food on the go
The mac and cheese from hot-dog stand Piggie Smalls. Served up in shallow styrofoam dish, you can gobble it up in four very swift but satisfying mouthfuls. You get your carbs, you get your cheese and, most importantly, it makes you feel like a better person.
Best cerebral zone
You Are What You Read in Mindfield.
Most trippy late night moment
Hidden speakers playing bells and chanting in glowing tepees in Body & Soul
Best potato-based snack
The home fries in the Trailer Park
Patrick Freyne, Peter Crawley, Aifric Ní Chriodáin, Louise Bruton