Electric Picnic preview: A fortress of friends and curry cheese chips
Electric Picnic is all about those perfect moments of music and madness in Stradbally. So which songs, stages and Picnic slices are our writers looking forward to?
Glow girl: Annie Mac
Duran Duran: Ordinary World
Seeing pop acts at festivals is always a moment of liberation. After an afternoon of angsty guitar bands, the sea of upturned noodles, the white-hot oblivion of various too-cool techno-bleats, sometimes I just want to go home. My home is within these giant unifying choruses. I want to strip off a layer of skin and reveal the glitter in my blood and dance to the superficial glam flashness of Rio and Hungry Like the Wolf. I want to marvel at how John Taylor’s cheekbones have been frozen in time and Nick Rhodes’s eyebrows still arch with feigned boredom. I want to listen to Simon Le Bon’s unique timbre: a half-drunk town crier – the foghorn of my childhood. I know that under the cover of darkness, with thousands of strangers, I’ll shed a tear to the melancholy oddness of radio-fave Ordinary World and feel that sky-rocketing, heart-bursting freedom only the best pop music can give.
Curry Cheese Chips
Stuff your rawsoyacleaneatingdetox bullshit, stuff it into the nearest overflowing bin where it belongs. This is no place for hashtagged pics of bits of pig trussed up to look like a culinary Playboy centrefold. Artisanal my arse, this is the home of carbs, this is the food of the brave. Curry Cheese Chips are a fortifying, brown and orange lump of steaming patriotic pulp for when the soft drizzle has seeped into your bones and you’re about to admit defeat having lost the will to live after witnessing some mate of a mate’s band tune up for 45 minutes. Curry Cheese Chips are your reward after a night of woodland raving in your damp socks as your cheap wellies flop inwards with exhaustion. For when chewing is an arduous task. For when the idea of negotiating Casa Bacardi to find someone makes you weep. For when the sound of some tuneless trad band and their obnoxious tin whistle playing drifts over your tent: curry cheese chips will fill the hole in your soul.
A Tribe Called Quest: Electric Relaxation
Festivals are not sexy. Don’t let those fash-mags fool you. It’s difficult to smoulder in a shower-proof jacket and wellies, your skin a carpet of bluish goose-bumps. You’re never too far away from someone releasing their bowels or emptying the contents of their stomach into their GAA cowboy hat, shouting for mercy with their face resembling a gone-off rice pudding. The only true sexiness to be found will be onstage and this old skool Tribe Called Quest jam may be the hottest moment of the whole weekend. A pulsating hymn to lady-loving, a salute to Phife Dawg’s salacious, X-rated genius with the irresistible burr of Q-Tip’s unmistakeable vocals laced throughout, if it doesn’t make you soar with satisfaction, take yourself to the first aid tent immediately.
You can see your mother every weekend if you like, but there is always something truly special about witnessing this full disco-ball bonanza at Electric Picnic. A glittering explosion of pop, soul and disco, the Dublin DJ crew always manage to transform a field in Laois to a sweat-drenched section of Studio 54. The irrepressible, relentless fun of it all reminds you just how magical and warmly communal festivals can be, a space that can compel you to hug a stranger whilst dementedly screaming the words to Ain’t Nobody into their face. Remember, your Mother loves you – so you should show up and give her the respect she deserves.
The spoken-word artists Lewis Kenny and Felispeaks, who will be performing on the Theatre Stage, are must-sees. Blindboy Boatclub of the Rubberbandits is all over the Leviathan tent in Mindfield, but I’m particularly looking forward to him reading from his new short story collection, which is out in October. I’m also a big fan of Kojaque’s skewed take on hip-hop.
Hands/glow sticks in the air
Having seen Annie Mac’s set at Lovebox in Hackney, I’m very much looking forward to her bringing that vibe to the Picnic. I also think Pete Tong’s orchestral interpretations of Ibiza classics will be a highlight of the weekend. Also, myself and Molly King’s hip-hop and grime DJ set King Kuna will hit Body & Soul at 7pm on Saturday. Pluggy pluggy.
Tunes of the weekend
Who couldn’t be looking forward to Chaka Khan belting out Ain’t Nobody, A Tribe Called Quest doing Can I Kick It?, and Duran Duran playing Rio? #TeamOldPeople
One of the best records of the year is Staples’ Big Fish Theory. Festivals tend to be populated by acts you’ve seen a lot of, but I’ve yet to see Staples live. He’s a completely innovative artist, and that record is killer.
When the first few beats of Tiga’s Bugatti kick in, sense drops out and the music takes over. Completely. Your dance face becomes your war mask. Your friends, all standing in a circle, become a fortress and nothing can come between you and the craic. Your personal identity is no more as we all merge as one: undefeated and impenetrable.
Making the move from tent cans to fancy cocktails
In and around teatime, you have to change gear from lukewarm tent cans to splashing out on a €10 cocktail to rev things up a little bit. You thought you knew pleasure before but when that ice cool dark’n’stormy hits your lips, your knees knock together and your eyes roll very briefly into the back of your head. Divine.
The first wee after the portaloo clean
There is a magical time at festival, sometime between 7am and 10am, when the portaloos are cleaned. Yesterday’s problems have dissipated and you can start the day afresh, with mountains of snow-white one-ply toilet paper scrunched up in one hand. You can breathe without retching and you can take your time, for time is frozen and this is your moment.
Interpol: Obstacle 1
During Interpol’s run through 2002’s Turn On the Bright Lights, there will be a special collection of people there to celebrate collective misery. Eyes will be closed and fists will be clenched as we pour our hearts and souls into the album that, like, totally gets us. Obstacle 1 will be the song that overwhelms me and I will take everyone in my vicinity down with me.
Dean Van Nguyen
Real Estate: Darling
Real Estate are one of the best, albeit low key live acts I’ve seen over the last few years. On stage or on wax, their crisp indie pop songs are pure aural taffy. Darling, from latest album In Mind, offers compelling evidence that the New Jersey group’s guitar lines – calm, infectious, pristine – are among the most blissful to ever be wrangled out of the instrument.
Trenchtown is stylishly marking 10 years of bringing Caribbean music and culture to Leinster with reggae fusion star Stylo G on the bill. Also interesting, though, is the featured Irish talent, many of whom have been making plenty of noise. The weekend line-up includes rapper Mango, afrobeat artist Sequence and spaced-out hip-hop hippies Neomadic, who’ll no doubt be drawing from their very fine recently released self-titled mixtape.
Irish band Shookrah cut scintillating R&B built of flashy drum loops, groovy electronics, nasty guitar lines and singer Senita Appiakorang’s forceful croons. I’m going to put myself out there and say that Gerascophobia may be the funkiest track about the fear of getting older ever recorded. It’s a jazzy freak-out that takes everything from Thundercat to Minnie Ripperton and wraps them in Cork colours.
The xx: On Hold
Their recent Glasto performance was a beaut to watch; after years on the verge, it was the moment they arrived. So we’re impatient to find out what happens when this newfound echelon meets a headline slot. Our prediction is that the rousing On Hold will be another watershed moment for both the band and the festival.
Everything Everything: Night of the Long Knives
The Manc band’s fourth album has only just been released so the good news may not have spread, but Night of the Long Knives is EE’s most festival-slaying song yet. With a tangible urgency and galactical shimmers, it’s the sonic version of a ticker tape burst.
Mura Masa: What If I Go?
When Alex Crossan aka Mura Masa played this at Forbidden Fruit, guest Dublin/London vocalist Bonzai joined him on stage. We’re not expecting a reprise of the collaboration (just secretly hoping); even if it’s just Alex behind the decks, this will sound immense.
Purchasing a prosecco
No matter how much contraband one brings into the festival campsite, there’s no substitute for buying a tasty, cold prosecco – even at these festival prices. However much it may feel like it’s bringing a touch of Italian sophistication to Stradbally, in reality it’s likely to become diluted with rainwater if it’s not drunk fast enough, and it looks faintly ridiculous while drunk in full glitterface. But, bubbles.