Joy breaks out with sun at Electric Picnic

Rainy start to festival fails to dampen spirits, while wheelbarrows ‘an absolute godsend’

The first campers arrive at  Electric Picnic in Stradbally, Co Laois. Photograph: Dave Meehan

The first campers arrive at Electric Picnic in Stradbally, Co Laois. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

The sun finally put in an appearance at Stradbally, after a day of alternating drizzle and drenching showers, just as Cavan band The Strypes took to the Electric Picnic main stage yesterday evening.

Their joyous rock’n’roll was just the remedy that was required.

“Does anyone feel like dancing?” asked lead singer Ross Farrelly. He was met with a collective shriek of delight. And lots of dancing.

Traffic queues

But there was one innovation that eased the pain in Co Laois this year: wheelbarrows.

They were available, free, to anyone who needed an extra bit of help lugging their belongings from car to campsite.

“An absolute godsend,” puffed one mud-splattered mother, as she gratefully dumped a fold-up table, flowery pink suitcase and an equally muddy toddler in her barrow. “Why do we always bring so much stuff?”

Free wheelbarrows

“I got a text last night, asking if I would volunteer, helping people with their luggage. In return, I got a free weekend pass. What was I going to say – no?”

There were always going to be a few tacky moments: for instance, during the afternoon karaoke sessions, it seemed like La Bamba was on an endless, tuneless loop.

And the pristine, if rain-soaked, site was soon dotted with cast-off chip cartons, despite the sterling efforts of the army of cleaners.

But there was plenty of charm on show too: the fairy lights in the woods, children in jester’s caps scampering among windfall apples in the Soul Kids orchard garden, the trunk of an entire oak tree swathed in colourful patchwork.

And a giant upturned paperback edition of that Jackie Collins classic The Bitch, which served both as a striking piece of public art and a useful place to meet your friends if you lost each other.

Sitting on a log under a giant twig sculpture of a naked woman, in the Body and Soul area, Wexford couple Rachella and Bryan O’Donnell were sitting quietly, taking in all the life around them: a man with a horse’s head mask, an impromptu game of giant Jenga and a woman in Rubik’s cube leggings dancing like there was no tomorrow.

‘Gobsmacked’

They had arrived on Thursday afternoon in a camper van and are staying for the full festival.

“It’s my 60th birthday this weekend,” said Rachella. “I’ve been threatening to do this for years, because my son always comes. So this year, we just thought – why not?”

Read day two of our Electric Picnic live blog here.