Festival Review: Electric Picnic 2011

Posted: 17/09/2011 in Uncategorized

***Coverage across Friday, Saturday & Sunday for State.ie***

Little Green Cars, Electric Arena

An acclaimed set at this summer’s Oxegen festival further sparked an already growing interest in Little Green Cars for many, and really they’re the kind of act who are better suited to Stradbally than Punchestown – so it’s no surprise that they’ve drawn a fairly decent crowd into the Electric Arena for their set, in spite of the early kick-off. And they’re certainly out to impress, displaying tightly honed musicianship, flawless vocals – in particular, those of Faye O’Rourke, whose voice is in top form today – and those irresistible multi-part harmonies. The band have a bank of impressive songs to their credit even at this early stage of their career – but it’s most recent single ‘The John Wayne’ that stands out from the rest, a real festival anthem in the making.

Foster The People, Cosby Stage

Mark Foster & Co. descend upon the Cosby Stage to a rapturous reception, and from the moment the first chord is struck they have capacity crowd at their mercy. Not without good reason, of course – the trio have fantastic stage presence, and the impossibly catchy songs of debut album Torches give off an extra spark when performed live. The brilliant ‘Helena Beat’ stands out, but unsurprisingly it’s an emphatic rendition of ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ that steals the show. Given the large crowd who had no choice but to circle the exterior of the tent to catch the set, Foster The People could’ve easily packed out a stage twice the size. A fantastic debut Irish performance from the band, and much talked about around Stradbally in the aftermath as one of the standout sets of Electric Picnic Friday.

Warpaint, Crawdaddy Stage

Warpaint’s Electric Picnic set is the last gig of the current European leg of their tour – and unfortunately, it seems like they’ve already wound down. Warpaint have proved themselves to be a quality act, of that there is no denying – one of the biggest ‘buzz bands’ of the past year, acclaimed debut album The Fool is worthy of every ounce of praise it received, and sold-out live shows in Crawdaddy and Tripod in the past 12 months very much ones to remember. However, they quite simply just don’t work as well in a festival setting. The intricate and almost psychedelic guitar riffs, driving bass and drum rhythms, and dreamy vocals which would captivate in a small venue are somewhat lost on the Crawdaddy Stage. An extended rendition of the brilliant ‘Undertow’ is the standout, but played within the first half hour it makes for an early peak and the rest of the set just doesn’t hold our attention.

DJ Shadow, Electric Arena

Night-time has fallen over Stradbally, and those ready to seriously party have descended on the Electric Arena to worship at the altar of Josh Davis. And what an ‘altar’ it is – the hour between Santigold and DJ Shadow’s sets in the tent has been a productive one, a giant sphere installed on stage which becomes the main focal point of the show. Playing host to mesmerising visual projections for the duration of the set, it makes for quite the spectacle throughout. There is somewhat of a disengaged reception for the tracks of brand new album The Less You Know The Better due to lack of familiarity, which was to be expected – but for the most part DJ Shadow offers up a stellar set, and the atmosphere is buzzing. Genuinely humbled by the reception he received, Davis declares that it’s “the best crowd of the whole tour” before a storming rendition of the formidable ‘Organ Donor’ sends the Electric Arena revellers into an absolute frenzy. The perfect way to close out Electric Picnic Friday.

Adebisi Shank, Cosby Stage

In terms of live acts in Ireland, Adebisi Shank are hard to beat. They could have definitely benefitted from a later time slot – the 3PM mark was perhaps a bit too early for some revellers who were suffering from the night before, given the amount of noise this trio are capable of making. But nevertheless they give it their absolute all and rock the Cosby Stage to its core. Energetic, frantic, raucous – it’s everything we’ve come to expect from an Adebisi Shank gig. It’s difficult to pinpoint highlights, as from the moment they stepped on Adebisi Shank didn’t drop below full throttle for the duration of the set – but ‘International Dreamboat’ and ‘Genki Skank’ proved the biggest hits with those in the moshpit. As the crowd dispersed, many having worked up a sweat and possibly acquired a few bruises, the Friday night cobwebs were well and truly blown away and the atmosphere for a rocking Saturday set up nicely.

The Rubberbandits, Electric Arena

You always know you’re in for a treat with The Rubberbandits live show – they really know how to mix it up, and their attention to detail in the production of their unique brand of shock-humour never ceases to impress. Their reputation obviously precedes them, judging by the packed out Electric Arena – and as the timer ticks down to their arrival on stage there’s a real buzz around the venue. Blindboy Boat Club and Mr. Chrome work their way through their back-catalogue of comedy gold – songs about bags of glue and double-dropping yokes may not have been what the parents with children in two had in mind for a Saturday afternoon, but the impressive visuals and choreography make it a show that is as good to watch as it is to listen to. ‘Horse Outside’ unsurprisingly goes down an absolute treat – emphatic singing and dancing along from the crowd as giant beach balls are released and bashed around. The ‘Bandits brought a touch of Limerick City to a tent in Stradbally – and we salute them.

Yuck, Cosby Stage

Yuck are a band who wear their influences for all to see – and for many, therein lies their charm. There’s a great vibe in the Cosby Stage as the Londoners take to the stage and dive straight into their brand of loud n’ grungey rock, the songs of eponymous debut album sounding just as good live as they do in their studio form. They may not be the most charismatic of acts – banter with the audience between songs is somewhat awkward – but with a band like Yuck it doesn’t matter, they simply let their songs do the talking. ‘The Wall’ and ‘Get Way’ are early highlights, but it’s ‘Shook Down’ that proves the peak moment of the set, the closing chant of “You can be my destiny, you can mean that much to me” ringing out in perfect unison between the band and their audience.

James Vincent McMorrow, Crawdaddy Stage

The Crawdaddy Stage is at capacity long before James Vincent McMorrow makes his appearance – what a difference a year makes, as a man who had an opening slot on the same stage in Stradbally last year is now one of Electric Picnic’s most anticipated acts. McMorrow is a captivating performer; his voice, quite simply, stunning. There are a few unfortunate technical problems – most notably for ‘Red Dust’, which means McMorrow has to perform a stripped back version with a lone piano for accompaniment. Sound issues aside, it’s a brilliant set from start to finish – the quieter songs mesmerising, the more up-tempo ones enthralling, and culminating with the epic gradual build of formidable set closer ‘We Don’t Eat’.

Best Coast, Cosby Stage

Whilst the raving along to Underworld is in full swing on the Main Stage, fans of laid back lo-fi garage-rock are making their way to the Cosby Stage to catch Best Coast’s first ever performance in Ireland. It’s been a long time coming for fans who fell head over heels with Bethany Cosentino & Co. upon the release of debut album Crazy For You last year. Bizarrely, the blaring of ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’ (of Grease fame) precedes their arrival on stage – but it’s soon forgotten about as the band launch into their arsenal of impossibly catchy bop-along tunes. ‘When I’m With You’, ‘Boyfriend’ and ‘Crazy For You’ all garner the huge cheers, but overall the set keeps its momentum throughout and there’s a whole lot of swooning for charismatic front-woman Cosentino – her banter with the audience between songs is endearing, in spite of the fact that she mentions cats a little more than would be considered normal. Best Coast depart Electric Picnic with a promise that they’ll be back to Ireland soon – we look forward to it already.

The Danger Is, Cosby Stage

The wealth of Irish talent on this year’s Electric Picnic bill is outstanding – it’s always great to see our home-grown acts holding their own on a programme jammed full of international draws. Unfortunatly, it also means that the Irish acts tend to occupy stage opening slots – and as such, you have to be up and out of the campsite early to catch The Danger Is on Sunday. The heavy shower which preceded the set worked in her favour, as many revellers veered towards the Cosby Stage seeking shelter – and in the process finding one of Ireland’s most promising acts belting out her collection of quality pop-rock tunes. With such instantly likeable and catchy songs as ‘All For Gold’ and ‘Rub Who You Love’, a quirky and charismatic on-stage presence, and that uniquely brilliant voice – Niamh Farrell definitely won over a few new fans in Stradbally this weekend.

The Cast Of Cheers, Cosby Stage

There’s a warm Sunday afternoon welcome home for the recently relocated The Cast Of Cheers, who overcame the unfortunate saga of equipment theft to but on a powerful a set in on the Cosby Stage. One of the most talked about bands of 2010 thanks to their distinctive name, widely celebrated debut releaseChariot and stellar live reputation, they live up to their own hype and then some. The crowd pleasers go down a treat as always, but far more interesting are the new tracks of the much anticipated follow-up to their debut which, if we’re to judge on today’s set, is something to look forward to very much indeed.

Gemma Hayes, Crawdaddy Stage

No stranger to the stages of Stradbally, Gemma Hayes returns to the Electric Picnic to put on a show which offers her adoring audience the finest examples of her work to date. Hayes and her band put every minute of their set to good use with a perfect mix of songs old and new, and a brilliant cover of The Buzzcocks ‘Ever Fallen In Love’ to boot. Her voice is in top form – an extended rendition of ‘Tear In My Side’ is stunning, as is ‘Let a Good Thing Go’. However it’s the tracks of most recent release Let It Break that show off just how far Hayes has come as a musician, breaking away from her guitar to take on piano duties for ‘All I Need’ and teaming up on synths with Ann Scott for ‘Ruin’. Her charming stage presence completes the whole package of what was a fantastic set.

The Minutes, Cosby Stage

It’s been a very busy summer for The Minutes, conquering festivals one by one with their ferocious sound, both at home and in the UK. The songs of debut album Marcata have proven to work incredibly well in a live setting, and are delivered with such flair and confidence that it’s impossible not to be sucked into the raw rockin’ energy that this band exude on stage. The attitude is all part of the appeal too, of course – lead singer Mark Austin’s approach to addressing a crowd never ceases to entertain. From the thundering intro of ‘Black Keys’, to the brilliant riffs of ‘Gold’, to the epic set closer ‘I.M.O.T.D’ – The Minutes deliver an Electric Picnic performance which holds its momentum right until the end.

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