Festival Flashback: Electric Picnic

As the wellies, tents and (for some utter clowns) Native American headdresses are packed away for another year, Sean Hayes takes a look back at Marlay Park’s Longitude festival, in the last of a series on the best Irish festivals that took place over the summer.

ELECTRIC PICNIC: 29th – 31st August 2014

NOW ENTERING ITS second decade, Electric Picnic has become an essential weekend for any avid festival goer. As some 40,000 campers poured into Stradbally, there was only one question in mind. “Where is the best place to camp?” This question was usually answered with “Do you want to sleep or not?” The consensus was unanimous, Janis Joplin was for the sleepers while Jimi Hendrix was for those looking for three days of non-stop celebration.

Friday’s rain did little to dampen the mood of the crowds as all stages played host to a wide range of diverse and eclectic names. If Longitude was accused of marketing to a younger crowd, Electric Picnic certainly capitalised on attracting a more mature audience.

Friday’s main stage welcomed the veteran names of Blondie and Pet Shop Boys. While both acts played energetic and well-received sets, Debbie Harry’s (of Blondie) dance moves resembled that of an embarrassing uncle at a family wedding. Foals, on the other hand, stayed true to their reputation and grabbed the attention of the crowd with an absolutely exhilarating and energetic show.

The weather improved on Saturday and with it, the line-up seemed only to get better. The extensive list led to heartbreaking and relationship-testing decisions having to be made as to who go and see.

Local bands Spies and We Cut Corners played impressive sets in the Little Big Tent and Heineken Electric Arena respectively, while Cathy Davey played a relaxed and laid back set on the Rankin’s Wood Stage.

Saturday’s Main Stage played host to a wide number of big names including Hozier, who attracted the largest crowd of the festival, and Paolo Nutini. Bombay Bicycle Club played a show for all ages. In the audience, one could see a greying man as he sang every word while, a few rows further in, two little girls dressed in princess dresses and matching crowns danced with everything they had.

Similarly, in the Heineken Electric Arena, London Grammar and James Vincent McMorrow played captivating shows. London Grammar chose a ‘favorite member of the audience’, allowing the crazed fan to come back stage and meet them after the show.

The festival proved popular with parents, their children already more hip and cooler than any of the more try-hard festival goers could ever wish to be. Festival toddlers had no need for face-paints or (God forbid) Native American headdresses. They were happy to be carted around in painted mini-wagons, their look completed with protective headphones and a slight look of bewilderment.

Sunday morning welcomed the Dublin Gospel Choir to the Main Stage for those who were up and about (or not gone to sleep yet) while later on, Sinead O’Connor sang a mix of both new and old material. Her performance was slightly hindered by her continuously asking for the mic to be turned up, despite an agreed feeling from the audience that there nothing wrong with the sound.

The Heineken Electric Arena played host to The 1975, who were screamed at by most of the teenage females at the festival. A bedraggled looking Matty Healy relished the attention, swigging from a wine bottle and lighting up a cigarette on stage, truly believing himself to be some kind of new James Dean.

Lily Allen also played a stand-out set and was a highlight of the festival. She (at times quite literally) gave two fingers to the other acts who had graced the stage before her and fully embraced her mainstream pop background, getting the audience to take out their mobile phones and encoring female audience members to “shake it”. Her performance, however, was refreshing as a result and welcomed by a crowd of ecstatic youth and slightly shocked elders.

As the clouds came over Stradbally once again, Beck and OutKast closed the three day festival with electrifying displays of stage lights and energetic performances in front of a delighted crowd. Electric Picnic’s eclectic line-up for both young and old, family friendly atmosphere and wide range of other various activates cemented its place as Ireland’s premier music festival this summer.

Verdict: It will be exciting to see how EP organisers can outdo themselves after this year.

Festival Flashback: Indiependence

As the wellies, tents and (for some utter clowns) Native American headdresses are packed away for another year, Sean Hayes takes a look back at the Indiependence Music & Arts Festival, in the second of a series on the best Irish festivals that took place over the summer.

INDIEPENDENCE: 1st – 3rd August 2014

Indiependence is one of those music festivals that you can still say, “I was at that before it got big.” In possibly one of the nicest spots to spend a weekend, Indiependence attendees were treated to a host of some of the best new talent Ireland has to offer right now. As one of the more reasonably priced festivals this summer, Indiependence offered great music in a great location.

Friday’s Main Stage welcomed some of the most promising and exciting new names on the Irish music scene in the form of Walking On Cars and Tvvins. Tvvins were warm and friendly towards the smattering of a crowd but the set of only half an hour was too short for any real connection to be made between band and listener. Kerry band, Walking On Cars, proved extremely popular with the audience and performed with an air of experience far beyond their early years.

The Big Top Stage also welcomed the up and coming, Dublin band, We Cut Corners, who were well received by a growing audience. Headlining the Big Top Stage was Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip. Unfortunately for the hip-hop duo, Tom Odell, who played the Main Stage at the same time, proved to be a more popular act, especially with younger audience members. This was a pity as the producer and rapper played a highly energetic show, which would have been enjoyed by the other festival goers, had they gotten the opportunity.

Tom Odell, however, was the clear highlight of Friday night. His dramatic and dark performance captivated the crowd as they watched him, at times, completely lose himself in the moment.

Saturday’s line-up continued to impress with names such as Hudson Taylor, Delorentos and White Lies taking to the Main Stage. However, the biggest excitement of the night came with the The Coronas playing The Big Top stage. Unfortunately, the throng of the audience forced security to restrict access to the stage. It would have been a better idea for The Coronas to play the Main Stage.

Elsewhere, on Sunday, Dublin based band Color//Sound promised good things to come with their set on the Beer Hall Stage. The Minutes played a disappointing half hour set where there were clear timing issues with the band’s drummer and other instruments. The end of their set also saw the drummer smash his drum kit. Their unimpressive performance called for the band to need reminding that that they are far from rockstars yet.

The clear winner of the day, however, was Hozier, who drew the largest crowd of the entire festival. The ecstatic audience faithfully sang every word to each song. It was a thrilling moment to hear the words of ‘Take Me To Church’ resonate throughout the deer park.

It’s clear Indiependence is going to grow in the years to come. Once festival organizers learn from the few mistakes made and continue to build on what they have, Indiependence will soon become the next big thing to be at.

Verdict: Get in on this while it’s still small. Big things are coming.

Festival Flashback: Longitude

As the wellies, tents and (for some utter clowns) Native American headdresses are packed away for another year, Sean Hayes takes a look back at Marlay Park’s Longitude festival, in the first of a series on the best Irish festivals that took place over the summer.

LONGITUDE – 18th – 20th July 2014

Glorious sunshine an equally glorious line-up resulted in the success that was Longitude this summer. As up to 15,000 festival goers descended into Dublin’s Marlay Park, the emphasis was most certainly on the new, the exciting and the young.

Eighteen months ago, one would’ve been hard pressed to recognise many of the names taking to the main stage. Yet relative newcomers George Ezra, Bastille and Hudson Taylor set the standard for the weekend. Audience members greeted each act with wild and delighted excitement. One girl was so delirious that it was left to her friends to keep her standing upright as she wailed at an empty stage, tears running down her face, “Oh my god! I can’t believe it’s Bastille.”

Elsewhere in Marlay, the Red Bull Music Academy Stage was the place to be seen in, provided a samurai haircut adorned your head. Pounding beats and electronic synths could be heard throughout the forest, where local lads I Am The Cosmos and Swedish DJ Axel Boman kept the crowds disdainfully swaying throughout the night.

The only minor disappointment came as Ben Howard came on stage. The combination of an overly excited crowd post-Bastille and the effects of daylong alcohol consumption led the crowd to leave Howard’s guitar picking and soothing melodies quite under appreciated.

Saturday truly demonstrated Longitude’s target audience of 18-22 year olds as anybody over the age of 25 was peered at as if they had wandered in by mistake. Highlights of the festival came on Saturday’s Main Stage in the form of Haim and Chvrches. Disclosure turned the park into a giant rave as they played a nonstop 90 minute set that left the crowd both euphoric and dazed. Sam Smith returned after his own well-received set to close the night with his hit, ‘Latch’.

If one managed to escape from the mass of the Main Stage crowd, other peak moments of the festival came with performances by O Emperor on the Whelans 25 Stage and Cyril Hahn on the Heineken Stage.

In contrast to Saturday, Sunday attracted a much more relaxed crowd, with many lying out on the grass to take in Swedish folk duo, First Aid Kit and a standout vocal performance by Banks. Elsewhere, the relaxed and chilled mood trickled into the Heineken and Whelans stages with performances by exciting new names Kyla La Grange and Broods.

Sunday night became the mature audience’s redeeming moment with Massive Attack taking to the stage and demonstrated that they, too, can party just as hard as their younger counterparts.

Beyond the set-list, the success of Longitude 2014 was ensured by ample facilities and a strong security presence. Organisers of the festival are to be praised for their strict security policies, the setting up of a big-screen which showed the Longitude twitter feed, the provision of food stands and vendors as well as good toilet and sanitising facilities.

Verdict: Excited for what’s to come.