Well, there we have it – another Electric Picnic done and dusted.
There are a lot of tired and emotional heads hanging around a field in the middle of Co. Laois this morning (others, like us, are smug after leaving in time to make it home last night for a hot shower, a cup of tea and a nice warm bed).
Overall, the 14th Electric Picnic was a fun event, although the weather forecast let us down pretty badly on Saturday night. We were witness to multiple meteorological events across the three days: Friday night was bloody toe-numbingly freezing, Saturday brought mood-altering rain with it and yesterday was annoyingly humid with patches of sunshine.
But enough about the weather – here are the best and worst bits of what we saw, heard, watched and ate over the weekend.
The BYECo Campsite
First things first: a big shout out to these guys. We've been coming to Electric Picnic for 12 years and we've camped for most of them – needless to say, it can get pretty grim, to say the least. The BYECo was a game-changer. Located next to the main entrance and across from the Charlie Chaplin site, it was a little haven of soundness and cleanliness. Heck, maybe we're just getting old (we're definitely getting old) but it made such a difference to be surrounded by people who were responsible for cleaning up after themselves. The emphasis was placed on recycling, minimising waste and eco-friendly camping – there was even water-free, power-generating LooWatt toilets (that you had to pay for, admittedly, but which were spotless and so worth it). The result – a campsite that remained miraculously clean until Sunday night – made a huge difference. Thumbs up, BYEco.
The Trailer Park / My Lovely Horse Ranch
The Trailer Park has officially come into its own as the savvy Picnic-goer's go-to place to chill out and catch a few unexpected musical (including the brilliant Dublin Ukulele Collective's cover of Radiohead's 'Creep') and culinary delights (the Home Fries combo saved our lives on Sunday morning). It's simply a pleasure to wander around, grab a drink or a good, strong coffee and take in the sights and sounds of the Trailer Park – from a miniature art gallery to a whiskey stand masquerading as a gas station, to a mobile fire-and-brimstone preacher's pulpit. A special shout-out goes to the My Lovely Horse Ranch, which had donkeys, ponys and dogs to pet, including a three-legged Jack Russell who stole our heart.
The Divine Comedy
You can't accuse Neil Hannon of not putting in the effort. Not only did the Divine Comedy frontman arrive in full Napoleon-style regalia for his Main Stage set on Friday night, there was even a mid-set costume change and he played to the crowd with hits like 'Generation Sex' and 'National Express'. He even did 'My Lovely Horse'. Really.
The Sing-Along Social
The rain came pouring down around 7pm on Saturday night, and after we'd sought refuge in Casa Bacardi for a bit, we decided to embrace the crap weather with a bit of singing and dancing. Luckily enough, the Sing-Along Social crew were on hand to provide us with exactly that in the Bold mOTel. It's amazing how a bit of a sing-song can make you forget you're being p*ssed on from the heavens.
Although they arrived on stage a patience-fraying half hour late on Saturday night, Interpol were as potent as ever in the Electric Arena as they performed 'Turn on the Bright Lights' in full for its 15th anniversary. It sounded perfect, the lighting was incredible and it was exactly the sort of moody, spiky, memory-evoking stuff we were in the mood for after a long day.
We were already fans of Real Estate, but goddamn it, if there is a better band for late Sunday afternoon/early evening vibes at a festival, we'd like to hear them. The Americans' dreamy jangle-pop was the perfect balm for weary heads, sending us off into the final stretch with the aural equivalent of a caring shoulder massage. Bliss.
The Salty Dog
We'd already reported on the new expanded Salty Dog stage, but it was really a delight to see it in person. It's not just a shipwreck in the woods anymore; it's becoming a miniature shanty town and kudos to those responsible for the atmosphere-building artwork and general deadliness of the place. According to festival organiser Melvin Benn, there is more expansion of these kinds of areas in the pipeline for future events – so watch this space.
The abundance of vegetarian options
Gone are the days when a public event or gig meant a lot of hungry vegetarians. In fairness, Electric Picnic has always provided for us veggies, but this year they really knocked it out of the park with a serious amount of vegetarian and vegan options on offer. The best thing we ate? Kerala Kitchen's lip-smackingly good chickpea and spinach curry – although Kanum's hearty Thai green curry (pictured) ran it close.
Band of Horses
It's a given that the best band in the world might turn up to play at any festival, but without a crowd that's up for it, they may as well be playing the local parish hall. Luckily for Band of Horses, their audience delivered in spades on Sunday night in the Electric Arena but Ben Bridwell and co. also played their hearts out, with 'Is There a Ghost' and an epic 'The Funeral' proving particularly heart-soaring.
The Red Bull SOUNDOME
And now for something completely different. We went for a wander through the woods on Saturday afternoon, and close to Trenchtown and the Other Voices stage we poked our noses in at the Red Bull SOUNDOME, which was hopping even at that time of day. In layman's terms it's a dome with 46 speakers attached, calibrated so that you hear the music from every angle, essentially becoming immersed in the song. It was maybe a little too wedged to get the full effect at the time, but still a very cool idea.
No band wants to be the one playing to a sodden audience on the Saturday night of a festival. It's supposed to be the biggest night, but instead the crowd is split between those who are too drunk to care about the rain and those who are too annoyed about the rain to get drunk. Somehow, Phoenix managed to unite both factions with their sunny-side-up electro-indie-pop, and frontman Thomas Mars even threw caution to the wind and came for an oul crowdsurf, rain be damned. It shouldn't have worked, but it did.
At every festival you'll usually find a new artist that warrants further investigation and this year our Picnic will be remembered for Margaret Glaspy. Considering the Californian musician's music is right up our street – wry, sharp indie rock with a grungey pop twist – we don't know how her 2016 debut 'Emotions & Math' passed us by, but her Sunday afternoon set on the Little Big Tent was super.
The films in the Electric Ireland Throwback stage
In the interests of journalistic impartiality (and also to shelter from the rain), we poked our head into the Electric Ireland Throwback stage (which was absolutely rammed, FYI) on Saturday night to catch a bit of 5ive. It was pretty grim. However, on Sunday morning while everyone was still waking up and before the Dublin Gospel Choir roused people from their tents, they screened 'Honey I Shrunk the Kids' and it was actually the perfect brain recovery fodder to lie back on a deckchair for an hour with a coffee.
The Literary Tent in Mindfield
The Mindfield Area was its usual haven of tranquility and civilisation this year, and the Literary Tent had some fantastic programming, from an interview with JT LeRoy/Laura Albert to Ross O'Carroll Kelly author Paul Howard talking about The Beatles with Tom Dunne. We poked our head in just in time to catch a chat with Irish authors Donal Ryan and Paul Lynch and aforementioned musician Margaret Glaspy about their respective creative processes, and it was a lovely way to spend an hour chilling out.
Only a bona fide legend could turn up for a main stage headline set wearing jeans and a jumper, with a million-watt smile that said 'DGAF'. Although Chaka Khan's festival banter might need a bit of work (maybe not the time to conversationally ask 'Y'all been out here all day?', Chaka), her voice still sounds incredible and her band were excellent, too.
So that's it for another year - how was your EP 2017? Let us know what we missed!