Electric Picnic Festival 2009!

Off To Ireland We Went...

It takes more than a little rain to dampen the party spirit of over 30,000 Irish revelers, and the few inches of mud seemed incidental to the fun to be had at this year's Electric Picnic festival. Dropout weren’t going to miss out!

Now in its sixth year, Electric Picnic perfectly straddles the line between large corporate-sponsored festivals like V Festival and Glastonbury, and smaller, more intimate boutique gatherings such as Bestival. Located in County Laois, Ireland, the festival is separated into two main areas in County Laois, the main festival site and the Glastonbury-inspired Body & Soul area. The line-up is rich and diverse, and the atmosphere is fun and friendly. There's much more to see and hear than just the bands, from the 24-hour cinema and circus to the myriad smaller bars and tents with unannounced live guests.

Friday is kicked off in style by the excellent DJs of Horse Meat Disco, who know how to start a party, and the dancing continues in the Little Big Tent to Diplo/Major Lazer and the current king of electro-house Fake Blood. Over on the main stage MGMT disappointingly fail to translate the excitement of their debut album to the live arena, but the revelers are undimmed as they wait for Friday night headliners Orbital. In the Electric Arena, the music is more acoustic based but the atmosphere is no less raucous, with large crowds enthusiastically greeting Seasick Steve, and the Mexican wunderkinds Rodrigo y Gabriella, returning to their (European) homeland to an ecstatic response.

Saturday sees newer stars such as The XX and the excellent Chew Lips shine to large crowds in the Electric Arena, while Marina and The Diamonds and The Whitest Boy Alive impress on the smaller Cosby stage. There's a palpable air of disappointment at the canceling of Bat For Lashes, though our dancing shoes are kept moving by DJ sets from Optimo and LCD Soundsystem. Over on the main stage both Kid Creole and Brian Wilson bring a bit of aural sunshine to cut through the grey clouds and drizzle, while sets from Four Tet and Explosions in the Sky (in the Crawdaddy Tent) take things in an artier direction. With a choice between ska heroes Madness (on the main stage) and the Irish debut of disco legends Chic, I opt to see Chic and am not disappointed. They prove to be the highlight of the festival - evidenced by the almost hysterical whooping and cheering that greets them.

Sunday threatens to rain all day, but just about manages not too. Maybe the Fleet Foxes and The Flaming Lips managed to fend the wetness off with their harmonious American pop, though the most popular act of the day is surprisingly Florence and the Machine who play to a beyond-capacity Electric Arena tent. Capacity crowds also turn out for local heroes Laura Izobor and Bell X1, rounding off the weekend in fine style. And I haven't even mentioned the reggae village, the all-night rave, and the attractions in the Body & Soul arena.

Oh well, more to report for next year then!

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