It’s the last weekend of summer yet again and this year, Electric Picnic have invited The Anti-Room along to share their many views over the festival weekend. Hosted in the Mindfield Arena between 3 to 4 p.m on both Saturday and Sunday, the opinionated women of this blog will engage in debate over female stereotypes and the role of women in the media, both topics, as we have seen on this blog and elsewhere recently, subjects of great interest. There are also talks from Channel 4’s Jon Snow, Leviathan‘s political cabaret, the Science Gallery and of course Chaos Thaoghaire‘s storytelling and games. With such a wide array of music and activities spread across the entire weekend, it’s a fantastic opportunity to take a break from the live music experience to participate in discussion and so do feel free to drop by, get involved and share your thoughts or merely hang back as the banter flows.
However it’s impossible to talk about Electric Picnic without mentioning the music on offer and so here are some tips to consider amongst the hundreds of acts over three days. It’s no easy task to choose the best of the billing this year as as 2010 boasts one of the strongest-ever Irish festival line-ups. That said, if you’d care to join me on a virtual jaunt around Stradbally, here are the most exciting guests in my estimation and hopefully there will be something to interest just about everyone.
16:45 – 17:15 Electric Arena
Starting off with something upbeat and atmospheric you could also opt for Chew Lips, who are named after a character in Brendan Behan’s Borstal Boy. Female vocalist Tigs and her multi-skilled Will Sanderson and James Watkins are signed to French label Kitsuné and make droney electronic dance music.
The Holy Roman Army
18:50 – 19:30 Cosby Stage
Electronic music outfit The Holy Roman Army are a sibling duo from Carlow who make unobtrusive electro songs which encompass a variety of styles with calm, controlled vocals to great effect. Their debut album of 2009 received an excellent reception and they continue to win over new fans with each show.
19:15 – 20:15 Electric Arena
Founding member of Soft Cell, the ’80s band who brought us the unforgettable classics Tainted Love and Torch. In his time since then, Marc Almond has experimented and adapted to the changes in music and may well prove to be an unexpected highlight of Friday night.
21:20 – 22:20 Crawdaddy Stage
With new album Total Life Forever and its indier songs pleasing fans with a different aspect from its Math-ish predecessor Antidotes, Foals are enjoying a happy summer of more relaxed music on the back of a brilliantly-received show in Dublin’s Academy earlier this year.
22:00 – 22:40 B&S Love Letters Stage
Janelle Monáe is certainly one of the most exciting prospects of EP 2010 and should prove the biggest draw of Friday night at the B&S arena. Her debut album The Archandroid has wowed critics and fans all over the world since its release in early summer, lauded as the most original music in years, proving that to be successful in music, a woman needn’t strip down to her frillies. Janelle also plays the EP main stage at 18:00 but this show may well prove more intimate and enjoyable later in the night.
22:30 – 00:00 Main Stage
Almost forty years since Roxy Music released their debut album, Bryan Ferry and his band are back on tour, bringing with them the famous songs that first propelled them to worldwide fame such as Virginia Plain, Out of the Blue and of course, Love Is The Drug. Roxy Music are one of the most-cited musical influences of all time and for many, this is the first chance to catch them live, since they last played Dublin almost five years ago.
12:30 – 13:00 Crawdaddy Stage
Known around Dublin for his moving acoustic songs that manage to wrap their way around emotions without straying too far into the mournful end of the singer-songwriter genre, Goodtime John has his music exactly where he wants it: firm and gentle in good measure.
13:30 – 14:00 Crawdaddy Stage
This writer’s favourite Irish band of all time and an enduring source of inspiration, And So I Watch You From Afar are one of the brightest rock talents in the world today and have the tour schedule to prove it. The make loud, commanding punk music with post-rock overtones and their mercurial live energy fluctuates between slow-weaving build-ups to all-out combustible extroversion.
13:30 – 14:00 Main Stage
Not trappers at all but in fact three young ladies from the American state of Vermont whose light, bright harmonies have gathered fans from knots and nooks all over the world since word spread earlier this year.
15:10 – 15:40 B&S Love Letters Stage
With a new American label and a new album on the way, the Galway duo Low Sea have been stealthily working towards doing their music justice for some time now. Their music is fragile at first glance, delicate and ethereal but withstands extended listening and each song that ends leaves you hoping one more will follow.
15:45 – 16:30 B&S Slow Stage
A lot of good has been said of Hunter-Gatherer in the months since the release of his debut album and it’s all justified. He makes bass-heavy electronic movement-music that momentarily annihilates your darkest fears.
16:00 – 16:45 Electric Arena
A Somalian poet and philosopher who moved to Canada after the Somalian Civil War, K’naan is one of the most unconventional Hip-Hop artists today who uses his talents as a rapper to expand on the subjects of poverty and injustice in the Third World. His appearance at Stradbally will be his first-ever Irish show.
17:15 – 18:00 Little Big Tent
Returning for the second time on the back of June’s Body & Soul Solstice Gathering, Spain’s Crystal Fighters are considered the ideal festival band, binding dance with rootsy folk and electronic dabbles for quite the upbeat head rush summer experience.
19:45 – 20:45 Cosby Stage
Lauded left, right and centre for the album Hospice, its unusual narratives and variable musical layers, The Antlers have proved immensely popular with Irish audiences and will likely fill the tent with the great atmosphere of happy campers singing the songs back with gusto.
20:45 – 21:45 Electric Arena
On their fourth album with the release of One Life Stand earlier this year, Hot Chip are undoubtably fantastic for festivals and have been booked to play in Ireland every year since The Warning was released, thanks to their musical meld of the country weekend love-buzz with the darker sound of displaced suburban dance fans. Get there on time – they pack out a tent exceptionally fast.
22:30 – 00:00 Electric Arena
Highlight of Saturday night for many after volcanic ash led to the unfortunate cancellation of a Tripod show earlier this year, James Murphy’s irrepressible dance tunes All My Friends, Daft Punk Are Playing At My House, Drunk Girls and the newest favourite Dance Yrself Clean are certain to light up the night air with thousands of euphoric smiles.
00:45 – 01:45 B&S Love Letters Stage
With his last album Andorra having won the Polaris Music Prize, the Canadian equivalent of the Choice or Mercury prizes on this side of the Atlantic, Caribou’s latest album Swim has joined its sibling and reached the shortlist of the 2010 nominations. Electric Picnic is the first chance for fans to hear the songs of Swim sung live. Though all the music is his own, Daniel Snaith engages a full band for performances and will most likely be found sat back behind his drum kit.
00:30 – 02:00 Main Stage
Considered one of the greatest electronic groups of modern times, the ‘Intelligent Dance Music’ of Leftfield is one of the most successful examples of the genre, influencing many. Although their last album Rhythm ‘N’ Stealth was released in 1999 and Paul Daley has now left, 2010 sees the “reformation” of Leftfield with founding member Neil Barnes headlining Saturday’s final set on the main stage.
02:30 – 03:30 B&S Love Letters Stage
Winding down the fervour of the festival’s busiest night, Robyn Bromfield will present her work as Catscars from the Body & Soul arena, sending out her own brand of pulsing electronica to keep the dark night company.
13:30 – 14:00 Electric Arena ‘Chillwave’ has been touted as the fashion movement of 2010 but musically, Neon Indian holds weight with tunes like Deadbeat Summer and the tongue-in-cheek Terminally Chill. Should get Sunday off to a laid-back, blissed-out start.
14:00 – 14:30 Cosby Stage
Touted as one of the most promising new Irish bands, O Emperor have actually been around far longer than you’d think, having changed their name and started afresh last year. Comparisons have been made likening their sound to Fleet Foxes and other instrumental virtuosos but the fact remains that they are remarkably gifted at ephemeral moments of melody.
14:45 – 15:30 Crawdaddy Stage
After a positive reception to their Crawdaddy show earlier this year, the Oxford band (named after the Scottish port oft mentioned in the shipping news) Stornoway return, merging typical pop instruments with more elaborate sounds of strings and keyboards.
17:00 – 17:45 Cosby Stage
Although their name conjures images of dormice playing harps, Field Music are actually an indie rock band and a fine one at that. Another band who already played Ireland in recent months to a positive reception, their appearance at the Picnic will please those who have enjoyed their latest album with its beguiling title of Field Music (Measure).
The Big Pink
18:30 – 19:15 Crawdaddy Stage
Though the name may be more familiar as the debut album of The Band, The Big Pink only released their first album last year. It was met with great appraisal which led to unofficial status as darlings of the online music community but with songs like Dominos and Velvet the music really is rather good.
19:45 – 20:30 Cosby Stage
Reformed in 2008 after 25 years’ hiatus, Liquid Liquid are a cult band whose early Eighties songs are disco classics which have inspired countless number of musicians with their disregard for conventional style and structure.
20:45 – 21:45 Main Stage
Following on from many successful festival appearances and holding a particularly strong place in Irish hearts, The National fans will be out in force to hear Matt Berninger and the double brothers sing out the Americana live renditions of latest album High Violet, the fifth and biggest-selling National album yet.
21:45 – 22:30 Electric Arena
Fever Ray Possibly the most exciting acquisition of Electric Picnic 2010 is the inclusion of Karen Dreijer Andersson’s solo music under the guise of Fever Ray. And I mean that literally; she is reknowned not only for her haunting, spine-chilling use of vocals over razorlike, witchy electronica but also for her complete disregard for the role of women in music as sex symbols, painting her face and draping her body head-to-foot. Also known as one half of The Knife, the eponymous Fever Ray album was released in February 2009 and she rarely tours so this appearance is undoubtably an unmissable opportunity for music fans to sample one of contemporary music’s most prepossessing talents.
22:30 – 00:00 Main Stage
Massive Attack Since performing at Electric Picnic 2006, Massive Attack have a brand-new album Heligoland and as a result, the renewed fervour of their undiminished fanbase. A band who moulded an entire musical movement of Trip-Hop since the release of their pivotal debut Blue Lines in 1991, Massive Attack’s reach extends to practically every corner of the world.
01:00 – 02:00 B&S Love Letters Stage
With no less than five hundred albums recorded in fifteen years, Omar Souleyman was one of the best-kept secrets in world music until his signing with Sublime Frequencies brought his music from its natural home in Syria into the bosoms of the global music community. He plays with an established group of musicians and it is high-energy, fast-paced and fantastically empowering, perfect Picnic material. Prepare to dance!
There are of course many, many more acts and artists across the weekend, many were sacrified from this list. Drop back and let us know how you got on and what your highlights were! Share the links to your photos, videos and great stories, tell us if you met unusual people or saw bizarre sights.
Don’t forget to drop by the Speakeasy tent at Mindfield to see many of the Anti-Room ladies including Sinéad Gleeson, June Caldwell and Aoife Barry in full flow. Also check out the official Electric Picnic site for a comprehensive line-up of music, arts and activities.
Most of all… have fun!