The Ultimate Electric Picnic Schedule - your essential time-line of can't miss acts and sideshows
Electric Picnic is upon us. But with so many artists – and a vast sideshow of non-musical attractions – getting the most from your three days at Stradbally can be a challenge. Ed Power has done the hard work for you, avoiding clashes, and including the offbeat and mainstream, for the ultimate three-day time-line - just follow his directions for your best Picnic ever. See you down the front!
Sleep Thieves, Body and Soul Stage, 5pm.
Swoonful, soulful vibes from free-floating Dublin collective – the perfect soundtrack to draw you into the Picnic spirit.
The Strypes, Main Stage, 6pm.
Still in their teens, these Cavan teenagers nonetheless come off like refugees from the late 60s, with bluesy roots rock that draws on the glory days of The Rolling Stones, Yardbirds etc. Prediction: regardless of the weather, at least half of the group will wear shades.
Mixology and the Future of Craft Distilling, Theatre of Food, 7pm
Award winning 'mixologist' Darren Geraghty delivers a masterclass in cocktail trends while Seaneen Sullivan of hipster temple L Mulligan Grocer (and latterly, Brown Paper Bag Project Brewery) discusses craft beer culture in Ireland.
Blondie, Main Stage, 7.15pm.
Led by the indefatigable Debbie Harry, new-wave pin-ups Blondie romp through four decades of hits, from sweet-yet-spikey early standards such as Hanging On the Telephone and Heart of Glass to material from their '90s comeback (expect cuts from this year's 'not terrible' new LP Ghosts of Download also).
Girl Band, Body and Soul Stage, 9.15pm
Up-and-coming Dublin indie-rockers, much beloved by the UK music press (over here we can't make up our minds whether the appropriate response is 'yeh!' or 'meh').
James Murphy DJ Set, Electric Arena, 10pm.
Hipster granddaddy and advocate for the 'neck beard ' – seriously, the dude has hair almost to his adam's apple – Murphy flirted with rock stardom via thinking person's arena band LCD Soundsystem. But, fearful of turning into a sad old rocker, he pulled the plug on the project as his 40s dawned. Now he goes back to his first job as immaculately tasteful curator of dance-floor smashes.
Tune-yards, Body and Soul Arena /The Minutes, Salty Dog Stage
Imagine being walloped about the chops with a feminist treatise while, in the background, someone attempts to play Destiny Child's Survivor using only bass guitar and drums. At full tilt, that's a decent approximation of the sound Merrill Garbus strives for – her lyrics swing a bat towards the crotch of the patriarchy yet the vibes are relentless and irresistible. In a good way, the preachiness gets lost.
Trinity Orchestra, 12.30pm
Dapper undergrads re-tool the hits of Daft Punk and others in big band fashion. Very clever obviously - but the grooviness will draw you in despite yourself.
Booka Brass Band, Rankin Woods 1.30 pm
More big band fun this time from this 'New Orleans-style' Dublin eight-piece.
Spies, Little Big Tent, 3.30pm
Part of an ongoing upswell of Irish 'post-rock' outfits, Spies splice zinging riffs, labyrinthine song-structures and actual singing (is that allowed?). You'll be baffled, in an entirely agreeable fashion.
Wild Beasts, Main Stage, 3.45pm
A crash-course in widescreen bonker-dom from the Mercury-nominated UK group, whose tunes blend sexual repression, gothic beats and intellectual wig-outs worthy of Pink Floyd at their Floyd-iest.
Music Is The Food, Theatre of Food, 4pm
Food writer John McKenna chats with Paul Flynn (The Tannery), Kevin Thornton (Thornton’s), Declan Maxwell (Chapter One), Joe Macken (Jo’ Burger ) and Niall Stokes, editor of Hot Press.
Hozier, Main Stage 5.30pm
What's with the straggly, street-performer hair flapping in his face? We have no idea – but, having sampled the Bray singer's self-titled debut album, frankly his questionable styling choices feel beside the point. A bluesman from the wilds of Wicklow, Hozier is about to have a very big year – making this the perfect time to catch him.
Frank and Walters, Jerry Fish, Electric Sideshow, 8pm/ White Denim, Cosby Stage 8pm
Nineties nostalgia will be served up in generous portions as Cork's most successful indie three piece ever reprise such batty smashes as Happy Busman and Michael. The cloying After All we can do without - otherwise, their catalogue has aged well. At the Cosby Stage, Texas three-piece White Denim crank out unreconstructed garage rock.
Simon Amstell, Comedy Tent, 8.15pm
Rib-cracking humour and existential moochiness are both on the menu as brow-knotted comic Amstell puts in a rare Irish performance. His material is cutting and very very dark – just as well his best gags deliver knock-out punches of observational ribaldry.
FKA Twigs, Little Big Tent, 8.30pm
Tahliah Barnett cuts and pastes Beyonce and Massive Attack – her songs are catchy yet intriguingly exotic with it.
London Grammar, Electric Arena 9.30pm.
It's Hannah Reid's stunning vocals that draws the attention – but, in the long run, London Grammar's slow-burn music, sad and lulling, is what will have you hooked. One of the best groups to emerge last year, the UK three-piece had a substantial radio hit with Wasting My Young Years, an evocative dirge about being young and directionless.
Portishead, Main Stage, 10.35pm
Stony-faced, mysterious, yet with beats that could wake the recently expired, Portishead's sound is so singular that, in a way, it doesn't matter that they haven't put out a new record in six years, or that their best loved tunes sound like variations on a theme. The spiritual leaders of the 90s trip-hop scene aren't exactly party starters - still, expect their roiling mini-symphonies to send a huge chill down Stradbally's collective nape.
SBRKT, Electric Arenas 12.30
Sublime dance-pop from a chap who insists on wearing a vast African tribal mask on stage. Everyone has to have shtick – thankfully's SBRKT's music is eminently danceable and the silly dressing up does not distract as much as you feared.
Dublin Gospel Choir, Main Stage, 1pm
How better to start the morning than with the hits of Bastille, Radiohead etc, interpreted by the capital's pre-eminent gospel ensemble?
Jenny Lewis, Rankin Woods 3pm
With her sweet voice and gauzy songs, it would be easy to mistake ex Rilo Kiley singer Jenny Lewis as an adorable indie-pop cupcake. But no – beneath the surface her songs are dark and serrated, heaving with angst. At a previous Picnic she was the fashion sensation of the festival with barely -there gold lame hot-pants.
Laura Mvula, Electric Arena 4.15pm
Mercury- nominated Mvula worked as a receptionist at Birmingham Orchestra. She must have been paying attention during band practice: her songs combine the heart and soul of blues with the formal ambition of experimental classical music.
Jungle, Rankin Woods, 6.45 pm
When their haunting videos – Wes Anderson-esque tableaux filmed in super slow motion – started popping up on YouTube late last year, little was known of Jungle, except that they were from London and, by the sounds of it, rather moody. They were eventually 'unmasked' as Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland, bedroom-based producers who believe their music should speak for itself.
Tortilla Off, Theatre of Food, 6.45 pm
Anyone for a foodfight? Mexican food aficionados Caitlin Ruth and Danette Milne vie to prepare the best burrito. Both are extremely accomplished in the kitchen – buckle up for a ding-dong culinary face off.
St Vincent, Electric Arena, 7pm
Annie Clark's surprise makeover as the Frankenstein's Bride of smarty-parts indie rock has been a triumph – though you suspect that has as much to do with her Beyonce-worthy dance manoeuvres as with cage-rattling songs such as Rattlesnake and Digital Witness, the latter a moving plea for human connection in a world besieged by Twitter vapidity.
David O'Doherty, Comedy Stage, 8.15pm
Wry humour from the bard of plinky-plonky comedy pop. Doherty's material is at such a mild pitch it can sometimes seem as if he isn't performing at all, merely fooling about at a keyboard. Then the punch-line smacks you between the eyes and you understand why he's one of the country's most respected comics.
The Horrors, Cosby Stage, 9.30pm
The last great British rock band of their era, the Londoners blend new-wave archness and glimmering 21st century grooves. Led by sometime artist and former beaux of Peaches Geldof Faris Badwan.
Perfume Genius, Body and Soul Stage, midnight
How better to round the weekend off than with an elephant-flooring dose of caustic electronica? Okay, so it sounds like an uneasy way to close your festival. And yet, Mike Hadreas' songs are so gorgeously assembled they win you over despite yourself. Michael Stipe and Daniel Craig are fans – so if you're jittery and self-consciously middle class, you'll love him to bits.