Thursday 23 March 2017

From groovy to grungy at Electric Picnic party

30,000 weary welly-wearers make way home after all the food, drink, politics and music

Eimear Ni Bhronain

Guest singer Gemma Hayes and conductor David Brophy perform an Electric Proms show with the RTE Concert Orchestra last night – Gemma was one of several guest singers to perform with the orchestra
Guest singer Gemma Hayes and conductor David Brophy perform an Electric Proms show with the RTE Concert Orchestra last night – Gemma was one of several guest singers to perform with the orchestra

GROOVY grown-ups with young children in tow, welly-clad women wearing bright orange tan and hotpants, laid-back lads in grungy gear, culchies in black and amber and blue and gold -- anything goes at the Electric Picnic.

One of the best things about a music festival is the excuse to wear a hat and not wash or blow-dry your hair for a few days.

And the worst -- the portaloos -- is now a thing of the past ... if you're willing to part with 20 quid for a weekend pass to the "comfy crappers".

The lawns of Stradbally Hall offered a picnic hamper site with all the trimmings. The bands, the nosh, the organic coffee, the beer, the politics and the regular sunny spells meant that even the GAA fans didn't miss being in the Cusack Stand.

More than 30,000 music fans descended on the Co Laois village for the three-day festival.

LCD Soundsystem, an angry-looking John Lydon, Imelda May, Mumford & Sons and Bryan Ferry's Roxy Music were some of the acts that drew the bigger crowds.

The €240 price tag on the tickets was the main complaint from punters -- and the fact that the 'family-friendly festival' no longer sells day passes. Camping with babies is no fun.

Overpriced

Laura Brennan from Castledermot, Co Kildare, said the tickets were "overpriced". "There's 31,000 or 32,000 people here, they're after making nearly €10m off us.

"There were hundreds queuing for the portaloos this morning and they were disgusting, they stink."

However, the 21-year-old said there was a much "nicer crowd" at Electric Picnic than at Oxegen. "Everyone's in great form, people here are much nicer and it's much more family-orientated."

She added that the theatre acts were "brilliant".

"There was fire-eating, the performers were deadly, they were up on a pyramid doing different stunts," Laura said.

Some cash-strapped revellers who couldn't afford a ticket took part in a charity cycle for Temple Street Children's Hospital. In return for fundraising €500 for sick children and heading to Stradbally on their bikes, 1,000 cyclists were allowed in for free.

For Jasmine O'Keeffe from Carlow, her first Electric Picnic was "brilliant".

"Everything is so laidback here. The crowd is older, people are going around with buggies and there's no pushing or shoving.

"There's hardly any muck at all -- there's none in the campsite -- it's just a bit mucky in the woods," she added.

The only downside for Jasmine was the fact that her deck chairs and water cooler were stolen on Saturday night.

Orla McGovern -- actor and writer of 'Star Stories' -- finally got to perform at the festival after some initial problems with her ticket.

Orla had been promised a free VIP weekend pass in return for performing but this offer was revoked by organisers who had overbooked the stage before being reinstated after a backlash from theatre companies.

"We ended up finally getting to perform but we went on a few hours late," she said.

"In terms of pointing the finger, we still don't know what happened but I'm enjoying the festival. For me, it's about connecting with people."

She described the 'body and soul' area as "beautiful".

"The bog cottage is one of the highlights for me. There's music and performances there and they're amazing people ... sometimes there's impromptu performances there as well, it's like a jamming sessions for musicians and actors."

Despite the rumours, there was no sign of Tony Blair turning up at the event. Many revellers vowed to demonstrate against the former British prime minister if he did show up. Mr Blair was in Dublin for a book signing on Friday after he released his memoirs.

Massive Attack were the last act to rock the main stage until midnight. Weary welly-wearers will pack up their tents this morning and face into traffic chaos as they make their way home.

Irish Independent

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