Loaded: Poor ticket sales but plenty to offer
This weekend marks the seventh instalment of Electric Picnic. But will it be the last? If ever there was a sign of the tough times we're in, it's the fact that tickets are in such plentiful supply.
The festival has been advertised relentlessly, but the tickets are just not shifting like before and that's certainly a worry for all involved as promoters of events of this scale need to sell at least 70pc of tickets to just break even.
At €240 a pop, many people have clearly decided that it's a step too far for them. Factor in the living expenses of the weekend, the cost of getting to Co Laois and so on and you could easily be looking at €400 to €500 all up.
I'm very surprised that promoter John Reynolds hasn't introduced single-day tickets, much like MCD have done with Oxegen. There would have been far more uptake. A friend, who has been to all previous EPs, said she would have gone tomorrow had single tickets been available, but simply cannot afford the expense of an entire weekend.
The promotions game is an exceedingly tough one, especially as artists have no sense of a recession and haven't lowered their asking prices. Hopefully, the figures will all stack up and this key event in the Irish music calendar will continue to prosper.
- Festivals make me wish for the power of bi- or even tri-location. Tonight, I'll be torn between Modest Mouse (on the Main Stage at 8.45pm), Jonsi (on Electric Arena at 9pm) and Foals (on the Crawdaddy Stage at 9.20pm). There's no such problem tomorrow, and I can't imagine too many being pulled from LCD Soundsystem (in Electric Arena from 10.45pm) by The Frames over on the Main Stage.
I'll be forgoing the Picnic for Croke Park on Sunday and hopefully a Tipperary win, but I would unreservedly urge you to check out Fever Ray's headline show in Electric Arena (from 9.30pm). If it's anything like the Swede's stunning gig at London's Forum last December, it will be quite something.
- A surprising success story of Electric Picnic is the talking shop, Leviathan, chaired by the gregarious, and ubiquitous David McWilliams. If a dose of reality is your thing, motormouth Green senator Dan Boyle is just one of those lined up for a debate on the country's financial woes. Not for me, thank you. And if former MP and sometime reality star George Galloway floats your boat, you can hear his forthright opinions at the Mindfield Spoken Word tent.
- One of the things that Electric Picnic has got right from the start, or at least its second year, is the impressive range of culinary delights. Every conceivable dietary foible is catered for and, once again, TV chefs will be mingling with the great and the good.
Clodagh McKenna -- a considerably less annoying version of Rachel Allen -- will be one of the judges in the Bridgestone Awards, which aim to honour the best food stalls at the festival.
- Mindful of the fact that we Irish like a drink or two, the organisers have devised an online off-licence service which allows punters to order their booze in advance. We're told that properly chilled lager and cider can be collected on site, which cuts out the need to lug drink into the venue. Mind you, the selection is limited to Heineken, Coors and Bulmer.
- John Reynolds never misses the opportunity to tease me about my hardy perennial bugbear -- the horrific traffic jams in and around the Stradbally area. Maybe he's right, and I should just get over it. This year I plan to bus down. Considering that the car parks seem to be in another county, I'm hoping that we'll be dropped somewhere comparatively near the entrance.
- Traditionally, Electric Picnic marked the end of the summer music festival scene, but not this year. Next weekend sees the inaugural Temple House Festival taking place in the Anglo-Irish manor of the same name in Co Sligo. The line-up, which includes the latest incarnation of the Undertones and the Saw Doctors, may not stun you, but it's hard to argue with a ticket price of €79 for three days.