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Top 20 Electric moments

Chris Wasser and Katie Byrne recall the highs and lows of a Picnic with plenty of punch

20 The Rubberbandits feat Crystal Swing

Word has it that everybody's favourite hip-hop comedy duo from Limerick are actually a couple of nice lads. We're talking fancy suits, good manners, holding doors open for the elderly -- the whole shebang. Their live persona -- a quirky blend of plastic bravado and plastic bags -- certainly is popular. However, it's Cork's inimitable Crystal Swing who threaten to steal the show. The fact that it's after 1am and half the crowd are well and truly oiled might explain why everyone's shaking their asses off, but this was hardly the most melodically pleasing set. -CW

19 Hotpants

Since Kate Moss rocked out the hot pants and wellies combo at Glastonbury all those years ago, thousands -- really thousands -- of loyal fashion followers have taken her lead. The ubiquitous look has become a festival uniform. Ladies, get your own look; start your own trends. Please! -KB

18 Going to the Chapel

The inflatable church, where punters are fitted out in full wedding attire and declared man and wife by a vicar, is a festival favourite. While it's all done with tongue firmly lodged in cheek, it seemed to be a strangely emotional experience for some of the newlyweds. -KB

17 The Secret Garden

You stumble upon the sweetest things when you really explore the Electric Picnic site. We found a wishing tree in the brambles flanking the Body & Soul area. Hundreds of people had penned wishes and pinned them to the bark. Most were touching "I just want everyone to have a great festival"; some were unintentionally hilarious "please give me the enthusiasm to work". -KB

16 No Screens

Having trouble seeing all the way back there? Me too. Am I the only one who thinks there should have been screens on either side of the bigger stages? You know, just so we could see what outfits our favourite acts were wearing?-CW

15 Tripping the Light Fantastic

There was no Bord Snip Nua in place at this year's festival. Let's face it, were the Picnic organisers to adopt austerity measures of their own and axe half the side shows, they would still sell as many tickets. They didn't. In fact, in their continued pursuit to create the world's best playground for grown-ups, they just keep delivering. For instance, nobody would suffer if they didn't see the Arcadia show, but those who witnessed the visual spectacular will never forget it. This had thumping drum'n'bass music and outstanding pyrotechnic displays. Then two performers climbed atop adjoining platforms and jousted with live electrical currents. How do people discover that they have these talents? -KB

14 The Learning Curve

My mind truly blown by the Arcadia show, I set off to discover just how they did it. Imagine my delight when I learnt that The Science Gallery on Pearse Street had set up a tent in the Minefield area. "Can you tell me how the lightning show worked last night?"

"Sure, give me a moment and I'll find our physicist." An impromptu science lesson followed -- where else would you get it? (The performers wear chainmail suits, in case you're interested.) -KB

13 Public Image Ltd

Take one part-time butter salesman, decorate him in something that Neil Buchanan might have made earlier on Art Attack, throw in a fistful of post-punk attitude (not to mention some phlegm), and what do you get? John "tells it like it is" Lydon, that's what. It seems good old Johnny may just be the powerful front man that we always knew he could be. Now, just ditch the spray-painted jacket and creamy slice of toast, please. Just a shame that the surprise gig that Lydon was meant to be doing on Saturday didn't materialise. -CW

12 The Sun

Well Holy God -- a festival without mud? True, we might have woken up to a bit of a downfall on Saturday morning, but for the most part the Big Fella above decided to spare us fortunate Picnic folk with a memorable dose of beautiful sunshine and equally satisfying temperatures. Who knows? Maybe He's a Frames fan . . . -CW

11 Seasick Steve

He's running out of steam, our Steve (above) . Not that it has anything to do with old age, mind, but instead, a worrying inability to mix things up a bit; shake up his set; give us something new. Fair enough, there aren't many other men in their late 60s who can present to an audience an energetic display of dirty electric blues, but there's little doubting the fact that some of us are beginning to grow tired of the whole whiskey-chugging, "I never had me no school education" hobo lark. And what happened to the Mississippi Drum Machine, eh? -CW

10 The Strongest Man in Ireland . . . via Brazil

Bootcamp Ireland brought their drop-and-gimme-20 school of fitness to the Picnic. Lorraine Ho and her team of ex-military instructors were giving classes and demonstrations and manning various challenges (the arm wrestling being a particular favourite). The instructors were also game for any tasks thrown their way. "Can you do a press-up with me sitting on your back," I asked a behemoth of a Brazilian man called Paolo Santiago (below). Though I saw a flicker of fear pass his eyes when he took in the size of my hips, I also knew that no fitness fiend can refuse a challenge. "Er, yeeees," he replied hesitantly. Once I found a comfy home on his back, Paolo produced the feat with impressive ease. Oh, alpha man, I think I love you. -KB

9 The Frames

Their first official gig in three years, and they were in flying form -- Glen Hansard's vocals, sounding remarkably free of the gentle acoustic setting to which they have been tied to for so long. No better crowd to play to than the Irish, he says. He could be right, what with everyone singing along to Revelate and loving those giant Styrofoam letters (F-S) flying through the crowd. "You're breaking up our band!" shouts Glen as the letters break apart in our hands. And Colm Mac Con Iomaire's violin playing? Magical. New album please. -CW

8 Lost Marbles

It's Saturday morning at 4am and deep in the forest a couple of hundred people are dancing outside the shipwrecked boat-cum-music stage. Three like-minded lunatics, staggered to the top of the dancefloor carrying a tent. Various hamfisted attempts at erecting it followed until one of them looked at her friends with disdain, scooped up the tent and . . . pulled out the instruction booklet! -KB

7 Green living

A special mention to the carpenter who crafted the treehouse-cum-DJ booth in the Body & Soul area. The magical woodland dwelling looked like something from a Tim Burton movie. The organisers ought to build more and rent them out to campers at next year's festival. I'll be first in the queue. -KB

6 Mumford and Sons

You have to hand it to London four-piece Mumford and Sons (above right). Come Sunday night, a majority of their audience had had a heavy two days. But they were more than capable of pulling in the crowds, delivering 50 minutes of infectious brilliance while reminding most that less really is more. Superb harmonies, epic choruses. We're talking Little Lion Man . . . man. -CW

5 Roxy Music

They haven't released a new album in nearly 30 years, but really, who the hell cares? Stunning visuals, a full band set-up and a nifty layer of class made this set one of Friday night's main-stage highlights -- even if the crowd always looked just a little bit distracted at times. Roxy Music possess the kind of full-powered showmanship too often lost on the many bands who take to a stage as big as this. Dad rock? Perhaps but at its very finest. -CW

4 Villagers

You could fit Villagers ringleader Conor J O'Brien into your back pocket if you tried hard enough. But less about his size and more about the music, for what this most exciting of home-grown talents has to offer really is quite special indeed. Nominated for this week's Mercury Prize in London, debut album Becoming a Jackal sounds terrific live - a smouldering yet brilliantly sweet offering of eerie pop and intelligent rock that rarely loses our attention. Setlist highlight? The title track, definitely. The big time is calling, Conor ... -CW

3 Playtime

There were all manner of diversions for festival-goers who wanted to embrace their inner child. We stumbled upon a Make Your Own Musical Instrument session where a dozen or so festival goers had fashioned musical instruments out of household junk. Paint tins became drums, hair straighteners were maracas and one rather industrious fella had crafted a didgeridoo out of a vacuum cleaner hose. -KB 2 The National

2 The National

The show that everyone I spoke to had said they couldn't leave without seeing. And oh what a memorable event it was. Straight from the beginning, Matt Berninger and friends deliver a masterclass in pristine musicianship; a live presentation, even, that may just go down as one of the greatest main stage events in Picnic history. A wild exaggeration? Hardly. From the pulsating beats and spellbinding vocals of Bloodbuzz Ohio (single of the year, hands down) to the more touching melodies of Fake Empire, the Brooklyn quintet (plus brass section) serve up the finest soundtrack of the weekend. -CW 1 Imelda May

1 Imelda May

"Yiz are brilliant!" shouts Imelda May from the Main Stage, looking every bit the superstar that she so wonderfully sounds like. Please, Imelda - we're only part of the package, you see; it's yourself and the band that's doing all the hard work up there. Raucous rockabilly? Check. Stomping bass and jittery guitars? Check. A voice that could transform even the dullest tune into something a whole lot more special? Check. There are no dull tunes -- just a superb presentation of old favourites (Love Tattoo, Big Bad Handsome Man) and new gems (Sneaky Freak, Eternity). A feast of dance and electronica may be happening elsewhere, but for some unique, exciting, and raw domestic talent, look no further than Imelda and chums' superb combination of enviable flair and soaring delivery. Oh, and the red heels? Very nice, Imelda. -CW


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