09 Sep Electric Picnic Festival | Day 2 | Highlights
I awoke surprisingly fresh faced for Electric Picnic Day 2. That festival feeling of general crustiness hadn’t quite set in yet. Or perhaps I was remaining blissfully in denial about it.
Saturday fared well in avoiding clashes between the acts I was eager to see, thankfully. It was Sunday which was to prove a bit of a bitch for the clustering together of my eagerly awaited acts. However, that’s a story for another post.
We wouldn’t have been starting the day off right if we didn’t pay a visit to, yep, you guessed it, My Lovely Horse Sanctuary.
And, oh man were we glad we stopped by because there was a new doggo in town. The hangover soothing extraordinaire, RUPERT. With his shockingly soft fur and disgruntled scrunch for a face, Rupert became a much talked about highlight of the weekend.
As much as I wanted to stay with Rupert, I had to get to the Touts set in the Cosby Tent – this was a set I was really looking forward to. A trio of fresh-faced lads from Derry-Londonderry, Touts yield a lot more than just a fantastic band name. I caught these guys back in March when they were supporting Blossoms in Limelight (you can read my review on Culture Hub). I was immediately struck by the palpable middle-finger-up, wholesomely PUNK aloofness and attitude that this band emanates. And yet also by a contrasting, frenetic energy that has the veneer of pent-up frustration, passion and authenticity.
You cannot help but call to mind Stiff Little Fingers when you go see these guys, but all the same, they do more than simply inspire nostalgia for Ulster’s Punk past. Moving between the ridiculous (a song about a dildo called Marty) and the serious, “Political People” – a song about the refugee crisis – there’s a lot of substance behind the helplessly catchy guitar riffs and throat tearing vocals.
Looking slightly bored from when they walk on stage until they finish, there’s a deadpan humour to it as if they are parodying your idea of a typical, edgy punk band. Indeed, when you see the fleeting smiles between band members Matthew Crossan and Jason Feenan you get the feeling these guys are just really enjoying what they’re doing. And doing a helluva good job at it.
AN INTERVIEW WITH BLINDBOY
I’m pretty partial to the Rubberbandits. There’s just something about their vulgarity, Irish colloquialism and general ridiculousness that I have a lot of time for. I’ve listened to Serious About Men so much this past year. Like so much. So, when I stumbled into the political/literary/very artsy Mindfield area of Electric Picnic to do a bit of exploring I arrived at the literary tent just in time for an interview with Blindboy (one half of the Rubberbandits) and IT FELT LIKE DESTINY. Although there were crowds out the door, I was proud about the fact I managed to not only get into the tent, but eventually get myself a seat too – feeling extremely jammy.
I’d like to say it felt surreal sitting just a few metres from Blindboy but it wasn’t really. It felt pretty normal. Just this guy wearing a plastic bag on his head talking about literature. Totally normal.
The interview was mainly about his upcoming book of short stories – “The Gospel by Blindboy.” At the end he exclaimed how we’d all actually just taken part one massive plug for this book.
To say that he’s down to earth is an understatement. He’s very un-phased by the amount of fans The Rubberbandits have garnered and as he said, this is mainly down to a plastic bag. Which he wears on his head. Without that he can walk down the street, argue about vegetables in Waitrose and lead a relatively normal life. He expresses relief about being able to walk the streets of his home county Limerick without people hounding him.
The book itself is heavily focused on Irish storytelling and the unique penchant which the Irish have for storytelling. The interview closes with a reading of one of the stories and to be honest, I don’t even know where to begin with describing what it was like. In the simplest terms, it was about some bloke in a pub who drank all night, pissed himself all night and the narrator describing in great detail how the denim of his jeans got wetter and wetter as the night went on. And how this was a catalyst for the narrator’s epileptic fits. According to Blindboy this is only tip of the iceberg stuff compared to whatever other horrors that this book contains.
It’s out next month and I’ve already resigned myself to the fact that I will be purchasing it.
THESE CHARMING MEN
There was one tough decision we had to make during Day 2 and that was whether to run to the comedy tent to catch Bill Bailey OR stay at the Salty Dog where we were thoroughly enjoying a set by Smiths/Morrissey cover band These Charming Men. We chose the latter.
For a festival with not many large acts, there was obviously a part of us yearning for a bit of familiar, more popular music amidst all the new music/semi-familiar music. It was tough making the decision to miss Bill Bailey but we had a really fun time dancing on picnic tables to “Suedehead”. It was such a good atmosphere.
Not only did the lead singer look, and more importantly sound the part, he had those uniquely Morrissey, slightly theatrical mannerisms down to a tee. If I remember correctly he was at once point swinging a bunch of flowers around. In a loose fitting shirt and thick rimmed glasses. Lovely. I particularly enjoyed their rendition of one of my favourite Smiths songs “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me.”
Okay, I’ll be honest. My earlier trip to the animal sanctuary was not my only trip there during day 2. I returned in the evening after Madness (who, it goes without saying were amazing). The sactuary transformed into a 70’s/80’s disco and I got so carried away ska dancing on hay bales to Madness songs that I forgot Japandroids were playing in the Cosby Tent.
Sprinting over, I caught the latter part of their set and they were FAB. I haven’t listened to them for a while but there was a point a couple of years ago when I was listening to Celebration Rock constantly. And all the familiarity with the songs on that album came flooding back to me.
It was a pretty tense set. A lot of heavy guitar and drums that were played with such passion band members Brian and David almost looked slightly pained. They wrapped up with “The House That Heaven Built” and even if you weren’t familiar with their music it was difficult not to get swept up by the anthem-like energy of that chorus and screaming “TELL EM ALL TO GO TO HELL!” It lifted my spirits. Not that they needed lifting after the animal sanctuary disco, but still.
Back to the Cosby Tent to catch an artist I’d never listened to before – Perfume Genius.
I was really glad I caught this guy. He has a very unique sound and even though I wasn’t familiar with any of his stuff just watching him on stage was something to behold in itself. Strutting up and down the stage in a loose fitting denim jacket, intentionally slipping off his shoulders, giving the determined air of an absolute QUEEN. My memory of watching this set was like watching something shimmering minus any actual glitter or shimmering material. Performing songs dripping with emotion, pain and authenticity, the originality of his sound is inspiring in the urgency it exudes to overcome pain and embrace the ways in which this allows you to be fearless.
Keep an eye out for my final Electric Picnic post covering Day 3! Read Day 1 Highlights