AU60: Electric Picnic live review

November 17, 2009

Here’s a slightly longer version of my weekend round-up than appeared in the magazine – we were very stuck for space, so it got trimmed. It was a bit of a whistlestop tour as it was, but there you go.

Electric Picnic


Friday starts at a slow drift. I flit in and out of tents, catching morsels of The Temper Trap, Boy 8 Bit, Lykke Li and Major Lazer before settling on Efterklang. Alas, the Danes’ pop symphonies get lost in the tent, going some way to confirm my view of them as little more than pleasant background music. ABC fare better – punchy and fun, the Eighties pop icons on stage are at odds with the filthy weather outside. Thereafter, it’s up to two more reformed crowd-pullers – alt. rock heavyweights Dinosaur Jr. and techno boffins Orbital – to make the evening. They don’t quite. Dinosaur are bracingly loud and energetic in front of their massed amps, but the sound is muddy and some of the material stodgy. Then to Orbital. For an hour, an up-for-it crowd lose their shit to ‘Belfast’, ‘Satan’ and ‘Chime’, but the last half hour drags interminably. They go through the motions, and I slope off to my sleeping bag.

Saturday is the pick. Canadian folk-popsters Ohbijou ease me in before The xx arrive in the Electric Arena. It’s too widescreen a venue for their sultry, intimate sound, but they pull it off by playing those glorious songs to perfection. Later, Jape disappoints and Bat For Lashes cancels, so it’s up to James Murphy and Pat Mahoney to kick-start a busy evening. That they do, with a freshly squeezed DJ set full of classic disco and house. Brian Wilson next, and one of the highlights of the weekend, the weirdly immodest legend running through a magical Beach Boys greatest hits set. From Californian sunshine to a Swedish haze, as The Field’s organic, hypnotic hybrid of techno, trance and Krautrock captivates a packed dance tent. Next, Chic elicit grins of pure joy with the gig of the weekend, Nile Rodgers packing in a host of his productions for Sister Sledge, Diana Ross and David Bowie alongside the likes of ‘I Want Your Love’, ‘Le Freak’ and ‘Good Times’. Moderat’s headline set starts disappointingly, but by the end the atmospherics, beats and rolling subbass make it a triumph of textured dub techno.

Sunday dawns swathed in mud. Two Door Cinema Club’s perky indie-pop lifts the spirits before The Sugarhill Gang’s farcical karaoke dampens them again. The Acorn’s Canuck charm and rustic indie-rock proves diverting, but Simian Mobile Disco are the main attraction this early in the day. James Ford points to his watch in mock surprise (it’s 4:30pm). It’s a slick, dancefloor-ready live set that thrills the glow-stick wielding kids. Later, we dip into The Big Pink in time for a thundering ‘Velvet’, then swoon to Fleet Foxes’ harmonies as they drift over the site. Royskopp are the band of the day, though, trumping SMD. Forget that chill-out tag, this is a festival dance gig par excellence – pop hits, dancefloor bangers and tons of energy. Next, a disaster, as Skream and Benga’s dubstep gig is thwarted by a blown PA, but that only benefits the safe hands of Erol Alkan. He keeps kids dancing, you know.


One comment

  1. Hi Chris,
    I like your blog. I’d like you to contribute music, gig and concert reviews on http://www.laoispeople.com; my online paper. A gradual buildup to Electric Picnic 2010 is what my paper needs. Drop me a line to above address and we’ll talk. Thanks

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