Electric Picnic 2018 is on course to be an instant sell out as Kendrick Lamar, Massive Attack and NERD were unveiled as headliners of the Stradbally, Co Laois music festival.

“I suspect the tickets will go really quickly,” said festival director Melvin Benn at the festival launch in Dublin.

“They are still on sale at this point. Will they still be on sale this evening? I don’t know.”

With pop music eclipsing rock in the charts, the line-up for the August 31 to September 2 event was a reflection of current trends in music, acknowledged Benn, who runs Electric Picnic on behalf of UK-based Festival Republic group.

“There is a lot of pop around and we want to reflect that fact. It certainly doesn’t dominate the bill but it is reflective of what is going on at the moment,” he said.

Electric Picnic has been a straight sell-out for the past several years but Benn said there were no plans to raise the capacity beyond 55,000 in the immediate future.

“There is a huge demand. I’ve made the commitment I wouldn’t change [the capacity] again. That is a commitment I will hold to…I”m not in a rush to make it bigger.” The prominence on the bill of female artists such as Dua Lipa, St Vincent and BBC Sound of 2018 winner Sigrid, in addition to an all-female comedy night, will be regarded as a positive, though Benn concedes more needs to be done by the music industry to promote inclusivity.

“If you take 2017, of the top 600 songs in the Billboard charts, 83% were men. As festival promoters, we reflect what people are listening to... It is always going to have that imbalance until we have more women recording music.” Los Angeles rapper Lamar is the biggest draw on the bill. He sold out 3Arena in Dublin in February and oversaw the chart-topping soundtrack to Marvel’s Black Panther movie.

He was, said Benn, “the biggest superstar on the planet without question…The songs, the lyrics, the show for all those who saw him in the 3Arena… dear God it was so good”.

Nineties “trip-hop” group Massive Attack will meanwhile appeal to older fans and NERD, a vehicle for producer Pharrell Williams, recently returned with a well-received new album. The festival will welcome back the Body and Soul arena, Trailer Park, Trenchtown and Salty Dog stage while a new stage – full details of which have yet to be revealed – will have a “Berlin theme”.

Electric Picnic began as a modest two-day, 10,000 capacity affair in 2004. It has grown into the country’s largest music festival worth an estimated €36 million to the economy.


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