With the tents rolled up for another year, Des O’Driscoll looks back at what we learned in Stradbally at the weekend
1. Star of the show: Very much a case of whatever you’re having yourself, but it’s difficult to go past Grace Jones for the winning combination of great tunes and wacky theatricality. Definitely gets the prize for best topless hula-hooping 67-year-old.
2. Blur have still got it: From Britpop classics to the more mature sounds of the recent Magic Whip album, Damon Albarn and co blew away any notions that there might be a jaded feel about their reformation. It was a brilliant effort that was well appreciated by the massive crowd. Other standouts included Roisin Murphy, Hot Chip, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Despacio Soundsystem (James Murphy/2manyDJs), Chvrches, War on Drugs, Florence & the Machine.
3. How to tell if you’re young or not so young: A simple test based on how you dress for chilly autumn evenings. Wool and fleece or shorts and t-shirt? At least all generations seemed to be united in being caught out by the temperature drop in the early hours of Sunday. Note to self: Buy a better sleeping bag for next year.
4. Most insulting question: Just when you were feeling on-trend and at one with the hip happening crowd at one of the cooler stages, you get asked ‘Did Mayo win?’. Yes, you will have to hire a different stylist for next year.
5. Men are like moths: The blazing bonfire in the Body&Soul arena was a welcome late-night warmer for both genders. It’s a peculiar quirk of some men’s biology, however, where a certain amount of beer is absorbed into the part of the body’s cells that contain our ancient molecular memories of primeval times. The urge to tend fire becomes overwhelming and they just have to stagger towards those flames. Hopefully they’ll remember enough about their night to say one for the ever-vigilant fire-wardens who coaxed them back to the safe zone.
6. Size doesn’t matter: Which is just as well, because as you leave the Electric Picnic site feeling all smug that you’ve just been part of the biggest happening on the island, you suddenly spot the site for the National Ploughing Championships, and its space for 279,000 attendees. Apparently, the Ploughing is a bit like the Picnic, except it’s got more debauchery and less wellies.
7. Fair play award 1: Those numerous unknown soldiers who spent parts of their Picnic looking after wounded mates – guiding them semi-conscious through the trenches, helping to patch them up so they could fight on another day. Bravo. Some day, it’ll be your turn to reap the reward of such a sound karmic investment.
8. Fair play award 2: Some of the jury said Big Naked Guy in the midst of the Hot Chip crowd should get this prize, but on reflection we decided to give it to the person who left him get up on their shoulders. Just so many ways for that to go wrong.
9. Fair play award 3: Everybody can have their gripes about aspects of the festival, but overall, this year’s event yet again smacked of brilliant organisation. One of the most striking examples of this is the quality of the sound systems. There were a couple of dodgy spots, but from the huge open field to marquees of various shapes and sizes, almost everything sounded crisp and clear. Other events and venues please take note.
10. Ready to do it again? Just have your powerhose and four-day nap over with by Friday at 9am and you’ll be able to buy the early bird tickets for the 2016 event.
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