Picnic revellers give it wellies

Showers swept through the Stradbally estate in Co Laois as the early arrivals at Electric Picnic began pitching their tents yesterday morning.

By early afternoon, the sun was out, and the mood in the camp was one of optimism.

Electric Picnic 2012 boasts one of the strongest line-ups in years, with The Cure being the biggest draw and other top acts including Orbital, The Killers, and Elbow headlining over the weekend.

Last night’s headliner was Sigor Ros, the Icelandic act whose chilled-out ambient music lent itself perfectly to what many will remember as the balmiest Friday night of the summer.

Electric Picnic is traditionally the last big blow-out of the season. Given the damp squib of a summer that we’ve had, festival-goers seemed more eager than ever to party. By late afternoon, Kormac’s Big Band, with its extravagant line-up of 12 musicians, already had the crowd on their feet and dancing.

As always, the fashionistas were out in force at the Picnic. The Duke of Wellington can hardly have envisaged how the humble boot named in his honour would be so subverted in the service of style.

There were wellies bedecked with spangles, stars, and flowers of every hue; wellies of silver and wellies of gold. Most of those who wore them looked like they had never seen a farmyard in their lives. What matter: there is no greater social leveller than a festival campsite in Laois.

All tastes are catered for over the weekend. The food stalls serve everything from fish ’n’ chips to crab linguini, with every kind of omnivorous and vegetarian desire imaginable pandered to as well.

And the festival programme is just as eclectic. Last night’s line-up included cult heroes such as Mark Lanegan, Gavin Friday, and Jeffrey Lewis, young guns such as The Vaccines and The xx, and the evergreen folk singer Christy Moore.

Tonight’s bill includes both The Cure and Orbital, American punk poet Patti Smith, and a whole slew of Irish acts: Among them are Villagers, Heathers, David Kitt, and the reformed In Tua Nua.

Tomorrow’s headliners include The Killers, Elbow, and Hot Chip, along with such acts as Oscar winner Glen Hansard of The Frames, Cork singer/songwriter Mick Flannery and the veteran dub and reggae artist Lee Scratch Perry.

Electric Picnic does not just confine itself to music of course. The Mindfield arena boasts its usual wide-ranging programme of readings, performances and discussions, several of them chaired by economist David McWilliams and broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan.

Elsewhere, there is the Body & Soul area, with its own distinctive programme of alternative music and dance, the Comedy Tent, a circus and fairground, a “green” area promoting alternative lifestyles and a whole series of outdoor artworks.

Electric Picnic runs until tomorrow night.

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