This year’s Electric Picnic festival in September will definitely proceed “unless the Government forces us to stop,” according to its director.
Melvin Benn, chief organiser of the marquee Co Laois event, slated to take place on the weekend of September 4th, insisted at the festival’s launch in Dublin that it is “absolutely full steam ahead” with regard to whether or not it can proceed in light of the Coronavirus epidemic.
“Going ahead with entertainment is the business that we are in,” he said.
The launch itself detailed an especially star-studded line-up of headliners, with American heavy rockers Rage Against The Machine, the Chemical Brothers, and Snow Patrol the main standouts.
Here's the lineup pic.twitter.com/7Ea3L8xTpY— Cianan Brennan (@ciananbrennan) March 11, 2020
Mr Benn was not disguising his delight at the acquisition of those headliners.
“It’s an incredible lineup if I’m honest, I mean literally five headliners across three days,” he said.
He wouldn’t divulge the order in which the acts, which range in scope from Ian Brown and James Vincent McMorrow to Rick Astley, will run.
If Mr Benn is phased in any way by the Covid-19 epidemic, it didn’t show.
“I’ve nothing to say on Coronavirus, I’m not in Government and I’m not a scientist. We’re going ahead, every single thing that I’m doing across Europe is going ahead, unless the Government forces us to stop,” he said.
“There are more Irish people at Cheltenham today than there is left in Dublin and it’s fantastic. The UK and Ireland are open for business and I think it’s fantastic that we’re resisting everything and going ahead.”
He said he is “not concerned about it, if I’m being really honest”.
“I think from June onwards we’ll definitely be over the hump of it all is my view. As I say I’m not a scientist, but I think we’ll be over the hump and I think we’ll be enjoying an incredible summer across the board,” he said.
The only group of people that will stop anything from going on is not the fans and not the artists - it’s the Government, and I don’t think the Government is in the mood to be stopping things for the sake of it, and I think once we get to the summer we’ll be in full steam ahead mode.
“If you have to postpone for a temporary period you have to postpone, but going ahead is the business that we’re in,” he said.
He said that Electric Picnic, which as the bookend of the Irish summer has routinely sold its 70,000 tickets out in short order in recent years, “has got incredible standing in the world and in Europe”.
Nothing, he said, would serve to change his own personal ambivalence towards the virus.
I won’t feel differently about it being brutally honest. There’s a small percentage of the population that will actually be seriously affected by the virus.
"When the Government say we can’t go ahead we can’t go ahead. Until then we’re full steam ahead and we will be full steam ahead. I’ve got no doubt in my mind that this festival will be an incredible event this year, and will happen.”