For all the hundreds of live acts that played Electric Picnic over the weekend, it was the spectre a man who died earlier this year that was omnipresent across Stradbally.

David Bowie was everywhere — as Friday night came to a close, a collective of musicians played a tribute set of his greatest hits, only for Saturday’s schedule to kick off hours later with the Trinity Orchestra, aided by Hozier, playing their own take on the Thin White Duke’s back catalogue.

The tributes weren’t limited to the stage, as many of the 55,000 attendees donned T-shirts bearing Bowie’s image, and others wore Aladdin Sane lightning-bolt facepaint.

Nearly as ubiquitous were the ‘Repeal’ jumpers which this year replaced ‘Yes Equality’ T-shirts as the sartorial statement du jour in the campsites.

Many artists made reference to the Repeal The Eighth Amendment campaign over the weekend, including a brilliantly on-form Dylan Moran who used his soapbox in the Comedy Tent to encourage the younger generation to fix the mishaps he perceives his own age group has inflicted on the world.

The comedian didn’t dwell too long on politics or social issues — the nearby Mindfield provided plenty of that, and once again it hosted plenty of talks on culture, history, current affairs, and more to feed the mind and rest the feet.

John Barrett, Tralee,and Carol Bray, Nenagh, at Electric Ireland’s Throwback Party. Pictures: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
John Barrett, Tralee,and Carol Bray, Nenagh, at Electric Ireland’s Throwback Party. Pictures: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

But for all the protest pullovers and counter-cultural chats, the influence of corporate marketing hasn’t so much snuck up on the Picnic as it has overwhelmed it, with brands lining up to slap their logos on anything standing on the Stradbally Hall site.

“Electric Picnic from the air. Good drying there today.” After Saturday’s torrential rain, that was the welcome message accompanying this aerial picture of the festival site in Stradbally, Co Laois, that gardaí tweeted from its @GardaTraffic account yesterday afternoon.
“Electric Picnic from the air. Good drying there today.” After Saturday’s torrential rain, that was the welcome message accompanying this aerial picture of the festival site in Stradbally, Co Laois, that gardaí tweeted from its @GardaTraffic account yesterday afternoon.

There’s the arena styled after an Amsterdam neighbourhood (brought to you by the official lager of the Electric Picnic), a Cuban mansion style nightclub (rum brand), the bar fashioned to resemble a US motel (cider company), and the ‘throwback’ stage featuring 1980s bands like Bananarama, which is sponsored by a utility company boasting that it is “the official energy partner of Electric Picnic”.

Mary Doody and Aislinn McCarthy at Orchard Thieves’ combined swimming pool and dance floor at Electric Picnic. Picture: Jason Clarke
Mary Doody and Aislinn McCarthy at Orchard Thieves’ combined swimming pool and dance floor at Electric Picnic. Picture: Jason Clarke

The branding takeover is only really noticed by those who attended the earlier editions of Electric Picnic, and wouldn’t have bothered the Snapchat generation who took to the festival lifestyle with gusto.

Thankfully Saturday’s downpour had the decency to arrive in the earlier hours of the day while most were still in their tents.

Actor Laurence Kinlan and his wife Charlene enjoying the sounds of Amsterdam in the Heineken Sound Atlas area at Electric Picnic.
Actor Laurence Kinlan and his wife Charlene enjoying the sounds of Amsterdam in the Heineken Sound Atlas area at Electric Picnic.

 

Bar the odd drizzle, there was little rain to bother those who danced to the returning LCD Soundsystem, who topped a bill packed with Irish acts who held their own — such as Girls Names, Altered Hours, RSAG, and Walking on Cars, who had queues of people outside the Electric Arena tent straining their necks to catch a glimpse of the chart-toppers.

Two-year-old Bethany O’Sullivan-Bowe from Stradbally enjoying the Electric Ireland Throwback Party. Pictures: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Two-year-old Bethany O’Sullivan-Bowe from Stradbally enjoying the Electric Ireland Throwback Party. Pictures: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Lana Del Rey and New Order closed the festival last night, and this morning tired bodies will haul their camps back to reality.

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