Electric Picnic is now a far cry from its ‘boutique’ beginnings in 2004, with the site expanding to 57,000 this year, and a move in recent years to include huge pop stars among the leftfield acts – Dua Lipa drew the biggest Main Stage crowd in EP’s history last year.
But with literally hundreds of acts at Stradbally over the next few days, you’d have to be disgracefully picky if you couldn’t find anything to suit your needs, with EP joining the dots between pure pop, veteran indie acts, hip-hop, rock gods, gospel, R&B, techno for starters, with all the arts, debate, comedy, food, cinema, theatre and other distractions.
Here’s a list of acts that’ll leave a big trace in Stradbally this weekend, along with all the trampled over tents and plastic that’ll be captured in photos for Woke Twitter…
Billie Eilish may be one of the second tier names on the EP poster, but the LA teen is the most hyped name on the bill, and the wider music scene in general this year. No idea why she hasn’t bumped Dermot Kennedy and Hozier down a few places on the Main Stage tonight. Don’t be surprised if she blitzes Dua Lipa’s numbers from last year.
Stradbally arrives at the tail end of a packed festival season for Billie, including Glastonbury, Lollapalooza, Pukkelpop and Lowlands, with crowds lured in with her dark electronic pop from her debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, and her magnetic stage presence.
After years grafting around the DIY punk scene around Melbourne clubs, Aussie singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett finds herself a global festival big-hitter, and her last Irish gig was a rapturous show at Dublin’s Olympia last year.
Barnett’s lo-fi grunge and punk recalls Pavement, The Breeders or Sonic Youth at their poppiest. Nirvana is another obvious nod, from her razor-sharp hooks to her lyrical self-deprecation.
NYC post-punk and garage rock revivalists The Strokes’ glory days were way behind them even by the time of the first Electric Picnic in 2004, but here they are in 2019 in the unashamed nostalgia throwback headline slot.
With no new album to plug, expect the set to lean in heavily on their debut album Is This It — the sound of a million indie discos and mixtapes and memory jolts at EP.
Electro-pop innovator, disco diva, acid house champion and all-round pop culture fashion icon, Roisin Murphy is one of the real sure bets of festival season. After headlining Metropolis last winter at the RDS, she’s taking it back to the great outdoors for what’ll surely be a masterclass in celebratory dance music – with costume changes that would rival Miss Grace Jones.
Dundalk act Just Mustard are fresh from supporting Aussie punks The Chats on their Irish gigs last week, hoping to bring some of that club racket to the EP tent. The band’s debut album Wednesday was a highlight of this year’s Choice Music Pize nominations, hitting shoegaze, noise-rock and indie at thrilling angles.
JARVIS COCKER PRESENTS JARV IS…
Sorry Billie Eilish, Roisin Murphy, Hozier, Johnny Marr, Richard Ashcroft, or anyone else for that matter — Jarvis Cocker hits Stradbally this weekend as the most universally loved artist on the bill. The former Pulp frontman and 6Music host takes his new Jarv Is project to EP, originally billed as “a work in progress… JARV is an experiment… JARV is a live experience with no barriers”. Expect some loose-limbed spindly leg kicks and endless sonic innovation.
There’s been a lot of push-back on Dublin hip-hop duo Versatile recently over their punching down misogyny and class-shaming, but Belfast crew show how to properly nail satire. They’ve got a unique as Gaeilge take on Northern inner city hood life, drug meme culture and Irish politics, and they’ve managed to piss off the red-faced DUP, which is always a bonus.
Japanese-American singer-songwriter Mitski Miyawaki had one of the albums of 2018 in her fifth LP Be the Cowboy — a collection of dark and elegant pop songs, with detours into goth, disco, ambient and even country rock. She already has celebrity fans in the likes of Iggy Pop and Lorde, and expect her to pick up plenty more this weekend.
Irish artist JYellowL is a true crossover figure in the Irish scene, as comfortable playing rap gigs with his fellow Word Up Collective crew, while landing a spot on the bill of the Delft Jazz Festival in the Netherlands in October.
The politics student is a socially-conscious MC who tackles mental health, critical analysis and industry fakeness in his rhymes, along with many other relevant topics.
On his debut album soil, New York artist Serpentwithfeet mixes avant-garde R&B and electronica with stunning classically trained vocals, for one of the most adventurous releases of last year.
His live shows are a work of performance art, with keyboard, laptop and elaborate adlibs and one-off improv left turns.