YES, IT’S another one of those posts. Well, to paraphrase The Cranberries (sorry. I’m really sorry), everybody else is doing it, so why can’t I?
Be warned, though: much as I love Irish bands and Irish music, I don’t see the point in recommending acts that you can catch several times at home throughout the year. Of course, I’ll probably stick my head in to see a bit of Villagers, but I’ve already seen them about 6 times this year, so it’ll be mostly to gauge a festival crowd’s reaction to their set. And I may make an exception for the mighty Twinkranes, who I haven’t seen in about 4 years, and certainly not since their incredible album was released last year.
But for me, Electric Picnic is about investigating new music, taking recommendations from people, and seeing what bands you’ve never seen before are like live. That’s the beauty of festivals. If you’re not enjoying it, you can leave after 5 minutes and walk across the field to see something completely different. Simple.
So ignore the naysayers – the line-up for EP 2010 is great. Forget the headliners. There’s enough talent spread throughout the lower echelons of the schedule to keep you busy for three days without any problems. And then there’s the pies. Oh yes.
MUST-SEES: Jónsi (his solo album is much better suited to festivals than Sigur Rós’s maudlin stuff), Janelle Monáe (yeah, she’s the one everyone’s talking about – but if her live show is anything as diverse as her album, it’ll be some performance), Laura Marling (she’ll be hoping to make amends for her disastrous set on the Body & Soul stage in 2008, and the new album sounds hugely powerful live), Hurts (euphoric, soaring electro-pop and eh, hello, THEY HAVE AN OPERA SINGER PERFORMING WITH THEM)
AVOID: Marc Almond (hugely disappointing at Primavera this year, and unless you’re an uber-fan, it’ll be frustrating waiting around for the Soft Cell tunes. Take it from me.)
MUST-SEES: Brendan Perry (former Dead Can Dance guitarist/singer, has an ardent fanbase over here), These New Puritans (one of the most original bands in the UK at the moment), Mountain Man (unbelievable three-part Appalachian harmonies), Gil Scott-Heron (quite curious about this – whether he’s as good live as his latest album suggests), Martin Hayes & Denis Cahill (trad legends playing Body & Soul stage late at night – guaranteed great atmosphere and possible mass céilí dance-off)
AVOID: Bad Lieutenant (honestly, don’t be swayed by the fact that there are members of New Order involved. They. are. brutal.), Crystal Castles (hipster bullshit. Terrible, terrible band. Don’t do it to yourself.)
MUST-SEES: Fever Ray (as long as it’s very dark, the laser show will be incredible. One of the best live shows I’ve seen in the past year, and I’m not counting the Oxegen disaster), Friendly Fires (such a tight live band), Massive Attack (perfect act to wind down the weekend), Field Music (hopefully their live set is as good as their last album), The Low Anthem (great for the uptempo folk tunes as well as the lush, laidback numbers), The National (because… it’s The National. And they’re a hugely compelling live band), John Cooper Clarke (actual Mancunian music legend. Playing same day as The Fall. Interesting….)
AVOID: Mumford & Sons (yawn), The Big Pink (double yawn… good album but boring as hell live)
I’ll be down there this year working for the Daily Ticket, so don’t forget to keep an eye out for it on the Saturday and Sunday mornings. Have fun!