Rap, Poetry, Comedy and Rock: Electric Picnic Day 2 reviewed

Pat Carty takes in the second day at Stradbally.

My elders, and betters, Clark and Tyaransen, guffawed and scoffed when I shared my proposed list of acts for day two of Electric picnic ’17. “The new boy has no idea”, they chortled, “his reach doth exceed his grasp”.

What do they know? My plan is to catch as much as possible, give every act a couple of tunes at least, see what happens.

The bright and shiny Susan O’Neill (SON) eases us all into the day at the Hot Press Chatroom, with both ‘Little Chasing’ and her ode to Dublin, ‘When The Light Shines Down’. As she explains in her public interview, music is her whole life, and it shows. Keywest prove a popular bet to kick things off on the main stage, recent single ‘The Little Things’ getting a good sized crowd going. Lead singer Kav, by his own admission dying from the night before, leads the crowd in the first potty mouthed chorus of the day during ‘This Summer’ and everyone’s smiling. Keywest are about as far from my bag as it’s possible to get before you start coming around the other side, but they aquit themselves well.

Cult Called Man are wasted on the tiny Bandstand stage in the Body & Soul area, their rockin’ up of the angular bits of Talking Heads deserves a much wider platform. Lead singer Joey Weirdo McGoo, or Razmo as his Ma probably doesn’t call him, could probably work the back of a newspaper if you put him standing on one, and songs like ‘The Martian’ need your attention. I catch five minutes of Galway’s Field Trip on the Body & Soul main stage as I make my way to somewhere else, they have a very pleasing bang Of Teenage Fanclub off them. An early highlight is Derry’s Touts in the Cosby Tent. We can never know for sure what they put in the water around the walled city but they’re certainly pretty handy at producing punky bands with cracking songs. Howls of feedback, a cover of The Sonics’ ‘Have Love, Will Travel’, a song called ‘Saturday Night Scumbags’ that would strip paint off the walls, if there were any walls, and an introduction that goes “Here’s a wee song called ‘Go Fuck Yourself’, and that’s before they tell us the heartwarming tale of their mate Marty, who doesn’t drink or smoke, so spends his excess money on a big dildo from Amazon that he starts taking out to gigs as his date. This is what we want.

The Hot Sprockets are next, kind enough to treat the Hot Press Chatroom to lovely acoustic versions of old and new material. Their new album, due in early 2018, is one to look forward to. A quick trot back to the main stage then to catch the second half of The Strypes set. The last time I saw them, it was in the cramped, but funky, basement of Dublin’s Thomas House, today it’s in front of a huge crowd on the main stage. They’re equally at home in either location - ‘Blue Collar Jane’ and an arse kicking ‘Scumbag City Blues’ have the crowd eating out of their young hands.

I catch about five seconds of some lovely singing and playing from Orchard Collective in the HP Chatroom and then the machine gun of poetry of the mighty Marty Mulligan from Mullingar on the Word stage before a sprint to the Jerry Fish stage. Things turn out to be running a little behind so I’m able to catch the Stones/Clash riffola of The Fontaines, and I’m glad I do. A quick wander finds me at the Trailer Park stage for some sweet Bob Marley action from Jaméire before it’s back to the Jerry Fish for The Trouble Pilgrims, who belie their mature years by rockin’ out like a gang of kids. Pete Holidai delivers some stinging guitar, but the majority of the kudos must go to the mighty Steve Rapid and his magic theremin machine. ‘Who Do You Love?’ he roars out in the blessed name of Bo. We love you, Steve.

It’s a joy to listen to Phill Jupitus in conversation with our own Roisin Dwyer at the chatroom. When he speaks of the late Charlie Gillet and of his time working with The Blockheads, you know your listening to a pure-hearted music nutter. We all then dash for Madness on the main stage, who do exactly what you would expect - throw out the hits and let everybody dance. There is little point in even trying to resist perfect pop songs like ‘My Girl’, ‘Wings Of A Dove’, and ‘House of Fun’ (complete with arsed up start). ‘One Step Beyond’ sparks a knees-up that Mother Brown would have been proud of.

Back to the HP tent for a public interview with the force of nature that is Chic/Cookie-monster Ralph Rolle, I have to tell him to pipe down in the end. If I hadn’t he’d be talking still, he’s got more stories then the bible. One quite gorgeous song from Hudson Taylor as our next guests then, before dipping into The Word tent to hear the handsome and talented Olaf Tyaransen weave a tale of his old pal, the late Dandy In The Underworld head-the-ball, Sebastian Horsley. Columbia Mills are next up at the Jerry Fish - shades of MBV and a dancer Joy Division go down well.

David Keenan is one of the days high points, backed by an all star band, including Joey Sprocket and Graham Frame. He takes the Jerry Fish crowd down one by one with his Buckley does Behan ballads. The quality of songs like ‘Cobwebs’ and ‘Nazareth House’ show the man’s real talent. He is followed by Interference, with special guest Glen Hansard paying tribute to his late friend, Fergus O’Farrell. I’m not as familiar with this material as I should be, but the first couple of songs, lifted by the megawatt bulb of a star that Hansard is, prove I’m missing something good.

It’s an undeniable fact the A Tribe Called Quest are the greatest hip-hop group ever who aren’t called Public Enemy, but tonight’s main stage headlining set proves to be the proverbial game of two halves. Most of the front end of their performance concentrates on their come back album We Got It From Here… which leaves the crowd, already getting a serious battering from the watery substance falling from the sky which we’re not allowed to name, a bit underwhelmed. Things improved enormously with more familiar gear like ‘Buggin’ Out’, ‘Bonita Applebum’, and ‘Check The Rhime’. A blistering encore of ‘Can I Kick It?’ and ‘We The People…’ seal the deal. One last push against the elements then to make it all the way over to a remodelled Salty Dog for a savage performance from Picnic stalwarts, The Hot Sprockets. They play personal favourite, ‘Home Slice’, give it some lovely Cliff and The Shadows manoeuvres during ‘Honey Skipping’, and surround themselves throughout with buxom young ones dressed as pirates. That will do me.

A thoroughly rockin’ day out, as it always bloody is. Bring on Sunday.

 

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