Picnic offers up a feast of delights
In a fortnight's time there's a low-budget UK indie movie called You Instead coming to a cineplex near you. It's not the best film you'll see this year, although it's far from the worst, but while watching this story of an American musician who becomes handcuffed to a member of an English all-girl band at Scotland's T in the Park, I almost had a hankering to head down to Stradbally this weekend for Electric Picnic.
The movie doesn't concentrate too much on music, apart from snatches of Paolo Nutini and The Proclaimers, but the sight of the characters wandering around the peripheral parts of the event did bring back a few memories.
I know there are some people who'll almost claim as a badge of pride that they hardly see any acts at all at the Picnic but they're usually pretentious idiots and best ignored, but sometimes the real joy of a festival comes in the late hours when, having seen a few bands and tanked up on whatever you're having yourself, you go with the flow of the night.
I defy anyone not to channel their inner five-year-old by heading for the carousel at two in the morning, full of the joys and shouting 'Horsies!' as you approach the ride. The same goes for those chairs on chains, while a go on the Ferris wheel can be a pretty zen experience as you look down upon the whole site from 60 feet up in the air -- particularly if you're off your box.
You may have thrilled to Arcade Fire or Pulp on the main stage (but, of course, Arcade Fire were much, much better in the big tent in 2005 . . . had to get that in there) but, if you're being honest with yourself, you'll admit that laughing and dancing like a lunatic at the silent disco was hard to beat when it comes to sheer stupid enjoyment.
You Instead brought all that back as, while it took place at T in the Park in Kinross (a mudbath I once visited several years ago), most festivals are much of a muchness these days.
The food stalls are regulars (Hooray for the Pie Minister, the El Bulli of festival nosebags. Boo to Eat Fat Pig for the drop in form two years ago), the toilets as dreadful as ever, particularly for the ladeez, and you tend to forget the feeling of dampness which gets into your bones and doesn't wear off until around the following Thursday -- no matter what the weather.
Still, best of luck with the climatic conditions and all that and I'm sure there'll be plenty to suit all tastes. What a pity Amanda Brunker isn't performing. >George Byrne
The Electric Picnic takes place in Stradbally this weekend. You Instead opens on September 16