Stradbally, Co. Laois
Can you believe it’s been 10 years since we have had more options than just Oxegen and Slane for a music festival? This year’s Electric Picnic was everything you could want for in a festival. There was very little rain, zero mud and, of course, the music was delectable. This was my sixth EP and in comparison to other years, I didn’t spend a lot of time fussing over the timetable, I just went with the flow and took a leisurely approach to stage hopping.
My musical highlights were:
This woman is the cutest little button and her Biophilia show was manic and extravagant. After she thundered out a massive track, she showed her gratitude by quipping ‘Thank you’ in her wonderful Icelandic way. It was a joy to watch and I’d like to invite her, and her giant crystal hat, to live with me.
Disclosure’s Settle has been my main album of the summer. It has been firmly on repeat since its release so when their live set matched up to my pounding grá for the record, I was delighted. I hope that they’re an act we’ll see headlining again over the next 10 years.
David Byrne and St. Vincent
Not only was this the greatest set I saw all weekend long but it is the most fantastic set I have seen in a very long time. In 2012, the god that is David Byrne teamed up with St. Vincent for a brass-orientated album, Love This Giant, and the moment the horns kicked into action on the Sunday night, magic was made. St. Vincent rolled out some of her solo songs, including ‘Cheerleader’, but Byrne stole all of her thunder when he conducted the biggest sing song of the entire weekend with Talking Heads’ ‘This Must Be The Place’, ‘Road To Nowhere’ and ‘Burning Down the House’. He even threw in 2002’s ‘Lazy’ for good measure. I will be talking about this show for years to come.
What has it got?
Seating: The Electric Picnic site is massive but, luckily, they have so many areas where people can rest their weary legs. If there’s one thing that the Picnic does well, it’s throwing together an assorted range of shit for people to sit on.
Viewing platform: A lot of the time, the viewing platforms in the smaller tents felt like a creche. Children at a festival is a debate for another day but when I’m restricted to having one friend with me on the platform, it’s a bit unfair that the kids can run riot. I avoided the platform at the main stage because it was so far away and my eyesight is useless.
Ground: There was no mud at all this year which made getting around so easy. However, with an outdoor festival, you have uneven ground pretty much everywhere and if you’re not paying attention, you could definitely tip out of your chair. Every now and again, you’d come across a tiled pathway but these would end abruptly or lead to the staff area. They should place more of these about the festival site just to make life a little easier for everyone.
Campsite: There was a disabled campsite available at EP but it was the furthest campsite away from the main area. I camped in Oscar Wilde, which was just beside the Salty Dog stage. I camped on the very edge of the site so other tents weren’t in my way and it worked out perfectly. If I had used the disabled campsite, I would had a huge trek ahead of me every day which is incredibly inconvenient especially with the rough ground.
Bathrooms: At most toilet areas, there was a large portaloo for wheelchair users. The campsites didn’t have this luxury. To find a clean portaloo at a festival is like a gift from the gods but when it came to hygiene levels in the wheelchair portaloos, things could have been better as many wheelchair users don’t have the privilege of hovering. If they could increase the amount of wheelchair portaloos about the place, it would be much better.
Spaciousness: I didn’t have any problems with space and didn’t feel overcrowded at any point (other than the viewing platforms that doubled as childcare).
Helpfulness of Staff: The staff at EP is made up of paid staff and volunteers so the helpfulness depended on who you came across first. A number of the security guards went above and beyond to help out, especially around the main stage area.
Parking: I parked in the disabled parking area which was in the disabled camping area. It was monitored closely so it never got too packed.
Why did it lose points? Electric Picnic is Ireland’s greatest music festival and because it is so large, it’s hard to cater for everybody. They have all of the facilities for disabled guests in place but they feel a little bit like token gestures. The disabled camp site is so far away and the path to and from it is rough. The viewing platforms are far away from the stage and you are restricted to bringing one friend up with you. There aren’t enough wheelchair portaloos about and more pathways could have been placed to combat the uneven ground.
If I had used all of the facilities available, I would not have had as much fun as I did. I came up with my own system for camping and for watching bands. If EP focused a bit more on their facilities for disabled users, they could come up something that would enhance the festival experience for whoever used them.
That being said, my voice is gone and I had a fantastic time but I wish that the organisers would be as creative and inventive with their accessibility as they are with everything else on offer.