Archives for posts with tag: Music

Electric Picnic closes the summer festival season, and is the largest in Ireland. In this last in a 3-part blog series in praise of the event, I focus on the people.

People come in all shapes, sizes and ages, and to a degree the same can be said for EP. There aren’t supposed to be kids from 13 to 18 there, but you see a few of them. The main demographic is 19 to 35 without question. There are a few young families there, but there’s also a surprising number in the 45 to 65 range too. If you can do 20- or 30-thousand steps a day in fields, and probably a good deal less if you’re not a culture vulture, you’re young and healthy enough for EP. You get the socio-economic panoply attending as well; it’s not confined to musos and hippies.

Drink is freely available, and according to my more savvy festival friends, drugs are too. I’ve never seen anyone supplying or receiving, but I’m not in the particular demographic and I’m not in the market. You do see a lot of people the worse for wear from both groups of stimulants, but trouble is very hard to find. You can be jumping up and down in a packed arena and bump into someone, and it’s all very good natured. A mutual apology is usually forthcoming.

Environmentally, of course, these types of events are an unnatural disaster. I don’t know where to start on this. One of the most ironic moments for me was watching a video in the middle of The 1975’s set where we were encouraged to consider civil disobedience since governments had failed to response adequately to the environmental crisis. ‘We’re producing too many greenhouse gases,’ said the screen on the main stage, which was probably burning 1.21 jigowatts of energy a minute in front of 30,000 people consuming their drink from a plastic cup.

EP is making an effort on the enviro front, but it needs to do so much more. A truly great weekend though, if that doesn’t sound too flippant a sign-off.

In this second in a 3-part series in praise of the Electric Picnic music and arts festival in Ireland, I look at accommodation. And what a choice there is. While your ticket entitles you to put up a tent in ‘general camping’, there is a large array of additional options.

It all depends on your preferences for comfort, company, noise and location. You can bring a motor home. You can opt for eco-camping, as well as family camping. You can take one of the several ‘glamping’ options with the common denominator being that the accommodation is ready for you when you enter the festival, and you leave it set up when you head home. This makes an awful lot of difference to the amount of gear you need to transport to and from where you’re sleeping. But it come at price. There are lots of different sizes and types of tents and huts, from the functional to the fairly luxurious.

These posher camping options also come with better toilet facilities, showers, and are generally located closer to the action so you’ve less distance to trudge to get to the entertainment and sustenance.

We went with a modest pre-erected teepee-style tent in the glamping area. It pretty much doubles your entry ticket, but it’s worth it, especially if you’re the wrong side of 40 and can’t be bothered to slum it any more. It was also a mere 5 minutes’ walk to the main site, which is very handy if a change of weather calls for a wardrobe change, an occupational hazard at the end of August/beginning of September.

As you might expect, the nicer the accommodation, the nicer condition the place is left in when you leave, and the less of a hammering the site takes. I’m told the general camping is like a war zone on a Monday morning, and I’m inclined to take people’s word for it. I simply wouldn’t go if all I could get was general camping. I’m not 20 any more.

For many who attended the largest music and arts festival on the island of Ireland during the Summer-Autumn cusp of 30th August to 2nd September, it is but a distant memory. With my tickets for 2020 already in the proverbial bag, however, I thought it would be worth paying a 3-part homage to the event.

I’m going to tackle this 3-part blog series as follows: music, accommodation and people. For music fans EP is a chance to connect with many major acts that you’ve not seen before. The kind of acts that you might not go and see specifically, in isolation. You’re probably not going to see the huge global acts coming to EP, but you’ll still get some major players making the trip down to rural county Laois. Performers play a huge variety of venues, from the main stage which can accommodate 50,000 people, to the big tops that will hold 5,000 and the little corner venues that will just about seat 50. Some of them are unknowns, some are on the rise, some are massive, and some were household names a generation ago and are still playing the lucrative festival trade.

There’s also a bourgeoning comedy and arts side to the festival, which tends to get dominated by the over 30’s, but again it’s a chance to hear and see some major people in their respective domains.

Many folk do their research beforehand and mark the shows they definitely want to see. Often there are clashes and agonising decisions to make: do I catch one or the other or try and do a bit of both? For me, though, the real benefit is going from venue to venue, stumbling onto stuff I’d never heard of and either giving it 5 minutes or else staying for the entire gig and making a note of them for the future.

I’m never quite prepared enough for the weekend, by which I mean I haven’t listened to enough of the pre-event playlists to make sure I’m not missing out. I tend to listen to the EP playlists for a few days afterwards and come to the realisation that there was so much more music I would have seen if I’d only had the knowledge, and more time.

If you like your music, there’s no better place for gorging on the sheer breadth and volume of it than at EP.

I suppose everyone has a shortlist of favourite songs that have stayed with them over the years, to become not just their top 5 songs in a specific category, but of all time. Songs that can be relied upon to lift them, tug at the heart strings, and get them in the right frame of mind, when they feel they can accomplish just about anything.

I decided to write this post so that I could finally commit to memory its composer, since I’ve never heard the original in full, only its most famous part. Adagio for Strings was written by Samual Barber in 1936, and has featured in many other reproductions since. For instance, who could forget the scene involving Willem Dafoe’s character left on the ground by departing helicopters in the 1986 film Platoon. Some of its bars are among the most famous in classical music, achingly beautiful and haunting at the same time.

Where I’m most familiar with the piece is as a sample of a dance song of the same name by the Dutch DJ Tiësto. The video is in a club holding what looks like about 50,000 rapt attendees – oh, to have been there. I’m listening to it as I write this post. It starts with super fast beats that make you feel you’re invincible and then the adagio sample cuts in to make you stop, remember and yearn for those that are no longer with you. The song then lifts off again, reworking the handful of notes from the sample to a mesmerising close.

It’s magic stuff, giving off a huge, non-chemically induced high. I shall never tire of it I think. Probably my number 2 song of all time.


When I was a school and college student, I never had music to accompany me when I was working. I preferred complete silence so that I could concentrate. As I’ve got older, I occasionally let music intrude, but it’s still pretty rare and it depends on the kind of work I’m doing.

If I have to concentrate really hard on something, maybe a tricky spreadsheet or comparing red-lined documents, no music for me, silence is better. I realise of course that there are many people who couldn’t imagine working – even the concentration-heavy stuff – without music. The contrary works pretty well for them.

There’s the good and bad of music. On the good side, it lifts the spirits and provides diversion from manual or repetitive jobs – or when you’re plain ticked off. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to pick up an accent when someone sings? It’s always fascinated me how that works, something to do with the vocal chords resonating in a different, unifying way when we sing, perhaps.

Time flies when you listen to music, and sometimes that’s a good thing.

On the negative side, music can provide too much of a distraction, damage productivity and sometimes – when you hear a song that calls to mind a certain period or event – can make you plain cross or upset. It’s unbelievably evocative, and that’s its charm and its menace.

Music while you work – good or bad? It depends, of course.

A while back I wrote a post on how a sound can instantly bring you back to a time gone by. It can evoke a feeling in much the same way as a distinctive smell can.

The other day, I was watching the Champions League footie on the television and they were having some sound issues. The noise cancelling function of the commentators mike wasn’t working, so it was picking up crowd white noise as well.

The weird thing was this: it sounded just like the football commentaries of world cup games in the 60’s and 70’s. I was spirited back to a time of David Coleman or Kenneth Wolstenholme and those legendary voices that sounded slightly dislocated, strangled almost.

I guess that’s why music is so good at evoking a feeling or a certain period in our lives. It makes ‘guess the year’ on the radio so much more penetrable.

We’re used to hearing music on marketing videos. Perhaps it is the next great ploy to be exploited via the browser and web sites…

It’s odd how music makes you run better.  I’m a regular user of treadmills, but 19 times out of 20 I make do with the stuff they pump out of the speakers.  Most folk seem to swear by their mp3 players and never work out without them.

Just once in a while (that 1 out of 20 times, you’ll have noticed) I like to plug in too, and I swear I run better, faster, stronger.  For a while it was the Killers’ Hot Fuss.  Then it was Muse’s Black Holes and Revelations.   These days it’s David Guetta’s Nothing But The Beat.  I feel like I can run forever when it’s blasting into the exact centre of my head.  Well, at least until one of my calves or hamstrings breaks down, which is usually about 30 minutes.

I’ve only recently got into working to music though.  For years it broke my concentration, so I always studied or worked in silence.   I’m one of these people who can work from home with zero noise, no radio in the background, or no music playing.  These days, though, sometimes it’s a nice complement to creativity and problem-solving work, when you really need to ‘zone in’.