60,000 festival goers descended upon Stradbally, Co. Laois the weekend before last for three action-packed days of fun, music and warm cans in a field. The line-up for the annual festival was one of the best in years, with many major names making an appearance in the midlands. On Friday night, fans saw David Keenan play a beautiful set with his band called the Unholy Ghosts. Despite the size of the stage, Keenan made his gig feel as intimate as it would have been in The Olympia Theatre. It was also the Dublin singer’s 27th birthday, which made this gig even more special. Billie Eilish was on soon after, and despite it being the singer’s first time in Ireland, she blew Electric Picnic out of the park. Fans went crazy for the 17-year-old American native as she opened with her hit single Bad Guy, especially when she asked them to create a mosh pit in the middle of the field.
Dermot Kennedy was soulful and powerful. His set began with an inspirational message recorded by Michael D. Higgins, which faded out into the Irish singer singing An Evening I will Not Forget. His hit songs such as Lost, Outnumbered and Power Over Me had the whole of Stradbally screaming the lyrics back to him. He later shared a post on social media, comparing the first year he performed at the festival to his gig on the Friday night, saying that he felt like, “the whole thing showed up to sing with him.” Hozier played an absolute killer of a gig, with most of his set being from his new album. Dinner and Diatribes saw the stage burst into flames, and at one-point Hozier projected an animation about the Housing Crisis behind him on the big screen. To finish, Hozier paraded around stage with an LGBTQ flag to show his support to the community in true Hozier fashion during Take Me to Church.
The weekend was not all about the main stage. For those who ventured into areas such as Salty Dog, The Jerry Fish Electric Sideshow and The Electric Arena, they got to witness brilliant bands such as Inhaler, Somebody’s Child, Powpig, Pillow Queens, The Academic, Sam Fender and Sea Girls. Maverick Sabre played on Saturday to a packed-out tent, and the singer received thunderous support from fans, even when he messed up his last song by singing the second verse first. Charli XCX was one of the best parties of the weekend, even though the pop singer referred to Stradbally as Dublin… twice.
Bonnie Tyler was a big draw for the weekend, with a lot of people swarming to the Electric Ireland Throwback Stage to hear the singer. You could hear people singing Total Eclipse of the Heart from all over. Years and Years had a big bop on the main stage on Saturday, and nothing could stop them – not even the rain. The sun wasn’t away for long, however, and a rainbow appeared to help close their set. Freya Ridings played a stunning set in the Electric Arena, with the Castles singer performing songs from her recently released debut album. The 1975 and The Strokes headlined later that evening, bringing Saturday evening to a close.
Jess Glynn and Razorlight played one after the other on Sunday afternoon from four o’clock, kicking off what was an evening of amazing musicians. Kodaline played a smashing gig, full of all their old, chart-friendly songs. Fans screamed lyrics to Follow Your Fire, which kicked off their set, and the crowd was only delighted to hear classics such as High Hopes, Brand New Day, All I Want and Head Held High.
To close the festival, Florence and The Machine graced the main stage. Jumping and twirling around the stage, she looked like a powerful goddess – and she certainly had the crowd in the palm of her hands on the night. Highlights of her set included her telling the crowd to put their phones away and to ‘trust her, despite it making them feel uncomfortable’ and talking about the perils of toxic masculinity before the song Patricia. Singing hit songs such as Dog Days Are Over, Shake It Out and You’ve Got The Love, she finished out the festival out in true Florence style; leaving fans feeling hopeful and inspired at the end of a long three days.