With both Oxegen and Electric Picnic to look forward to this summer, Sophie Lioe and George Morahan argue which is the more worthy way to spend your hard-earned cash

Electric Picnic

With this year’s remarkable lineup, Electric Picnic has proven itself to be Ireland’s true alternative festival. Since its inception in 2004, the event has developed a comfortable little niche for itself in the Irish music calendar.

What started out as an obscure one-day event has rapidly spread across a three-day weekend, and is now a legitimate contender for Oxegen’s crown as Ireland’s biggest and best festival. However, it’s an entirely different beast to that Punchestown bash, and for those seeking something beyond the 2fm playlist, Electric Picnic is the festival for you this summer.

One term that perfectly encapsulates this year’s line up is strength in depth. Whilst the top of the bill is jaw droppingly impressive, there are many delights to be discovered at its foot.

For instance, we have a trio of Choice Prize nominees – Adebisi Shank, O Emperor and the Cast of Cheers – giving a timely reminder of the wealth of young Irish talent about and acts such as The Walkmen and Twin Shadow from across the pond.

In the cases of Lisbon and Forget, the two Brooklynite bands have respectively produced a couple of the past year’s better albums, and will be assured of a warm reception. Micah P Hinson is sure to be an incendiary figure this year. The Texan folk singer’s post-Obama material has spiritually anointed him the musical wing of the Tea Party. He will be a talking point, to say the least.

The middle order presents a diverse range of acts well matched to a lazy, sunny afternoon spent lying on the grass, drink in hand. DJ Shadow and Flying Lotus will provide some memorable mixes, and are not to be missed, while Reggae legends Jimmy Cliff and Toots & the Maytals are sure to bring a smile to your face. And for those with energy for dancing, The Go! Team will be endowed with ample funkiness to go around.

Though Interpol have something to prove after the muted reception that awaited their self-titled fourth album and the departure of bassist – and all-round Renaissance man – Carlos D, we can be sure of them being one of the weekend’s high points. The Chemical Brothers will not disappoint; an audio-visual feast is virtually guaranteed and a revitalised PJ Harvey will bring her latest album, Let England Shake, to life, in what will be one of this year’s most anticipated sets.

Finally, the prospective returns of a newly reformed Pulp and Canadian titans, Arcade Fire, to Irish shores have left O-two salivating. Arcade Fire are coming to the end of their world tour in support of The Suburbs. The triumphant energy surrounding the Montreal eight-piece combined with the excitement for the revival of Jarvis Cocker’s Britpop legends is going to make Electric Picnic 2011 something unforgettable.

Electric Picnic 2011 takes place from September 2nd-4th at Stradbally Hall, Co. Laois. Weekend tickets are €240, Sunday day tickets are €99.50.

– George Morahan


Foo Fighters, The Strokes and My Chemical Romance playing alongside Swedish House Mafia, Bloody Beetroots and Crystal Castles? Only at Oxegen 2011. This year, the organisers have managed to secure one of the most impressive and varied lineups in recent years. You could be a glow-paint splattered rave enthusiast or an overgrown emo kid and you’d still manage to find exactly what you’re looking for at this year’s festival, which takes place, as usual, at Punchestown Racecourse in Naas from July 8-10th.

There has been a slight reversion back towards more traditional guitar acts, such as the veteran likes of Arctic Monkeys and Coldplay after Eminem and Jay-Z significantly raised the hip-hop presence at the top of last year’s bill. However, the urban influence of recent years hasn’t been entirely lost, with artists such as Tine Tempah, Bruno Mars and the Black Eyed Peas still holding strong.

Relative newcomers from across the musical spectrum are also well represented. Recent breakthrough acts such as Two Door Cinema Club and Jessie J, who have only just exploded into the musical conscience of those even vaguely attuned to today’s pop scene, are sure to be welcomed by a typically fervent crowd.

Another new name, which cannot be ignored, is UCD’s very own Madisun. After successfully gigging around the Dublin circuit, the band have built up quite a following and were only recently named the winners of Captain America’s Battle of the Bands. The former Campus Band interviewees are showing signs of real potential; who knows what Oxegen could bring. This time next year they could have made their way from the back pages, to gracing the front cover of the O-two.

Despite the undoubtedly strong lineup, there has been some controversy over the absence of Blink 182. Originally billed as a headliner, and one which would be the sole reason to attend Oxegen for many a ticketholder, their unexplained disappearance from the confirmed lineup is disappointing to say the least. There is speculation that they have cancelled all of their summer tour, which include a number of UK dates, but these rumours are as yet unconfirmed.

On a more positive note, Oxegen-goers can look forward to enjoying home grown talent such as The Script, Fight Like Apes and Imelda May. Judging by The Script’s epic performance at Oxegen 2009, the crowds like nothing more than waving a few tricolours and being told that we were the reason behind everything that band has achieved. It’s nice to be loved.

So for the Oxegen virgin or veteran, this year promises to be an unforgettable one; so be sure to bring enough beer, perhaps some sunscreen, definitely a pair of wellies and enjoy.

Tickets for Oxygen can be bought for €99.50 for a day ticket, €199.50 for a three-day ticket and €244.50 for a four-day camping ticket.

– Sophie Lioe