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Published on August 30th, 2010 | by Éilish Burke


The Tribes of Planet Picnic

It’s that time of year again, when media attention zooms in on the goings-on in a few fields in the midlands county otherwise only notable for being home to Ireland’s oldest maximum security prison. Yes folks, we’re drawing up close to Electric Picnic weekend. 30-odd thousand people are about to descend on Stradbally Estate in Laois and even if you’re not one of them, you’re still gonna hear about it. Endlessly. Especially if you’re an Irish Times reader.

Because Electric Picnic isn’t just any music event. It is Ireland’s premiere boutique “arts and music festival”. Our Glastonbury. An event of important national cultural significance because…. well, because it’s not just for drunken young wans and therefore lots of media and journo types will be there, tweeting on their iPhones about Bryan Ferry’s still-luxuriant hair. And you can get a good soya milk cappuccino. And there’s a comedy tent and like, a stage, with like, political debates and shit going on.

For those who have never been before, Electric Picnic can seem like a strange place, an alien planet, if you will. Upon entry into the camping area you’ll find an atmosphere heady with excitement and anticipation, augmented by the sweet smell of pot and that whiff which can only be described as ‘eau de portaloo’. But as is often the case, it is the people who prove the most interesting. In amongst the ill-erected gazebos, chip vans, bales of hay, aggressive Glaswegian security staff and masses of drunken festival goers, you will come across certain tribes of festival goers. These tribes are notable for their particular and unique characteristics and in almost all cases should be avoided in favour of a long queue at the main stage toilets.

“Homo Parentis Hipsterus”

These individuals appear mostly in the earlier parts of the day, given that their accompanying children will need to be tucked up in their capervan / bivouac and read a chapter of Where the Wild Things Are before 7pm. Usually to be seen in groups, the females are normally attired in a mix of rocker tee-shirts, combat cut-offs and Avoca wellies. Their slightly manic disposition belies a futile determination to enjoy the festival regardless that their noise-reduction-headphone-sporting two year old is bawling crying and their partner has just downed his fourth pint of Heineken and smoked his second joint and it’s only 2pm. Nevertheless they believe that exposing their children to music and culture at this early stage will have a positive developmental influence on their life course towards become a successful graphic designer / architect. Not to mention sounding cool when chatting to the other mums on the school run in Ranelagh.

“Fashionistaeus Festivalus”

Not to be confused with people in possession of actual personal style or imagination, the Festival Fashionistas (Latin name “Fashionistaeus Festivalus”) have in fact consulted several monthly style magazines before deliberately purchasing an entire wardrobe of festival “must haves” for 2010. Being on-trend is de rigueur and the Fashionistas were therefore relieved to hear that big, tousled hair was back in for this season, meaning they could leave the cordless straighteners at home in favour of an industrial-sized can of dry shampoo (for extra body). Actually completely disinterested in any of the music at the festival and therefore only to be found in the Bacardi cocktail bar drinking overpriced Mojitos.

“Homo Scobius Confusus”

This tribe would feel more at home at the bigger, messier and younger shindig that is Oxegen but one of the lads got confused when booking online and bought six tickets for Electric Picnic instead. No matter though ‘cos they each have 48 cans of Bavaria, 6 bottles of Buckfast and a speaker set to wreck everyone heads within a 50 metre radius of their tent. They haven’t heard of many of the bands playing the festival (“Who the fuck is Roxy Music?”) so they’ll probably spend most of the weekend in the dance tent or in their gazebo in the campsite trying to score any random girl in hot pants and wellies that passes by.

“Genus Psytranceas Maximus”

Having been at every music festival in Ireland since the first Féile in 1990, the Psytrance Head (Latin name “Genus Psytranceas Maximus”) feels that things have gone way too commercial in recent years. (“I mean €240 for a ticket? That’s extortionate!”) Had he not always got a lift down with mates and jumped the fence at these things there’s no way he could afford to come. Thankfully a bit of bartering of home grown weed for DMT means his weekend is pretty much set. Is usually found drinking herbal tea and selling hand-made trinkets in the Body & Soul area by day and rocking backwards and forwards and making small repetitive hand gestures at the rave in the forest by night.

“Scriptor Musica Wannabeus”

Of all the tribes to be found at Electric Picnic the Wannabe Music Journalist (Latin name “Scriptor Musica Wannabeus”) is the only solitary creature. This is mostly due to the fact that he is chalking up “some serious posts” for his music blog and is therefore ‘working’. He spends much of his time in the Hot Press Chatroom trying to blag a backstage press pass. When this fails every day, he attends as many bands as humanly possible and keeps track of their set list in his trusty Moleskin.

For those of you going to the festival, be warned, these characters will be in front of you in the bar queue and blocking your view of the stage. Take a deep breath, restrain yourself and remember – it’s not their fault, it’s just the way they are. And anyways, you’re in Planet Picnic, get out there and have some fun! For those of you not going, enjoy the wall to wall media coverage. After all, listening to it live on 2FM is almost like being there.

Thank You: The illustrations in this post were specially drawn, at short notice by the very talented Spanish illustrator Aroa Vivancos. You can see more of her excellent work on her website www.aroavivancos.blogspot.com. Muchas Gracias Aroa!

About the Author

Éilish writes the Ad Nauseam series of posts for Culch.ie as well as some other bit and bobs. She used to work in adland and still likes to dissect the advertising she comes across, though these days mainly from the comfort of her couch and in the form of angry tirades while her flatmate rolls her eyes to heaven. She secretly harbours smug feelings that instead of saving and putting a deposit on a house she spent all her life savings on extravagant holidays and has therefore escaped a lifetime in negative equity. She co-runs a company called Amp Music Marketing. You can get in touch with her at eilishburke{at}gmail{dot}com or follow her on Twitter.

3 Responses to The Tribes of Planet Picnic

  1. tcup says:

    ha ha very good!! stay clear of this sort normies!!

    wkend will be savage!!

  2. robert says:

    Congratulations for the pictures. Really niece

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