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The Electric Picnic line up is here, and while it’s not the seismic shift we saw with Longitude, the acts on display are yet another sign of the Irish festival’s embrace of hip-hop and R’n’B as well as their move away from the guitar. The first thing to notice is that there is not a single rock or ‘indie’ band headlining. Kendrick Lamar, the reigning king of rap, is undoubtedly the biggest name to feature here. After only playing Dublin at the start of this month, his appearance might surprise many, but realistically it’s the only play they had, given the way things are headed.
The ‘second’ headliners are arguably N*E*R*D, the long-living hip/hop group led by hitmaker Pharrell Williams. The two acts signal a statement of intent from the already nearly sold-out festival, one that says they are determined to not fall by the wayside by championing genres and acts that are still part of the zeitgeist. There will be many a Dad Rocker who may be reconsidering making the trip after splashing the cash, but the festival knows that they’ll be plenty of “young wans” waiting in the wings to snap up those tickets. EP can do what they want when it’s essentially sold out before the acts are even announced.
Like years before, the older crowd grabbing ‘prestige’ headliner is still here, but even that’s not an especially safe choice. Trip Hop legends like Massive Attack will have a lot of deserved goodwill going for them, but they sound out of place when you compare them to the likes of Duran Duran or Simple Minds from recent years. In fact, Massive Attack are the only pre-2000s act here, although this could change with any future additions.
It’s not a completely radical line-up though. The Second tier acts are certainly more guitar orientated. The Kooks and Wolf Alice popping up is probably evidence that Electric Picnic isn’t yet ready to ditch all the old guard. That being said while the likes of St. Vincent and King Krule might be considered guitar based ‘indie’, these are still two restless innovators whose latest albums don’t really fall neatly into that category. Other than that, for better or for worse, it really is a case of ‘there is something there for everyone’: The likes of George Ezra and Ben Howard fill the massively popular singer/songwriters spot, Dua Lipa is the pop star of the moment who is likely to be headlining next time around and The Blaze and Mount Kimbie are the electronic artists who will hopefully be slotted in at the right time of the day for once. As for the DJ’s, there are Nina Kraviz and the excellent Peggy Gou. There are plenty of smaller great acts which feature too. I’d recommend checking out lo-fi pop queen Nilufer Yanya, downbeat dream-pop group Cigarettes After Sex and the weird French electro outfit La Femme.
So that’s the first batch of acts announced, and it’s a tentative step in the right. We will have to wait and see if that step gets larger or smaller in the months to come.