By Mags Blackburn

This day next week you will be in Stradbally. The flags will be flying. You will have already set up camp or will be trudging with your wheelbarrow in search of a spot, that’s close enough but not too close to a) the bathrooms, b) the walkway c) the group you know WILL still be up when you finally call it a night. You have your line-up at hand. If you’re extra efficient you have highlighted the bands you really must see. You’ve consulted the map and are ready to explore.

And what a line-up it is this year. The stage times have not been released at the time of writing but expect clashes and plenty of running around if you want to catch as much as possible. I’ve been known on occasion to abandon my group in the search of the perfect festival i.e. seeing EVERYONE I want to see. And guess what?! I succeeded. It meant maintaining a tight schedule, keeping track of time and knowing exactly where things were. But it was so very worth it. And I met some great crazy groups along the way. In fact if it hadn’t been for one group I would have been elsewhere instead of being blown away by Public Enemy in 2011. But there is alot to be said for taking it easy, having a fair idea and just seeing what you came across. EP has so much on offer besides live music that you will have an amazing experience either way. During one of my downtime moments I came across a drumming troupe completely by chance.

I can’t possibly go through every act performing but at Electric Picnic and I won’t presume to ‘tell’ you who you should see. Now my list of ‘must-see’ bands is extensive so for the purposes of this lets narrow it down a bit.  Let’s assume you will see the headliners Portishead, Outkast, Beck, The Pet Shop Boys, Foals and Blondie, because you should! I have already written about the performances of Acrobat, Vann Music, Walking on Cars, and Tvvins at this year’s Indiependence Music and Arts Festival here http://musician.ie/indiependence-music-arts-festival-2014-review/ So, let’s start off with my Top five Irish picks for Electric Picnic Festival.

Sinead O’Connor

With her new single ‘Take Me to Church’ on Irish Radio playlists across the board and album ‘I’m not bossy, I’m the Boss’ top of the charts Sinead is more relevant than ever and reaching a new generation of fans. Ireland’s favourite child will undoubtedly put on an entertaining show. Last time I saw her was EP 2011. She played an early set on the main stage as crowds lazed on the grass and fans gathered to the front. Sinead and ‘that’ voice enthralled on the day as I have no doubt she will again this year.

James Vincent McMorrow

I’ve missed all of his gigs to date but I will not be missing him again. I will be glued to James and his falsetto and cannot wait to finally see him live. There are no words. Just listen to ‘Post Tropical’ then argue with me.

Hozier

Obviously­­! Andrew Hozier-Byrne has blown right up. People without the internet or TV are talking about him. The Debut album is out September 19th and EP is the perfect place for Andrew’s angsty blues.

Ham Sandwich

An oldie but a goodie. Ham Sandwich always put on an amazing live show! Always! New single ‘Illuminate’ showed that they have yet again ventured into new territory and I for one cannot wait to see what that brings to the show.

In The Willows

I have a soft spot of the alt-folk band from Waterford/Dublin. They are wistful, folky, indie and their songs take you away. The bands two EP’s ‘Long Time Listener’ and ‘Vantage Point’ have earned them a loyal following who are already panting for the release of debut album ‘Before Everybody Disappears’. Release date is soon so expect a tour in the winter.

Here are my Top 5 International Acts.

St. Vincent

From the first blast of horns on the single ‘Digital Witness’ I was hooked. St. Vincent’s Annie Clark and her platinum hair want to take us on a ride and I’m jumping right in. She toured with and some say outshone Talking Head’s David Byrne. That alone is reason to go see what she is about.

FKA Twigs

FKA Twigs with her beats and sensual vocals is not revolutionising RnB. She has jumped right over it and is creating what our future music will sound like. Since the release of her two EP’s, ‘EP1’, ‘EP2’ she became known for pushing boundaries. Her debut ‘LP1’ just came out and I will be attempting to crack some bones along with Ms Tahliah Barnett.

Glass Animals

I first came across Glass Animals after SXSW and can’t help but enjoy them. The first signing to Paul Epworth’s (of Adele and Florence) new label Wolf Tone they are an Indie band from England that with the right amount of RnB touches may just come out the other side of this. Check out ‘Gooey’ and ‘Pools’ from debut album Zaba.

Wolf Alice

I’ve been tabs on this London four-piece for the past year when I first heard ‘Bros’ and I’m not the only one. Like many bands they have the female singer. Like other bands they have a folk feel about them. Unlike other bands they didn’t head down the electronic route instead opting to use more grunge elements in their new material. Think ‘Hole’ and check out their LP ‘Creature Songs’ before next weekend.

Tune-Yards (tUnE-YaRdS)

An exciting Indie-Pop project from Connecticut fronted by multi-instrumentalist Merrill Garbus. Expect drum loops with layers of ukulele and vocals. Albums include titles such as BiRd-BrAiNs, W H O k I L L and newest release ‘Nikki Nack’. If she puts this much thought into the stylisation of the titles, imagine what goes into the music.

Actually five was way too constrictive. There were twenty more bands on my list in contention for this. But these are a good place to start with anyway. Have a great festival!