Tales from the dark side

As the buzz of this year’s Elec­tric Pic­nic be­gins to grow, Una Mul­lally talks to some sea­soned stal­warts ofthe fes­ti­val scene – in­clud­ing Bitch Fal­con, Jape and sev­eral peo­ple who wish to re­main anony­mous – about their most out­ra­geous gig-in-a-field memor

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - COVER STORY -


I was work­ing at Calvin Har­ris at Ox­e­gen in 2013, and at the time Calvin was dat­ing Rita Ora. Calvin wanted to go see Rita play, so we went down in my jeep and stood at the side of the stage to see Rita’s show. When she got off, Calvin got into my jeep, and Rita got into hers, and we went up the dress­ing rooms, parked up and got out of the cars. Calvin just said, in­tro­duc­ing us, “Brian, this is Rita.” I said “great show, Rita”, and went to high-five her, but she went to shake my hand, which meant some­how I ac­ci­den­tally grabbed her boob. We all just stood there awk­wardly.

CHRIS WEE Drum­mer, And So I Watch You From Afar

In the sum­mer of 2009, my band landed our first Euro­pean fes­ti­val, No­varock in Aus­tria. In the days lead­ing up to it, we were sup­port­ing Clutch in the UK and our last show was in Leeds. That even­ing, some­one (I wish I could re­mem­ber who) came up with the woe­fully naive idea that if we drove straight from Leeds to No­varock, we could ar­rive just in time to see Me­tal­lica head­line the first night, a full two days be­fore our slot.

All of a sud­den we were trundling down the mo­tor­way in the hope of catch­ing an early Channel Tun­nel cross­ing. There were two key over­sights to this plan:we were driv­ing an old LDV Con­voy van (a rat­tly relic of dull Bri­tish engi­neer­ing), and No­varock was 1,100 miles away.

The train staff at Calais were dou­bled over with laugh­ter at the sight of us. The starter mo­tor had gone in the van and our first tri­umphant steps on the Euro­pean main­land were

made by us push­ing our gear on to it. Un­de­terred, we drove non-stop for about 15 hours (sure Het­field and the lads were wait­ing on us.)

Pos­sess­ing lit­tle to no ex­pe­ri­ence of large fes­ti­val lo­gis­tics, we ar­rived at the fes­ti­val site in near-tor­ren­tial rain only to be told we had no ac­cess till the next day. Our dis­ap­point­ment was dou­bled as we watched the con­voy of huge dou­ble-decker buses filled with Me­tal­lica driv­ing on to the site.

With no site ac­cess and no sleep­ing plans, we ad­mit­ted de­feat and found the near­est lay-by and bed­ded down in our cramped lit­tle van. We were wo­ken by fran­tic knock­ing on the win­dows. Un­known to us, park­ing in lay-bys is a crime in Aus­tria and the of­fi­cer light­ened our pock­ets by ¤200. We limped to the fes­ti­val feel­ing sorry for our­selves, but the day was bright­ened when we learned the back­stage bar was free and in­ex­haustible. We tested these pa­ram­e­ters to the very lim­its of hu­man ca­pa­bil­ity and, some hours later, the lads who had left Leeds all those hours ago full of prom­ise, were now drunker than all the drunk­est men that have ever been drunk, drunk.

The fol­low­ing morn­ing; the sear­ing heat of the mid­day sun; the crush­ing re­al­ity that we had a show to play in about an hour. Need­less to say, it was by far the worst per­for­mance we have ever in­flicted on any­one. Thou­sands of per­plexed Aus­trian met­allers star­ing and won­der­ing what form of “mu­sic” us four id­iots were at­tempt­ing.

Hor­rific yet valu­able lessons learned all round. On the plus side, we ate din­ner af­ter the show next to Limp Bizkit. Ev­ery cloud, eh?

LIZZIE FITZ­PATRICK Singer and gui­tarist, Bitch Fal­con

I was at a Nile Rogers gig in the pit with a friend, when a wheely bin caught our at­ten­tion in the mid­dle of the crowd. Of course we jumped on top of the bin and danced to the 20,000-plus crowd around us. I had to run off to set up for a gig, and left my friend danc­ing on the bin, in plain view of Nile Rogers. He says “hey beau­ti­ful” to her, in­spir­ing her to run through the crowd, hop over the bar­rier and blag her way through se­cu­rity. She got through all se­cu­rity but one. What was he go­ing to do if she ran on stage? Run af­ter her? That would have been just as funny as her danc­ing any­way, so she went for it. It ended with her break­ing it down with the back-up singers and Rogers play­ing a solo to her, all in the 20 min­utes af­ter I left.


At Elec­tric Pic­nic in 2010, we had a lot of gigs: two Jape gigs, two David Kitt gigs and a Red­neck Man­i­festo gig, but we were all done by Satur­day even­ing so I kind of let loose a bit for the Satur­day night. Nick Cave was play­ing and we went along and af­ter a while of stand­ing up, we de­cided to sit down by a wall and just take in the show. Af­ter a while, some peo­ple started wav­ing over at us. I as­sumed it was be­cause they had seen one of the ear­lier shows, and so I was wav­ing back hap­pily.

This went on for a while with peo­ple look­ing over and sort of point­ing. Even­tu­ally a guy came over and said, “Here man, you’re sit­ting in a piss trough, peo­ple have been piss­ing there all day.” Our jack­ets, pon­chos etc that we had used as mats were soaked in day-old elec­tric piss­ness.

LAU­RENCE MACKIN Ticket Ed­i­tor

Many years ago, I was play­ing with a band called 3ep­kano and we got hired to play the now de­funct, not-lamented Man­tua fes­ti­val. When we ar­rived the rain had de­stroyed the site and ap­proach roads, the tents were run­ning sev­eral hours be­hind sched­ule, and we faced the prospect of car­ry­ing all our gear to a stage in the rain that was very far away. The gig was look­ing pretty dicey, and we were de­bat­ing what to do with one of the fes­ti­val team. Cider can in hand, she said she didn’t mind one way or the other what we did, but to de­cide now, as she wanted to see The Stun­ning. We de­cided virtue was the bet­ter part of valour, and to hit the road.

It turned out to be a good de­ci­sion. Dur­ing our al­leged set time, some­one stole the keys of a nearby trac­tor and took it for a spin through the tent we were sup­posed to be play­ing in. Although as a heckle, it sure can’t be beat.


Back in Septem­ber 2013, tick­ets for Elec­tric Pic­nic were like gold dust. Ob­vi­ously, I hadn’t bought a ticket and ob­vi­ously as we came closer to the event I be­came more and more ob­sessed with go­ing. I stayed up all night trawl­ing through Face­book and Twit­ter the night be­fore, wait­ing for a #tick­et­fairy to save the day. Come 4.30am, I got lucky and found some­one who was will­ing to drop one over to me that very morn­ing. Af­ter I handed over an ex­tor­tion­ate amount of cash, I was told it was in fact a Tour de Pic­nic ticket, and I had to be ready to run 10km at 7.30am – in three short hours. As some­one who is not that way in­clined, this was not ideal. How­ever, not go­ing was just not an op­tion, so I saw this as lit­tle more than a set back.

Once we started, we were told there were mark­ers ev­ery kilo­me­tre. The first kilo­me­tre seemed to last for­ever; it was like I had lost my mind. It turns out there was a mix up and we were all dropped off not 10km from EP, but 15km – a bit of a dif­fer­ence. Dy­ing to get it fin­ished, I ran the whole way. A few friends of mine were do­ing the cy­cle, so I said I’d wait for them at the end zone. With a few hours to spare, I helped my­self to a crate of dis­gust­ing rum and coke cans be­cause, treat yo-self, I de­served it.

As the day con­tin­ued, so did my drink­ing. No re­hy­dra­tion, just booze and a bagel. Come 1am, I was plot­less. Next thing I know I’m walk­ing through the woods with a man I’d never met. It turns out I’d passed out at the rave in the woods, my friends had car­ried me to the emer­gency tent, and af­ter be­ing re­vived, I was set free.

This kind soul had found me look­ing ter­ri­fied in a field, cov­ered in wa­ter, and was help­ing me find my tent, the lo­ca­tion of which I could not re­call. His per­sis­tence pre­vailed and a few hours later we found my tent. So re­lieved to be home to my shitty tent, I un­zipped it to find a dis­grun­tled girl I didn’t know ask­ing who the f*** I was. A sweet friend of mine had de­cided to use my tent for his own de­vices, leav­ing this girl to sleep there in my sleep­ing bag. What a time to be alive.


At [redacted] fes­ti­val a few years ago, I found my­self in a back­stage dress­ing room drink­ing with a group of folks in­clud­ing one of the su­per­star DJs play­ing the fes­ti­val. When the DJ and his en­tourage de­parted for the stage for one of the big­gest sets of the week­end, I wan­dered out­side only for a chauf­feur to mis­take me for one of the DJ’s ac­tual mates. He rushed me into a Range Rover which sped over to the stage. By this time, I had a few shandies taken, and was slightly dis­ori­en­tated, but man­aged to po­si­tion my­self in what I thought was a great van­tage point for the gig.

Sud­denly, se­cu­rity peo­ple and crew started scream­ing and roar­ing and bar­relled me over to an­other part of the side stage. I thought their be­hav­iour was a bit out of hand un­til ex­plo­sions started mo­ments later, and I re­alised I had been stand­ing di­rectly in the line of fire of a mas­sive py­rotech­nic set-up. Nice one se­cu­rity dudes. I owe yiz.

Some peo­ple started wav­ing over at us. I as­sumed it was be­cause they had seen one of the ear­lier shows, and so I was wav­ing back hap­pily. This went on for a while with peo­ple look­ing over and point­ing

Main pho­to­graph: Ruth Med­jber

Fol­low­ing the signs at Elec­tric Pic­nic. Far right: Chris Wee and Niall Kennedy from And So I Watch You From Afar, and Richie Egan.

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