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Ranked: The Best Electric Picnic Line ups of All Time

Words: Dylan Murphy

Back in 2004, Electric Picnic kicked off as a one day event, before moving into a full weekend festival within a year. Over nearly two decades, the three dayer in Stradbally has hosted acts ranging from The Chemical Brothers to Kendrick Lamar and in the process, became a staple of Irish summers. This year, they’ve expanded the capacity after the 2021 edition was cancelled at the final hour. EP has gone through numerous iterations and reinventions but endured popular music evolutions, a pandemic and all the changes in taste that came with the internet.

Ahead of the 2022 edition, we scanned back through the posters and line ups and ranked the top ten. For this, we’re talking strictly acts listed on the poster, not performances or non-performances. So even the editions that fell to the wayside are eligible, even if they live only in our imagination.

Check them out below.

10.

2011: James Blake, Flying Lotus & Massive Attack

For sure, there’s some beige acts sprinkled throughout the 2011 edition, but in amongst the noise were some seriously good bookings. James Blake and Flying Lotus before they became music giants, classic acts in DJ Shadow and Public Enemy and techno from Dave Clarke to satisfy the heads.

Highlights: James Blake, Flying Lotus, Foster The People, DJ Shadow, Sinead O’Connor, Public Enemy, Underworld

9.

2022: Arctic Monkeys, Megan Thee Stallion, Fred Again..

For some reason, the Irish acts have been relegated to their own section of the poster on this year’s edition. Despite that, in terms of pure talent, it’s one of the strongest local showings at a festive in recent memory. For Those I Love, Kojaque, Saint Sister, Just Mustard – the list goes on. Couple that with acts like Fred Again.. and Little Simz who are on a seemingly unstoppable path right now and a well timed return for Arctic Monkeys ahead of their new album and it’s looking extra picante this year.

Highlights: Arctic Monkeys, Tame Impala, JPEGMAFIA, Little Simz, CMAT, For Those I Love, Amy Michelle.

8.

2019: One for the heads

The Streets, James Blake, Four Tet and Yves Tumor covered all bases for music heads of every persuasion in 2019. Whilst Billie Eilish landed as the big name pick (and wasn’t even listed as a headliner somehow).

Highlights: Billie Eilish, The Streets, Serpentwithfeet, Yves Tumor.

7.

2013: Headache poster, headache clashes

The only things serving a bigger headache than this poster are the clashes. Wu-Tang, Mount Kimbie and Björk is just chef’s kiss.

Highlights: Disclosure, Wu-Tang Clan, My Bloody Valentine, Björk, Mount Kimbie.

6.

2010: A great poster

Now, this is a no nonsense poster. Clear, concise and chronological. Love it. The acts weren’t half bad either. Gil-Scott Heron?! LCD Soundsystem followed by Hot Chip, Dâm Funk on the same stage as Messiah J and the Expert – this is an overlooked year.

Highlights: Gil-Scott Heron, LCD Soundsystem, Robyn, Leftfield.

5.

2012: Aged like a fine wine

Booking The XX to play right before Coexist dropped, alongside a B2B from Caribou and Four Tet while SBTRKT arrives at the peak of their powers and Hudson Mohawke is about to enter the Yeezus era. This is a line up that has aged like a fine wine.

Highlights: The XX, Orbital, SBTRKT, Caribou vs Four Tet, Hudson Mohawke, James Murphy.

4.

2017: Hip Hop heaven

2017 was around the time rap consolidated its grip on the world. The year previous was the best for new releases since the golden era. Kendrick dropped Untitled Unmastered, Noname shared Telephone, Isaiah Rashad released The Sun’s Tirade and Ye caused a commotion with TLOP. Electric Picnic honoured that development with a truly amazing lineup of hip hop, rap and drill. Young Fathers held it down for the experimental side of things, Vince Staples arrived as one of the genre’s hottest commodities and A Tribe Called Quest headlined as legends of the genre. Take us back.

Highlights: A Tribe Called Quest, Run The Jewels, Mura Masa, Vince Staples, Rejjie Snow, J Hus, Section Boyz, Chaka Khan.

3.

2014: Outkast’s last Irish show

2014 proved to be Outkast’s last show on Irish soil. Alongside Portishead, Beck, Pet Shop Boys, Lily Allen and Blondie, they made up a formidable line up of headliners.

Highlights: Flume, Neneh Cherry, FKA Twigs, Kaytranada, Outkast, Portishead, Lily Allen.

2.

2020: What could have been

*Cries in Rage Against The Machine*

Highlights: Rage Against The Machine, Arlo Parks, Skepta, Denzel Curry, Beabadoobee, Greentea Peng.

1.

2018: Kendrick Lamar, N.E.R.D, The Prodigy, King Krule

When Fontaines D.C. are just a small spec on the bottom half of the poster and Dua Lipa isn’t even a headliner you know you are in for a good time. Sure, back then, they weren’t what they are now but mix these forward thinking bookings with acts like Jorja Smith, Hak Bakar, Death Grips, The Blaze and the mid range is looking very healthy. It doesn’t end there though. EP went and got an exclusive King Krule performance. The only time that isn’t one of the most impressive bookings on a poster is when it is slotted below headline slots from post-DAMN. Kendrick Lamar, N.E.R.D and Massive Attack.

Highlights: Kendrick Lamar, Massive Attack, The Prodigy, King Krule, N.E.R.D, Mall Grab, The Blaze.

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