Electric Picnic and the Year of Little Magic

2012 was a whitewater raft ride in many ways. Difficulties, death and despair at every turn, or so it felt. Such wonder as there was seemed pitifully small. And yet, and yet. And yet I believe in magic. There’s too much reality around for us not to need it. I don’t trust homeopathy, but it’s quite alright to believe that fairies might step lightly among us unseen, right? They’re as real as you or me, Auntie Em, spinning on a rock here in nowhere, at 108,000km per hour, and managing on most days to successfully ignore that startling fact.


When 30,000 or so of us come together, and the right ingredients of wantingness are there in heaps, then magic will weave its gold-threaded way into our drudgeries. For three days in early September, in a field in the middle of Ireland, we were in its thrall. The pull of Electric Picnic is not necessarily the headline acts or the music or Mindfield or Body and Soul or who you might meet. This post isn’t about that. Plenty of other bloggers have done that side of it, and better than I could. This is about magic.


‘There is a crack in everything, it’s how the light gets in,’ says Leonard Cohen, and if we’re lucky, we might be in the forest, in the dark, in the silence between the drum beats, when it pokes through and spills iridescence into the wallpapered world. It will not outstay its welcome, of course. The light that burns so brightly cannot burn for long. And that perhaps is for the best. ‘Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder,‘ warns Patrick Kavanagh, and by morning the fairies will have folded their tent and left an inexplicable blue mark in the place where their dancing feet never bent the blades of grass.




And we swear to ourselves that we’ll hold on to the memories, that we’ll get it down this time, every shred of it, so that we can, in the bleak Novanuary, draw again on its vivid colours, the guy ropes and pennants and smells on the breeze and how it perfectly was, as though we were there once more in the Instagram of it all. We never do, of course. It Disneyfies itself in the remembering. But it happened, Auntie Em.


High Kings

I was hoping that Electric Picnic would make a dent in a 2012 of far too much drudgery. It did. It shot an arrow of fire right into September and kept on burning into deep winter. I can feel it yet. You could say that we rented a camper van and went to a field in the middle of Ireland for three days. But I know that I was away with the fairies.







Eileen of Denmark, thank you. πŸ™‚

And thanks too Eddie J, for pointing out that fairies are indeed alive and well.

Addendum from some found notes:

Electric Picnic. A magical moment that slips through the wallpaper of the everyday world, for three mesmerising days, in a mystical gap somewhere between August and September.Β 

I didn’t see Patti Smith or Paul Buchanan. I missed the Strypes and LAPD, and you can add Sbtrkt to the list. Salty Dog eluded me again, off having fun in the Gruffalo woods without me. So many other acts too. I wanted to meet Jim Carroll and Willie White. John Cooper Clark took up far too little of my time. I cry a bit that I missed Donal Dineen. Sorry Aoife Flynn that we didn’t bump. I’m sure I felt your presence there. And why didn’t I jump all over John Banville when I saw him in Mindfield? And how did I miss Patti Smith and Paul Buchanan?

See, as so cleverly orchestrated by Electric Picnic, these things missed over three days will keep me occupied for the other 362. (Although today, April 2nd 2013, it looks unlikely that EP13 will happen.)


But yet I saw so very, very much. I saw The Roots! John Cooper Clark took up some delicious moments of my time. The Cure. Hey, the Cure! Orbital blasted me right back. Plus, I have very few fuzzy pictures of performers 400 metres away, but lots and lots of snaps of magical doors and creatures andΒ  things. Plus plus, I saw The Roots!

And meantime, little gems like this one will turn up. I missed Fossett’s Circus again this year, but then this as I downloaded Herself’s pics from EP. Magic is there because we want it to be, and when enough of us want it to be, at the same time, then it is.Β 

There is a crack in everything. Don’t ignore it. Don’t wish it away. And most definitely do not attempt to repair it. It’s how the light gets in.


10 comments on “Electric Picnic and the Year of Little Magic

  1. Lynne says:

    Beautiful Nick.

  2. Maeve H says:

    you made it sing more than enough for the magic to be shared and for us reading to slip away with the fairies just a little bit too, quite a gift of a thing on a cold February night I might add. Our Jacob from this evidence is thriving, and his curiosity and delight leaps off the screen. Him and his brothers x

  3. Fantastic!! You’ve captured the magic, and made me feel it too πŸ™‚

  4. Elbog says:

    I somehow missed this. Until now. Liking. My 2013 will require some magic, at some point, although there will be no camper-vans in my future.

    • Nick McGivney says:

      Not sure where I’ll eke it out myself this time. Festival promoters taking it all to court, it transpires today. Not the best of auguries.

  5. Colin says:

    Maybe it was the sun, maybe it was just everyone wanting to forget any responsibility but there was something about that festival that will live very long in my memory. This is an odd story to add in some ways but nonetheless, here goes:

    While a bunch of us were queuing for toilets, a young fella of about 19 or 20, wearing only sports shorts wandered across our paths. It hadn’t struck me how middle-class the festival looked until I saw him and I suspected a few others in the queue were thinking the same thing because he turned to us and said in his best thick Dublin accent:

    “Just back…I found someone’s mobile this morning and I just handed it in…bet you didn’t expect that from a scumbag like me…”

    The Electric Picnic probably does get a lot of slagging for being too middle-class but the truth of it is that everyone there makes a conscious decision just to be nice. That’s it…nice. And what a profound difference it makes.

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