7 tips for a tech-savvy Electric Picnic

26 Aug 2014

Image via Electric Picnic on Facebook

If you’re heading down to Electric Picnic this weekend, be sure to follow our guide for making the most of it, with a little help from some technology.

Celebrating its 11th year at Stradbally Hall, Co Laois, Electric Picnic kicks off on Friday, 29 August, though some campervan travellers will arrive as early as Thursday.

The sold-out festival promises to be an event to remember, even if the rain attempts to wash it out and, while the lack of electricity and chaotic nature of festival camping seems incompatible with tech geekery, we have seven tips to keep your picnicking electric.

1. Listen up

First off, you can start getting in the mood for Electric Picnic 2014 right now through the festival’s Spotify playlist. Get that on shuffle in your lugholes to remind you of your favourite tracks from your must-see acts and help you discover new acts to check out over the weekend.

2. Get a schedule

Now that you know the acts you want to see, you’ll need a schedule to let you know where to be and when to catch them. The festival website is absolutely useless to you in this respect, unless you fancy clicking through to each individual act’s page to find out their stage time. Praise be to the internet, there are much better options available that allow you to see, at a glance, who is playing where on a daily timeline.

One such wondrous tool is Clashfinder, which also gives you information on when the schedule was last updated and lets you know when it’s fit for print. As only the main stage act schedule has been announced so far, now is not the time. In fact, it’s advised that you leave printing to as late as possible in order to make sure you have the most up-to-date schedule possible. Just bring a pen for any late changes, and a highlighter so you don’t miss your favourites.

3. Keep up to date

If you’re bringing your smartphone along to the festival, you can keep up to date with schedule changes and other festival information via the @EPfestival Twitter account. To follow the broader conversation around the festival, there are two hashtags in circulation: #ElectricPicnic2014 and the more 140-character-friendly #EP2014 (the latter a dead cert to prove more popular).

Last year, the week leading up to and the four days of Electric Picnic saw more than 21,000 tweets sent and more than 90pc of the acts playing at this year’s festival have Twitter accounts, according to the social network.

You can use Twitter’s real-time feed to keep an eye out for stage-time changes, secret gig announcements and the general happenings going on around the festival site. Other key accounts include @BodyandSoulIrl, @TheatreOfFood and @OtherVoicesLive.

4. Power up

Now, if you’re going to be using any sort of gadget over the course of the weekend, be it smart or dumb, you’ll need power. Be sure to equip yourself with a good supply of any batteries you may need in the correct quantities and sizes. For rechargeable gizmos, there will be a Vodafone Recharge tent in the arena (free to Vodafone customers) as well as charging units by the campsites.

There are two things you can do to save some euro and keep yourself powered up. The first is to keep battery usage to a minimum. In the case of a smartphone, there are plenty of ways to elongate its usage by switching off features you won’t need for the weekend, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and any non-essential apps and notifications. For many users, the biggest drain on their battery is the phone’s display, so keep this at its dimmest setting to prolong power.

The second method of staying connected is to invest in a portable charger – just make sure you have it fully powered up before you go and that it can hold enough capacity for your battery requirements.

A bonus tip for keeping your phone powered up is to refrain from filming the act you are there to see in person. That grainy YouTube footage is never going to be a patch on the experience of actually being there, so be in the moment and spare the spectators behind you the annoyance of having to watch the gig through your phone.

5. Be safe

Those gadgets you can’t leave home without will have to be kept safe while rambling around Stradbally. Pick-pocketing isn’t unheard of at the event but plenty of people have lost or damaged phones at the festival due to their own negligence. If you can’t trust yourself or other people to keep your gadgets safe from harm, Giglockers can be rented in advance for €15. You can store any valuables you have with you under lock and key here. Of course, you can bring a padlock or similar to secure your tent, just remember that your valuables are safest either with you or in a locked box. No one wants to wake up with the three-day hangover and no phone on Monday.

6. Get your geek on

Going three days without a science or tech fix can be tricky but, thankfully, the Mindfield area promises plenty to entertain us geeks.

CoderDojo will have a special pop-up dojo running 45-minute coding, gaming and music-making sessions on the hour from Friday through to Sunday. Lessons will cover beginner-level coding through scratch workshops, Raspberry Pi gaming for more advanced coders, and musical instrument-making for all with MaKey MaKey.

Meanwhile, the Science Gallery stage in Mindfield will be hosting quickfire Ignite talks, a Strange Weather show from Scientific Sue and an almost-live session of Futureproof, the weekly science podcast.

7. Teach yourself a valuable YouTube lesson

Finally, on the day you arrive, you’ll think that pop-up tent you brought is the greatest creation in the universe, especially as you watch others struggle with guy wires and fibreglass poles.

Come the day of your departure, though, it’s a different story altogether. What goes up, must come down, but that’s easier said than done when it comes to depitching a pop-up.

My advice is to watch this video, know it by heart and even practise a few times if you can. Then be prepared to forget it all in the haze of Monday morning – but give it your best shot all the same!

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.