Field Day 2012

As with any British festival excursion, the weather is fervently scrutinised right up to the hour you leave. So with dull clouds smothering the sky and forecasts of rain in the evening, Field Day looked set to be backlit by a typical summer’s day in London. Fortunately, this was not your typical festival line-up – even for Field Day. With a mix of new artists for hipsters, pumping bass for ravers and big acts for the masses, day-trippers will be treated to variety and quality in excess.

With weary heads lazily lolling about, the speakers began their day’s work just after midday. The early afternoon was an apt time to see up-and-coming bands who had either just released their debut LP or are just about to. Much of it involved bouncy indie-pop that would have had you reminisce of the careless teenage years. As Last Dinosaurs began their set, a couple of blatantly underage-girls – fearing that they couldn’t get served at the festival – were completely plastered and stumbling all over the place trying to woo some guys dressed as dinosaurs. I hoped their day went well; it may not be the endurance test that weekend festivals offer, but this isn’t a sprint either.

As the next generation of indie anthems get pumped out, it was always going to be tough to pick who the best new band of the day was. New sounds always have that honeymoon feel to them, but it’s definitely between Friends and Crocodiles. It really depends what you’re in the mood for: hipster-flecked indie-funk or hazy indie rock that helps you forget where you are. Both deserved longer sets but Friends just about edge it, I think. Friends will certainly appeal more to the mainstream public anyway.

Until now, you could pretty much bumble about seeing anyone your ears took a keen liking too but by mid-afternoon, it was time for one of the most awkward clashes of the day; Rustie versus Django Django. If everything went to plan, you could catch Rustie’s set and only miss about fifteen minutes of Django. But since when are artists ever on time? Rustie was at least forty-five minutes late so if you wanted to hear some floor-pounding prog-house, you were also going to miss some psychedelic art-rock. On balance, seeing Django was the right choice. Not only do they suit the live stage but they excel on it. Plus, I love it when bands share instruments as two of them surrounded Dave Maclean’s drums at one point.

Despite the massive rise in popularity for the British quartet, Grimes won the award for maxing out the Village Mentality stage’s capacity like broth bubbling over the ages of a saucepan. But that was only a minor inconvenience compared to the sound issues that blighted the performance. The usually haunting bassline in ‘Oblivion’ just wasn’t intimidating enough. Spirits remained high though as one guy even provided his own lyrics singing “meow meow meow meow meow” over Claire boucher’s “la la la la la”.

As the day darkens into dusk, it was time for the big names – and slight drizzle too.  All were excellent, as you’d expect: Metronomy with their quirky, synth-based indie; SBTRKT with bass so raucous it triggered a power cut and Beirut’s delightful Balkan-folk enchanted a portion of the crowd into dancing together like it was the 19th century.  Artist of the Field Day goes to Gold Panda though as he fires out a plethora of samples through his Akai. Despite Beirut’s massive following, Schlecker still managed to attract enough people to fill the tent (the same tent Grimes and Django Django occupied). And why shouldn’t he? Not many people can throw together and loads of old sounds into a beat that lures and swerves in equal measure.

And finally, we end with Mazzy Star winding down the day with the rain beginning to fall more heavily now. Despite being around for over two decades now, they have yet a build a fan-base that reflects their years in the industry. But don’t mistake this for a lack of talent. As one charming chap correctly says as he takes shelter from weather: “Oh, thank fuck. All the arseholes are at Franz Ferdinand.” Their serene dream-pop was backed videos of idyllic coastlines; the kind of music that’s perfect for reflecting on the day. And what a day too! With over ten hours of music pumping through the veins of Victoria Park, what’s not to enjoy. Not even the rain, which had become incessant, could spoil it.

Pictures

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