Sunday, 7 June 2015

Field Day 2015 - Review (Or rather, 10 things we learnt about the festival / ourselves)

London’s Field Day took place this weekend on Saturday and Sunday. We hit the sun-kissed Victoria Park on Saturday, where a good natured crowd turned out for a day of quality music, food and er….silly sports games. Here are 10 things we learnt:

1. Technology isn’t the be all and end all

Arriving just minutes before the gates opened we should have been one of the first onto site. However, the bar-coded tickets we had from Ticketweb and the scanning devices held by the security team seemed to have other ideas, the tickets not registering with the scanners. We were sent back to the box office where after a short delay we were issued with new tickets. On arrival back at the gate there were then further problems with scanning those tickets. It appeared that the scanners weren’t working correctly, but eventually after a number of unsuccessful scans we were admitted. Thankfully we had purchased our tickets from a reputable agency, but we saw a number of people being turned away at the gates who had purchased second hand tickets via Gumtree which turned out to be fake.

2. London gets up late

By 2.45 we’d seen three acts perform; Astronomyy, Tei Shi and Stealing Sheep yet the site still seemed ridiculously empty for a sold out show. It appeared that the vast majority of punters didn’t arrive till 3 o’clock or beyond, which considering the curfew of 11 seemed like a lot of people weren’t maximising the value of their ticket, which cost around £50 for the day. There's a think piece to be written there about the value of music.

3. FKA Twigs is stunning

Our highlight of the day. FKA Twigs performance was so beautifully expressed yet immaculately composed, both in terms of her vocals and the way that she glided, vogued and spun across the stage amongst the dry ice and mono colour lighting. Her out of space music, performed by three men whacking electronic pads was dark, cuttingly precise and earth trembling. Mesmerising stuff.

4. Dancing in the sun is fun

Norwegian DJ and producer Todd Terje was one of the joys of Field Day 2014 and he returned in 2015, this time to a bigger stage (the main outdoor Eat Your Own Ears stage) with a live band (The Olsens) to deliver his jazz-salsa-lounge-house music odyssey. It was one of those moments when the festival actually felt like those false TV ideas of what a festival is like – a sea of smiling faces, girls (and a few boys) on shoulders, everyone dancing to the very back and the sunlight streaming down.

5. Standing at the back of a festival big top is generally rubbish

Having grooved to Todd Terje it left us just 5 minutes to get over to the Crack Stage tent for Australia’s Chet Faker, maker of one of our albums of 2014. A big crowd meant that we were left standing toward the back, something we don’t normally do, and the next hour demonstrated why it’s not our normal preference. The sound was muddy and quiet, we could hardly see anything, lots of people were chattering and there was a total disconnect from the music and the performance in that location.

Extremely disappointing.

6. There’s nothing as good as a funk on a Saturday afternoon

LA Priest, the new project from Late Of The Pier musician Sam Dust hit a little bit of musical gold in the Shacklewell Arms tent. Dressed in what appeared to be velvet pyjamas, his set started with what sounded like some sort of warped downtempo electronic sex jam that wanted to get inside your knickers before building into a deliciously groovy funk workout, complete with Dust giving a saucy wink to the crowd.

7. Alternative music taste doesn’t equal alternative food taste

Despite an excellent range of foods from around the world being available from the street market styled food stalls and vans, the biggest queue at a food stall we saw was for the burger bar.

8. Field Day are still charging £5 for a can of piss

This was one of our quibbles last year, and remains so this year. Sorry, but £5 for a can of Red Stripe gets the thumbs down from us. 

9. Tei Shi knows the most important rule of a festival set

That rule is leave your best tune to last. New York’s Valerie Teicher, better known as Tei Shi delighted with her half hour set that possessed elements of pop, experimentation and electronic R’N’B, but it was Bassically (streaming below) that sealed the deal; a dark pulsing electronic pop song with Valerie’s vocals floating around the tent like a spell, giving the audience wings and taking them higher.

10. What we learnt most though was that despite Field Day being a thoroughly good day out, we really, really dislike PC Music.

We managed 5 minutes of Sophie’s booming in your face DJ set (we didn’t wait around for the appearance of QT – the cutsie vocalist who acts as a mascot for an energy drink she’s named after). We then had to endure a full half hour of Danny L Harle before FKA Twigs. We wondered as he played out his tunes if this is how our parents felt when they listened to punk; music that we can’t relate to at all – a nauseating version of a pre-schoolers cartoon TV show theme coupled with elements of chiptune, rave and Japanese pop all given a splash of dayglow neon pink. Yet despite our dislike we witnessed cool young men who we’d normally have expected to be listening to either some cutting edge techno, loud indie rock or latest of the moment blog celebrated new band going batshit mental to this ‘music’. We were left scratching our heads, as if someone hasn’t let us in on the biggest musical joke of 2014/15.

That’s what we learnt from Field Day, an event that can now lay claim to be one of the important city based alternative music festivals in the UK. We'd definitely consider returning in 2016.

Tei Shi - Bassically

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