The festival season is now well under way and for those living in metropolitan London there was another reason to keep the momentum rolling. At 11:30am on Saturday, June 6th, Victoria Park opened its gates to all the beards and beardesses East London had to offer for the 9th consecutive Field Day festival. This year’s edition of the festival continued the tradition of hosting “Village Mentality”, an eclectic collection of exhibits, games, and competitions; some of which included (and we aren’t making these up): blindfolded crowherding, arctic roll eating, three-legged vixen racing and of course, tug of war. While walking through the grounds we came across a few people participating but the focus for most was on the music, and in no way was this a bad thing.
The hype surrounding this festival has been growing for the past month due in no small part to the lineup that the organizers had managed to secure this year, and the bigger problem was trying to solve the question “how do we fit them all in?” to which there was a valiant attempt to answer, however, ultimately you were forced to jump out mid-set if you wanted to catch all the good acts. The first day started off slowly as the masses of people wound their way between the bars, food trucks and the stages. From the blue-topped Bugged Out! stage at one end all the way through to the Shacklewell Arms at the other, entrants were treated to no shortage of free space to soak up the sun and the tunes.
Andrew Weatherall back to back with Daniel Avery was where we kicked things up a notch at Bugged Out! and found the infectious beat the perfect way to get into the rhythm. It was all dancing from that point onwards as Clark followed up with a massive set that saw the little blue tent fill up in a hurry. We made our way around the other stages but things didn’t get crazy until after 6 and then it was stage-hopping until close. Forget about trying to find your friends, it was every man, woman and child for themselves if you wanted to see the best that Saturday had to offer.
Ben Block and Marcel Dettman are friends on the outside and the camaraderie was tangible as the two of them laid down an amazing set, chatting amicably while they had the crowd under their complete control. The two of them have been performing together often and can found frequenting the Berlin’s one of a kind Berghain, but on Saturday it was all about London. Australian-built Chet Faker was up next at the far end in the Crack Magazine tent, and who after releasing Built on Glass has seen nothing short of meteoric rise to fame. The tent was jam packed and we were able to make our way inside just far enough to catch his soothing vocals and very unique electronic undercurrent, mixing his own original tracks with remixes to create something a little different.
Django Django, born and bred in London, are another water-cooler topic who came on just after 8 at the main stage. We were expecting to hear the anthem First Light and were not disappointed. These guys have managed to avoid the 2nd-album slump and have continued on the path to success amid growing admiration from fans and artists alike.
Headlining the festival on Saturday was the legendary Dan Snaith of Canada and his band Caribou, whose recent album Our Love won the 2015 Juno for Electric Album of the Year. Energetic, passionate, and quite frankly, all over the damn place, Caribou are without a doubt the act that we did not want to miss and made sure to get there early, which meant leaving a very energetic set from the lovely Nina Kravitz. Odessa was incredible but Can’t Do Without You was the real winner of the day, despite the sound coming from the speakers being somewhat tinny. Some of the stragglers at the back who might not have been as focused on the music up until that point became completely enraptured with that iconic beat and began to sing along. It may be short on the number of words but that didn’t stop everyone from belting out every single one of them until Caribou turned off and walked off stage.
Although Field Day was billed as a two day festival, the second day could not have been more different than the first. The demographic was older, the atmosphere relaxed and the the music a bit softer. This was a day where most people, possibly a bit burnt out from the previous day, were content to lie in the field surrounding the main stage and catch the music while sipping on a cold beverage. Mac Demarco, one of the big ticket items of the day, got a few people off the ground and to their feet to sing along to a few tracks off of his 2014 Salad Days album. Over at the Moth Club tent, Hælos were laying down soaring vocals with arguably their biggest track “Dust” with a bit more intensity than what Mac was offering up.
Patti Smith and her band Horses back on the main stage were so good, people were literally crying. She was totally on point with her music and sound and gave an incredible performance, one worth the price of admission on the Sunday alone. Ride had a tough act to follow but did a fine job of taking us home into the sunset. All in all, this was a great couple of days and we came out of this very impressed with the journey that, intentional or not, we found ourselves taken on over the weekend. Starting slow on the Saturday but building into a frenzy at night with a short sleep in between, then back in for day two which was calm and collected but punctuated with great performances throughout the day. Looking forward to seeing what they come up with for Field Day 2016.
Photos courtesy of Carolina Faruolo