Many urban festivals huddle people towards the main stage with any others being almost token add-ons. Field Day fortunately breaks the mould. Eight stages of music curated carefully by some the best independent labels, promoters and magazines. Added extras like the village green give a well-rounded choice on offer making use of all available space in Victoria Park. The choice even spreads to the great variety of food and drinks available. It felt like they had squeezed two days of festival into one. The main stage this year took second place to the new addition, the barn. Resembling an aircraft hanger, this massive structure managed to stay relatively cool and dark making a welcome refuge from the blistering sunshine that’s always welcome at a festival.
My afternoon started with ABRA followed bya taste of Lena Willikens. A scattergun approach to the day meant I very rarely committed to watching a whole set – a terrible decision in retrospect. Later on Moderat and Joe Goddard had equally brief visits but sounded great.Across the other side of the site the sounds were a lot less electronic. A snippet of poetry from John Cooper Clarke squeezed in between Haelos and Gaika meant I was spending more time walking than enjoying the shows. Aiden Moffat of Arab Strap seemed to be in a dark place. Aggressively pacing across the stage, it was hard not to be captivated by the show. Putting the boot in after Death Grips knocked you down. His punchy almost spoken lyrics were delivered with a real anger at the world.
Back in the barn, Nina Kravitz was hidden at the front of the massive stage was holding her own. Lots of vinyl and vibes. While not given the greatest place to play from, she fired through a serious set. Clashing against Flying Lotus meant another quick trip. He played hidden behind a giant projection screen, another artist removing the person and leaving the music to do the talking. A glorious fusion of bass and jazz rhythms. Having too much on to see isn’t usually such a problem but the temptation for more and more over-rode.
Finally the time for Aphex Twin came around. Hidden behind racks of LED screens, lights and lasers he released his warped imagination at you. Somewhere between the droning and the stuttering of beats and bleeps there is genius/madness and I’m still not sure which. While the tent was overfull for the start of his set and people were refused entry, there was room to breathe again by the time Run the Jewels started on the ‘main’ outside stage. The barn really funnelled the sound perfectly and meant it stayed loud into the night - unusual for central London shows. I’ve never thought a new tent could add so much to a show.
A taste of Omar Souleyman’s Syrian disco brought my night to an end. If you’ve not witnessed it, you really must. A smoke filled stage bathed in neon lights and Omar standing in the middle. The traditional meats techno. The fearless multiculturalism of his show is truly uplifting. A far more fitting end to the Saturday night in London than many will remember.
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line-ups & rumours
Field Day 2017 review