Field Day is possibly the best little inner-city boutique festival

Field Day 2011 review

published: Mon 15th Aug 2011

The Horrors

Saturday 6th August 2011
Victoria Park, London, E9 7BT, England MAP
£39.50
last updated: Wed 3rd Aug 2011

Having been an attendee of Field Day before, there's no immediate surprises upon arrival on site, but one thing's for sure, Field Day is possibly the best little inner-city boutique festival. With nice touches like a village fete, fairground swings and even an old brass band playing on the bandstand of Victoria Park, combined with one of THE best festival line-ups of the summer, it's impossible not to fall in love with it's charm. So with a massive audience arriving on site, the same size queues started to spring up all over the place, the diverse line-up ranging from Omar Souleyman to Erol Alkan was a big draw for the audience, covering almost every genre. With this in mind, some bands sets in the small tents were near impossible to get anywhere near unless you'd pitched your spot early in the day.

S.C.U.M.
Opening proceedings were S.C.U.M., a band who it's always been cool to like because of their name, but ask anyone to name a song and they'd struggle. Enter B-list celebrity girlfriend, Peaches Geldof, and a fresh approach to their sound and music under the guidance of a new producer, and the bands popularity soars. With dark, whirling late 80s synth sounds filling the background, much of the music is carried by the band's superb rhythm section, with the bass always being the real drive behind the music. Only being able to perform a short 4 song set due to time constraints, the highlight was recent single Amber Hands, with its broody opening sound to its emphatic close demonstrating how much the band have come on. If you were to be cynical, you would slide the band right next to The Horrors in terms of sound, but that would be lazy. This is going to be a massive year for S.C.U.M, it's time they proved themselves, and got some songs that people can actually remember. They've certainly achieved the former.

2 54
Combining dark QOTSA desert session style guitars, with both haunting and eerie vocals, 2:54 have all the right credentials to be fantastic, and that they are. They have the look, being lead by the beautiful sister duo, and along with the backing rhythm section, everything is air-tight musically. On A Wire and Creeping, both slow burning, dark rock and roll tunes, are simple yet effective, and live that transcends very well. It's easy to make distinctions between each instrument and vocal, and everything sits so well. Their sound is incredibly hazy and slack in all the right ways, but with dark piercing vocals, evident on each track, it's very, very impressive.

Twin Shadow
Twin Shadow, or George Lewis Jr. to his friends, is one of those hip, electronic music guys that has seemingly popped up over the past year. All of it can be listened to and forgotten, but Twin Shadow's downtempo, 80s Miami influenced album Forget is a very intelligent collection of music. Sophisticated melodies combine with smooth R&B intimacy and it's all very reminiscent of Prince. Especially live, when downtempo turns to uptempo, and the music becomes REAL party music. Perhaps like when Purple Rain turns into Get Off or something similar. With the funked up guitars and heavy leading drums of Slow whipping the massive audience into a dancing frenzy, Twin Shadow is certainly a durable artist, however by the time set closer Castles In The Snow kicks in, once again uptempo, a part of me wants to just simply ask him just to slow it down a tad. We fell in love with the album because it was a slow, sleazy R&B album, not because it was an 80s party smash collection.

Warpaint
Warpaint are one of the few bands capable of sparking dancing through their drone. They hazy, dreamy, west-coast sun kissed songs seem a bit out of place amidst the backdrop of Bethnal Green, but all the girl group provide the set of the festival. A new, reworked version of Billie Holiday, which whilst making the hairs stand on the back of your neck sounds like Cat Power, and as the band launch into the guitar frenzy that Elephants, as well as the timid restraints of the poignant Undertow, they assert themselves as the band they always promised they could be. They enjoy themselves on stage, those watching them do too, it's a simply formula. It's almost beautiful really. Amazing vocals and fantastic musically, Warpaint deserve all the praise they've been given.

The Horrors
As sort of a homecoming for the band, one of the most talked about bands of recent months, The Horrors returned to East London to headline one of the smaller tents of the festival. Unsurprisingly then, the tent is at capacity long before the band take to the stage. In haze of dark lights and smoke the band saunter on stage to massive applause, with the towering figure of frontman Faris Badwan leading the band's welcome. Effortlessly cool, and brimming with talent, The Horrors are possibly one of the best bands in Britain right now. With their new album, I'd struggle to name better at the moment. People have began to compare the album to the likes of Primal Scream, but it's far from that. Shoegaze synths, driving baselines - yes it does sound all a bit Primal Scream, just without the speed and maybe ecstasy being the drug of choice behind it. Live, the band simply impress. The trio of Sea Within A Sea, Still Life and Mirror's Image perhaps sums the band up best, and for who they are. There's no first album nonsense, just the best of the Horrors, and as the rhythm section drive the tracks, Faris commands the audience by a simple stare through a fringe, and a dominating vocal.

Perhaps one of the most questionable decision of the festival was to close with Wild Beasts. A fantastic band no doubt, but a demanding listen, say which the likes of Erol Alkan or even Jamie XX who drew big crowds earlier in the day might have perhaps been better suited to bring a close. These was my initial thoughts, however, after watching Wild Beasts, I was quickly reminded what an excellent live band they are. Opening with Plaything, one of the stand out tracks from new album Smother, the slow building track really gets you in the throat. With the low synth and bass rumbling the top of your chest, the sheer eerie nature of the track also gets a lump stuck in your throat. It's really impressive being able to achieve that. As the band launch into the steady guitars of Albatross, as well as older tracks such as We Still Got The Taste of Dancing On Our Tongues, you can help but let loose a smile. Wild Beasts seem to take strides not steps when they release a new album, and live this can also be said. They're performance levels are insanely high, and everything is pitch perfect, not a note missed. A perfect close to what is one of the UK's fast rising festivals.
review by: Anthony Hetherington

photos by: Charlene Carr

Saturday 6th August 2011
Victoria Park, London, E9 7BT, England MAP
£39.50
last updated: Wed 3rd Aug 2011


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