A fun day in the sun with more female performers than ever before

Field Day 2013 review

published: Tue 28th May 2013

Savages

Saturday 25th May 2013
Victoria Park, London, E9 7BT, England MAP
£45
daily capacity: 25000
last updated: Wed 1st May 2013

Ah, Field Day; with a lineup of buzzbands, East London favourites, and internationally indie acts, it's no surprise to hear that the festival's seventh year of programming attracted its most trendy crowd yet. This year's event, however, stood out to me because of the plethora of female performers... as well as a genuinely pleasant day in the sun.

When I arrived at leafy Victoria Park, I was happy to see that some of the queuing issues from last year had been resolved. There didn't seem to be any difficulties for festival goers getting in, and I sailed through security. Walking around the park, the village fete atmosphere was fostered with baked good stands, featherduster races, tug of war events, and tons of carnival rides and food stalls.

First on my musical agenda was the acid house pioneer Charanjit Singh tucked away on the Bleed/Lanzarote stage. Singh, at 72-years-old, smiled as he played his folk-sounding dance music, with its synthesizer bleeps and bloops as well as Indian influences from his native Mumbai. Despite the early hour, a small but enthusiastic crowd formed.

Unlike pretty much every festival I've gone to, Field Day seemed to make a conscious effort this year to include an equal gender split in the lineup with a lot of female-fronted or all-women bands, the first of which was Feathers. The Austin, Texas-based performers played an ethereal synthpop set which had a nice, gothic tinge to it, drawing a decent sized crowd at the Shacklewell Arms tent.

Continuing the female-driven lineup, Liverpool's Stealing Sheep brought a lovely harmonising sound to the Eat Your Own Ears stage which complimented the (almost) summery weather. Sundrenched sounds during songs such as 'Rearrange', 'Circle', and 'Shut Eye' drew standing and seated audience members, and the good vibes weren't ruined even when the stage briefly caught on fire due to the smoke machine.

The infinitely-blogged-about Chvrches was next up in the Laneway tent, drawing a huge surge of audience members for their electropop sound. At first I was converted by the buzzband, particularly by lead singer Lauren Mayberry's vocals and stage presence; however, sound issues and diminishing muster left me feeling like the band may be over-hyped. The audience disagreed with me however, singing along to their best known song, 'Recover', with gusto.

The real highlight of the day was the next band, Savages, also on the Laneway stage. The post-punk female foursome had the best energy of anyone at Field Day, lead by blistering singer Jehnny Beth, angular guitarist Gemma Thompson, intense bass player Ayse Hassan, and genuinely ferocious drummer Fay Milton. I can't heap enough praise on this band as they really upped the ante on my expectations for the rest of the day with anthemic songs such as 'I Am Here', 'No Face', and the taught closer 'Husbands'. Beth performs with the resource of every muscle in her body, making for a riveting performance that reminded me of Ian Curtis.

Next up was Kurt Vile, who opened very confidently with 'Walking On A Pretty Day', the first track off of his new album. Hiding behind his curtained hair, Vile seemed like the most reticent of rock stars, but was the most musically adept performer of the day. He mixed up songs from his entire career, but tracks from his new album such as 'Was All Talk' drew an awe-inspired audience response with some members chanting lyrics. Using old school guitar effect pedals and real craftmanship, Vile made the packed tent feel like an intimate venue.

For about an hour after Vile, the lack of cell phone reception that plagued everyone I spoke to at the festival ruined my ability to coordinate with friends to find a place to meet. This logistical failure meant that many people spent the whole of Field Day wandering around searching for a hotspot for their phone, of which there were none. One thing the festival could do to improve for next year would be to introduce some connection points or hotspots to keep festivalgoers less frazzled.

After wrangling my friends, I managed to catch Bat For Lashes on the Eat Your Own Ears stage. Singer Natasha Khan emerged in a rainbow three-piece outfit, setting the tone for her theatrical set which included songs such as crowd-favourite 'Laura'. Despite her strikingly good voice, the whole performance left me feeling uninspired by her bland backing music, and so we left the main stage.

A scheduling mix-up meant that Palma Violets, originally intended to play earlier in the day, were playing at the Laneway stage later on. The Laneway stage had what seemed like a lot of scheduling errors throughout the day, which was not rectified to my knowledge by the end of the festival. However, the audience was happy to bop and dance along to the band, packing the tent to the brim for their garage-rock sound.

The final, and headline, act of the day was Animal Collective on the Eat Your Own Ears stage. Even though singers Noah Lennox and Avey Tare began the set with a few hits, including 'Today's Supernatural' and 'My Girls', the set was a huge disappointment. A lack of audience connection, on-stage excitement, variety in song choices, and seeming unawareness of the crowd meant that by halfway through the set, festivalgoers were either leaving to catch TNGHT or find their way to a nearby pub.
review by: Paige Elizabeth Grestly

photos by: Paige Elizabeth Grestly

Saturday 25th May 2013
Victoria Park, London, E9 7BT, England MAP
£45
daily capacity: 25000
last updated: Wed 1st May 2013


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