Two out of two for Field Day, with the sun blazing down upon Victoria Park letting it be known that festival season has truly arrived in London. It pretty usual to see the same punters over the course of a two day festival, but the crowd seems vastly different to yesterday - from a young, vibrant, rave enthused crowd on Saturday to older, seasoned musical veterans on Sunday although there was still a nice cross section of people across both days to keep it vibe-y for everyone.
We first kick it to the Eat Your Own Ears main stage to catch Kettering psychedelic outfit Temples not a band I know a great deal about but have been swayed by word of mouth as one of the must see shows of today. I’m not adverse to bands who are entrenched in the music of the past even if the most domineering aspect is clearly an ode to another band of another time, as long as they’re doing their own thing with it and making interesting for the modern era. Temples struck me as pretty entrenched in the sounds of the past without making much of their own mark, I’ve heard the press who-ha but remain non-plussed, it was a half decent festival set but something about it left me feeling pretty blah. Then again some bands just don’t click with people, and life goes on.
We make it in time for Drenge in the Shackwell Arms, a band I originally and foolishly dismissed as Japandroids-lite they are very much their own beast and a ferocious one at that as today’s performance shows. They are carving out a name for themselves as one of the most see UK live acts and have built up a hardcore following across the UK in a short space of time with some (very minimal) thanks to ex-MP Tom Watson.
There is no time for messing about with a two piece, if the two aren’t fully in sync then it goes to shit, certainly on a live setting anyway and that’s why there is always an element that this gig will fall apart. No such danger with the Loveless brothers who are in perfect sync throughout delivering a cataclysmic set which included bangers such as ‘I Wanna Break You In Half’ and ‘Necromance Is Dead’. They’re not a band for creating rapport with the crowd, the interaction is minimal, but you don’t need to bridge the gap between entertainer and audience if they are here for a straight up rock show which is what they deliver beautifully.
If you pay any attention to the musical press this year (and why would you) you’ve probably come across the video clip of Future Islands on Letterman this year which has catapulted them into the mainstream. The video itself of front man Samuel T. Herring busting out an outrageous performance that seemed to polarize people into a camp of either loving it or hating it. I was in the former and made sure to get a good spot to see if the experience properly live deserved the hype.
It’s hard to not go overboard, I think it’s partly due to the dearth of rock stars who have stage presence in general that when you do see it you can’t but be entranced by it. That’s how I’d characterize the Future Islands gig and Herring’s performance, utterly mesmerising. They’d the tent well packed out before they even came on and everyone was putty in his hand from the opening seconds.
It’s hard to compare his performance with someone in the modern era, although I never seen Joy Division live Herring reminds me of Ian Curtis. A burning intense fire that is all about the music, nothing is contrived here, just a guy who feels the music 100% and couldn’t give a fuck who knows it. It’s massively refreshing in an era where the need for style over substance has created a conveyer belt of dullard frontmen.
That’s not to give dues to the rest of the band who were tight and worked together seamlessly to deliver what was the set of the weekend. They’ve reached heights I never thought they would musically, but the reaction and general hysteria caused by tracks like ‘Seasons’ caused in that tent won’t soon be forgot. These guys are on top and intent on taking it higher.
All that’s left now is to see Sunday headliners Pixies and it’s recently become a bittersweet experience for me seeing them. My favourite band of all time, seen them countless times and it’s always good in its own particular way. Some of the recent gigs minus Kim Deal and the reliance on new music (which pales in comparison to the classics) leave me a bit cold towards the act that made me first fall in love with music. They probably churn out about 30 tracks in 90 minutes which is value for money – ‘Ed Is Dead’ ‘La La Love You’ ‘Velouria’ ‘Gouge Away’ the list goes on. The crowd and band seem a bit apathetic towards it, and the sound could be a bit better but the sense Pixies live will never be what it once was lingers on.
A bittersweet note to end on, but Field Day’s first two day festival delivers on pretty much everything you’d want.
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