Welcoming in its first year at its new home, Field day ventures south of the river to Brockwell Park leaving behind a decade of shows at Victoria park. Not content with a new location there was a new feel to the line-up too. A joined up, cohesive set of acts with a leftfield jazzier focus, led by the esoteric combination of Erykah Badu and Thundercat. Virtuoso bass solos and rain chants..what else would you expect!
The familiar feel of the village mentality games, the real ale village and the great selection of food wound their way around the rolling site, breaking up the short walks between the stages. Although everything was pretty close together on the small site, the slight hills broke up the stages and sightlines and stopped some of the sound bleed from leeching the atmosphere from the stages. With plenty of bars and toilets there didn’t seem to be any problems with the site. The only issue seemed to be caused by a hangover of having booked acts before finding out the bid for Victoria Park was lost. With nowhere to put the full-sized barn stage from last year, there was no way to fit enough people in to see Four Tet. Whether some better crowd management could have prevented the crushing and stopped the interruption, it was a relatively small problem given all the upheaval this year.
Hitting the blue notes were a lot of the best young jazz in London. Sons of Kemet, EZRA Collective and Children of Zeus gathered an early following on the Friday afternoon. Adventurous and exciting. IAMDDB and Princess Nokia both put on electrifying performances. While coming from opposite side of the Atlantic, they bring the same attitude and drive to a show that makes hard to look away. Daniel Avery and Helena Hauff brought the heavier techno to the party while Daphni had more of a disco feel. At the other end of the spectrum, Fever Ray were the complete outsiders to finish the festival. The transformation of Karin Dreijer’s show since she last toured is spectacular. Breaking free from being hidden by darkness, this year’s queer Swedish techno carnival is exceptional. Where the music on-record is melancholic it felt seductive and when it sped up it broke into unshackled escapism.
All in all, the festival had a fresh new start. Given there’s no point competing on the same terms as festivals with such deep pockets, I look forward to Field Day building on their ahead-of-the-curve reputation and changing up at every opportunity. The careful curation is a blessing that challenges you to try something new and get lucky every time.
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