Field Day 2014 – A Reflection – CHRIS TODD’S SATURDAY

Art & Culture
Despite the multitude of attempts to bring the festival vibe to London, most have fallen short of that special feeling of being locked away from the grim reality of life beyond the Glastonbury Wall. Hyde Park’s festivals are surrounded by traffic and anti-noise fascists just waiting for the opportunity to complain, whilst festivals such as Bloc, L.E.D festival have promised much but failed: then you get the likes of 1234 Festival which are too achingly cool that even if people were having a good time, conveying this isn’t cool, so you wouldn’t know one way or the other:
Field Day, now in its eighth year has always managed to stay ahead of the pack, an eclectic and progressive approach to line-ups, resulting in a refreshing avoidance of the tedious tried, tested and done to death headliners. This year’s festival is the first where they’ve spread the event over two days. Granted, there are double the amount of stages on the more electronic based Saturday than Sunday, so filling out two whole days may be something they need to address for future events but this meant having a line-up so crammed with acts that you’re walking up and down the site with regularity but shit, when was having TOO many good acts a bad thing?
Afternoon audiences of note for Omar Souleyman who modernises classic Middle Eastern sounds with a fusion of psychedelic mysticism and low-tempo electronic beats. He’s treated to a rapturous welcome as are bass duo Dusky who rip up the Bugged Out stage with a surprisingly robust techno influenced set, Thurston Moore and Simian Mobile Disco played way too early though, especially for people with a sluggish attitude towards set times.  


But what of other observations?

1. Todd Terje’s “Inspector Norse” can heal the sick.

The Resident Advisor tent, rammed throughout, plays host to Norwegian house lord Todd Terje. The size of the crowd for him reaches that of ‘superstar dj’ proportions and of course, it’s “Inspector Norse” that makes the entire audience his little playthings. Hearing a full tent screaming with joy when the bassline kicks is pretty damn special, rapturous joy almost on a par with a rock band playing their biggest hit, there’s almost as many people outside the tent than in, all breaking into simultaneous smiles while singing synth lines. As the tune builds into the introduction of THAT riff, so does the anticipation and then when he lets rip with it, it’s game over, Victoria Park 0 – Todd Terje 13039503121092.

2. Neneh Cherry is still the don(ette) despite wanting to erase her glorious pop past.

After an inexcusable period of silence, Neneh has finally come back to us and has come back with a POW. Her comeback album “Blank Project” isn't be the two fingers to the guy’s hip-pop she excelled in back in the day, her band Rocketnumbernine seem hell-bent on kicking any semblance of her pop history into touch with claustrophobic electronica but Cherry remains a performer with spike. She prowls the stage, she raps, sings, everything we’ve wanted her to do all these years, but with added twerking, the set is heavy with the newer tracks, and why not, she’s Neneh Cherry damnit.

3. Jagwar Ma have the late afternoon slot licked.

The Australian three-piece, now based in London have been touring the arse off their 2013 debut, “Howlin” and it shows. “Come Save Me” and “The Throw” are now robust jolts of baggy pop, sunshine spiked “Screamadelica” with added beaty woomph. They are noticeably improving with time, something they of course should, what with playing the same eleven songs for a whole year.

4. Even with Simian Mobile Disco and Thurston Moore on earlier in the day, after seven PM, there’s a huge clash of acts to see.

Warpaint! Jon Hopkins! Erol Alkan b2b Daniel Avery! Tourist! East India Youth! SBTRKT! Fat White Family & headliners Metronomy all have some element of clashing with each other – AGHHHHHH.

5. Tune of the day?

SBTRKT – ‘Hold On’, a totally ridiculous tune on wax and particularly effective performed live, all music should sound like this, even stuff that has existed for decades before it

6. Despite the odd raised eyebrow, Metronomy prove to be very able headliners.

Dressed like some kind of early eighties cocktail band, Joseph Mount’s version of wonk-pop is a perfect end to day one of Field Day. Electronic enough to find new fans who have spent two hours losing their shit to Justin Robertson and already loved by the indie set. In a set that’s heavy from cuts from this year’s “Love Letters” and 2011’s “The English Riviera”, the set already sounds like a best of. “The Look”, “Love Letters”, “Reservoir”, “She Wants”, “Aquarius” are all spat out in quick succession and in Olugbenga Adelekan, they have a bass player seeping in cool as fuckness giving My Bloody Valentine’s Debbie Googe a serious run for hers.
Unbroken sun, five quid cans of Red Stripe and the stench of overcooked meat are what Summer Festivals are made of. Field Day is not only the real opening shot of festival season, it’s broken away from all the competition of other mid-sized fests, and in such a short time. Despite an overuse by the mainstream media of the word ‘hipster’ (still…really??) and it being applied to Field Day, it’s nothing of the sort. You can tell it caters for people for a thirst for a bit of musical adventure, a willingness to use this as an opportunity to check out something a bit different that they wouldn’t normally delve into. That’s how the audience for Teleman would find just as much to get turned onto by Seun Kuti or the minimal electronica of Onehotrix Point Never. If this is ‘hipster’, then gimmie an overgrown beard, some thick rimmed glasses that aren’t needed, and checked shirt right now.