Field Day – A reflection – Gemma Lacey’s sunday @ Field Day 2014

Art & Culture

Hackney’s so-called hipster festival has come of age – no more two hour toilet queues and some awesome food thanks to the raft of street food vendors. It’s sayonara to soggy chips and gristle, with artisan flatbreads and wood fired pizza the order of the day, served from stalls with witty names – the prize winner has to be cheeky chicken shack Vando’s. Before you get hungry I guess I’d better start focusing on the festival. Weather wise we were in luck, and despite a soggy start, the sun was out in force, teasing out East London’s sartorial finest. The accessory du jour for girls was a flower crown and for boys? A beard, of course. Special shout out to the girl in coconut shell bra and hula skirt for dialing it up to 11.

Someone not feeling the summer vibe was US Singer Sky Ferreira choosing to perform most of her set swaddled in a parka but hey she’s from LA so we’ll let it go. Stage garb aside, her strong vocals and layered beats lulled the crowd into a hypnotic state, mesmerizing us with “Everything is Embarrassing” and “I Blame Myself.” Local boy done good Blood Orange was back on home turf and on form, blending his signature slow jams with flashes of Prince inspired guitar magic, even fitting in a touching duet with his girlfriend. Though I still think his dirty grooves lend themselves better to smaller, sweatier venues.

Elements of Neneh Cherry’s set at Crack Magazine’s tent felt a little poetic largely due to her rich lilting voice set to a backdrop of luscious trip hop but there were some tougher flashes too with a pared back version of Buffalo Stance too. Next up was Warpaint and here I need to try to not sound like a huge fan girl… I genuinely think they’ve got something pretty amazing and I’m not just referring to Jenny’s technicolour hair. The LA natives don’t disappoint me or anyone else, providing the perfect soundtrack to a sunny Saturday. Teasing the crowd into action with ‘Keep it Healthy’ then seguing seamlessly into favourites ‘Undertow’ and ‘Love Is To Die.’ Managing to be both subtle and energetic in their performance the girls enthusiasm is infectious and live their energy is compelling, as I walked away I heard one girl say, “I can die happy now” which seems a pretty excellent way to sum things up.

Jon Hopkins set was a breath of fresh air, at times his melodic electronica can seem a little serious but in the broader space of the main stage he really came into his own and showed his fun side with giant bouncing balls released into the audience for a truly playful set.. Finally to Saturday Headliners Metronomy who seduced us with their slick white suits and 70’s style stage décor rolling through ‘Love Letters’, old favourite ‘The Look‘ and 'I’m Aquarius' before closing on a high with the organ infused grooves of 'You Could Easily Have Me' Slightly outplaying them were Fat White Family in a seriously packed Shacklewell Arms tent with their scrappy live style going down a treat. Even as they closed with Borderline a disappointed crowd were screaming for an encore and leaving me wishing I’d had time to catch more of their infectious live set.

Overall, Saturday was a storming day leaving the bar set very high for Sunday. One real coup for Field Day was the staging set up, managing to trim down the festival for Sunday’s slightly pared down lineup without making you feel anything was missing. In terms of stages it was a two horse race between the main stage and Shacklewell Arms and again the programming was slick enough that it meant there were no scheduling clashes too- result! First up on the main stage The Wytches kicked things off with a heady dose of grunge inspired guitar music. Though this lot were probably all born in the 90’s the sound was authentic and considering they were first up had a good crowd in place, definitely ones to keep an eye on if only for a nice dose of nostalgia.

Telegram on the Shacklewell Arms stage are on a whole other nostalgia trip, with their krautrock infused psychedelia and immaculate wardrobe calling to mind the 60’s. Everything about this band is in sync from their Chelsea boots to slick hair and 'taches, and it works. You can see why they’ve been a natural fit to play with bands like Temples. On stage they have the presence of a far older band and single 'Follow' seems a strong taste of what’s to come. Speaking of Temples next up was their main stage set, more of the same psychedelic grooves which made for an engaging and easy watch though I think some of the subtleties of the record were a little lost in their live set.

Moving on, I always think Drenge sounds like a shampoo Courtney Love would use but turns out they’re actually a band. In parts singer Eoin sounds little like Morrissey, on 'Bloodsports' for example. I don’t find their sound hugely original but they do what they do well and it was engaging enough without setting anything alight. One real triumph on Sunday was the Horrors set; they’ve lost a lot of the posturing and really come into their own commanding the stage and the crowd effortlessly. Singer Faris Badwan is louche but passionate and draws you in, much like newer track “So Now you Know’ which starts slow before building up to a rich whirl of sound.

Next it was time for Future Islands and believe the hype these guys are entrancing live. Singer Herring looks like he’d be more at home fronting a hardcore band but then he starts to sing and his voice is astonishing especially combined with his frenetic performance. These guys are really special and it’s nice to see them finally getting credit and packed tents to play to. Finally we got to the Pixies, sans Kim Deal and with a raft of new material I was a little apprehensive but listen up it’s the Pixies and they’re epic. I won’t lie and say you don’t miss Kim’s voice there’s something so unique about her pretty vocals but there’s a lot in the Pixies music, which has this draw. Playing a huge mix of old and new material, Frank Black was on form belting out crowd favourites ‘U Mass’ and ‘Here comes your man’ before closing with ‘Where is my Mind’. An apt finisher given the state of some of the crowd, who I’m sure were as grateful as me for the mercifully short journey to bed and not some crappy tent miles away. We’ve finally got the festival we deserve, here’s to 2015!

Gemma Lacey

Photos: Nathan Barnes