Review: Field Maneuvers 2017

Art & Culture

A couple of weeks ago I descended upon Field Maneuvers, a 700-capacity event set within a secret location, a stones throw away from London.

Placing intimacy and music at the centre of the party, the humbly billed 'dirty little rave' has a very unique charm, boasting a commendable line up and a close knit community feel. Each of the four stages provided a distinct setting, from the smoke and lazer filled Sputnik, to the alluring red lit Field Moves tent where insence filled the air. The soundsystems in the three tents were crisp and weighty whilst with stages a mere 100 meters apart everything was in close proximity. Losing your friends just wasn't an option. Field Maneuvers programming was uncompromising with it’s offerings: Midland, Ben Sims, Shanti Celeste, Octo Octa, Ryan Elliott, Nick Höppner, Soichi Terada, Brackles, Storm and more all performed across the weekend. I brought my polaroid camera along for the occasion, to capture some of the magic moments across the beautiful pocket size field. 

After successfully failing at beating rush hour traffic, and subsequently erecting our tent under a hazy moon and phone light, the first stop was Mark E at the Main Stage, where his set paved the way for many late night grooves. Celebratory arrival drinks were in order and we called the barman over for two glasses of Prosecco to which we were met by:

“The prosecco arrives tomorrow!”

Unfazed by his laid back approach we accepted and went for two beers instead, excited by the prospect of the night ahead and what was in store tomorrow when the sparkling wine arrived. Intrigued to see what else was on offer, we finished our beers and headed into the darkness for a good explore around the site. Colourful aztec bunting was draped through the centre of the field – a shiny disco ball, a giant illuminated light box and wooden LOVE sign also added to the charming decor, surrounded by hay stacks and the occasional settee which were to become the meeting ground for many a festival friendship.

Field Maneuevers smallest and most intense stage was Sputnik. A favourite throughout the weekend the dome was a mesmerising, ravey heaven with serious selectors spinning everything from garage to trance to techno and back. Ben Sims delivered an exceptional set that took us straight into Saturday morning, further heating up the already elated crowd.

Back over at the Main Stage, Field Maneuvers resident Auntie Flo showcased his unique blend of dance floor focused afro rhythms, something his Highlife party and label has become renowned for. Soichi Terada performed a weird and wonderful live show, dancing up on the desk and singing to the assembly through none other than an origami hand puppet… Terada closed the first night on a real high.

Outside the tent the mist had now settled. Revellers began to gather around a communal camp fire and there was a warming yet charming atmosphere amidst the air. Think Brownie Guide Camp meets Wuthering Heights.

Waking up refreshed on Saturday morning provided us with the first opportunity to check out the food offerings. The Vegan Pyramid, the Pineapple Tea Shop and Baked in Brick kept hunger at bay and energy levels up. Despite not being a pizza fan (weird I know) and someone who ordinarily needs meat with every meal, there was still an impressively good selection of tasty food and exotic drinks to choose from.

The late summer sun was shining and the mood on camp was high, Bristol’s Rough Draft and woman of the moment, Iona, proceeded to bring those more weary revellers back to life during Saturday’s infectious outdoor shakedown, a rendition of ‘Gospel Celestial Choir – Stand On The Word’ was a particularly euphoric moment, played when the sun was at it’s hottest during the afternoon. 

As the sun set over the field, Optimo Trax affiliates Golden Filter performed an impressive minimalist live show, adding their shadowy electronic synth to the proceedings. Over in Sputnik, Phontonz played a very memorable b2b set with Violet, followed by an incredible energy from legendary lady, Storm, who whipped dancers into a laser lit frenzy with a special Blue Note set.

Octo Octa superbly delivered her signature sound of glistening piano-led classic house cuts, before Housework members Shanti Celeste and Golesworthy brought magic to the main stage with a exhilarating back to back session of uplifting house. A truly impressive set from Midland took the crowd through to Sunday morning, closing on an emotional, choral high, accompanied by the sassiest drag dance troupe within at least 500 meters.

As the fun loving and now close knit festival family began to part ways there was a poignant sense of attachment to an event which had been just a little bit special. 

Field Maneuvers in Polaroid below…

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