A GRUMPY MAN’s REFLECTIon on FIELD DAY 2013
Field Day had a rather spotty past in grumpy man's eyes. I remember going to the first one 7 years ago, and although it was a great line-up and the site was small enough to walk across in 5 steps, you couldn't hear the bands unless you were standing next to the speaker with a hearing aid (well not that bad, but literally if you were standing 5 rows back it was impossible to hear Justice's set, one of the loudest and noisiest acts that were playing that day). Over the years there have been other problems with queues to get in and queues for the bars and queues for the loos…….but what other festival hasn't at one stage had those sorts of problems and to be honest, I've been to the Wireless festival and I have no interest in ever going back to something like that to be herded like cattle (no offence to cattle) into lanes to then go and wait at a bar for 5 minutes whilst some wanker pours you a pint of fucking Tubourg for 5.50 and then orders you to get away from the bar as quickly as possible (Editors note; this is obviously some bug bear on evil corporations by the grumpy man and by no means infers everyone pouring pints of Tuborg for said price at said festival is a wanker… oooh we're such diplomats) ………
So anyway, Field Day appears to have now blossomed and become one of the only central London festivals I look forward to going to next year and I'd highly recommend you attend….apart from the fucking egg and spoon and sack race, knock that on the head guys, it's just embarrassing……. (Editors note; views expressed on people engaging in sack / egg and spoon races are entirely grumpy mans own)
Well, we decided to get there early to catch Charlie Boyer and The Voyeurs early set. A recent signing to Heavenly, part Richard Hell, part Syd Barrett, they've got a sound at odds with most bands on the bill today. For such an early set on the furthest stage from the entrance, they draw a big crowd and play a great set. Unfortunately I don't think it suits them to play this early on and they don't quite have the stage presence that they normally do. Regardless, I urge you to go and see them as they're a great live band.
7 years ago it would have taken us a couple of minutes to walk across this site, but nowadays it takes much longer, so unfortunately, after watching The Voyeurs set we were too late for Daniel Averys set across the other side of the site, which I'm sure was a smasher. So we went for an extortionately priced can of San Miguel instead, something which seems to be endemic within modern day festivals. This was followed by the ever great sounding Stealing Sheep on the main stage. Took a while for the sound to settle in, but by the end of their set the sun was shining and the price of the beer had worn off. They left me in a positively happy mood and a smile on my face. The Sheep were closely followed by Thomas Mapfumo & The Blacks Unlimited, who I'll be honest I knew nothing about before today's set, but I can safely say they were one of the most inspired bookings of the day. In my book worth far more money than Ginger Baker any day. They brought an even bigger smile to my face than Stealing Sheep, massive happy sunshine vibes.
After these main stage happy vibes, a trip to the peripheral stages was on the cards….. unfortunately this proved a bad idea. Churches (or Cruches or crutches or Chrvches or "WHATEVER"…DIDN'T YOU GO TO ENGLISH CLASS IN SCHOOL?), sounded pretty dull from outside the tent, I'm sure there were lots of trendy kids inside enjoying it, but to be honest I wasn't feeling it so swerved it and headed off to a talk, yes a TALK, by Matthew Herbert in the Caught By The River tent. This was basically going to be my highlight of the festival (I'm a massive geek you see…). We all sat down in the packed tent and waited patiently for the legend to take the stage and tell us some aural gems about his current role at the Radiophonic Workshop. Unfortunately at 4 o'clock we were informed that Matthew had had a better offer than talking here today, that involved going to Japan. Fair enough, I probably would have headed off to Japan as well, still it ruined what was to be the highlight of my day! Oh well, back to the trendy bands.
So, Savages. So Savages. SO Savages. So can someone clear something up for me? Are they put together? Does someone else write their songs? That's what I've been told. Maybe I'm wrong, to be honest I hope all of that is wrong. Anyway, the fact is that they haven't got many good songs, they've got the look and the talent, they just haven't got the songs. My advice would be to sack the songwriter and write the songs yourselves. Regardless, they're great performers and they've got a crowd that hangs on their every move. I look forward to seeing them in a couple of years when they've got the songs and they'll be amazing………
Over to the other side of the site for the legend that is Ginger Baker. Well……..what he and his band play today is nice enough, if you like chin stroking jazz, but lets face it, he's a massive c**t and if you can listen to more than 10 minutes of this sort of noodling then you definitely suffer fools gladly……..
I quickly head over to see Daphni in the Bugged Out Tent. This is probably the worst thing of the day. It sounds like he's turned every knob on the mixer up to 11 and then stuck it through a distortion pedal. He then closely follows this effects chain with a modern Pro Tools plug-in called the Shitleizer. This basically removes all the bass and replaces it with more top end and distortion……. now if that wasn't good enough he then played what sounded like a keyboard demo, possibly off my old SK1 keyboard to an adoring crowd of gurning trendies. As you can imagine, ear plugs should have helped here. They didn't, I could still hear the abominable sound coming out of the speakers (I am a sound engineer, I am sorry for this). The kids loved it. He played one of his tracks. The kids literally came running from all directions to what sounded like someone playing a Caribou track through the speaker in their Nokia 3210…
Time for Beyonces sister, where could we go wrong there?! Well, lets just say it was American professional session music noodling rubbish shall we and be done with it? Well actually there's the fact that most of what the crowd were hearing was coming off a backing track. Now, I would have thought Solange would have been told not to use "track" after her sister got caught in a backing track loop live on the MTV awards many years ago, but I digress…….Solange = disappointing (for me, everyone else loved it). (ed, I enjoyed it!)
Time for Chris Watsons Nature Disco.……this was amazing, a guy playing the sounds of whales and fences blowing in the wind, recorded with things called hydrophones and such like……and in quadrophonic sound! This was amazing and apparently is what I'm going to be doing when I get older (I look forward to it, in fact I can't wait!). Truly a highlight of the festival. Unfortunately I had to leave before the end of the nature disco as there were more important issues like drinking.
Next up in the furthest and least populated part of the festival, Objekt. I know nothing about this guy, but he was definitely the dance music highlight of the day for me! Plus there was lots of room to dance. Go see this guy if you actually like dance music. Super good.
Todd Edwards in the Deperados lounge! Looked alright from outside if you like Desperados and Todd Edwards. I couldn't bring myself to venture into the "lounge" so caught the end of Toy instead. Not many words needed, just go see them whenever you get the chance. On fire!
Bat For Lashes looked stunning in her Joseph and The Technicolour Dreamcoat skirt and coat. Still she did keep saying "this is another new one" much to my dismay, but she came through with the goods with the last song, a rendition of Daniel that had me dancing like a kid listening to Madonna in the eighties.
Next up Four tet. What can I say. One man one table, more than one machine. Should be really boring right. In real life he was amazing and has pretty dope balloons as well. He might be a difficult odd guy, but boy does he make some good sounds live. If you want to know what his table contains and why it's not shit listening to one man and his machines, head over here to see what's behind that laptop screen.
Let's go have a go on the fairground swing things. They were good.
Right, now John Cooper Clarke. Another legend. Very intelligent, funny man that grabbed a massive crowd in the Shacklewell Arms tent. Sometimes not watching music for the headliner is the best thing to do as is outlined below……
Back to Animal Collective. Lets face it, they are, kind of good on record but not great. Why oh why are they headlining festivals nowadays? Is it because they've been around for a long time? Is it the sympathy vote? They sound like a band playing their first gig to 3 stoned mates in a squat in New Cross and are all tone def. I don't get it. My Girls is good though and I watched from atop a hay bale with 3 mates screaming out the lyrics like a tosser.
So we come to the end of a highly enjoyable day in Victoria Park. It didn't rain, there were some good bands, there were some great bands, there were some truly awful bands. But that makes for a much better time than lots of mediocre bands in a field in essex and then one headliner called Bumford & Sons, doesn't it, it makes your brain actually think.