Returning for its 10th year, Field Day festival landed in Victoria Park this weekend, bringing music, mayhem, and of course mud.
The two-day festival – located only a short walk from QM and Mile End station – this year played host to an outstanding array of acts, showcasing both well-established and new emerging talent. Despite the torrential downpours right from the get-go nothing could stop this weekend from being a memorable opener to my 2016 festival season.
Full of excitement and energy, and managing to battle my hangover after a long night at Drapers, early Saturday afternoon I hid myself from the rain in a tent hosted by the much-loved East London venue, The Shacklewell Arms. As soon you are in there, you know that this is going to be the place for new and interesting music, and I wasn’t disappointed as I watched the flamboyant pop brilliance of Meilyr Jones. Having released his debut album ‘2013’ in March, and hailing from my own home country of Wales, I couldn’t help but love this erratic, flailing performer, as he lifted spirits and got us dancing, accompanied by jazzy brass and strings.
The extravagant showmanship then continued throughout the day as a shared determination not to let the weather get to us seemed to radiate throughout the festival. Indie-rock cool guys Deerhunter took to the main stage, with frontman Bradford Cox comically and somewhat erotically throwing shapes throughout the whole set, bringing much joy to the soggy crowd.
As evening hit, the atmosphere was free and easy. With several (fiercely overpriced) pints consumed and the on-and-off showers no longer concerning us, I found myself back in the Shacklewell Arms tent. This time it was to experience the ambient psychedelic vibrations of Trevor Powers, also known as Youth Lagoon, who had sadly decided this was to be his last ever performance under that name. Having been slightly in love with his debut album The Year of Hibernation several years ago, I had been blissfully unaware of the imminent end of Youth Lagoon until this performance, but it made it all the more special and painfully beautiful for me. This then set me up for the climatic earth shaking moment of James Blake’s headline set.
Despite never being hugely into electronic music I had been a fan of James Blake since his debut self-titled album in 2011, and his Mercury Prize-winning album Overgrown in 2013, and knew that this would be a monumental performance. Now having just released his third album he was able to show off his fine tuned skills as both a producer and singer, as his deeply soulful voice soared over the kind of heavy bass that shook your very soul, stopped you from breathing, and gave the thunder a run for its money.
I had had an insanely brilliant time – and that was only day 1.
Sunday had been threatening all week to be the wettest and most stormy day for a long time, but somehow the festival gods smiled down on us and brought only moderate showers. Sunday then proceeded to be an even more crazy and exciting day.
One of the main sources of the madness was a band I have now seen countless times, but still remain faultlessly thrilling – Fat White Family. Drug-addled and unhealthy looking, frontman Lias Saoudi has a tendency to strip off his clothes and scream his way through songs in a mad frenzy, which never fails to get the crowd into a relentlessly rowdy mood and create an atmosphere unquestionably unique to a Fat Whites gig.
Day 2 proceeded to be eventful as I finally got to see psych rock legends The Brian Jonestown Massacre, but my highlight of the whole weekend came later on in the form of Swedish experimental mystics, Goat.
Goat are the kind of band that shroud themselves in mystery, only ever seen in masks and costumes, with no recorded identities of members and elaborate origin stories concerning witch doctors. But live they create an experience unlike any other, taking influences from all over the world to create such a psychedelic theatrical performance that it is impossible to keep still while watching it. Goat throw together a fusion of every dimension of rock, funk, psych, afrobeat and many other sounds to result in an esoteric brilliance that even I’m struggling to put into words.
Finally the festival was closed with the effortlessly beautiful voice of PJ Harvey. Having now released her ninth studio album, The Hope Six Demolition Project, she proved herself to be an incredible headliner, coolly gliding through a set showcasing a range of her back catalogue as well as the new music. Her darker and often deeply political songs brought another tone to the festival, but she still proceeded to produce an ethereal set and perfectly ended a glorious weekend.