Thursday, 12 June 2014

Field Day 2014: Review (BidoLito!)

With the worst hailstorms in ‘over seventy years’ predicted, the entrance to Field Day 2014 resembles a mass charity hike up Snowdon. Everyone does their best to shoehorn on point fashion trends into an outfit that might prevent death from pneumonia, with vintage Berghaus macs and patterned ponchos given a respectful showing. By midday though, backpacks start to bulge where coats have been stuffed awkwardly, as the sunlight pierces defiantly through the clouds.

Kicking things off is Radio 1’s MOXIE on the Red Bull stage, whose residency on their In New DJs We Trust program has set her trajectory well and truly upwards this year. Keeping the beat steady with some house grooves, she dips in and out of disco with one eye clearly on the blazing sunlight in front. It’s a comfortable start that sits nicely alongside the first fifteen pound pint of cider as the feet begin to loosen up. A quick dash between Ferris Wheels and the one thousand different variations of Pulled Pork food stalls and its over to the enigmatic SKY FERREIRA on the flagship Eat Your Own Ears Stage. Having spent five years being tossed around the major label dustbin, the young LA singer, model and actress - against all the odds – finally emerged with the of-the-year good debut album Night Time, My Time earlier this year. Braving the Sahara style humidity in an oversized Parka, she stands confidently on a stage that quickly appears too small for her, maintaining this idea of a rock star that is becoming lost in an age of faux modesty and humility. I mean, fuck that idiot from Bastille saying thank you four times after every song at Radio 1’s big weekend, give me a mysterious, rude, silent front man/woman with a heroin conviction any day.

OMAR SOULEYMAN is kicking up a storm in the Resident Advisor tent, where tunes like Wenu Wenu and Ya Yumma sound surprisingly big-room as they capitalise on the excellent production of collaborator Four Tet. Then there’s Numbers producer SOPHIE, who has remained suspiciously out of the spotlight despite the mind-blowing 2013 single Bipp. And it’s fitting that the resulting forty-five minute assault on the senses is equally as peerless, and equally as unusual. Bubblegum textures and frantically chopped chipmunk vocals scatter their way across a heavy, warped collection of beats like spiders running across rocks. It ranks as one of the most enthralling DJ sets I’ve ever seen, playing with tempo and cadence to ensure the pace and energy remains firmly in his hands. ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER offers a welcome chance to rehydrate, and the sound of Chrome Country and Zebra being chewed up in front of some entrancing, projected visuals certainly is interesting. This is music to listen to alone in a dark room though, not a festival tent in the middle of the afternoon, and despite the technical mastery on display it inevitably feels like a bit of a comedown. BLOOD ORANGE is easily one of the biggest draws of the festival, whose excellent 2013 album Cupid Deluxe has deservedly raised him to the echelons of UK alternative music. Accompanied by his girlfriend and former FRIENDS singer Samantha Urbani, Dev Hynes grooves his away around the EYOE stage like a man who has been having sex fifteen times day and wants to show everyone how happy its making him. And Chamakay and You’re Not Good Enough essentially rewrite the blueprint when it comes to perfect, sunny evening festival song, capturing that woozy, dreamy feeling that comes with being drunk in the afternoon.

The time for TODD TERJE mercifully arrives, with swarms of people running towards the RA tent as if was the beaches of Normandy. Delorean Dynamite and Strandbar, two highlights from the excellent It’s Album Time, are so forward facing its almost stupid, as the rest of the set tears through disco classics and his brand of fruity, cartoonish electronica like a steam train whose breaks have stopped working. And just as it feels things might be slowing down, that faint but instantly familiar plod of synths noodle their way out of the speakers to introduce Inspector Norse. Terje spends what feels like the next twenty minutes teasing that verse, holding back the reigns like a master puppeteer before that explosive finale erupts into a tent that is literally bouncing as if it’s a Sum 41 gig and we’re all fourteen again. Leaving the scene as if a religious miracle has just unfolded, the monosyllabic chants of Inspector Norse linger long into the evening. Headliners METRONOMY eventually close the day, making light of their first ever headline slot with the sizeable crowd greeting songs like The Bay and I’m Aquarius like old classics.

Earlier, during an ill advised diversion to one of those 360 degrees catapult rides, I found time between recognizing my own mortality to catch a bird’s eye view of the festival site. It really is an impressive set up, with a huge, pastel explosion of colour contrasting spectacularly with the surrounding grey, urban setting of East London. This idea of a countryside festival mentality with a metropolitan festival logistics is surely what has driven Field Day’s popularity. Rolling around in the mud for six days at Glastonbury is for idiots, and by bringing the best of both worlds into a manageable, £45 shaped package, Field Day remains accessible and in correlation with a youth culture who have grown up disenchanted with the mainstream festival circuit.

Mike Townsend


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