It’s The New Thing

Field Day 2008
August 12, 2008, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Live Music | Tags: , , , , ,

The organisers of Field Day faced a massive uphill battle to win back the hearts of music fans that it jilted last year with its cataclysmic planning.  Last year’s festival looked like your average alt./electro/indie fan’s near-dream line-up, but it proved to be too much of a good thing.  The dance tent was the size of your average garden shed, all the circle pits were around the bars, the sound was cacophonous and the toilet queues were long enough to cause many a ruptured bladder.  Luckily for Field Day, Liars knew how to put on a show.

Ignoring the advice of a certain Tyondai Braxton I chose to keep faith in the boutique festival, which, like last year, produced an awe-inducing line-up.  It was an all genre-encompassing bill, from Dubstep to Indie Folk that made the festival one of the most anticipated events on Londoners’ calendars.

The day of the festival arrived and one could only think that God does not look too kindly upon the likes of Eat Your Own Ears, as the heavens opened.  The callous downpour meant that I lethargically arrived at Victoria Park at 4pm, with the hope of being jump-started into life by Berlin’s premier electro act, Modeselektor.  For many, Modeselektor was Field Day’s pull factor and the jam-packed tent waited with baited breath.  Cue disaster.  As Modeselektor did what they do best and got on with spinning their IDM laced glitch-hop, the sound-system decided to morph their squelchy bass into quiet, dull thuds.  The lack of bass had the obvious detrimental effect and soon the crowd’s myriad conversations equalled the noise coming out of the faltering speakers.  Bronsert and Szary tried to get on with the job but not even a lip-syncing performance to a remix of Bjork’s Dull Flame of Desire could rectify the situation and the duo went off early leaving with: “If you want to see us properly with good sound, come and see us at Fabric in September.”

No one envied the poor souls who had to play a longer than planned set with a dodgy sound-system and the honour was left to the electro duo du jour, Phra and Bot a.k.a Crookers.  The lads from Lombardy had their work cut out for them, trying to get a moody and rain soaked crowd to dance.  The hype machine has really been behind Crookers as of late and when the bass-fuelled magic was pumped out of the (now working) speakers it served to elucidate the frenzy surrounding the baseball cap clad Italians.  The sonorous attack of Crookers’ remix of Busy P’s To Protect Entertain and the macho beats of Il Buono both played their parts in one of the most intoxicating DJ sets that these ears have heard. 

Mother Nature was still trying its best to wreck everyone’s days but the vast majority of the crowd headed over to the main stage to witness how much chaos Tim Harrington and Les Savy Fav would inspire.  True to form Harrington arrived on stage in a raincoat throwing out lost shoes from Underage Festival before launching into the crowd as a wall of noise hit the audience.  The New Yorkers gave the sodden crowd a much needed injection of energy, the drums were pounding,, the guitars were reverberating but, and it’s a massive but, the vocals were M.I.A.  It was painful to watch Harrington quite clearly give it his all only for the faintest of noises to come out the other end.  It was up to the crowd to supply the screams of “Wake me up when the sweat descends!” as all Harrington could so was wade through the crowd.  The performance still goes down as solid in my books, but solely due to the atmosphere created by Harrington’s shenanigans.  One was left to rue what could have been had the mic been louder.

Deciding to forgo Simian Mobile Disco for the more intimate setting of the tiny Bloggers’ Delight tent, I went searching for my daily dose of Dubstep from the afro warrior, Benga.  It was here that the ubiquity of the festival’s sound issues came to light.  Opening with Skream’s remix of KlaxonsIt’s Not Over Yet, one disgruntled man on his phone was saying: “I’m watching Benga and I can hear you on the phone, that’s how quiet it is in here.”  Chants of “Louder!” ensued and two shifty looking techies emerged to hold crisis talks with Benga.  Finally the volume increased enough to end all the murmuring about the sound-system and the tunes were rolled out.  Benga’s chart penetrating Night broke the tension in the tent and limbs were loosened.  The Bug’s single Skeng was snuck in amongst the fluctuating bass before Field Day 2008 was ended in sea of blistering drums and earth shattering bass that came close to bringing the tent down.

The Field Day show was stolen by the DJs.  Watching either Crookers or Benga would have been more than enough to cause an epiphany like realisation amongst electro naysayers.  Sadlylyield Day still needs to re-built its reputation.  The sound at the festival was constantly an issue and hindered some of the headline acts.  If Field Day is to become a well-established annual party (something which it should already be) the organisers need to sharpen up.

Mp3: Les Savy Fav – The Sweat Descends

Mp3: Benga – 26 Basslines

Mp3: Crookers – Il Buono

Mp3: Modeselektor – The Black Block