Festival Review: Field Day 2010

Vicky Park played the perfect host for this urban festival, giving country-starved Londoners the chance to play in bales of hay whilst listening to their favourite bands.

Written by Laura Nineham

Field Day is basically everything that I want from a music festival; the line-up was so well crafted that its definitely – in my book – the top festival for music of the moment.

The first band we caught was Memory Tapes, who played a perfectly lovely set and sounded great, but not good enough to keep me there for the entirety of it. With Memory Tapes it feels like you’ve seen it all after a few tracks, and at Field Day there were so many incredible bands on that often you can’t catch whole sets. It’s an exhausting one day event, with people running around Victoria Park like eight-year-olds on sugar highs, trying to see as much as possible.

We were lured away from Memory Tapes by the promise of a Mount Kimbie set. They played the Bloggers Delight tent; to a crowd so big it spilled out and was about five people deep. That turned out to be a recurring theme when it came to the Bloggers Delight tent. We couldn’t hear much because we were stuck in the middle of the sound clash between two tents, so we moved on.

Steve Mason played the main stage and I was really impressed with the set. Not being a fan of his solo stuff or The Beta Band, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the middle-aged guy dressed in sportswear. The outcome was a gripping set – in fact the only one of two sets I saw in its completion, and won me over as a genuine fan.

Last time I saw Lightspeed Champion, it felt like something was missing from the set, but that wasn’t a problem this time. Wearing some questionably short shorts, Dev and his band rattled through a set consisting of mainly new tracks without disappointment. Field Day, or so I learnt, is the only festival where some nut job is likely to run Dev and his friend into you. Some people are such big fans that they can’t help but run at him, swing him around and then bolt off as the shame of the display slowly sets in.

After much pleading from a friend, we went to check out Joker and Mc Nomad. I was promised it’d be good and it was my surprise set of the festival. The format of a DJ with a couple of guys MCing over dubstep worked perfectly and, unlike the other kinds of music at the fest, was still a relatively unexposed sound. Of everyone I saw, I recommend checking out Joker above all others.

Then it was time for Hudson Mohawke, who I was desperately excited to watch. Hudson Mohawke played the Bloggers Delight tent and, of course, there was no space. It was a massive disappointment not to be able to see, but being short I’m mostly used to it. Not being able to hear properly was even more disappointing and we gave up after a couple of songs.

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble were the band that the majority of my friends wanted to see, so we had a little chill laying in the sunshine and having a listen. It was interesting for a couple of songs, but I didn’t like it. I got bored after a few songs, but everyone else around me seemed to love it. It was a welcome rest after a hectic afternoon of running around, but they didn’t win me over.

Also playing the main stage were Caribou – the second full set I caught and my absolute highlight. They were beautiful live. I find sometimes when instrumental songs are played live, if the band hasn’t got my attention, my mind starts to wander. Not with Caribou. They had the crowd gripped from the moment the band walked onto the stage, kept their attention throughout the set and performed flawlessly.

Chapel Club closed the Adventures in the Beetroot Field stage and were an interesting choice, considering that they were the darkest band of the day. I loved their set, but sadly I was one of barely 200 people watching. Everyone else, it seems, had flocked to the main stage to see Phoenix. It was a shame, because they were so refreshingly different to everyone else who played that day, but I guess it’s pretty impossible to compete against one of 2010’s biggest bands.

The only thing about Field Day that I wasn’t in love with, was the bar prices. Pretty costly for a one day event, the bar added 10p on to every can sold. I assume it was to encourage recycling, but what it seemed to result in was a few people walking around with bin bags, scooping up as many cans as they could in order to get a cheaper beer. Very strange indeed.

With a flawless line up, a pretty chilled crowd and some fun games held throughout the day, it was perhaps the most fun I’ve squeezed into 12 hours all summer and without fail the first festival I’ll be buying tickets for next year.

All photographs by Anh Ho.

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