by Sigrid Huber
London’s Field Day is one of the first “inner city” festivals taking place in one of the many parks in the capital. Victoria Park, for that matter, is located in the trendy and buzzing London East surrounded by the epicentres of the young, hip and stylish (indeed I am talking about Shoreditch, Bethnal Green and Dalston).
As is the case every year, the line up is filled with the “need to knows” and “up and comings” (Tei Shi, LA Priest, Nimmo, Jane Waever) of the season tastefully peppered with some “hotter than hot” bands of the moment (Django Django, beautiful FKA, Sylvan Esso, Viet Cong) and served with “All Time favourites” such as Caribou and the goddess that is Patti Smith.
Saturday brought all the clichés with it we expected. Tattooed Lumberjacks in skinny jeans, freaky fashion experiments and rock ‘n’ roll mash-ups somewhere between American Apparel and Alexa. What was delightful for the eyes was not as lovely for the ears: apart from an occasional horrendous sound (why does the band in front of me sound like they are playing in the room next door?) an awful lot of the people seemed to enjoy the music more as background noise for their weekly catch ups rather than for their musical ability. We did still manage to see a small number of bands on the first day, when we weren’t stuck in the so beloved queues that is…
Kindness was a joy to watch – Adam Bainbridge danced his heart out while the audience basked in the early summer sun on main stage, accompanied by the happiest background singers I have ever witnessed. Attracted by Shura’s ‘80s tunes we made our way into the Shaklewell Arms Tent to catch a glimpse of the Manc electro pop hope. Even though she could not quite re-create this misty, retro feeling we fell in love with from listening to her EP, everyone left with a smile on their face after her break through single “2shy”. All good so far.
Next up was Scottish quartet Django Django. The foursome played their single “First Light” to the last light of Saturday. We did see sparks on stage but they could not quite carry the audience. I blame the sound engineer… Thankfully Killer Mike and El-P occupied one of the biggest tents for Run the Jewels. We didn’t even care about the sound anymore – all that mattered was embracing our inner rapper and singing along to “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)”. Cant do without – Caribou finished the evening on the main stage, supported by Owen Pallet on violin. Accompanied by bright colourful lights Dan Snaight showed us his love and we showed him our love. Pun intended.
Sylan Esso was the last band of the evening on the first day, and apparently the sound guy had finally learned how to work his equipment. We could all finally sing, dance and laugh to the always entertaining duo from the States.
Sunday’s Field Day made up for everything we complained about the day before: no queues, and a noticeably smaller crowd were accompanied by a massive improvement when it came to the sound. First highlight of the day was Viet Cong. Even though the American band appeared 20 minutes late on stage (and apparently only three minutes after they arrived at the festival) they won us over with their unpretentious and genuine post punk.
Mac DeMarco stole my heart five minutes after we arrived at the main stage. He is funny (when a piece of baguette was thrown on stage he responded with: “I hope this is gluten free”), introduced every present family member on stage and has this very special gift to connect with the audience. Mac DeMarco is the probably the only guy who can pull off wearing dungarees and looking genuinely cool with it. Even when their equipment on stage broke down piece by piece – at one point their guitarist had not enough strings left to play to the songs – they remained extremely relaxed and delivered a very entertaining show no matter what.
Britpop returned, for a little while at least as Gaz Coombes took to the stage. The former Supergrass frontman has it all released his solo album Matador earlier this year and presented his new record alongside a few old gems. Mr. Sideburns Coombes is only 40 years old but he has a certain “back in the old days charme to it”
Are we like you? I cant be sure
Sunday’s obvious highlight was the iconic Patti Smith – the iconic singer songwriter entered the stage hidden behind (prescription) sunnies. But not to “look cool” she ensured the audience, but to be able to see – especially the “quite handsome young man at the very end of the crowd”. The grand dame of her genre played “Horses” from start to finish and impressed with her flawless and brilliantly witty performance (and even after making a mistake she pulled it off as “not being perfect but if you fuck up you fuck perfectly”). It was without exaggeration an emotional roller-coaster especially when she dedicated Elegie – a song she has written in memory of Jimi Hendrix – “to all the people we have lost” and invited the audience to call out the names of their lost ones and Victoria Park became very quiet for a few minutes. She ended her Set with The Whos “My Generation” and even though some people thought Patti Smith wasn’t the right headliner for a festival dedicated to a relatively young audience, the crowd in front of the stage felt a bit like belonging to her.